This is an archived newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, consisting of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis, for the indicated month(s) and year. See the current, Canada newsroll’ website page here. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser. Headlines in red denote items published on the main news page of A Socialist In Canada, mostly authored by Roger Annis.
Canada sends military force to Mali, by Gerry Caplan, published in his blog at Rabble.ca, June 29, 2018 [This is a generic analysis of the role Western powers in Africa during the past century and a half. The analysis sidesteps any specific history of Mali and any specific history of Canadian intervention abroad, be it of the warmaking or ‘peacekeeping’ variety. Thus, there is no mention of Canada’s central role in the Haiti coup of 2004 and no mention of Canada’s central role in the new cold war and the Ukraine coup of February 2014. Instead, we get a suggestion of Canadian peacekeeping benevolence in this sentence: “There are many other UN missions that would welcome Canada’s help, so why did the Liberals choose Mali?”]
Canada imposes tariffs on US$12.8 billion of U.S. imports, by Josh Wingrove and Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News, June 29, 2018
* How Canada’s counter-tariffs on U.S. goods work, and what they’ll do, CBC News, June 29, 2018
* Ottawa provides several billion dollars support for steel, aluminum and manufacturing industries hit by U.S. tariffs and places retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, by Canadian Press, June 29, 2018
* Canada–United States trade relations (Wikipedia) The trade relationship between the United States and Canada is the second largest in the world after China and the United States. In 2016, the goods and services trade between the two countries totaled $627.8 billion. U.S. exports were $320.1 billion, while imports were $307.6 billion. The money value of exports in Canada constitute about one third of GDP; 75 per cent of those exports are sold in the United States.
* List of the largest trading partners of Canada, Wikipedia Canada’s trade with the U.S. is double the value of its trade with the European Union and nearly 20 times its trade with China. In total, import and export trade with the U.S. account for some 63 per cent of all Canadian trade.
* Europe threatens U.S. with new tariffs worth $300bn as trade war escalates, RT, July 2, 2018
* Trump’s tariffs: A car crash for Germany, by Chris Bryant, Bloomberg News, July 1, 2018
* U.S.-China trade war winner is who loses least as U.S. duties loom, by Rich Miller and Enda Curran, Bloomberg News, July 1, 2018 The U.S. is set to impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports, prompting a tit-for-tat response from China.
* How China is preparing for a potential trade war with the U.S., Associated Press, June 26, 2018
Justin Trudeau is not the ‘anti-Trump’, by Azeezah Kanji, opinion columnist, Toronto Star, June 27, 2018 [The Star columnist exposes the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau’s claim to be standing up to many of the outlandish polices of the Trump regime. But missing from her analysis is any mention of how Canada marches in lock step with the U.S.-led new cold war against Russia and China and the U.S.-led war agenda in the Middle East. Decades of Canada-U.S military and economic partnership has taken the people of Canada into a dead-end world of war, global warming emergency and rising social inequities.]
Another acquittal of a white man shooting an unarmed First Nations man to death, CBC News, June 27, 2018 A jury in Hamilton, Ontario has declared Peter Khill not guilty in the fatal 2016 shooting of Jon Styres. The decision has eery parallels to the 2016 killing of Coulten Boushie by Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley. He was also acquitted by a jury. In that case, government lawyers decided not to appeal the decision.]
Related: Echoes of 2018 Colten Boushie verdict as Hamilton-area man acquitted in shooting death of unarmed Indigenous man, by Shree Paradkar, race and gender columnist, Toronto Star, June 27, 2018
Report commissioned by British Columbia government details widespread use of casinos to launder proceeds of crime. But the larger story is how the province’s real estate industry is similarly used, report on CBC News, June, 27, 2018
[A report commissioned by the British Columbia government and issued on June 27 says more than $100 million in criminal money was easily ‘laundered’ through the province’s regulated casino industry during the past 15 years. Experts say the real figure is many times that number. Much larger sums, not to speak of massive tax evasion, are run through the province’s inflated housing industry. No one has ever gone to jail for these criminal practices and no one will. Indeed, the very report revealing the crimes is a “whitewash” in which no culprits are named or charged, says Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew.
[At the federal level, a recent report estimates $47 billion dollars in federal taxes sits unpaid, dating back several decades. (The Canadian government spends app. $300 billion per year.) Even that is a drop in the bucket compared to the sums which the uber-wealthy are able to shield by from paying taxes by using Canada’s tax-friendly regime or by placing money in offshore tax havens, as revealed by the ‘Panama Papers‘ investigations publicized in 2017. They showed Canada to be a leading country in corporate tax evasion and other forms of corruption with billions of dollars at stake annually, notably in the inflated housing industry. The real estate industries in Canada and in other Western countries are a festival of tax dodging and other forms of corruption for national and international investors. How coincidental to see the Canadian government playing a lead, aggressive role in New Cold War accusations and threats against Russia, painting Russia as a haven of corporate corruption and other malfeasance!]
* Canadians with offshore holdings evade up to $3 billion in tax per year, by Marco Chown Oved, investigative reporter, Toronto Star, Thursday, June 28, 2018 Wealthy Canadians with hidden offshore accounts are evading up to $3 billion in tax every year, according to the first ever estimate of the international tax gap by the Canada Revenue Agency, obtained by the Star. In a report to be made public Thursday, the government estimates Canadian individuals are hiding between $75.9 billion and $240.5 billion in offshore tax havens and elsewhere, and not paying tax on it…
* Canada risks becoming a haven for corrupt capital, press release by Transparency International Canada, Dec 9, 2016 (announcing its 48-page report titled ‘No Reason To Hide: Unmasking the anonymous owners of Canadian companies and trusts’)
* On our doorsteps: Money laundering in Canadian real estate, by Adam Ross (White Label Insights), published by Canadian Bar Association (article adapted from a chapter of Transparency International Canada’s December 2016 report ‘No Reason to Hide: Unmasking the anonymous owners of Canadian companies and trusts’)
Separating children from their parents, the Canadian way, by Gillian Steward, columnist, Toronto Star, June 26, 2018
… there were no cameras to record their fury and sobs when over decades 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children were rounded up, forcibly taken from their parents and carted off to residential schools.
… In the 1960s, some provincial governments decided the best way to deal with the rising costs of their Indigenous populations was to put their children up for adoption. Recent research indicates upwards of 20,000 kids were removed from their homes…
In 2016, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the Canadian government was discriminating against Indigenous children because on-reserve communities are not afforded the same level of resources for their families as other communities…
Canadian military joins the destructive military intervention by France, U.S. and UN Security Council into Mali, Africa, by Roger Annis, June 25, 2018
RCMP faces $1.1 billion lawsuit over bullying, harassment claims dating back decades, CBC News, June 25, 2018 This lawsuit is expected to eclipse previous harassment cases against the RCMP, including the $100 million settlement in 2016 for the more than 3,100 female officers who claim discrimination and sexual harassment on the job.
The reality for Canada of scrapping the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, June 21, 2018
* U.S. military bases prepare to house up to 20,000 children as Trump regime pursues arrests of all undocumented migrants, report by Alex Ward, VOX News, June 21, 2018
* Flores agreement: Trump’s executive order to end family separation might run afoul of a 1997 court ruling, by Dara Lind and Dylan Scott, VOX News, June 20, 2018 Getting rid of the requirement to let kids out of immigration custody quickly will take more than a stroke of the pen.
Mass grave in Mali holds 25 bodies tortured and murdered by Mali army, Reuters, June 19, 2018
Human rights groups accuse the Malian military of conducting extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture and arbitrary arrests against suspected sympathizers of jihadist groups – charges it has promised in the past to investigate.
… Human Rights Watch associate director for West Africa Corinne Dufka said in an email to Reuters, “Since 2017, I’ve documented over 60 alleged executions by the Mali army of suspects who are buried in at least seven common graves, none of which have resulted in justice for the families.”
* Twenty-five bodies found in central Mali after army sweep, Agence France presse, June 18, 2018
* Executions by Malian government troops highlight human-rights challenges for Canadian soldiers, by Geoffrey York, Globe and Mail, June 22, 2018 [The Canadian government and military announced in March 2018 that Canada will send an expeditionary mission (so-called ‘peace enforcement’) mission to Mali where the Mali arm, soldiers from other Arfican countries and France are waging an ‘anti-terrorism’ war. This is a copy of the murderous, imperialist war of occupation in Afghanistan.] * Mali war and occupation Archive of articles by Roger Annis and other writers on the April 2012 military coup d’etat in Mali and the French military intervention into Mali ten months later.
Wave of asylum seekers crossing U.S. border in Quebec and Manitoba floods Toronto’s shelters, by Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail, June 21, 2018
B.C. government sets new 2022 deadline for coastal fish farms, by Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, June 20, 2018 [Atlantic salmon fish farms along BC’s Pacific coastline are widely opposed because they pollute the surrounding waters and degrade the Pacific salmon species living in the wild. The BC government is following the example of the Ottawa government’s Trans Mountain Pipeline advocacy by seeking to lure impoverished First Nations communities into ‘consent’ for such environmentally destructive policies. See the June 21 report below concerning the Cheam First Nation and the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.]
Related: British Columbia government widely criticized for four-year delay on fish farm tenures, by Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, June 21, 2018
The Trudeau government’s nationalization of the Trans Mountain pipeline frustrates Cheam First Nation members along the route, by Angela Sterritt, CBC News, June 21, 2018 [Leaders of the Cheam First Nation in the lower Fraser River valley have been lured into supporting the Ottawa government’s planned tripling of the capacity of the Trnsn Mountain tar sands pipeline. Members of the First Nation have no say or control over that decision.]
Don’t let dairy supply management myths spoil the milk, op-ed commentary by Sarah Elton and Rod Macrae, Globe and Mail, June 21, 2018
CETA sabotage would mark an ‘own goal’ for Italy’s populists, by Eric Reguly, columnist, Globe and Mail, June 21, 2018 On the trade front, Canada doesn’t have a lot going for it right now. Now CETA, the new Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, is in trouble thanks to a populist revolution in Italy that carries Trumpian overtones…
Canadian Security Intelligence Service is purging years of communications data collected on Canadians, by Colin Freeze, Globe and Mail, June 19, 2018
… The records relate to CSIS’s logging of communications trails of ordinary Canadians who were not themselves considered threats, but who were once seen to be connected to terrorism suspects.
… Privacy advocates fear that such records about ordinary people will be gathered, kept and deleted in ways that lack transparency and accountability. “This was a ‘Big Data’ surveillance effort that was operated in contravention of the authorizing law of CSIS, an incredibly secretive organization,” said Chris Parsons, a researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.
* Ten things you need to know about Bill C-59 (‘An act respecting national security matters’), by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Sept 12, 2017
* CSIS broke law by keeping sensitive metadata, Federal Court rules, by Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press, Nov 3, 2016
Repo rt examining child poverty in Canada finds 40 per cent of children in Finance Minister Morneau’s election district live in poverty, by Jordan Press, The Canadian Press, June 18, 2018
* Newly elected right-wing Ontario premier Doug Ford orders hiring freeze in public sector, The Canadian Press, June 18, 2018
* Doug Ford and the contradictions of right-wing politics, commentary by Andrew Jackson, in Globe and Mail ‘Report On Business, June 18, 2018 (Andrew Jackson is a Keynesian economist and senior policy adviser to the social-democratic Broadbent Institute.) [The author writes favourably of Britain’s minimum wage of 7.83 pounds (CAN$13.70). That rate is lower than the current minimum wage of Ontario at CAN$14 but much higher than in most other Canadian provinces. Other rates in equivalent Canadian currency are $17.90 in Australia and $15. 10 in New Zealand.
Canada should give up on NAFTA, op-ed commentary by Gordon Laxer, published in Toronto Star, June 18, 2018 (Gordon Laxer is the author of the 2015 book After The Sands.)
Related articles by Gordon Laxer:
* How NAFTA restricts Canada’s ability to lower carbon emissions, op-ed commentary by Gordon Laxer, published in Toronto Star, April 17, 2018
* The case for phasing out Alberta’s tar sands, by Gordon Laxer, published in Resilience.org, May 23, 2017
Indigenous protesters in Washington state declare Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline won’t be built, by Laura Kane, The Canadian Press, June 18, 2018
Canada detains migrant kids, too, and it needs to stop, experts say, by David P. Ball, StarMetro Vancouver, June 18, 2018 Canadian Border Services Agency figures show that on average, 182 minors per year have been detained across Canada since Liberals took office in 2015. [In the media reporting of the U.S. Trump regime’s new policy of detaining refugee families and children, little attention is paid to the conditions that refugee families are fleeing, namely, the societal wreckage of U.S.-sponsored civil wars and coups d’etat in Central America, going back decades. Canada has also waged such policy, for example the coups d’etat in Haiti in 2004 and Honduras in 2009. Today, Canada is fomenting a coup d’etat in Venezula.]
* White House ties border wall to migrant family separations, by Tamsin McMahon, U.S. correspondent, Globe and Mail, June 18, 2018
* UN refugee agency reports a record 68.5 people million displaced worldwide in 2017, Associated Press, June 18, 2018
* New U.S. migration family seperation policy fuels calls for Canada to end Safe Third Country Agreement, by Cormac MacSweeney and Lasia Kretzel, News 1130, June 19, 2018 [Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement, signed in 2002 between Liberal Party gov’t in Ottawa and George W. Bush regime in U.S, Wikipedia.]
Canadian gov’t pursues appeal of BC Supreme Court ruling in early 2018 restricting use of solitary confinement in prisons, CBC News, June 19, 2018 [The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada are fighting the Canadian government’s appeal of a court ruling saying that indefinite solitary confinement of prisoners is unconstitutional and causes permanent harm. The United Nations considers indefinite solitary confinement of prisoners to be a form of torture.]
Lawyers will appeal directly to Canada Supreme Court to reverse murder conviction 20 years ago based on ‘Mr Big’ sting operation, by Sean Fine, justice reporter, Globe and Mail, June 17, 2018 [Defense lawyers say the federal government’s Criminal Conviction Review Group is “To put it bluntly, the CCRG appears incapable of reviewing files in a timely manner and the recent delays border on the intolerable.” The CCRG was established in 1993 the wake of the reversals of the murder convictions of Donald Marshall and David Milgard. In 2014, the Supreme Court said it has grave doubts about the use by police forces of ‘Mr Big’ sting operations. In 2016, a couple in British Columbia won an appeal before the BC Supreme Court overturning their 2015 conviction on ‘terrorism’ charges that was based on a police sting operation. A decision is pending on a federal government appeal of that exoneration presented before the BC Supreme Court in January 2018.]
Detentions of children crossing U.S.-Mexico border heightens calls for Canada to suspend 14 year-old ‘safe third country’ refugee agreement with U.S., report by Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter, Toronto Star, June 17, 2018
Related: Conclusive proof that it is Trump’s policy to separate children from their families at the border, by Alex Lockie, Business Insider, June 18, 2018
More Globe and Mail warnings of ‘China threat’, report in June 18, 2018 Globe and Mail warning that Chinese telecom Huawei is a ‘national security threat [Globe and Mail writers Robert Fife and Steven Chase team up to warn that Chinese telecom giant Huawei is a “grave cybersecurity risk” to Canada. They cite cite right-wing Republican and Democrat senators as authorities on the subject. This June 18 article was followed by three more by the same writers in the three days following, keeping up a drumbeat of calls for Canada to ban Huawei from funding university research. This is the latest set of articles on Chinese commerce in Canada echoing similar themes to the Globe‘s already-established new cold war, anti-Russia themes.]
‘This is a great moment for Canadians to ask themselves ‘Has the direction that Canada has taken in giving up sovereignty to the United States over the last generation achieved Canada’s best interests?’, interview with journalist John Helmer, broadcast on ‘Gorilla Radio’ on CFUV radio station in Victoria BC, with host Chris Cook, June 14, 2018 (24-minute interview, begins at two-minute mark)
… “What has happened strategically is that the little club that calls itself the ‘G7’ has ceased to have a significant role in the world. It’s a group of people who on big issues could not agree in Charlevoix [the 44th G7 summit meeting of June 8, 9 in Charlevoix, Quebec]. They can’t agree because U.S. policy has gone in a direction that neither Europe nor Canada see as in their interests.
“I wouldn’t place so much focus on the psychology of that was said in Charlevoix. I would put the focus, as President Putin said after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation met simultaneously, that it’s not anyone else’s job to comment on the vicissitudes of a little group called the G7 when they can’t agree and they start to insult each other. Especially not when that G7 insults everyone else.
“If you look at that G7 communique… it attacks China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Syria, for starters… Well, if Mr. Trudeau and Ms Freeland wish to endorse economic warfare against some countries and then express dismay when the United States protects its own interests, isn’t the question to be asked not a psychological one but a political one: What serves Canada’s interests?… Has Ms Freleand, representing the constituency of Ukraine in Canada, achieved anything good for Canada out of that particular obsession against Russia? Can she do the same with China? These are big countries, not little countries…
“This is a great moment for Canadians to ask themselves ‘Has the direction that Canada has taken in giving up sovereignty to the United States over the last generation achieved its best interests?’… The question is, can Canada stand up for its interests by keeping the Liberal Party in power? … There’s an opportunity here for a great debate, and it’s not over the colour of Mr Trudeau’s socks… it’s whether he, as a leader of a party, has something to say to defend the country and whether his foreign minister is up to the job. SHE doesn’t think HE is up to the job. That’s astounding. SHE hasn’t defended him in public and HE hasn’t defended himself…”
Trudeau just made a major pivot towards toughness with his Iran policy, by Anthony Furey, columnist, Toronto Sun, June 12, 2018 [The Canadian government is whining and complaining about Donald Trump’s protectionist moves targetting economic trade between Canada with the U.S. But when it comes to foreign policy, all is well. Canada is in lockstep with the Trump’s regime’s hostile turn against Iran, including the regime’s abrogation of the 2015 political agreement (so-called nuclear agreement) between Iran and the West.]
* Liberal and Conservative MPs vote in Ottawa to abandon diplomatic talks with Iran, statement by the Iranian Canadian Congress, June 12, 2018 Today is a sad day for supporters of diplomacy and peace in Canada. In an unexpected and disappointing move, the vast majority of Liberal MPs in the House, including the Liberal leadership and Prime Minister Trudeau himself, stood with the Conservative Party and voted for a motion that asks the Federal Government to abandon its policy of reestablishing relations with Iran. The NDP and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May voted against this motion in the House…
* Letter from ten Canadian antiwar organizations on Iran Nuclear Agreement, published on the website of the Iranian Canadian Congress, May 11, 2018
* Iranian Canadian Congress calls on Canadian government to continue its commitment to Iran Nuclear Agreement, statement by the Iranian Canadian Congress, May 7, 2018
Canadian monument to controversial Ukrainian national hero ignites debate, feature article by Levon Sevunts, published by the state-run Radio Canada International, June 9, 2018 [The author gives voice in his otherwise important article to the view that drawing attention to monuments in Canada commemorating World War Two-era Nazi collaborators in Ukraine serves a nefarious propaganda agenda “for political purposes” by Russia and ‘Putin’. He does not question the “political purposes” of the Canadian government in allowing such monuments to stand. On the contrary, he ends his article with glowing marks for Canada and its support to the far-right government in Ukraine, citing an official of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada: “Canada condemns in the strongest terms the glorification of Nazism and all forms of anti-Semitism, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and extremism”. The author ‘forgets’ to report that Canada has voted consistently at the United Nations in recent years against resolutions to that very effect.]
The carbon bubble: Here come the New Dirty Thirties, by Crawford Kilian, The Tyee, June 13, 2018 The ugly end days of fossil fuel will mean big trouble for Canadians (Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee)
Related: Sharp rise in oil and tar sands extraction forecast by Canada’s oil industry association, by Dan Healing, The Canadian Press, June 12, 2018 [Canada’s oil production [including tar sands] is expected to increase by 1.4 million barrels per day by 2035, to 5.6 million bpd, despite an ongoing “competitiveness gap” that discourages investment, according to the annual forecast of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The increase will mainly due to a 58 per cent rise in oilsands [sic] production to 4.2 million bpd the group says.]
Kinder Morgan violated environmental rules in work at its Trans Mountain Pipeline export terminal in Vancouver harbour, by Mike De Souza, National Observer, June 12, 2018 But Ottawa, the new owner of the pipelline terminal, says it has a ‘world leading’ program to protect Canada’s west coast from tanker spills and other damage from the oil industry.
The Canadian government’s ‘homelessness program’, report by Jordan Press, The Canadian Press, June 11 2018 [Homelessness and poverty are rising in Canada. Which is one measure of the supposed ‘housing policy’ of the Trudeau-led government in Ottawa. It’s not a housing policy at all–it is a series of measures to paper over the public relations consequences of rising homelessness and poverty. The highest provincial rate of poverty among seniors is in British Columbia (see related report). No surprise here because that’s also where Canada’s housing price speculation bubble is running the most amok.]
* New report show poverty rate among seniors in Canada is highest in British Columbia, United Way of British Columbia, June 11, 2018
Seniors’ poverty in British Columbia is the highest rate in the country, according to the B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card released today by the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC), and United Way of the Lower Mainland.
The B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card is the first of its kind and is based on the latest data available from Statistics Canada (2015). It consists of 13 fact sheets illustrating the scope of seniors’ poverty in British Columbia. The report is available at www.uwlm.ca/news/bc-seniors-poverty-report-card. Among the key findings is that 8.8 per cent of seniors live in poverty in B.C. compared to the Canadian averge of 6.6 per cent…
* Vancouver mayoral candidate Patrick Condon wants 50 per cent of housing to be social housing and heavy taxation of land and housing speculation, report by Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun, June 11, 2018
What’s at stake if the U.S. slaps threatened 25 per cent tariffs on vehicle imports from Canada?, by Greg Keenan, auto industry reporter, June 11, 2018 (subscriber only article)
… Tariffs on autos and auto parts would represent a major escalation of the trade battle and “could be the death blow to the [Canadian] auto industry,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice-president of industry, labour and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Mich.
… About 130,000 Canadians are directly employed in vehicle assembly and auto-parts making, thousands more at auto dealerships across the country; and two-way trade accounts for $140-billion annually. Mr. Trump could announce tariffs under the 1962 Trade Expansion Act as early as October, said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio trade lawyer…
Trump is tearing into Canada’s agricultural policy. Does he have a point?, CBC News, June 12, 2018
Fallout continues following G7 summit meeting: Top Trump advisor says ‘there’s a special place in hell’ for Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, report on CBC News, June 10, 2018
… “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News.
… It seemed the two-day G7 leaders’ summit in La Malbaie, Quebec on June 9 and 10 had avoided descending into chaos over trade disagreements after a joint communiqué signed by all seven participating nations was issued June 10. But minutes after the official release of the document, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the communiqué citing “false statements” by Trudeau and calling the Canadian leader “very dishonest and weak”…
Related: Ontario could feel the pain if Trump makes good on auto tariff threat, CBC News, June 11, 2018 Newly-elected, right-wing Premier Doug Ford of Ontario has publicly stated support for Trump and isn’t saying what he’ll do to mitigate possible fallout of threatened 25 per cent tariffs
Canada exports some $80-billion of vehicle parts and final assembly annually to the U.S. There are some 40,000 jobs in auto assembly and 80,000 more in auto parts, almost all in the province of Ontario. By comparison, the Canadian steel and aluminium industries recently hit with 25 per cent U.S. tariffs are roughly one-quarter the size.
Officials in Washington state say Canada’s emergency response preparedness is not ready for a Kinder Morgan pipeline spill, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, June 10, 2018
Trump drops bombshell after leaving G7 summit in Quebec, accusing summit chairperson Trudeau of ‘false statements’, by Tonda MacCharles, Toronto Star, June 9, 2018
* Dairy and poultry sectors are the weak link in Canada’s trade defences, by Barry McKenna, business columnist, Globe and Mail, June 8, 2018 (subscriber only) Read the article here in pdf format: Dairy and poultry sectors are the weak link
* Why Ottawa’s countertariffs could boost the country’s food industry, by Sylvain Charlebois, commentary in The Globe and Mail, June 6, 2018
* Let’s stop ‘babbling’ and get back to real work: Putin fires back at G7 criticism on Russia, RT, June 10, 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin hit back at the latest G7 criticisms of Russia, saying they should get back to cooperating instead of “creative babbling,” following the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit meeting in Qingdao, China…
Russiagate knocking on Canada’s doors: Ex-FBI director James Comey says Canada will be targeted by ‘Russian hackers’ in 2019 election, report on Global News, June 7, 2018 [Corporate media in Canada is positively swooning over every word by James Comey, the former and longtime director of the top domestic political police agency in the U.S., the FBI. Listen, for example, to this fawning interview with Comey broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’ on May 11, 2018. Why, the man is an absolute champion of democracy, we learn.]
Ontario voters give right-wing, ‘tax cutting’ Doug Ford an election mandate to do anything he wants, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, June 7, 2018 And, How a historic Liberal collapse and PC upheaval turned June 7 Ontario election into a wild horse race, by Tom Blackwell, National Post, June 7, 2018 [Election turnout was a 20-year high.]
2018 election result: (Wikipedia)
Conservative: 2,322,422 (76 seats)
New Democrat: 1,925,574 (40 seats, up 780,000 votes from 2014)
Liberal: 1,123,283 (7 seats, down 740,000 votes)
Green: 263,987 (1 seat, up 30,000 votes)
2018: 9.6/5.7 million
2014: 9.2/4.8 million
1990: 6.2/4 million
Environmental activists in Washington state vow to fight the expansion of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, soon to be owned by the Canadian government, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, June 6, 2018 (subscriber only)
[Financial disclosure documents issued as part of Kinder Morgan Canada’s initial public offering for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in 2017 indicate the potential to more than double the throughput of the Puget Sound pipeline, boosting its capacity from 240,000 to 500,000 barrels a day (b/d). The line branches off to Washington state from the lower Fraser River Valley in British Columbia. In 2017, a little more than half of the crude oil flowing through the Trans Mountain pipeline was delivered to the Puget Sound refineries for processing. The piepline expansion is intended to boost tar sands bitumen exports, taking advantage of the loading facilities at upper Washington state refineries.]
* Canadian government purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline: Is Washington state now in the tar sands crosshairs?, by Clark Williams-Derry, Sightline Institute, June 7, 2018
… Hidden in the details of the Canadian and Alberta governments’ purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is a surprising fact: the Canadian government intends to buy not only Trans Mountain but also the Puget Sound Pipeline… Even more troublingly, Kinder Morgan has been telling investors for years that it is considering doubling the capacity of the Puget Sound Pipeline.
* Facebook page of Stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Seattle
Soft-left municipal parties in Vancouver city reach election agreement with the ‘Vision’ electoral machine that since 2008 has overseen the real estate industry’s bonanza years—and the housing crisis for the poor, report in Vancouver Sun, June 4, 2018 [The Vision election machine (‘party’) has received five of ten city councillor slots as part of an election deal among ‘left wing’ municipal parties in the upcoming municipal election in Vancouver on October 20, 2018. The deal was brokered by the Vancouver and District Labour Council. Vision will present its own mayoral candidate to replace retiring Vision mayor Gregor Robertson. It has acclaimed Ian Campbell as its candidate. He is a ‘hereditary chief’ of the Squamish First Nation and a real estate developer. Vision should be best remembered for its role in the tragedy of the destruction of the Little Mountain social housing complex that once housed 224 low income families. The complex was privatized and sold to the Holborn Group in 2007, to be replaced by a large condo development in which the social housing units would be replaced. The development was never built.]
How Vienna cracked the case of housing affordability, by Patrick Condon, The Tyee, June 6, 2018 Vienna has a 100-year history of building public housing for all. According to Patrick Condon, sixty per cent of Vienna residents live in one form or another of social housing. What can we learn in Vancouver, home of Canada’s runaway housing price bubble? (Patrick Condon is a professor of urban design at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia. This article is part three of a three-part series; find the entire series here.)
* Interview with former British Columbia MLA David Chudnovsky on the tragedy of the Little Mountain social housing complex in Vancouver, June 7, 2018 (ten-minute interview, begins at one-minute mark) [In 2007, the BC Liberal Party of the day ok’d the demolition of the Little Mountain social housing complex that housed 224 low income families. It sold the land to the Holborn Group, which then failed to carry though its promise to replace the social housing units as part of a much larger condo development on the same property, adjacent to Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park. Holborn built and manges the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The ‘Vision’ municipal party won the mayoral and city council elections of 2008, 2011 and 2014. A party closely tied to Vancouver’s real estate industry, it has done nothing to undo the historic injustice of Little Mountain. It has acclaimed a real estate developer, Ian Campbell, as its 2018 mayoral candidate.] * Homeless man in Vancouver suffering from cancer dies in Tim Hortons coffee chain outlet, CBC News, June 6, 2018
Two articles hoping against hope that the Ontario NDP might become more left-wing if elected on June 7:
* What’s at stake in the Ontario election?, by David Bush, published in Rank and File.ca, June 4, 2018 ‘The more we do over the next couple of days to galvanize support against [Conservative Party leader Doug Ford] on the issues to show the NDP as a real alternative, the better we are prepared to take on Ford if he wins.’
* The NDP claws its way back, by Gerard Di Trolio, Jacobin, June 4, 2018 (by the same author: The NDP’s oil problem, Jacobin, April 4, 2018)
[The Ontario election campaign has been noteworthy for the fact that the parties and candidates are saying next to nothing about the global warming emergency. The authors of the above two articles follow this pattern, each saying nothing on the subject. What could be more important in political discourse today if not the global warming emergency, not to speak of the relentless drive by imperialism towards more wars, notably targetting Russia and China?]
What Ontario workers can expect from a NDP government, by Gerard Di Trolio, Rank and File.ca, June 1, 2018
Canadian navy joined with U.S. in using ships as ‘floating Guantanamos’ detaining and abusing suspected drug smugglers in int’l waters, report on CBC News, June 6, 2018
On the eve on the Ontario election, Conservative Party leader’s sister-in-law sues him for losing the family fortune due to incompetence, report in CBC News, June 4, 2018 (and report in Globe and Mail, June 4, 2018)
[Conservative Party leader Doug Ford is the brother of the cocaine-addicted, train wreck of a former Toronto mayor Rob Ford (2010-14). Rob Ford died of cancer in 2016. His wife says in her lawsuit that Doug Ford squandered the Ford family fortune due to his business incompetence. The lawsuit says he is incompetent as a businessman, including naming unqualified friends to executive positions in the family label-making company.
[The lawsuit comes on the eve of the June 7 Ontario election. Three pro-private enterprise parties are in the running. The incumbent Liberals are trailing badly in the polls while the Conservative Party and New Democratic Party are neck and neck. The pro-private enterprise Green Party is a distant fourth. The latest poll numbers are here; they show the Conservatives winning a legislative majority. ]
Related: Is Ontario Conservative Party leader Doug Ford his brother’s keeper?, by Martin Regg Cohn, columnist, Toronto Star, June 5, 2018
NDP government in BC planning to lower taxes for its hoped-for liquefied natural gas industry, column by Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun, June 4, 2018 [BC NDP Premier John Horgan wants even lower taxes on the natural gas fracking industry than the preceding Liberal Party government had planned. An ‘LNG’ industry will be created by boosting gas fracking/land desecration in the northeast of the province, though low world prices for the product may leave the hoped-for industry as a pipe dream. Such is the state of the ‘environmentally conscious’ NDP: an NDP premier in Alberta who champions expanded tar sands production and an NDP premier in BC who champions natural gas fracking. This is the party to which Canada’s moribund left defers.]
Thieves falling out: In U.S. television interview, Canadian prime minister slams fellow NATO member U.S. for ‘insulting’ tariffs against steel and aluminum imports from Canada, report on CBC News, June 3, 2018 (Watch here the full interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on NBC’s ‘Meet The Press, June 3, 2018.) [Joined in lockstep with the United States in waging a new cold war against Russia and regime change in Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela, Canada and Europe squirm as the Trump administration squeezes them over investment and trade regimes.]
* Few days left to avoid full-scale trade war between U.S. and EU, says France’s finance minister, RT, June 2, 2018
* G7 finance ministers meet in Canada, six of them criticize U.S. tariff war, CBC News, June 3, 2018
* Putin signs law on countermeasures against US and its allies, RT, June 4, 2018
Housing emergency is Vancouver’s worst crisis since WWII, by Douglas Todd, columnist, Vancouver Sun, June 4, 2018
Related: Vancouver’s house property taxes are the lowest in Canada and have declined as the housing price bubble accelerates, commentary by Alex Hemingway, Vancouver Sun, June 4, 2018
Doubly risible: Fresh from his government’s multi-billion financing of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion, Justin Trudeau will champion the risible global warming targets of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement at the G7 sumit meeting in Malbaie, Quebec on June 8, 9, 2018, report in Globe and Mail ‘Report On Business’, June 4, 2018 (subscriber only) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looking to reassert Canada’s claim to climate change leadership at the coming Group of Seven summit, just a week after his government announced it would acquire the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and fund its expansion…
Canadian gov’t quietly writes off loan to auto industry oligarchs but won’t reveal sum or say who got it, CBC News, June 2, 2018 The loan written off in March 2018 likely was to auto sector, but Liberal government refuses to disclose details …The most-recent public valuation of commercial loans that remain in arrears shows a total of $1.15 billion still owed to the federal government as of March 2017. Most of that money was part of a $13.7-billion injection of Canadian taxpayer money into the auto sector after the 2009 global financial meltdown.
Trans Mountain pipeline supporters are kidding themselves to think PM Trudeau’s reassuring words can dispel tragic outcomes, by Jennifer Wells, business columnist, Toronto Star, June 1, 2018
… For a primer on the black goo you can do no better than the series produced by InsideClimate News on the 2010 Enbridge spill of diluted Canadian bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. It’s an eye-opening account of confusion, delays and mistruths, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not even knowing what they were dealing with: black gunk that can’t be sucked off the surface of the water, as is the case with conventional oil, but sinks to the river bottom after the added chemicals that have allowed the bitumen to flow have vapourized into the atmosphere. Reading it will correct the mistake of describing the Trans Mountain pipeline as a conveyor of “liquids”. The diluents added to the bitumen to liquefy it can include the carcinogen benzene and the neuropathy-causing chemical hexane…
* ‘Houston has a problem’: The call that sparked Canada’s Trans Mountain crisis, feature article by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, June 1, 2018 Even in the 11th hour, politicians desperate to save the Trans Mountain pipeline were uncertain a deal would get done. Here’s how it went down.
* Fossil fuel pipelines or climate action? Trudeau walks a political tightrope in Canada, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, June 1, 2018
* If Ottawa can’t sell Trans Mountain, it’ll need to spend billions more to build it, by Jesse Snyder, Financial Post, June 1, 2018 The $6.3B figure to build the expansion was likely ‘conservative,’ given rising steel prices and as Ottawa isn’t a specialized pipeline builder/operator like Kinder Morgan
* Kinder Morgan, the U.S. oil giant that outsmarted the Canadian government, by Nick Cunningham, Oil Price.com, May 30, 2018
British Columbia court tightens the injunction restricting protests against Trans Mountain pipeline, report by CBC News, June 1, 2018 And, report by Camille Bains, Canadian Press, June 1, 2018 And, report in National Observer, June 3, 2018 …B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck agreed to the lawyers’ request to make the injunction applicable to other locations and equipment facilities and also removed the 10-minute warning period given to protesters before police start making arrests…
Trans Mountain pipeline scores another victory as federal court rejects as ‘hearsay’ news reports of rigged approval process, by Mike De Souza, National Observer, June 1, 2018
Kinder Morgan has scored another legal victory after the Federal Court of Appeal rejected a request to consider new evidence from news reports that allegedly showed the Trudeau government rigged its review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
… The Federal Court of Appeal has yet to rule on the main case launched by First Nations who allege that the Trudeau government failed in its legal duty to consult them, prior to approving the Trans Mountain project in November 2016. This decision could be released in the coming weeks…
U.S. allies hit back at Washington’s steel, aluminum tariffs, Reuters, May 30, 2018
* Now what? How steel and aluminum tariffs will impact Canada, CBC News, June 1, 2018
* Risk of full-blown trade war with U.S. continues to rise, by Adrian Morrow, Greg Keenan, Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, June 1, 2018 (subscriber only) U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed relations between Canada and its largest trading partner to their tensest point in recent memory: American tariffs on steel and aluminum have sparked a trade war over more than $30-billion worth of goods. The Canadian lumber industry is coping with heavy U.S. duties on softwood, and the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement has proven fruitless…
Infant mortality, suicide rates worse for Indigenous people, says first national study on health equality, by Cherise Seucharan, StarMetro Vancouver, May 30, 2018
The first Canada-wide study on national health inequalities shows that Indigenous people have significantly poorer health outcomes for infant mortality and suicide rates across Canada.
The study found that infant mortality rates were 3.9 times higher in areas with a higher concentration Inuit people, 2.3 times higher in areas with more First Nations people, and 1.9 times higher in areas with more Métis people.
The findings for suicide rates were even worse, with the suicide rates being 6.5 times higher in places with a concentration of Inuit people, 3.7 times higher for First Nations people and 2.7 times for Métis.
The U.S. is tearing children from their parents – and so is Canada, by Denise Balkissoon, columnist, Globe and Mail, May 31, 2018
Kinder Morgan pipeline bailout in Canada to cost north of $15 billion, by Robyn Allan, National Observer, May 29 2018
* Kinder Morgan reaps reward for handing over Trans Mountain pipeline to Canadian gov’t, by Alastair Sharp, The National Observer, May 30, 2018
* Canada’s dirty $20-billion pipeline bailout, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 29, 2018
[The writer takes a hard look at the economics of the Canadian government purchase of the 65 year old ‘Trans Mountain’ pipeline for $4.5 billionfrom U.S. oil company Kinder Morgan. It will cost billions more to build the desired expansion (tripling) of the pipeline’s transport of Alberta tar sands bitumen. The writer then throws in the idea that if more of the pipeline’s bitumen product were processed in Canada, the project would be ok. “If [Finance Minister Bill] Morneau and [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau were really serious about jobs and acting in the national interest, then they would have invested in partial upgrading of bitumen.” And further, “If the federal government took just $9 billion from its proposed $20-billion bailout for Kinder Morgan, it could fund three partial upgraders in Alberta capable of upgrading 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day.” Spinning tar sands extraction in Alberta as potentially being ‘in Canada’s ‘national interest’ and as something acceptable because it provides ‘jobs’ is risible. Liberal environmentalists who make such arguments shoudl reflect: ‘There are no good jobs on a dead planet.’]
Global warming be damned: The Canadian government is buying the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion, report on CBC News, May 29, 2018 [Interviewed on CBC Vancouver Radio One‘s ‘Early Edition’ program on May 29, British Columbia Premier John Horgan restated his concerns about the Trans Mountain pipeline. Protection of coastal ocean waters and fish from oil spills is named, ‘global warming’ was not. Horgan’s government is overseeing a natural gas fracking expansion spree in the northeast of BC, which among other risks to the planet is causing the extinction of iconic caribou herds. Horgan also restated his view in favour of building oil refineries in BC in order to reduce gasoline prices in the province, which are the highest in Canada. Economists scoff at the claim that building hugely expensive refineries would do anything to reduce gasoline prices. Capitalist investors would only be interested in doing so if they received large public subsidies.]
In the 21st century, more than a century after the industrial assault on British Columbia’s forests began, BC gov’t is still approving the pillaging of old-growth forests, report by Tracy Sherlock, in The National Observer, May 28, 2018
British Columbians shortchanged billions from fossil fuel industry revenues, op-ed commentary by Ben Parfitt (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives), in Vancouver Sun, May 27, 2018
… Happily picking up where the previous, Liberal Party government in BC left off, the current NDP government [elected in May 2017] allows Shell and its competitors to dramatically reduce the royalties they pay on natural gas and other hydrocarbons they drill and frack from the ground in B.C.’s northeast quarter. Now, in an ominous development, the government says we are not even entitled to know how much the government actually subsidizes individual energy companies.
… In fiscal year 2008, according to the “upstream development division” of B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, British Columbians received $1.16 billion in royalty revenues. By 2017, however, revenues had fallen nearly 90 per cent to $147 million…
* Newly discovered data shows need for inquiry into gas fracking, by Ben Parfitt, Canadian Center for Policy Initiatives, Dec 11, 2017 [British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) had data in hand four years ago about the gas fracking industry’s contamination of surface and underground water in the BC northeast. It never told elected leaders about it until forced to do so a little over two weeks ago.] * This U.S. government policy enabled the fracking industry’s $280 billion loss, by Justin Mikulka, Desmog Blog, May 11, 2018
Green Party’s Elizabeth May pleads guilty to criminal contempt for anti-pipeline protest, CBC News, May 28, 2018 [A second member of Parliament has set a bad precedent of pleading guilty to violation of a civil (non-criminal) court injunction seeking to shut down protests against Kinder Morgan company’s proposed tar sands pipeline expansion through British Columbia. Earlier this month, NDP MP Kennedy Stewart also pleaded guilty. The judge in May’s case slapped a heavier fine on her, $1,500, against the advice of government lawyers recommending the more lenient $500 fine levied against Kennedy. Liberal environmentalists such as May and Kennedy believe in ceding to courts the power to decide whether governments should act or not to reduce planet-killing greenhouse gas emissions.]
Related: High-profile protester against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion pleads guilty to defying court injunction protecting the project, report on CBC News, May 14, 2018
[Kennedy Stewart, an NDP member of Parliament, has set a bad precedent in pleading guilty to a civil charge arising from a court injunction directed against protests that would disrupt preliminary construction of Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion of its ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline connecting Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May is expected to follow suit when she appears before the court on May 28. Both politicians took part in a large protest against the pipeline on March 23.
[Stewart has announced he is resigning his seat in Parliament in order to run for mayor of Vancouver. In one of his first interviews on radio, he said he would respect whatever decision that Canadian courts declare when it comes to Trans Mountain. In other words, appointed judges who rise from the ranks of the capitalist legal system are to be the arbiters of the runaway global warming emergency and the fate of the Earth. Ordinary citizens are to bow and submit. This same logic underlies the legal interference that the BC NDP government is running against Trans Mountain in an effort to placate protesters. When the government’s legal appeals seeking to exercise some control over the ‘safety’ of tar sands pipelines (an oxymoron, if ever there was one) are turned away by the courts, the government will say, ‘Ah well, we tried our best. Let the tar sands flow.’]
Vancouver files claim against owners of vessel that leaked fuel into harbour in April 2015, Canadian Press, May 27, 2018 [The owners of an ocean-going ship that spilled bunker fuel into Vancouver harbour in July 2015 have for three years flipped the bird to the city’s efforts that they pay the estimated half million dollar cost of a cleanup. Heavy oil (bitumen) tanker traffic out of the port of Vancouver will increase sevenfold if the tar sands industry in Alberta and its government patrons succeed in building the ‘Trans Mountain’ pipeline expansion. Not to worry: the federal and Alberta governments say there is ‘world class’ infrastrucutre on Canada’s west coast to clean up oil spills.]
Hundreds of wealthy homeowners in Vancouver protest modest tax that will fund lame efforts by BC government to ease house price bubble, report by CBC News, May 27, 2018
Kinder Morgan and the ‘rule of law’, by Will Horter, The Tyee, May 23, 2018 (part one of two) … Building on a few other whoppers — Kinder Morgan will lower gas prices, Canada needs new tar sands pipelines in order to address global warming, Justin Trudeau’s promise to ensure a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations — we now discover the biggest lie of all: Trudeau cites the “rule of law” in support of his claim that his government’s Kinder Morgan approval was a science-based decision made after carefully weighing all the evidence… And: Kinder Morgan and the power of civil resistance, by Will Horter, The Tyee, May 25, 2018 (part two of two) … Canada has become a petro state. It is time we come to grips with this as a nation. We have a litany of examples of both provincial and federal politicians playing fast and loose with the rules to force an unwilling oil tanker pipeline project on an unwilling province. How far will they go? Pretty far!
In Ontario election, battle lines drawn over minimum wage and good jobs, by Sara Mojtehedzadeh, work and wealth reporter, Toronto Star, May 25, 2018 … Around one-third of Ontario’s workforce are vulnerable workers in precarious employment, according to a report by two independent special advisers appointed by the province. A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found in 2015 that Ontario’s low-wage workforce grew by 94 per cent over two decades, vastly outstripping the growth in total employment, which grew by 30 per cent.
If Kinder Morgan’s numbers don’t add up, should the pipeline be stopped?, by Jennifer Wells, business columnist, Toronto Star, May 25, 2018 [Interviewing economist Robyn Allan, former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.]
Canadian taxpayers held hostage by Kinder Morgan, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 23, 2018 Texas-based firm has no intentions of paying for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on its own.
Canada’s chemical warfare programs come back to haunt: Ex-soldier says he watched barrels of Agent Orange being buried at military base in Gagetown, New Brunswick in 1985, report on CBC News, May 23, 2018
Related: Canada and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Wikipedia [The Wikipedia omits reporting how Canada dumped instead of destroyed its stocks of Agent Orange during the 1970s and 1980s.]
Almost half of Toronto tenants paying ‘unaffordable’ rent, study finds, by Emily Mathieu, affordable housing reporter, Toronto Star, May 22, 2018
Almost half of Toronto tenants are paying too much in rent and are one health emergency or lost job away from losing their homes, in a city where rental rules favour profits over people, according to a new study. Where Will We Live? Ontario’s Affordable Rental Housing Crisis, released on May 22 (16 page report) by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, found that 46.9 per cent of Toronto renter households are spending 30 per cent or more of their income on rental costs and that a tenant would have to earn $24 an hour to comfortably pay the going rate.
… In Toronto last year, the average rent for a one-bedroom condominium was about $1,800, while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,200… “It is worse than it looks from these figures,” said Kenn Hale, director of advocacy and legal services at the advocacy centre. “These are not the average rents of units that are available, these are average rents of units that are occupied.”
[According to the 2016 Census of Canada, the home ownership rate in Toronto is 67 per cent, very near the national average of Canada.]
B.C. cities debating bold moves to cope with rising sea levels, by Frances Bula, special to the Globe and Mail, May 22, 2018 [Planners in Surrey BC, the largest Vancouver suburb, are deciding what to do in the face of rising sea levels. Twenty per cent of Surrey lies at high-tide level, including long stretches along the busy Fraser River. Buy out homes and farms and retreat, or raise the existing dikes? Either option will cost billions of dollars. Surrey’s plans assume a one meter sea level rise by 2100 and two meters by 2200, but the world’s ongoing failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will send those levels much higher.]
Canada downgrades its diplomatic presence in Venezuela as it pursues regime change alongside Trump’s U.S., report by Andy Blatchford, Canadian Press, May 21, 2018
It’s time to help the children of Gaza, commentary by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, Toronto Star, May 22, 2018 … So, today, I am writing to Prime Minister Trudeau to ask him to keep his promise and, indeed, his word. He has the power to do that. Now, he must show the will to help Palestinian children in desperate need… (Izzeldin Abuelaish is Associate Professor of Global Health at the University of Toronto and author of I Shall Not Hate. Three of his daughters and a niece were killed by Israel during its 2009 war against Gaza. He is suing the Israel government.)
British Columbia interior sits devastated as global warming takes its toll, by Justine Hunter, columnist, Globe and Mail, May 20, 2018 … “There isn’t a tree species or a plantation that isn’t under stress due to increasing maladaptation to the current climate,” Mr. Simpson said. Never mind whatever climate changes are coming…
[Global warming and the consequences of decades of forest clearcutting have devastated the Cariboo region in central BC. It resembles a moonscape following the record fires of 2017 and the steady march of the mountain pine beetle infestation.]
Was Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, a war criminal for the war of conquest and genocidal actions that he led in western Canada?, documentary broadcast on CBC Radio One’s ‘Ideas’, part one on April 11, 2018, part two on April 12, 2018 (each part is 54 minutes)
Interview with New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Sunday Edition’, May 20, 2018 (28-minute interview)
[In this CBC interview, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party outlines his views in favour of social justice and equality. The theme of Singh’s successful 2017 campaign to win the leadership of the party was ‘With love and courage, we can change the world’. This continued the feel-good themes of his party leadership predecessor Jack Layton, who led the party from 2003 until his death from cancer in 2011. Layton shifted the party to the political right. His successor, Tom Mulcair, continued that shift, including removal from the party constitution of any formal reference to the party as ‘socialist’. The NDP lost the 2015 federal election when it opted to run a campaign to the right of the Liberal Party, extolling the ‘balanced budget’ dogma of the ideologues of globalized capitalism.
[In the interview, Singh outlines his opposition to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline of U.S. company Kinder Morgan. He does not use the term ‘global warming’. Rather, his opposition is founded on support to First Nations rights in opposing the pipeline, concerns about the difficulty of clearning up ocean spills of tar sands bitument, and belief that the federal government review processes in support of the pipeline were flawed. The shallowness of his opposition is shown by his explanation of the support of fellow NDP member and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley for the pipeline. He says Notley is doing the right thing as leader of the Alberta NDP in protecting the ‘interests of Alberta’. We are to understand from this that the ‘interests of Alberta’ coincide with the fossil fuel industry. Progressive Albertans would beg to disagree. The fossil fuel industry and its related industries–auto, aerospace, armaments, mass tourism–are a death cult that has dragged the world into a global warming emergency.
[Singh’s shallow opposition to Trans Mountain mirrors that of the government of British Columbia, led by the BC NDP and supported by the Green Party. The government is running legal interference against Trans Mountain because it is under intense pressure to do so. But it’s pro-fossil fuel agenda is revealed by its support to expanding natural gas fracking in the northeast of the province and to constructing a multi-billion dollar boondoggle of a hydroelectric dam—’Site C’ on the Peace River—that will power natural gas fracking and liquefaction as well as other resource extraction projects including mining and tar sands extraction in Alberta.
[Jagmeet Singh issued a statement on May 14 condemning “the killings of protesters in Gaza by Israeli Defence Forces” on that date. This is not a rupture with the NDP’s longstanding support to the state of Israel. The party continues to support the failed ‘two-state’ proposal. It opposes a democratic Israel-Palestine modelled on multiracial South Africa and it opposes measures against Israel’s settler colonialism of Palestinian lands, such as the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. At the 2017 NDP convention, the party leadership blocked any discussion of Israel’s settler-colonial policy towards the Palestinian people. The NDP stands squarely with NATO’s new cold war drive against Russia, the NATO-backed civil war against the people of eastern Ukraine, and the U.S.-led drive to violently overthrow the government of Syria. For background on Israel, read: Zionist lies and preparation for nuclear war, by Leslie Bravery, published in The Daily Blog (New Zealand), May 19, 2018.]
120 personalities and organizations in Quebec call for an emergency mobilization against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, press release by Greenpeace Canada, May 16, 2018 [The declaration by Quebec personalities comes as Canadians are digesting the troubling news that the Canadian government is offering to financially compensate investors in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion against “politically motivated” delays or disruptions. There is nothing new in that–the corrupt petro-state of Canada has subsidized and otherwise promoted the climate-wrecking fossil fuel, auto and aerospace industries since the beginning of time. That corruption has permeated the country’s trade unions and its social-democratic party the NDP.]
The easy populism of Conservative Party leader Doug Ford is working in Ontario election campaign, by Rick Salutin, columnist, Toronto Star, May 17, 2018
* The outcome of the Ontario election no longer ‘absolutely’ certain, by Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press, May 18, 2018
* Ontarians split over choice of best premier with NDP at 38%, Conservatives at 37%; Liberals far behind at 19%, Ipsos Reed poll conducted for Global News, May 9, 2018 Three in four (74%) Ontarians wish there were different party laders to choose from in this election. Nearly three quarters (73%) of Ontarians agree that the economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.
* Ontario divided: Anger, economics and the fault lines that could decide the election, special report in Globe and Mail, May 18, 2018
[Rick Salutin’s latest column in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest corporate news outlet, doesn’t give a thought to the absence of a left-wing party in the June 7 Ontario election and how this affects the campaign. Could the decades-long failure to build a left-wing party have something to do with battered and alienated working class voters reportedly being drawn to support the right-wing populism of Conservative Party leader Doug Ford?
[Mainstream news columnists are pondering why Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal Party are trailing badly in the election campaign. Her government has raised the minimum wage to $14 and will make that $15 if elected; a March 27, 2018 budget announced billions of dollars to expand privately-delivered child care and public transit; the budget also introduced pharmaceutical coverage for people under 25 years of age and expanded coverage for those 65 and older; one third of post-secondary students are benefitting from free tuition for low-income familes. So why is the right-wing Conservative Party holding a large lead in polls? What role might disaffection of Canadian workers with the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (‘handsome Harper’) in Ottawa be playing in making right-wing populism seem attractive? The political left in the province has no answer, it is without a party and without a voice.]
Secrecy surrounds Canadian arms sales to right-wing Ukraine after federal government approved them six months ago, report by Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press, May 17, 2018
Ottawa announces financial guarantees for investors in Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, report by CBC News, May 16, 2018
Related: Justin Trudeau has little to show for his efforts to reach a deal on the Trans Mountain pipeline, by Chantal Hébert, columnist, Toronto Star, May 16, 2018
[Two days ago, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the Canadian government will compensate capitalist interests for “politically motivated” risks involved in building the expanded Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. Globe and Mail columnist Campbell Clark argues that the move is part of a negotiating ploy by the government with pipeline owner Kinder Morgan Inc in the likely event that the company bails on the project and offers to sell it to interested investors. The federal government would be a key part of such a buyout.
[The largest difficulty for the pipeline is not the widely publicized political interference being run by the British Columbia government but rather First Nations opposition. As reported in the National Observer, the federal government and Kinder Morgan are each seeking to financially punish First Nations in BC that are challenging the pipeline in court. Submissions to that effect by Kinder Morgan and the Ottawa government to the Federal Court of Appeal are in response to an extraordinary motion submitted on May 2 by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (Vancouver region). It is requesting that the court release uncensored copies of federal documents cited in a recent investigation by National Observer indicating that the federal regulatory and environmental approval process for the pipeline was rigged to achieve approval.]
Canadian prime minister offers cheap sympathy for victims of Israel’s massacre of Palestinians, report by CBC News, May 15, 2018 [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Israel used “excessive force” in Gaza on May 14 when it killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters with gunfire and injured hundreds more. The action was “inexcusable”. But the gesture is cheap grandstanding. Trudeau is only moved to his statement because one of those injured by Israeli sniper fire is Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani. Past ‘investigations’ of Israeli brutality have changed nothing for the Palestinian people living in Gaza, the world’s largest, open-air prison. Real gestures would be the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Canada and defiance of Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza in the form of aid to improve the desperate conditions of the people living in Gaza, for example, the provision of potable water. But Canada is a close ally of Israel and its most important ally and partner in crime, the United States. All parties in the Canadian Parliament are staunch supporters of Israel no matter how grave the crimes it commits.]
Alberta’s tar sands tailing ponds are a ticking time bomb for Canadians, by Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, May 15, 2018 Alberta has failed to protect taxpayers from billions in cleanup costs.
In major win over ‘corporate bullying,’ Seattle approves tax on Amazon to combat homelessness, by Jake Johnson, staff writer, Common Dreams, May 15, 2018 [Leaders of construction unions in Washington state whose dues-paying members are building Seattle’s housing bubble lost out in their opposition to the ‘Amazon tax’. It must be said that as in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, tinkering with taxes on the wealthy à la Seattle’s ‘Amazon tax’ to subsidize landlords renting housing to the poor and working class is hardly a solution to the growing housing and shelter crisis in Canadian and U.S. cities. The solution is to build publicly-financed, community-controlled housing projects as part of ending capitalist, automobile-driven urban sprawl.]
Canada’s decades-old ‘war on drugs’: March 2018 is another record month for opioid poisoning deaths in British Columbia, report on CBC News, May 10, 2018 [Canada’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to kill at record levels. In BC, 161 people died from opioid poisoning in March 2018, just one victim shy of the monthly record of 162 deaths in December 2017. With 391 poisoning deaths so far in 2018 in BC, the yearly toll may top 2017’s grim toll of 1,420.]
For Port of Vancouver, underestimating Pacific sea-level rises could come at a high price, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, May 14, 2018
[Vancouver is Canada’s largest port. It’s a patchwork of shipping terminals across the Vancouver region handling massive quantities of coal and grain, wood pulp, logs, steel, Korean and Japanese cars, and several million shipping containers each year. Trucks moving containers to and from the multiple terminals clog the region’s roads and poison its air. 2017 was a record year for port volume with some 142 million tonnes shipped and received.]
[This is the fifth in a series of articles by Mathew McClearn in the Globe and Mail examining the effects of rising sea levels on Canada’s coastline. Previous articles are here:
* Canada’s Beaufort Sea Arctic, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018
* The town of Sackville, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018
* Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2018
* The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
Construction unions in Seattle join with high-tec industry in opposing municipal ‘Amazon tax’ that would fund housing, report in The Guardian, May 13, 2018 [The federal government in Ottawa as well as the BC provincial government and Vancouver city municipal government are falling over themselves to welcome Amazon’s soundings of transferring 3,000 jobs to an expanded tech hub in Vancouver. Are they scabbing on nearby Seattle’s municipal government and residents, who are trying to deal with the house price bubble in their city? Currently, there are some 6,000 people in Canada working for Amazon. The Seattle construction unions’ selfish stand resembles the support for tar sands pipelines by industrial unions in British Columbia and Alberta.]
The stories the Alberta government and oil industry don’t want to tell, by Kevin Taft, National Observer, May 12, 2018 (Kevin Taft is author of the 2017 book Oil’s Deep State. He served three terms in Alberta’s legislature from 2001-12 and was a leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta from 2004 to 2008.)
… Perhaps the biggest story getting marginalized in the pipeline debate is the looming cost of environmental cleanup for Alberta’s oil industry. Canadians need to realize that the biggest environmental cleanup is at the source of pipelines, not their terminus. The cost to clean up a potential spill on the BC coast is a fraction of the cost to clean up the existing contamination in Alberta…
Letter from ten Canadian antiwar organizations on Iran Nuclear Agreement, published on the website of the Iranian Canadian Congress, May 11, 2018
Related: Iranian Canadian Congress calls on Canadian government to continue its commitment to Iran Nuclear Agreement, statement by the Iranian Canadian Congress, May 7, 2018
Comment by Roger Annis:
[At a talk in Vancouver BC delivered by ecosocialist theoretician John Bellamy Foster on April 26, an audience member hostile to the Iranian government commented on the current situation in the country. She lamented there are too few international protests against the Iranian government calling for its overthrow, citing the burst of small civil protests that occurred in Iran in late 2016. She asked Foster for his views on the matter.
[Foster’s response revealed three failings. One, he failed to challenge the questioner’s underlying premise that a violent overthrow of the Iranian government in the current context would be a good thing. Two, he stated that people in the West “need to struggle against imperialism and also against sub-imperialism”. The latter referred to Iran and was a riff on the theory of ‘sub-imperialisms’ advanced by South African political theorist Patrick Bond. The theory blurs the all-important line between countries which are imperialist and those such as Russia and China which are not. The theory is quixotic–something akin to saying a pregnant woman is only ‘partly pregnant’–and it also opens the door to the idea that a violent overthrow of the ‘sub-imperialist’ Iranian government might well be a good thing. Three, Foster did not explain the basic precept that the task of fighting anti-worker policies in Iran belongs to the Iranian people, not foreign interventionists, and what’s more, the Iranian people have proven themselves more than up to the task of forging their own, sovereign political future.]
The myth of oil refining in Canada as an opportunity to create more ‘jobs’, analysis by Tristin Hopper, in National Post, May 11, 2018 … BC Premier Horgan is capitalizating on one of the most beloved and persistent myths in Western Canada: The notion that we would be richer, smarter and more employed if we could simply find a way to refine all of our oil in-house. Unfortunately, the theory is flawed in almost every way. Below is a primer on why Canada lets people buy our petroleum even if we haven’t turned it into gasoline first…
Related: Upgrading bitumen will free up pipeline capacity, commentary by Douglas Taylor, in Vancouver Sun, May 10, 2018 [The writer advances a variant of the calls for ‘more refining’ of fossil fuel products in Canada before they are shipped to the U.S. for refining.]
… Alberta’s oilsands presently produce about 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of raw bitumen. Forty per cent of the raw bitumen is upgraded to a higher value product that can be transported in pipeline. Sixty per cent, or 1.6 million bpd, is blended with expensive diluents to enable it to flow in a pipeline. The producers of raw bitumen must pay for the costs of blending, shipping and handling the diluent. This significant added expense is referred to as the “diluent penalty” About 680,000 bpd of diluent is required to transport 1.6 million bpd of raw bitumen. The diluent, unwanted by buyers, takes up about 680,000 bpd of valuable pipeline capacity.
Currently Alberta’s upgraded bitumen, diluted bitumen and conventional oil is shipped to U.S. markets, primarily in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, in a pipeline network with the capacity of 4 million bpd. When the Enbridge Line 3 replacement and the Keystone XL projects are completed, the total pipeline capacity will be 5.2 million bpd, an increase of 1.2 million bpd over current capacity.
If the additional 1.6 million bpd of Alberta’s existing raw bitumen was partly upgraded, it would free up an additional 680,000 bpd of pipeline capacity now used for diluent. This would bring the total pipeline capacity to about 5.9 million bpd, an increase of 1.9 million bpd over current capacity. This increase would be achieved without construction of the KMX. Lack of pipeline capacity appears to not be a deterrent to new investment in oilsands production…
[Canada’s trade unions and the Green Party and New Democratic Party adorn their pro-Alberta tar sands policies with the progressive veneer of saying more fossil fuels should be processed in Canada instead of importing fossil fuels from abroad. It’s a phony argument that distorts truths and realities and it reveals political bankruptcy in the face of the ever-more severe global warming emergency.]
Money-laundering threat rises in Canada’s securities industry, by Alexandra Posadzki, Globe and Mail, May 11, 2018
Related: Canada now leads the international pack in corporate corruption, report by Marco Chown Oved, investigative reporter, and Robert Cribb, investigative reporter, in Toronto Star, May 6, 2018
Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands — notorious offshore tax havens where shell companies shield billions of dollars in illicit money — will soon have more open corporate records than Canada. In a stunning move last week, Britain’s House of Commons passed legislation that will lift generations of corporate secrecy in its offshore territories by compelling company owners registered on the islands to reveal themselves in public databases.
… Despite a recent commitment from the provinces to start collecting beneficial ownership data (without making it public), it is still possible in Canada today to register a corporation, open a bank account and send and receive money overseas all without disclosing your name.
… More than half of the 214,000 offshore companies named in the Panama Papers were based in the British Virgin Islands. Seventy per cent of the 25,000 offshore corporations in the Paradise Papers were incorporated in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Canadians have stashed at least $90.5 billion in these three U.K. tax havens alone, according to Statistics Canada.
… Canada’s corporate secrecy has inspired the international practice of “snow washing” — hiding suspect transactions, money laundering and tax evasion behind the country’s reputation for respected financial oversight institutions and a solid economy…
[The ‘Panama Papers’ revelations in 2017 showed Canada as a leading country in corporate tax evasion and other forms of corruption, with billions of dollars at stake annually. The daily news in Canada only underlines that reality. For example, the housing price spiral in Canada is a festival of tax dodging and other forms of corruption by national and international investors. Coincidentally (not), the Canadian government plays a lead, aggressive role in the New Cold War accusing Russia of all manner of global transgressions.]
Previous government in British Columbia urged Ottawa to fix ‘safety gaps’ in case of Kinder Morgan emergency, feature report by Mike De Souza, National Observer, May 10, 2018 [The BC Liberal Party governed the province from 2001 to 2017. Though named ‘Liberal’, it is centre-right. Its latest incarnation dates from a fusion in the early 1990s of three existing centre-right parties in an unsuccessful effort to block the election of the center-left New Democratic Party.]
* Judge in pipeline-protest case rejects ‘defence of necessity’ application, by Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun, May 10, 2018
* Government aid is key to Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by Robyn Allan, Vancouver Sun, April 30, 2018 The proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion was never commercially viable. It has needed unprecedented support from the get-go when in 2011 the National Energy Board (NEB) approved a $286-million special fee fought by Canadian oil producers…
Auto dealership in Cranbrook, BC fires employee following her racist tirade in a Denny’s restaurant in Lethbridge, Alberta, CBC News, May 9, 2018
* Woman yelling at group of men in Alberta Denny’s shows racism is part of Canada’s character, by Shree Paradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, May 9, 2018
* There is no moment in which racialized people are safe from racial terror, by Vicky Mochama, columnist, Toronto Star, May 9, 2018 The disturbing video recorded in a Lethbridge, Alta., Denny’s Restaurant last month is what everyday racial terror looks like. It provokes and insults, at times denying itself.
At outset of June 7 Ontario election campaign, Conservative Party leader Doug Ford knows to keep secret where he’ll swing his axe, by Linda McQuaig, columnist, Toronto Star, May 9, 2018
… Determined to avoid identifying victims of his cuts, Doug Ford is sticking to folksy claims about being “for the little guy” and against “the elites” (that is, anyone using words longer than one syllable). No messy math. No identifiable bodies. With only a smile, Ford insists he’ll cut $6 billion in spending without cutting a single public sector job. He’ll simply eliminate government “inefficiencies”.
But, once we put aside right-wing mantra, it becomes clear that the biggest part of government spending goes to providing valued services, particularly health care and education, and it’s more efficient to provide these services collectively through government than to leave people on their own to buy them in the marketplace.
More RCAF helicopters for Mali being considered, by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, May 7, 2018 The number of helicopters the RCAF will eventually send to Mali continues to be uncertain.
Canadian arms manufacturer hopes to sell assault rifles to Ukraine as country looks to upgrade weaponry, by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, Feb 14, 2018 In December, the Liberal government made changes to Canada’s arms export rules to allow the sale of machine-guns and other small arms to Ukraine
BC NDP gov’t scraps farcical emissions targets by its predecessor dating back to 2005, creates farcical targets of its own, report on CBC News, May 8, 2018 … Despite the name of the new Climate Change Accountability Act, Ecojustice’s Alan Andrews says it stills leaves the government unaccountable for hitting GHG targets that are more than a decade away. “In the ten years since BC’s climate law was first introduced, we have had a succession of broken promises and missed targets — and nothing in today’s announcement suggests the next ten years will be any different,” said Andrews.
[The NDP government in British Columbia is hell bent on pursuing its Liberal Party predecessor’s goal of creating a liquefied natural gas industry in the province. Meanwhile, with or without LNG, natural gas fracking is expanding and the ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam to power mining and Alberta tar sands projects is going ahead full steam. The government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline into Vancouver harbour is all about ‘saving the BC coastline’ from oil spills and nothing about halting the catastrophic rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.]
Canadian gov’t probe into use of armoured vehicles sold to Saudi Arabia says Saudi authorities used ‘proportionate’ force against civilians, by Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, May 7, 2018 A federal government probe has found no hard evidence Canadian-made armoured vehicles were used to commit human-rights violations in Saudi Arabia in July, 2017. It says authorities in the kingdom used “proportionate and appropriate force” when they engaged in combat with local residents…
* No evidence Canadian vehicles involved in Saudi crackdown on civilians, says federal report, by Murray Brewster, CBC News, May 7, 2018
* Canada’s dual role in Yemen: Arms exports to Saudi coalition dwarf aid sent to war-torn country, by Brendan Kennedy, investigative reporter, and Michelle Shephard, national security reporter, Toronto Star, April 30, 2018 When Global Affairs Canada announced another aid package to war-torn Yemen in January, it boasted that Ottawa had given a total of $65 million to help ease what the United Nations has called “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time.” What Justin Trudeau’s government did not mention in its news release is that since 2015, Canada has also approved more than $284 million in exports of Canadian weapons and military goods to the countries bombing Yemen…
* Details revealed showing Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia includes ‘heavy assault’ vehicles, CBC News, March 18, 2018
… CBC News has obtained internal records that show the arms deal struck in February 2014 involved 928 of the most modern light armoured vehicles, known as the LAV 6. Of those, almost 40 per cent — 354 — are standard troop carriers.
The order also includes 119 LAV 6 vehicles of the “heavy assault” type, with powerful 105 millimetre canons affixed to their turrets, which were still under development at the time the documents were written. Another 119 are configured as “anti-tank” vehicles and a further 119 are designated as “direct fire” support, with a two-man turret and 30 millimetre chain gun.
Canada’s rental housing growth outstrips home ownership, by Shane Dingman, Globe and Mail, May 7, 2018
For the first time in decades, demand for rental housing is outpacing ownership, driving rent prices higher and deepening Canada’s housing affordability woes. Between 2011 and 2016, nearly 753,000 new households were formed. About 396,000 of those were rentals, which now account for 32 per cent of the country’s homes, according to data from the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index.
Over the same period, the percentage of home ownership fell from 68.9 per cent to 67.8 per cent, the first drop since 1971. “For 50 years, we’ve been trending toward home ownership, but now that average and even upper-income workers are being priced out of home ownership, they are staying in rental housing for far longer,” said Jill Atkey, acting chief executive and managing director of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association…
Shell is selling its stake in Canadian Natural Resources tar sands projects for $4.3-billion, Globe and Mail, May 7, 2018 (subscriber only) [Shell’s sale of its shares is one of the largest secondary share offerings in Canadian history and is a key test of investor interest in Alberta tar sands as oil prices rise but so do concerns over stranded assets. “The offering will be watched closely by the market as an indication of investor appetite for Canadian energy shares following a lengthy period of ngative sentiment that has recently dissipated with the improvement in crude oil prices and smaller discounts on heavy crude.”
What’s wrong with British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam? Author Sarah Cox has a list, interview with Sarah Cox, by Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, May 3, 2018 Sarah Cox’ new book ‘Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro’ argues the dam is destructive, costly and not needed.
Related: When BC Hydro wants your land, excerpt from Sarah Cox’ new book on the Site C dam in British Columbia, The Tyee, May 3, 2018 Sarah Cox’s new book on the Site C dam describes one farming family’s experience with expropriation.
Nine uncomfortable Canadian energy facts, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 7, 2018
… These are just some of the hard energy facts contained in Canada’s Energy Outlook, a new and encyclopedic report by David Hughes, one of Canada’s foremost energy experts. He has been analyzing energy trends for industry and government for more than 30 years. Hughes, whose reliable research is cited by the likes of Bloomberg, Nature, The Economist and The Tyee.
Unlike many environmentalists, Hughes does not believe that a transition to renewables or even reductions in greenhouse gases will be seamless, easy or cheap. Here’s why…
Canadian and Ontario governments give $220 million to Toyota to expand its production of best-selling ‘RAV 4’ SUV, The Canadian Press, May 4, 2018 [Sales of Toyota’s ‘RAV 4’ SUV have surpassed for the first time sales of the company’s Camry and Corolla auto bestsellers (report in Globe and Mail, May 4, 2018). This is in line with the trends of nearly all global automakers whereby the vehicles with the highest fuel consumption–trucks and SUVs–are displacing lesser gas-guzzling autos as best-sellers.]
Chiefs from 133 First Nations in Ontario join fight against Kinder Morgan pipeline and oilsands expansion, by Carl Meyer, National Observer, May 2, 2018 … “The Chiefs of Ontario agree to the immediacy of building a more sustainable future so our children do not have to rely or be exposed to fossil fuels which pollute and destroy the earth, air, and waters,” Day wrote in the letter, obtained by the National Observer.
Treatment of Toronto vehicle attacker who killed ten people exemplifies racial disparity by police, media, politicians, by Azeezah Kanji, columnist, Toronto Star, May 2, 2018
Pollution from Canadian refineries an ‘embarrassment’ compared to U.S., Toronto Star/ Global News/ National Observer investigation, May 2, 2018 (This investigation is part of an ongoing investigative series called ‘The Price of Oil‘. It is the largest investigative collaboration of its kind in Canadian history, examining the hidden costs of Canada’s oil industry.)
… While federal oversight in the U.S. imposes a strict regulatory regime that includes stiff penalties for oil companies, Canadian refineries are managed under a patchwork of provincial and municipal air regulations. There remains no federal ‘cap’ for key pollutants.
Global warming? Not fazing Canadian railways as shipments of coal, fossil fuels and all other manner of natural resources expanding. Agricultural shipments face large backlog due to natural resource expansion. Reports:
* CN Rail to purchase 250 new cars for hauling lumber, Canadian Press, May 1, 2018
* From the Globe and Mail April 23, 2018 (subscriber only): … Year-to-date, CN hauled three per cent more carloads compared with the same period a year ago. This rise is led by an increase in containers and coal cars. The number of cars containing farm products fell by 23 per cent while forest-products shipments declined by five per cent, according to CN.
* CN Rail tackling capacity issues ‘with a great sense of urgency’, Financial Post, April 23, 2018 The company’s $3.4 billion capital spending plan includes a specific focus on expanding rail infrastructure in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia
National Observer releases its Trans Mountain files that could further stall project, in-depth article by Mike De Souza, The National Observer, April 30 2018
Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project is suddenly facing an unexpected legal challenge following a series of investigative reports by National Observer.
… This is significant because the government has a legal duty under Canada’s Constitution to act in good faith and meaningfully consult First Nations about major decisions that affect their territory and their rights. Any evidence that they had made up their mind before they had actually consulted Indigenous people could undo the entire project approval…
‘I was in shock,’ says government insider about Ottawa gov’t instructions to ensure approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline, by Mike De Souza, The National Observer, April 27, 2018
A new government insider has emerged to add their voice in support of allegations raised this week that Canada’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project was rigged.
The allegations were first raised on April 25 when National Observer reported that public servants said they had been instructed at an internal meeting in Vancouver on Oct. 27, 2016 to “give cabinet a legally-sound basis for saying ‘yes,'” to the Trans Mountain project. They suggested that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government rushed its review of Trans Mountain and had made up its mind to support the project, despite claiming, at that time, that they were still consulting First Nations and the public before making a final decision.
Following the news report, another public servant spoke to National Observer confirming that they attended the Oct. 27, 2016 meeting. The instructions from then-associate deputy minister Erin O’Gorman about the major oil expansion project left them in shock…
Kinder Morgan warns of ‘significant’ delay after court urged to consider release of Trudeau government secrets, by Mike De Souza, The National Observer, April 27, 2018
A lawyer for energy giant Kinder Morgan is warning that its Trans Mountain expansion project is facing “significant and unwarranted delay” following an unexpected legal letter filed on Thrusday, April 26 in the wake of dramatic revelations reported by National Observer about the project’s approval by the Trudeau government…
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation [located on the shoreline of Vancouver harbour] is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan project at the Federal Court of Appeal, arguing that the government failed in its legal duty to consult First Nations prior to making its decision. In a letter sent to the court on Thursday, Scott Smith, a lawyer representing the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN), wrote that two recent reports by National Observer confirm allegations it had previously raised that Trudeau’s government acted in “bad faith” and is withholding documents that show what happened during its internal review…
Oil refinery and storage disaster in Superior, Wisconsin raises questions for those living and working near Kinder Morgan tank farm in Burnaby BC, by Joel Ballard and Dylan Waisman, National Observer, April 27, 2018
Related: Superior, Wisconsin lifts evacuation order after refinery blast hurts 20, Reuters, April 26, 2017
… The cause of the explosion was not clear. After an initial blaze at the Husky Oil refinery was extinguished, a storage tank was punctured, and a second fire erupted…
The refinery produces asphalt, gasoline, diesel and heavy fuel oils, largely using heavy crude oil imported from Canada [Alberta]…
[Enbridge Inc is presently seeking final approval to renew and expand its ‘Line 3’ pipeline connecting the oil fields and tar sands deposits of Alberta to refineries in the northern U.S., including in Superior Wisconsin.]
British Columbia’s supreme court pipeline reference case to argue science not settled on diluted bitumen, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, April 25, 2018
The B.C. government will announce on April 26 the question it will put to the province’s highest court, seeking a ruling on its jurisdiction over the transportation of heavy oil across its borders…
B.C. intends to refer to the provincial Court of Appeal a question to determine whether it has the jurisdiction to restrict increased shipments of bitumen across its borders. The restrictions are proposed as a temporary measure while an independent scientific advisory panel determines how – or whether – heavy oil spills in the marine environment can be cleaned up…
Although the federal government has vowed to push the pipeline through over the B.C. government’s objections, it tacitly acknowledged the need for more research when it promised more than $45-million in new science funding last December to study how oil spills behave, how best to clean and contain them, and how to best minimize their environmental impacts…
The money for Ottawa’s scientific research is coming from the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, a program announced at the same time that Ottawa gave approval for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project in 2016…
* British Columbia seeks agreement and guidelines from BC Supreme Court for new rules for companies bringing oil and bitumen through the province, report on CBC News, April 26, 2018
BC is asking its highest court to decide if the government has the right to bring in stricter rules for companies looking to ferry more heavy oil — like diluted bitumen — through the province. That would include crude flowing by way of an expanded pipeline, including Kinder Morgan’s expanded project.
As part of its reference case filed Thursday morning, the province put draft legislation before the court that would amend the Environmental Protection Act with the new regulations…
* Ottawa eyes First Nations investment in Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Globe and Mail, April 24, 2018 (subscriber only article)
… The participation by First Nations would constitute part of a broader financial backstop Ottawa and Alberta are looking to provide to Kinder Morgan in an effort to reduce the risk that political battles will result in further project delays and rising costs for its shareholders.
Kinder Morgan has signed 43 impact-benefit agreements with First Nations along the route, including 33 in British Columbia. The agreements cover a range of issues, including environmental monitoring, contracting opportunities, job training and direct revenue payments to the community. The company said those deals are worth $400-million over an undisclosed number of years.
… An ownership role for First Nations communities would give those communities a greater stake in the success of the project and offset, to some degree, the political fallout arising from Ottawa’s determination to proceed over the opposition of several [sic] First Nations who live near the coast…
[There are more than 200 First Nations communities in British Columbia, many of which have never signed treaties with Canada.]
Canadian government insiders say Trans Mountain pipeline approval in 2016 was rigged, lengthy investigative report by Mike De Souza, The National Observer, April 24, 2018
Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling recognizing inter-provincial alcohol sales restrictions could hit Alberta in pipeline dispute, by Kelly Cryderman, Globe and Mail, April 19, 2018 … In its ruling, the Supreme Court wrote that said while New Brunswick’s restriction [limiting the amount of alcohol purchased in another province which can be transported across its border] is valid, no trade barriers between provinces should be created with the “primary purpose” of affecting flow of goods across boundaries…
* First Nations court challenges continue to hang over $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2018
* Oilpatch frets over ‘unintended consequences’ of Alberta’s new power to cut B.C. oil shipments, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, April 19, 2018 Oilpatch executives argue Ottawa has been able to articulate a vision for climate change and Indigenous reconciliation, but the energy sector was left ‘shooting in the dark’
Ottawa won’t commit to disclosing carbon risk for expansion of Trans Mountain pipeline, by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, April 19, 2018
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is urging Canadian corporations to fully disclose the risk that climate change poses to their businesses, but refuses to commit Ottawa to such a disclosure if it provides financial backing to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion…
[Former New York mayor Michael Mr. Bloomberg’s] task force was established by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and urges companies to disclose risks and opportunities for their business from climate change. It recommends firms spell out the expected impact on their businesses if the world transitions rapidly to a lower-carbon economy…
“The Canadian banks are some of world’s biggest investors in fossil fuels, [which] undermines the country’s leadership [sic] on climate”…
Quebec Superior Court says 1995 Quebec law affirming right to political self-determination is lawful, but unilateral Quebec independence is not, by Graeme Hamilton, National Post, April 19, 2018
BC premier John Horgan backs tar sands refining for Canada, adding to his support for natural gas fracking/liquefaction, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, April 17, 2018
[The NDP government in British Columbia is trying to keep step with the environmental movement by running interference with Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. Its watchword is “protecting BC interests” and protecting the BC coast from tanker spills. But what about the global warming emergency and the imperative to keep fossil fuels in the ground? Not a peep.
[The Vancouver-based, online publication The Tyee provides a lot of valuable environmental reporting. But it, too, is seduced by the idea that refining Alberta tar sands in Canada instead of in the U.S. would be a great boon for ‘Canada’. An April 19 article in the publication explains, “Instead of putting our coast at risk shipping profits to the U.S., why aren’t we expanding local refining capacity? Why are Alberta and Ottawa hell bent on pushing through a pipeline possibly costing billions in public money to export unprocessed Canadian resources?” Apparently, the greenhouse gas emmissions associated with extracting, refining and burning Alberta tar sands is ‘someone else’s problem’.]
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression slammed after firing staff member decrying Israel killings of Palestinians, by Mersiha Gadzo, Al Jazeera, April 17, 2018
Related: Facebook post by Nazaeth-based journalist Jonathan Cook, April 17, 2018:
In the looking-glass world we now live in, where up is down, and black is white, we have a Canadian press-freedom group sacking their media communications officer for issuing a statement criticising Israel’s extra-judicial executions of more than 30 Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including at least one Palestinian clearly identified as a journalist, and the wounding of over 1,000 others.
Defending the group’s decision, Tom Henheffer, vice-president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, said: “The core message wasn’t wrong, but it was too broad in focus and incorrect in tone, easily leaving it open to misinterpretation.”
That weaselly statement says everything about where we are today. Go ahead and say anything bad, however unsubstantiated it is by evidence, against official enemies like Syria, Iran, Venezuela, but maintain a cautious, respectful tone, however much evidence there is for condemnation, if it involves Israel.
Supposed watchdog bodies like this one – and the larger human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – are now little better than the obsequious journalists in the corporate media. How did we get to this state affairs, where it is down to a handful of bloggers to try to hold the most powerful to account, and question official narratives?
Alberta bill to empower government to cut oil and gasoline supplies to BC is a ‘bluff’ and will be challenged in court, says BC attorney-general, by Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press, April 17, 2018
Related: Running on empty: Foreign shipments of fuel to B.C. would ease pain of Alberta cuts to energy exports, by David Ebner, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018 (subscriber only)
Any move by Alberta to restrict the supply of oil and gasoline to British Columbia in the fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would have a limited effect on the price of gas in the province as supply would arrive from suppliers elsewhere in the world, one industry expert says. Michael Ervin, an analyst with the Kent Group, which tracks the petroleum market, said predictions of a gasoline apocalypse are overstated. He says an increase of about 10 cents a litre was a likelier outcome. If prices spiked by much more, gasoline supplies from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, California and overseas in Asia would be drawn to B.C. …
About 40 per cent of the jet fuel used by the consortium of 25 airlines using the Vancouver International Airport comes from Parkland Fuel Corp. refinery in Burnaby. The rest arrives from the Cherry Point Refinery in Washington State [located some 75 km away] by barge and tanker truck…
Quebec’s anti-pipeline talk belies its oil addiction, by Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018
[Quebec generates massive supplies of hydro electricity, much of which is sold to the United States. The province touts a green environmentalist veneer as a result, including the provincial government’s opposition to the now-defunct Energy East tar sands pipeline from Alberta, 3,000 kilometers away, and its opposition to Alberta’s threats to embargo the province of British Columbia over the BC government’s hesitations over the Trans Mountain pipeline. But Quebec is experiencing record sales of the most gas-guzzling vehicles. Like the rest of Canada, it continues along a course of madcap, capitalist over-production and consumption. ‘Global warming’ receives nothing more than a tip of the hat and a few tut-tuts.
[In this Globe and Mail article, the author makes an argument for Quebec’s government and economic elite to support Alberta tar sands pipelines because this will supposedly lessen the province’s dependence on foreign oil. But there is only one refinery in Canada that can process tar sands bitumen—the small ‘Sturgeon’ refinery just coming online with massive cost overruns and state subsidy. Otherwise, there are ‘upgraders’ in Alberta which render some bitumen into a more-transportable form. From Canadian Press, Feb 18, 2018: “About 60 per cent of Alberta’s oilsands production is shipped in its raw form. The rest is typically upgraded into synthetic crude oil, a light product that flows easily in a pipeline and usually fetches near-West Texas Intermediate prices.” See these three related items below describing the non-existence of refineries in Canada capable of processing bitumen:
- Bloomberg, May 2017 (on the opening of the multi-billion dollar refinery in Sturgeon, Alberta)
- Alberta Oil, March 2017
- Desmog Canada, Oct 2013
Alberta introduces legislation empowering it to wage an oil and gasoline embargo against British Columbia, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, April 16, 2018
Related: Mayors, First Nation leaders vow to continue opposition to Kinder Morgan pipeline, report in Vancouver Sun, April 16, 2018
B.C. threatens to sue Alberta as all sides in Trans Mountain dispute dig in, by Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press, April 16, 2018 [The Trans Mountain Pipeline connects Alberta to the shore of the port of Vancouver in the suburb of Burnaby. It was built in 1953. Its capacity is some 300,000 barrels per day, of which some 44,000 barrels are gasoline and diesel and some 35,000 barrels are other refined products. The remainder consists of crude oil feeding a small refinery in Burnaby (Vancouver suburb) and refineries in Washington state, and tar sands bitumen for export from the Westridge Terminal in Burnaby. Some seven tankers per month sail from Westridge carrying tar sands bitumen through the complex, marine-rich coastal waters of southern BC (see map). The proposed pipeline expansion is, in reality, the construction of an entirely new line. Most of that expansion would be devoted to tar sands bitumen export through Burnaby, raising the number of monthly tanker shipments from seven to approximately 30.]
Following April 15 meeting with Alberta and BC premiers, Trudeau says Ottawa and Alberta will barrel ahead with Kinder Morgan tar sands bitumen pipeline through BC to west coast, report on CBC News, April 15, 2018 [The federal and Alberta governments are prepared to help finance the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion if Kinder Morgan investors grow weary. In other words, another massive subsidy to the planet-killing tar sands of Alberta.]
* Deadlock at Trans Mountain Pipeline summit in Ottawa, by Christopher Guly, The Tyee, April 16, 2018 [BC Premier John Horgan to press ahead with court case to slow pipeline construction while Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau pledge money (subsidies) to build pipeline] * Premier and inter-governmental affairs minister in Quebec decry federal response to Kinder Morgan pipeline extension, CBC News, April 16, 2018 Quebec politicians are speaking out against Ottawa’s intention to override British Columbia in its opposition to the Kinder * Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension, and are calling for more collaboration with provincial governments when it comes to environmental legislation. In an open letter published with CBC, Jean-Marc Fournier, the Quebec minister responsible for Canadian relations, called on the federal government to acknowledge and work with provincial legislation with regards to projects that touch both provincial and federal jurisdiction…
* Trudeau government to privately discuss money for Kinder Morgan in Houston, New York, Toronto and Calgary, by Mike De Souza, National Observer, April 15, 2018 The Canadian government is going into the boardrooms of Calgary, Toronto, Houston and New York to privately discuss new financial subsidies for fossil fuel giant Kinder Morgan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday at a news conference. Trudeau made the comments after summoning Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan to Ottawa to discuss the unfolding political drama surrounding the Texas-based company’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
* Kinder Morgan protesters will learn on Monday whether they’ll face criminal charges, Globe and Mail, Sunday, April 15, 2018
* Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Ta’ah Amy George, the Mayors of Burnaby and Vancouver, and MP Kennedy Stewart respond to proposed Trudeau bailout of Kinder Morgan, one hour video of April 16, 2018 press conference, posted on the Facebook page of Coast Protectors. News report on CBC News here.
Canada’s bizarre and destructive descent into petro politics, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee (Vancouver), April 16, 2018
Canadians have long lived on the assumption that we’re decent people and that the political dysfunction unravelling the United States could never happen here. But the ugly rhetoric pouring forth from Alberta, the media and federal politicians on Kinder Morgan’s calculated suspension of work on the Trans Mountain pipeline shows that both petro and retro politics have consumed much of the nation.
The siren call of oil exports has also revealed our political class can be as swayed by lies, propaganda and extortion as any U.S. Republican…
The Janus-faced former drama teacher [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] now lectures the great classroom of Canada that the project must go ahead because Canada can only fight climate change by building pipelines. If we took Trudeau at his word and applied his morality to everyday life, we’d all smoke more to end lung cancer, eat more to end obesity and drink more to end alcoholism…
These are the parts of Canada’s national interest that Trudeau doesn’t talk about, commentary by Laurie Adkin, The National Observer, April 16, 2018
If Ottawa rams through Trans Mountain, it could set up an Oka-like crisis, by Stewart Phillip and Serge Simon, op-ed commentary in Globe and Mail, April 12, 2018. (Stewart Phillip is Grand Chief of the Okanagan Nation in south-central British Columbia and is president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon is Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake [Montreal region].)
Letter by 40 social and environmental groups in Quebec calling on the federal government to cease support to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, published on April 12, 2018
Israel is proving to be Canadian journalism’s Achilles heel, by J. Baglow, Rabble.ca, April 10, 2018 [A large coterie of journalists in Canada, from mainstream to ‘alternative’, have condemned Canadian Journalists for Free Expression for an April 2 statement condemning Israel’s murderous assault on March 30 (Land Day Massacre) against Palestinians, including Palestinian journalists. The CJFE has caved in and withdrawn its statement and fired the media director who assembled and published it. See Kevin Metcalf’s April 8 statement as well as the original CJFE statement on April 2 here. These same journalists have been silent or supportive over Canada’s military intervention into Ukraine and its support to the regime change war against Syria.]
Related: What’s going on with CJFE?, by Graeme Gordon & Jonathan Goldsbie, Canadaland, April 10, 2018 On the afternoon of Monday, April 2, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression put out a statement demanding that the Canadian government “condemn the one-sided use of military force against civilian demonstrators and media in Gaza.” By the following week — and as direct and indirect results of the above — the non-profit that advocates for journalists’ rights throughout the world had lost its executive director, its president, and its gala chair, with its sole remaining full-time employee fully expecting to be terminated by the board…
In orchestrated ploy, Kinder Morgan announces halt to all but non-essential work on Trans Mountains tar sands pipeline expansion, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 9, 2018 (with postscripts)
Major food factory producer in Ontario is under investigation by federal tax agency and workers compensation board, its operations reveal grim realities of wage labour in ‘Liberal’ province of Ontario, report by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy, investigative reporters, in Toronto Star, April 10, 2018 Fiera Foods uses shady employment agencies to run its factories with 70 per cent ‘temporary’ workers
Previously by by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy:
Toronto food manufacturer Fiera Foods fined $300,000 for death of worker one year ago, is under intense scrutiny following undercover reporting in Toronto Star, by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star, Sept 9, 2017
Undercover in the world of super-exploited temporary workers in Canada, feature report by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and and Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star, Sept 9, 2017
When it comes to Palestine, many Canadian politicians are silent, by Monia Mazigh, Rabble.ca, April 6, 2018
Free speech fear-mongering is the elite equivalent of ‘It’s OK to be white’ posters, by Shree Paradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, April 5, 2018 Are we really upset over free speech rights? Or as, Shree Paradkar writes, is it about censoring the protests, for fear that the gatekeeping role on what topics are OK to debate be taken away from groups that have traditionally had that power?aAll is well. says Canada’s financial corruption and money-laundering watchdog… in public. But in secret report to government, Canada’s banks are fingered as ‘non-compliant’, CBC News, April 5, 2018
[The secret report to the government last November by Canada’s ‘FINTRAC’ agency found “significant levels” on non-compliance in dealing with moeny laundering and other forms of corruption. The news of the report follows a trip to Ottawa in late March by British Columbia’s new attorney general appealing for federal government assistance in dealing with out-of-control, corruption and money-laundering in the province via real estate investments to the tune of billions. He says Ottawa’s controls are a “colossal failure“.]
Justin Trudeau oversteps, casting doubts and uncomfortable questions over Canada’s expulsions of four Russian diplomats, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 6, 2018
The wheels are coming off the ‘Russian chemical poisoning’ story being waged by the UK government and its NATO allies, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 5, 2018
Following meeting with NATO head in Ottawa, Trudeau claims a smear campaign was waged against Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland for her grandfather’s Nazi past, cites this in justifying expulsions of four Russian diplomats, report on CBC News, April 4, 2018, and report in Global News, April 4, 2018 [‘Combatting cyber and social media propaganda’ is becoming the battle cry of the new McCarthyism. The left may think it need not worry and can remain silent over the new cold war against Russia. But watch out. ‘First, they closed ‘fake news’ and ‘pro-Russia propagandists’. But I did not engage in that, so I did not care…’ We know how this story ends.]
Canada’s National Observer online outlet fully on board with Trump-Russia conspiracy theorizing, report by Canadian Press, published in National Observer, March 29, 2018
[Shocking news: apparently, the Donald Trump 2016 election campaign sought to obtain information it could use to bolster its arguments that Trump was a better candidate for president than Hillary Clinton! As though politics in every capitalist country does not consist of superficial argumentation to ‘Vote for us, we are better/nicer/smarter than our opponents’. The 2015 campaign slogan of Canada’s Liberal Party was ‘Real Change’. The NDP’s slogan was ‘Change that’s ready’.]
Ontario government announces big child care subsidies: Are Liberals becoming reformers?, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, March 28, 2018
Corruption central: New British Columbia government is lobbying Ottawa to close tax corruption loopholes that are driving the province’s and country’s grim house price bubble, report by Douglas Todd, in Vancouver Sun, March 30, 2018
… B.C. Attorney General David Eby and anti-money-laundering expert Peter German were in Ottawa this week telling a parliamentary committee about how the transnational rich are pumping billions of dollars into B.C. real estate by using bare trust loopholes and other techniques that make it possible for them to avoid paying B.C.’s property transfer taxes, the foreign-buyers tax and federal capital gains taxes.
Arguing that the federal government’s anti-corruption measures have been a “colossal failure,” Eby confirmed his government is preparing to create a “beneficial ownership database” that would require public disclosure of the actual owners behind thousands of trusts and numbered companies.
B.C. to ask Ottawa for more tools to fight money laundering, CBC News, March 26, 2018
The police riot at the G20 summit in Toronto in June 2010, by Alok Mukherjee with Tim Harper, excerpt from their new book Excessive Force, excerpt published in the Toronto Star, March 25, 2018 (Alok Mukherjee is the former head of the Toronto Police Board. Tim Harper is a columnist at the Toronto Star. The head of the Toronto police force at the time of the June 2010 police riot, Bill Blair, was elected as a member of the Canadian Parliament in the 2015 election. He is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health.)
Canada’s Russia policy raises many questions, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, March 27, 2018
[The Toronto Star‘s Thomas Walkom provides a rare note of reason and fact-checking amidst the toxic reporting and commentary in Canada’s mainstream media over the wild and unproven accusations that the Russian government poisoned two former Russian nationals in Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018. Walkom states in his column that Russia “seized” Crimea in 2014. The “seized” accusation arises from the referendum vote of the Crimean people on March 16, 2014. A large majority voted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation following a violent coup d’etat by right-wing extremists in Ukraine. The coup came to a head on February 21, 2014.]
‘The crisis has worsened’: Opioid-related deaths on the rise in Canada, CTV News, March 27, 2018
Opioid-related overdose deaths are drastically rising in Canada, with an estimated 4,000 people losing their lives to such drugs in 2017, new data from the Public Health Agency of Canada reveals. “Unfortunately, the data released today have confirmed our fear that that the crisis has worsened significantly since 2016, despite the efforts [sic] from all levels of government and partners to reverse the trend,” a statement from the co-chairs of the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses said on March 27…
The escalating toll: 2017 set to be worst year in Canada for overdoses, by Andrea Woo and Mike Hager, Globe and Mail, page one of print edition, March 28, 2018
Canada, provinces lack clear plan to adapt to climate change, auditors say, by Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, Mar 27, 2018
OTTAWA – Neither the federal government nor the provinces have adequately assessed the risks a changing climate poses to the country and have no real idea what might be needed to adapt to it, concludes a scathing new audit released Tuesday.
The joint audit, conducted by federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand and auditors general in nine provinces, took a detailed dive into climate change planning and emissions reduction progress between November 2016 and March 2018. It says while many governments have high-level goals to cut emissions, few have detailed plans to actually reach those goals, such as timelines, funding or expected results from specific actions.
Assessments to adapt to the risks posed by climate change have been haphazard, inconsistent and lacking in detail, with no timeline for action and no funding, the report notes. It also calls Canada’s emissions goals a hodgepodge of different targets…
Canada’s international commitment made at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris in 2015 is to cut emissions by at least 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. As of 2015, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, Canada was nearly 200 million tonnes short of that goal, the equivalent of the emissions produced by about 44 million cars each year — twice the number of vehicles registered in Canada…
Resignation letter from the British Columbia New Democratic Party, by Stuart Parker, published on his blog, March 24, 2018
… I am forced, therefore, to reach one inescapable conclusion following Thursday’s [March 22] $6 billion LNG subsidy announcement: the BC NDP believes that subsidizing transnational oil companies to increase fossil fuel exports is the right thing to do, that, in the eyes of today’s NDP, the global investor class who own and run companies like Petronas are more deserving of a break on PST than homeless people trying to replace their shoes. The NDP believes in these things because it is just another capitalist party indifferent to the global extinction event the capitalist system is producing…
Federal government pledges to reduce tuberculosis in Canada’s own Third World, the far north, report by Canadian Press, March 23, 2018 The pledge comes only after a scathing report on the prevalence of tuberculosis among First Nations people in the Canadian North. Tuberculosis is a disease of poverty and government neglect.
Chief Public Health Officer calls for eradication of tuberculosis in the Canadian North, by Gloria Galloway, Globe and Mail, March 22, 2018 On March 22, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer released a report highlighting the toll of tuberculosis and the fact that its incidence is 300 times higher among the Inuit than it is among Canadian-born, non-Indigenous people. Two First Nations teenagers have recently died from the preventable disease.
More zany anti-Russia reporting on page one of the Globe and Mail. [In a page-one report in the Globe and Mail on March 23, the newspaper’s crack Russia reporter Mark MacKinnon resurrects the tale of Russian President Valdmir Putin ‘maybe’ being the richest man in the world. MacKinnon writes, “Mr. Putin’s financial declaration is wildly at odds with his status as the long-ruling leader of a regime frequently ranked as one of the most corrupt on the planet. Critics say Mr. Putin is a billionaire many times over – some believe he may be the richest person in the world.” The reporter’s sources for the claim are a couple of veteran, anti-Russia ideologues. But oops, MacKinnon then writes further on in the article: “While claims about Mr. Putin being a billionaire have never been proven, it is clear that members of his inner circle have gotten extremely rich during Mr. Putin’s 18-year reign over Russia.” This is mainstream, page one journalism in Canada in the year 2018, so driven by anti-Russia prejudice as to read like a comedy script.]
Criminal charges to proceed against reporter covering Muskrat Falls protests, CBC News, Mar 12, 2018 Journalist Justin Brake followed protesters into the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam construction site in Labrador, arguing he was covering a story
Journalist Justin Brake faces unprecedented criminal charges over coverage of Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam protest in 2017, by Jessica Leeder, Globe and Mail, March 22, 2018
Police in Quebec arrest jounalist Antoine Trépanier, then hold off on criminal charges after public outcry, CBC News, Mar 22, 2018
Faith Goldy’s talk at Wilfrid Laurier University was cancelled. And a damn good thing, too, by Shree Paradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, March 21, 2018 The university hosted Faith Goldy to discuss her views on immigration, someone too vitriolic even for the far-right propaganda site Rebel Media.
Short on options, Îles-de-la-Madeleine residents make a strategic retreat from rising seas, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, March 20, 2018 On a Quebec island archipelago, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is slowly devouring roads and threatening communities. But after expensive and ineffective battles against erosion, many residents of the Magdalen Islands are moving inland instead. [This is the second part of a Globe and Mail series on how rising sea levels are threatening coastal areas of Canada. Part one on March 6 reported on Halifax, Nova Scotia.]
Alberta balks at Ottawa’s timid efforts to protect threatened woodland caribou because it will interfere with oil and gas extraction, report in Globe and Mail, March 20, 2018
Canada on wrong side of Venezuelan conflict, op-ed commentary by Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, Mar 15, 2018
Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover and 150 other activists slam U.S.-Canadian sanctions against Venezuela, open letter first published on March 9, 2018
Unionised fast food workers in New Zealand celebrate minimum wage rise to $16.50 plus higher union rates, by Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, March 9, 2018
On April 1 this year, the minimum wage in New Zealand will go up 75 cents to $16.50 an hour. As well, all unionised fast food workers will be starting at least 20 cents above the minimum wage. This is something worth celebrating.
… The new government [elected in October 2017] has promised to increase the minimum wage in three more steps to $20 an hour by April 2021. That will take us closer to our goal of having all fast-food workers on the living wage. The current living wage is $20.20 an hour which is equal to about two-thirds of the average wage.
Australia’s trade union central calls for $50 minimum wage increase, ABC.net.au, March 12, 2018
Unions are today calling for a $50 a week increase in the minimum wage, an annual wage increase of 7.2 per cent. The Australian Industry Group proposes a $12.50 a week increase, which is a 1.8 per cent annual increase. The Fair Work Commission will decide the minimum wage, and it will apply from July 1. It currently sits at just under $695 a week [app. $18.25 per hour] …
[Canada’s trade unions are lobbying for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. That rate will take effect in Ontario and Alberta in 2019 if the parties promising it are re-elected. In Quebec, the minimum wage will rise to $12 per hour (!) on May 1, 2018.]
Suddenly, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warns she’d cut off oil shipments to BC, by Jason Markusoff, Maclean’s Magazine (monthly), Mar 8, 2018
[Thousands of people marched in Vancouver on March 10 as part of the ongoing fight to stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline connecting Alberta to an export facility in Vancouver harbour. With her nebulous threat to cut oil exports to BC and other provinces, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley borrows policy from her right-wing opponent Jason Kenney and rhetorical style from Donald Trump.]
Alberta’s climate change claims ring hollow, op-ed commentary by Ian Urquhart, published in Calgary Herald (daily), March 5, 2018 (Ian Urquhart is a political science professor at the University of Alberta.)
Four female guards in federal prison in Edmonton allege constant harassment, waterboarding and sex assault in $43.4M lawsuit, CBC News, Mar 12, 2018
Why Canada defends Ukrainian fascism, by Michael Jabara Carley, published on Strategic Culture Foundation, March 9, 2018 (Michael Jabara Carley is a professor of history at the Université de Montréal)
Thousands march in Vancouver against Justin Trudeau’s eco-leadership and Kinder Morgan’s ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline expansion, RT.com, Mar 10, 2018 (with extensive photos of the march)
Anti-pipeline demonstrations begin in Vancouver after court order to keep protesters at bay, Seattle Times, March 9, 2018
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley doubles down on threat to cut oil shipments to other Canadian provinces, CBC News, March 9, 2018
[How right wing have Alberta’s NDP government and its trade union backers become in their zeal to promote and expand oil, natural gas and tar sands production in the province? Right wing enough to threaten people in other Canadian provinces with cutting oil supplies from Alberta if they protest expanded fossil fuel production in the era of global warming.
[The idea of using an oil embargo to pressure for a multi-billion dollar expansion of tar sands export capacity through the Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver harbour was first aired last year by the leader of the right-wing United Conservative Party. Rachel Notley thinks she will win the May 2019 Alberta election by acting ‘more Jason Kenney than thou’. It recalls the 1981 oil embargo by the Alberta government of the day directed against the provinces of Ontario and Quebec whose motto became ‘Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.’
[All of Alberta’s oil to B.C., about 300,000 barrels per day, is transported on the Trans Mountain pipeline, in operation since 1953. According to Trans Mountain, in 2017, 54 per cent of the pipeline’s product went to refineries in Washington state, some 25 per cent went to oil tanker export and a small amount was refined in Vancouver’s only refinery, a small-capacity one located in the suburb of Burnaby. A day of large protests against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal (Wikipedia) takes place in Vancouver on March 10.]
Federal NDP leader says he opposes Alberta-to-Vancouver tar sands pipeline expansion, though not for reasons of global warming, report by Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun, Mar 10, 2018 [Jagmeet Singh says he opposes the Trans Mountain because it won’t create very many jobs in Canada and because of the danger of fouling BC’s coastal waters. As to the ecological imperative to ‘leave fossil fuels in the ground’, not a word. In a world of rising carbon emissions and rising war and militarism, Canada’s political left lacks a coherent vision of a future socialist society and how to get there. With no party of the left to challenge it, the moribund NDP remains the default, soft-left choice for Canadians.]
Never mind mortgage payments – even rents are out of reach for many in Vancouver, by Adrienne Tanner, Globe and Mail, Mar 10, 2018
[The city of Vancouver’s definition of ‘affordable’ rental accommodation is seriously out of whack, drawing derision and condemnation from housing rights advocates. Twenty three per cent of households in Vancouver city earn $30,000 or less while another 23 per cent earn $30,000 to $60,000.]
Colten Boushie’s family – and our justice system – deserves answers. So why no appeal of the acquittal of Gerald Stanley?, op-ed commentary by David Tanovich, The Globe and Mail, March 8, 2018 (David Tanovich is a criminal law professor at the faculty of law, University of Windsor, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.)
The decision to not appeal the Stanley acquittal is perhaps not surprising, given some of the decisions of the prosecution at trial. But it is, nonetheless, very disappointing. The decision has denied the family, the community and Canada itself an opportunity for a second objective look at the process. It also unfortunately serves to reinforce the view among some lawyers and others that this was a fair and unbiased trial…
Posted earlier on ‘Canada Newsroll’:
* The jury verdict in the killing of Colten Boushie is a made-in-Saskatchewan crisis, op-ed commentary by Paul Seesequasis, published in the Globe and Mail, Feb 12, 2018
The acquittal of Gerald Stanley on February 9 in the 2016 killing of Colten Boushie [Wikipedia] has sent shock waves across Canada, with headlines comparing Saskatchewan to America in the 1950s and Colten Boushie to Rodney King. But these comparisons are erroneous at best. This is a made-in-Saskatchewan crisis, one that has deep roots going back to the signing of Treaty 6 and the first settlers coming into the region…
* How the killing of Colten Boushie became recast as the story of a knight-farmer protecting his castle, commentary by Gina Starblanket and Dallas Hunt, Globe and Mail, Feb 13, 2018
Can Toronto police handle a serial-killer case?, op-ed commentary by Lorimer Shenher, Globe and Mail, March 8, 2018 (Lorimer Shenher is a former detective and author of That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away, which chronicles his work on the Robert Pickton case.)
As the serial-killer case in Toronto’s gay village unfolds, parallels with Vancouver’s disastrous investigation into Robert Pickton [Wikipedia] become increasingly more troubling, not only in terms of the scope of horror and tragedy, but also for the Toronto Police Service’s bizarre communications around the case…
A second case emerges of a complaint to Toronto police of violent assault by accused serial killer Bruce McArthur, this one in 2016, Globe and Mail, March 8, 2018
Convicted Sikh assassin Jaspal Atwal holds press conference to express his ‘shock and devastation’ over the fallout of his accompanying Justin Trudeau’s controversial photo-op tour to India, report on CBC News, March 8, 2018
Canada’s state-run broadcaster pours on the anti-Russia propaganda following an alleged poisoning in England
[The CBC‘s weekday newsmagazine program ‘The Current’ , brings two anti-Russia authors, Luke Harding and Amy Knight, onto its program on March 8, 2018 to accuse Russia of conducting two attempted assassinations in Britain using chemical poisoning. The two victims are former Russian residents, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. They reportedly fell ill at a restaurant in Salisbury, England on March 4. The Western media propaganda machine immediately swung into action accusing the Russian government of conducting another political assassination, this time using a chemical poison. It’s all reminiscent of the media machine’s effort following the 2006 death in England of Alexander Litvinenko. An exhaustive UK government inquiry into Litvinenko’s death issued its report in January 2016. It concluded that the Russian government “probably” ordered Litvinenko’s killing. A lengthy analysis of the Litvinenko report is here.
[Luke Harding is the author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russian Helped Donald Trump Win, published in 2017. A review of the book along with related readings is here. Amy Knight is the author of the subtly-titled Orders to Kill: the Putin Regime and Political Murder, also published in 2017.]
Russian to judgment: The mainstream media’s theories on ill ex-spy, before there’s any evidence, RT.com, Mar 7, 2018
Secretive UK army base analyzing nerve agent used on ex-Russian spy is mired in controversy, RT.com, Mar, 8, 2018
Obsession over Trudeau’s wardrobe during India visit hides skeletons in Modi’s, and Canada’s, closets, op-ed commentary by Azeezah Kanji, Toronto Star, March 7, 2018
Toronto mayor wants inquiry into police investigation of the serial killer the police said did not exist in the city’s gay village, report in Toronto Star, March 7, 2018
[Political leaders in Toronto are feeling the heat as more facts emerge surrounding the police investigation of Bruce McArthur. He is accused of six murders, and police say there are likely more victims. Toronto’s police chief has blamed the city’s gay community for the police’s failure to arrest McArthur earlier, whose killing spree is alleged to have commenced in 2010. The Canadian was very preoccupied in 2017 with protecting gay rights… in the Russian republic of Chechnya. This served its Russia-bashing foreign policy.]
[A 2015 inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations secondary school students in Thunder Bay, Ontario (population 110,000) between 2000 and 2011 determined that three of the deaths were ‘accidental’ and four were unresolved. All of the students were from remote First Nations communities residing in boarding facilities in Thunder Bay.]
‘Neglect of duty’ found in review of Thunder Bay police investigation into death of Indigenous man, by Lisa Mayor and Gillian Findlay, CBC News, Mar 4, 2018 First Nations chiefs are calling for the resignation of police chief after oversight body finds ‘deficiencies’
Racism and incompetence permeates Thunder Bay police, interviews with three First Nations rights advocates, broadcast on ‘The Current’ weekday newsmagazine on Canada’s state-run broadcaster CBC, March 6, 2018 (click on ‘Listen to the full episode’ and then 46′ 30″ mark)
Halifax’s battle of the rising sea: Will the city be ready for future floods and storms?, by Matthew McClearn, first of a series of articles on Canadian cities and sea level rise caused by global warming, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
[Sea levels in Halifax, population 420,000, are rising faster than elsewhere in Canada, due in part to the city’s land mass sinking. A 2004 municipal document reported that sea-level change “will seriously impact shoreline infrastructure such as seawalls and wharves and will threaten low lying buildings.” Seventy per cent of the app. one million residents of the province of Nova Scotia live at or near sea level. Nine communities continue to dump their raw sewage into local waters, while sewage overflows are routine during heavy rainfalls.]
[From the Globe and Mail article: The city’s bylaws and design manuals remain largely silent on how developers should plan their waterfront buildings to cope with future flooding. “Climate change, ocean level rising, doesn’t get a lot of attention,” said Mr. Crace, the Halifax architect.]
Anti-Russia, anti-China propaganda running amok in Canada, stoking the fires of the new cold war. Mainstream media as well as some ‘alternate’ media in Canada are running amok with stories promoting hate and conflict against Russia and China.
* Top prize goes to an anti-Russia story in the National Post of March 3 that would make the Globe and Mail‘s anti-Russia Mark MacKinnon blush in embarassment: The man who would be tsar: Russians ‘pay a very high price’ when Vladimir Putin comes out on top, by Joseph Brean, National Post, March 3, 2018 Putin takes mad gambles that would doom a lesser dictator, but always seems to win: he annexed Crimea, tilted the battlefield in Syria, and gamed the U.S. election
* The Globe and Mail‘s China correspondent, Nathan Vanderklippe, continues his unrelentingly negative reporting on China in an article on March 3:
“It doesn’t take much imagination to conceive where Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to be in 2035: at the helm of the largest economy on earth, with the world’s most sophisticated system of digital surveillance and social control, a thoroughly modernized military and the latitude to bend international affairs to his own wishes.
“Sometime in the next week, China’s rubber-stamp parliament is expected to pass a constitutional amendment removing term limits from the presidential office…
[A Canadian accusing another country of having a ‘rubber stamp Parliament’ is quite a stretch, considering that Canada’s Parliament is a lapdog for U.S. foreign policy. To be fair, the Globe and Mail has much company among Western media in its anti-China drive. Australia’s state broadcast ABC reports on the convening of China’s National Peoples Congress on March 5 amd calls China an “inward-looking, brutal, autocratic regime.”] * The ‘alternative’ website media outlet in Vancouver The Tyee has published an anti-China screed by an academic ideologue in Canada who appears frequently in the Globe and Mail conservative daily: Xi Jinping’s power grab and China’s world domination plan, by Charles Burton, The Tyee, March 1, 2018. The following day, an in-depth report in The Tyee examined the shady dealings of a Toronto businessman of Chinese descent. Throughout the report is the notion that it is a major problem (treasonous behaviour?) by Canadian government leaders if they allow corporate elites or lobbyists of Chinese descent to have the same kind of access to them as is routine for non-Chinese elites and lobbyists.
The small village of Burns Lake in northwest British Columbia is grappling with news their former mayor has been charged with 24 counts of sex-related crimes, including offences related to people under the age of 16. The charges date back to 2015 and 2016, the year Luke Strimbold suddenly resigned after being re-elected for a second mandate…
Strimbold became chair of the local chamber of commerce, and was sitting as a member of the BC Liberal Party’s executive board until news of his arrest was revealed on March 2…
[Luke Strimbold was released on bail by RCMP on February 3; he resigned from the BC Liberal Party on March 2 after news of his arrest one month earlier became public.]
How mainstream media skates around the OXFAM/NGO sex abuse scandal in Haiti
[Columnist Elizabeth Renzetti of the Globe and Mail has penned a hand-wringing column on March 3 regretting the OXFAM/NGO sexual abuse scandal in Haiti. She writes, “There can be few things more vile than forcing women who are already hungry and distressed to trade their autonomy for their family’s survival.” But if the practice revealed is so vile, why has Western media conspired to remain silent about it until the story could no longer be kept silent? Everyone admits today that ‘everyone knew’ what was taking place with sexual abuse by the aid and charity organizations in Haiti. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross now admits quietly dismissing at least 21 staff implicated in sexual abuse in a vaireity of countries since 2015.
[Renzetti also writes, “The aid sector is open to broader-based criticisms about outsiders sweeping in with well-meaning but damaging agendas.” Missing from her story is the fact that aid workers in Haiti arrived after foreign militaries, including Canada’s, aided a paramilitary coup d’etat against Haiti’s elected president, legislature and senate in February 2004. That coup stripped the country of its sovereignty and opened to the door to aid and charity agencies moving in to co-direct ramshackle government policies and grab an oversize role in the delivery of social services to the Haitian population. The coup enfeebled the Haitian government and Haitian social institutions, making the country all the more vulnerable to the January 2010 earthquake disaster. Then the Western governments betrayed Haiti in their promises to end the history of deep exploitatoin of the country and ‘build back better’. All this hardly amount to “well-meaning agendas”.
[The reason for the silence in Western media about sexual abuse by aid workers and foreign militaries in such countries as Haiti is that media is entirely complicit in the violent, imperialist racket that keeps countries such as Haiti in a subordinate status to the Western powers. ]
BC environment minister unveils proposal to quicken pipeline/ocean oil spill responses, by Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, Feb 28, 2018
[The British Columbia government has backed down from convening a full scientific inquiry into the safety of transporting tar sands bitumen by pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver then on ships for export. The move was prompted by economic retaliation initiated by the Alberta government, with the threat of more. Now the government is moving to require quicker responses by industry to oil spills.
[The government and its Environment Minister George Heyman are playing to the widespread opposition in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada to the proposed expansion of the ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline linking Edmonton to Vancouver. But the government’s pro-fossil fuel agenda remains in place in the form of expanded natural gas fracking in the BC northeast and the decision to proceed with construction of the $11 billion-and counting ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. The electricity from Site C will power expanded gas fracking and is targetted for sales to Alberta’s tar sands fields. The government’s stance on Trans Mountain is based solely on concerns over oil spills, not at all on the global warming consequences of expanded fossil fuel production. More detail on the BC government’s stance is here, by Vancouver Sun columnist Vaugn Palmer.]
Trudeau’s dance of deception on Indigenous rights, by Pamela Palmater, published on her blog on Rabble.ca, Feb 27, 2018 (Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She is a practicing lawyer and Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto.)
New cold war hysteria and anti-Slavic racism in full flight in Canada as NATO peddles ‘Canadian Russiagate’: NATO researcher warns of Russian interference in 2019 Canadian election, by Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press, published in state-run CBC News, Feb 27, 2018
How anti-racism town hall in Toronto featuring Ontario government cabinet ministers gave hate-mongers an outsized place at the table, by Shree Pradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, Feb 26, 2018
Police chief blames residents of Toronto’s gay village for police failure to acknowledge and catch serial killer, Globe and Mail, Feb 26, 2018
[Bruce McArthur stands accused of killing six people who lived in or frequented Toronto’s gay village. Police say they are looking for more bodies. The Canadian government went on a bandwagon over LGBT rights in Chechnya in 2017, repeating false accusations of ‘gay prison camps’ and ‘murders’ of dozens of gay men. It was part of its new cold war against Russia. Meanwhile, Toronto police were continuing to deny that a killer was loose in the city’s gay village since at least the year 2012.]
A red flag for Canada after the Putinization of President Xi’s dictatorship in China, op-ed commentary in Globe and Mail, Feb 26, 2018
[Racist overtones of Chinese hordes taking over Canada and the world proliferate in this op-ed commentary by the hawkish, anti-China ideologue Charles Burton. He is a professor of political science at Brock University in Ontario. The op-ed is a reminder of similar racist overtones which underlie the anti-Russia, new cold war drive by NATO governments, Western media and many formerly left-wing activists and commentators in the West.]
Canada’s spy agency CSIS says information is a threat to society, should be controlled, report by Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star, Feb 22, 2018
[The Star report presents a sympathetic treatment of the spy agency’s claim, writing: “Increases in data transmission capacity coupled with a shift toward programmatic advertising have resulted in a precipitous decrease in the ability of traditional journalism to mediate the quality of public information,” the report, compiled by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, stated.]
Ontario judge strikes down mandatory minimum sentence for Indigenous offender, by Sean Fine, Globe and Mail, Feb 21, 2018
An Ontario judge has struck down a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug traffickers, calling the penalty a form of “cruel and unusual punishment” for Indigenous offenders caught up in a “tragic history” within the criminal-justice system.
The decision is the third since last February to declare a mandatory minimum unconstitutional in the case of an Indigenous offender and it comes barely a week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told aboriginal peoples that Canada “can do better” in criminal justice. Their comments followed a jury acquittal of Gerald Stanley, a white farmer, in the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man, in Saskatchewan.
… The ruling is part of a trend in which judges, citing the effects of minimums on Indigenous offenders, rule the punishments unconstitutional…. Ms. Wilson-Raybould declined, in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail, to say when the government would act to keep her promise to eliminate some mandatory minimums.
[“We find it shocking that our federal government has chosen to appeal this decision when the government came into office on a promise to put an end to indefinite solitary confinement,” said Josh Paterson in a news release. He is the director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. It and the John Howard Society of Canada won a BC Supreme Court ruling in January 2018 ordering the federal government to alter the practice which the United Nations defines as torture.]
Related: Ontario corrections minister tables bill to limit solitary confinement in Ontario prisons, Globe and Mail, Feb 21, 2018
… Across Canada and the continent, prison officials have been inundated with litigation brought by inmates and human-rights groups – much of it focused on solitary confinement. On February 16, the federal government filed a notice to appeal one of those recent cases, in which a B.C. judge struck down Canada’s law on indefinite solitary confinement…
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing them: The double-speak of Justin Trudeau and the NDP’s Rachel Notley, commentary by Mark Jaccard, Globe and Mail, Feb 20, 2018 [Mark Jaccard is a liberal environmentalist who accepts as inevitable the United Nations’s targetted two-degree (why stop there?) global temperature rise.]
Amid U.S.-Canada trade uncertainty, a hard-to-measure investment chill in Canada, by Barry McKenna, business columnist, Globe and Mail, Feb 18, 2018
Statistics Canada doesn’t track investments that aren’t made – the delayed plant openings, the shelved purchases of new equipment or the quiet shifting of production out of the country. That doesn’t make the uncertainty hanging over the Canadian economy any less real.
The cloud over the North American free-trade agreement, ongoing U.S. protectionist threats and the sudden loss of Canada’s corporate tax advantage [over the U.S.] are all weighing heavily on business decision-makers. Already-high labour and electricity costs in Canada compound these obstacles…
British Columbia vows crackdown after Globe investigation reveals money-laundering scheme, by Kathy Tomlinson and Xiao Xu, Globe and Mail, Feb 16, 2018
[This Globe and Mail investigation is restricted to examining people and money allegedly connected to drug sales and inflating the price of housing in Vancouver. But what about the ‘normal’ real estate market that has inflated house prices to the stratosphere? It very much dwarfs anything associated with drugs. Wealthy individuals and companies are profiting immensely from a house price spiral while ordinary mortals find the cost of shelter and housing beyond their reach and live in communities starved of social interaction. This is all due to industry and government indifference to providing quality, social housing. The Globe and Mail ‘investigative reporting’ dares not tread there.]
Walrus magazine publishes sycophantic bio piece on Canada’s right-wing, warmongering and ‘free trade’ advocating foreign minister, published on Feb 14, 2018
[From ‘About us’: ‘The Walrus believes in the idea of a better Canada, and that a strong democracy depends on informed citizens…’]
* Oxfam’s deputy chief executive resigns following Haiti prostitution scandal, The Telegraph (UK),Feb 13, 2018
* Canada will not pull Oxfam funding after scandal hits charity’s British affiliate, Globe and Mail, Feb 14, 2018
* Canada’s state-run broadcaster rushes to cover up the failed aid record in Haiti of the Canadian government and charities following Oxfam UK sex exploitation revelations, interviews with aid directors on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Feb 14, 2018
The jury verdict in the killing of Colten Boushie is a made-in-Saskatchewan crisis, op-ed commentary by Paul Seesequasis, published in the Globe and Mail, Feb 12, 2018
The acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the killing of Colten Boushie has sent shock waves across Canada, with headlines comparing Saskatchewan to America in the 1950s and Colten Boushie to Rodney King. But these comparisons are erroneous at best. This is a made-in-Saskatchewan crisis, one that has deep roots going back to the signing of Treaty 6 and the first settlers coming into the region…
Read also: How the killing of Colten Boushie became recast as the story of a knight-farmer protecting his castle, commentary by Gina Starblanket and Dallas Hunt, Globe and Mail, Feb 13, 2018
Canadian and Ontario governments withheld medical evidence collected from 1970s to early 1990s showing mercury poisoning from paper mill affecting Grassy Narrows First Nation, by Jayme Poisson and David Bruser, investigative reporters, Toronto Star, Feb 12, 2018
Outrage following white jury’s acquittal of Saskatchewan farmer who killed 22-year old Coulten Boushie, by Shree Paradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, Feb 11, 2018
… The trial in Battleford, Saskatchewan might as well be America from the 1950s. An all-white jury in a court presided by a white judge found Gerald Stanley, a white farmer charged with second-degree murder, not guilty aftera bullet from his gun killed 22-year-old Boushie, an Indigenous man from the Red Pheasant First Nation.
… Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci reviewed Ontario’s jury roll system for a year following legal challenges from First Nations families and organizations, and released his report in 2013. At a Thunder Bay press conference then, he said there was widespread systemic racism in the courts, justice and police systems in the north.
* Liberals must honour the memory of Colten Boushie by fixing a broken justice system, by Tim Harper, columnist, Toronto Star, Feb 11, 2018
* ‘We’re going to fight back’ — Colten Boushie’s mother delivers emotional message as thousands protest across Canada, by Alex McKeen, Toronto Star, Feb 11, 2018
“The justice system needs to stop locking up our youths. All of our loved ones are in jail. White people — they run the court system. Enough. We’re going to fight back,” said a visibly upset Debbie Baptiste. “They’re not sweeping us under the carpet. Enough killing our people. We fight back. Go to hell, Gerald Stanley. That’s where you belong”…
BC government to raise minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021, CBC News, Feb 8, 2017 The minimum wage will rise to $12.65 on June 1, 2018.
According to Statistics Canada, the average hourly wage in Canada in January 2018 was $26.83. The minimum wage in BC in June 2018 will be 47 per cent of the average Canadian wage; in Ontario for the same date, the minimum wage will be $14–52 per cent of the average Canadian wage. Other country comparisons for 2017:
- Australia: AU$18.29 on July 1, 2017 (lower rates for youth apply)
- Britain: AU$14.40 (lower rates for youth apply)
- France: $AU14.98 per hour
- Germany: $AU13.17 per hour
- New Zealand: NZ$16.50 on April 1, 2018, rising to $20 by 2021 (unions have won abolition of youth rates)
Pro-fossil fuel NDP gov’t in Alberta orders embargo of British Columbia wine industry products as spat over Alberta-to-BC tar sands pipeline expansion deepens, report on CBC News, Feb 6, 2018
[Twenty five per cent of British Columbia’s wine products, some $70 million, is sold each year in the neighbouring province of Alberta. Alberta’s right-wing opposition United Conservative Party is thrilled with NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s aggressive action against the NDP government in BC.]
Silence over Dykstra allegations reveals rift within federal Tories, by Laura Stone and Robert Fife, Globe and Mail, Feb 4, 2018
Top Conservatives, including former prime minister Stephen Harper, kept silent about sexual-misconduct [sic] allegations [in 2016] involving Rick Dykstra even as the former Tory MP rose in the ranks of Ontario politics – a decision that is now revealing deep fractures in the federal party.
Recent revelations that members of Mr. Harper’s inner circle debated whether to remove Mr. Dykstra as a Conservative candidate in the 2015 federal election over sexual-assault allegations have exposed a massive rift in federal Tory circles that has spilled into the provincial level after Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party over allegations of sexual misconduct…
Three sources have told The Globe and Mail that a conference call between top aides and Mr. Harper was held to discuss Mr. Dykstra’s candidacy in the 2015 election, and it was the former prime minister himself who decided Mr. Dykstra should stay on… [Dykstra lost his election bid.]
Those who were aware of allegations did not raise concerns when Mr. Dykstra ran for president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in early 2016. He held the high-profile position until his resignation last week a few hours before Maclean’s Magazine posted its January story alleging he sexually assaulted a young female staffer in 2014…
Toronto’s Gay Village stalked by a serial killer . . . a second time?, special report in Toronto Star, Feb 2, 2018
[Fourteen gay men were murdered in Toronto between 1975 and 1978. Seven of those cases remain unsolved. There are close to 600 cold murder cases in Toronto. Not to worry: the Canadian government has been fully engaged in the cases of alleged persecution and murder of gay men… occurring far away in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
[In 1981, Toronto police used crowbars and sledgehammers to break into four bathhouses frequented by gay men and arrest 306 of them under ‘bawdy house’ laws in place at the time. It was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.]
Alberta NDP premier threatens economic sanctions against British Columbia, but options are limited, by Chris Varcoe, business columnist, Calgary Herald, Feb 1, 2018
[British Columbia’s NDP government announced on January 31 that it was establishing a panel of scientists to examine the potential threat to coastal and inland waters by the transport of Alberta tar sands bitumen by rail, pipepline, and ocean tanker. It says more such study is needed. The Alberta NDP government has responded with threats of a trade war with its neighbouring province. According to CBC News, app $35 billion in goods and services flow annually between the two provinces.]
* Justin Trudeau reaffirms his government’s backing of Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion connecting Alberta to port of Vancouver, CBC News, Jan 31, 2018
* Slick politics, threats over transport of oil [sic] to BC, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, Feb 1, 2018
* BC pipeline faceoff underscores Justin Trudeau’s climate-change contradictions, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, Feb 1, 2018
* Report says pipelines, not carbon taxes, are bigger factor in energy competitiveness, by Mia Rabson, Globe and Mail, Feb 1, 2018
Canada’s oil and gas producers are struggling to stay competitive with their U.S. counterparts because of the struggle to expand pipeline capacity, says a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute…
The report comes just days before the federal government is expected to unveil how it plans to overhaul the environmental and regulatory review process for major energy projects… “If Canadian governments allowed pipelines to be built expeditiously, the competitiveness of western Canadian oil producers would be greatly improved,” he wrote.
Report says pipelines, not carbon taxes, are bigger factor in energy competitiveness, by Mia Rabson, Globe and Mail, Feb 1, 2018
Canada’s oil and gas producers are struggling to stay competitive with their U.S. counterparts because of the struggle to expand pipeline capacity, says a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute…
The report comes just days before the federal government is expected to unveil how it plans to overhaul the environmental and regulatory review process for major energy projects… “If Canadian governments allowed pipelines to be built expeditiously, the competitiveness of western Canadian oil producers would be greatly improved,” he wrote…
British Columbia mayors say rethink on housing policy is urgently needed, by Frances Bula, Globe and Mail, Feb 1, 2018
[Surprise! An assemblage of city mayors in British Columbia says the current “housing policy” of provincial and federal governments are “no longer working” [since when did they ever work except for the wealthy?]. But like the governing NDP and Green parties, and like the editorialists commenting on the situation, the one area where the Union of BC Municipalities fears to tread is demanding that governments take responsibility to build and manage quality housing. A revised ‘housing policy’ consisting of tinkering with zoning bylaws, taxes on speculation and restrictions on foreign ownership of housing amount to continued surrender to the ruthless dominance of the real estate, finance and construction industries.]
Canada’s ‘war on drugs’ kills 1422 in British Columbia in 2017, up 40 per cent from 2016, report by CBC News, Jan 30, 2018
… Nearly 90 per cent of people who died were alone inside a home when they suffered an overdose.
… Dr. Patricia Daly, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said statistics show a “significant decrease” in deaths over the last four months of 2017: an average of 96 deaths per month from September to December, compared with the first eight months of the year when there were more than 129 deaths per month… “Things are moving in a better direction … but I’d say it’s too early to say it’s an ongoing downward trend,” she said.
Alberta’s NDP premier slams NDP counterpart in British Columbia for proposing that the safety of tar sands shipments to BC coast by pipeline and rail be scrutinized, report on CBC News, Jan 30, 2018
Related: Trans Mountain pipeline project will be built, prime minister vows, CBC News, Feb 1, 2018 ‘Getting our oil resources to new markets across the Pacific is absolutely essential’ Trudeau says
Six bodies uncovered so far in investigation of the serial killer in Toronto’s gay village who police said did not exist, until he did, CBC News, Feb 8, 2018
[Toronto police are still trying to determine if two other missing men are connected to the case and acknowledge they don’t know how many more victims there may be.]
As the planet burns, industry is looking to northern BC and Alberta for vast expansion of gas and oil fracking and the NDP governments of both provinces are throwing open the doors, report by Reuters, Jan 28, 2018
… “Increasingly we are going to see light tight oil and liquids-rich natural gas forming a key part of Alberta’s energy future,” said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, energy minister for the province where the oil sands and much of Canada’s shale reserves are located…
[Plans to expand natural gas fracking in northeast British Columbia and to sell electricity to Alberta’s gas fracking and tar sands operations are the real reasons why the NDP government is proceeding with the hotly contested, $10 billion-and-counting Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. The projects are backed by the anti-environment industrial and construction unions in the two provinces.]
Canada dodging the two court rulings placing limits on its use of torture (solitary confinement) in its prisons, report by Sean Fine in the Globe and Mail, Jan 30, 2018 Two civil liberties groups are asking the federal government to give up its defence of solitary confinement in the courts, and instead sit down for talks aimed at putting stringent limits on the practice.
Tense murder trial opens over August 2016 killing of 22 year old Colten Boushie by a Saskatchewan farmer, CBC News, Jan 30, 2018
[In the trial’s first day, jurors heard how RCMP officers compromised the physical evidence in the SUV where the young Indigenous man was shot by Gerald Stanley. Doors to the vehicle were left open to a heavy rain and the vehicle was later sent to a scrap yard before a defense team could examine it.
[In the past five weeks, judges in British Columbia and Ontario have found solitary confinement to be unconstitutional in its current form, and given the government a year to make major changes. The Liberals proposed a new law on solitary confinement last June, but it appears to fall short of the minimum standards for the system set out by a B.C. judge…]
Class action lawsuit by female RCMP officers for sexual harassment could hit 4,000 claimants in wake of #MeToo, lawyers say, by Rachel Houlihan and Dave Seglins, CBC News, Jan 31, 2018 Because of the rising number of claimants, lawyers are seeing a 100-day extension of the February 2018 date set by a $89 million court settlement in May 2017.
$1.1 billion class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former ‘Indian hospital’ patients, CBC News, Jan 30, 2018 Lawsuit focuses on alleged ‘horrific treatment’ at 29 segregated [apartheid] hospitals across Canada that operated from 1945 to the early 1980s.
… As CBC News reported on January 29, former patients have come forward in recent years with allegations of physical abuse, forced sterilization and possible medical experimentation at “Indian hospitals” and other facilities that cared for Indigenous patients throughout much of the 1900s.
Anti-Russia campaigning by Canada’s Olympics activist Richard Pound
[Canada’s longstanding Olympics activist and advocate Richard Pound is urging more banning of Russia’s Olympics teams, already banned from the 2018 winter Olympics in South Korea. This comes as Canada’s gymnast program is rocked by another arrest of a coach charged with sexual assault of the teenage athletes under his command (and Globe and Mail report here). In December 2017, the head of Canada’s female gymnast team at the summer 2016 Olympics in Brazil was arrested and charged with sexual assault of female athletes.
[Richard Pound was an official of Canada’s Olympics program during one of the largest drug scandals in the history of the games–at the 1988 summer Olympics, when 100-meter sprinter Ben Johnson of Canada was stripped of his gold medal after he failed his test for performance-enhancing drugs. He fought to have Johnson’s medal victory stand. VICE News reported in a 2015 look back at the Johnson scandal, “After a 45-minute defense led by Pound—which included evidence that Stanozolol could metabolize within 45 minutes, long enough to appear in Johnson’s sample had [a member of rival Carl Lewis’ entourage] spiked [Johnson’s] drink—Johnson’s appeal was denied.” In an 2010 obituary in the New York Times for Johnson’s coach Charlie Francis, Pound recalled that Francis told him prior to the 1988 games he would suggest to his runners that they use performance-enhancing drugs because, Francis claimed, coaches and athletes in other countries were doing so. “I’m not going to have my runners start a meter behind,” Pound recalls Francis telling him. Pound was elected to the International Olympic Committee in 1978 and a member of the IOC executive committee from 1987 to 2000.
[Canada’s former minister of sport and disabilities, Kent Hehr, is facing allegations of sexual harassment. He resigned his ministerial post on January 25 but continues to sit in the Liberal Party caucus.]
NDP veterans flock to jobs as corporate lobbyists of the BC NDP government, by Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, Jan 31, 2018
Toronto police confirm what they denied for years: a serial killer has murdered at least five gay men, CBC News, Jan 29, 2018
* How Toronto police denied for years the evidence of a serial killer at loose in the city’s gay village, interview on CBC Radio One‘s The Current, Jan 30, 2018 (24 minutes, click on the ‘Listen to full episode’ button at the weblink)
* Toronto serial killer case draws parallels to case of Robert Pickton in British Columbia, CBC News, Jan 30, 2018
… “The parallels with the Pickton case are obvious in some cases,” said criminologist and Western University professor Michael Arntfield. “We have an offender who is operating within a tight area, very specific geographically, targeting marginalized population that has a bit of a conflicted relationship with the police in some cases.”
As well, both Pickton and the suspect had access to properties where people can be made to disappear and dismembered to affect that disappearance, he said. Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second degree murder after the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his Coquitlam pig farm, about 25 kilometres east of Vancouver.
[Reports of disappearances of women from the Pickton farm in a Vancouver suburb went on for years beginning in the mid-1990s. The CBC report ‘forgets’ to mention a key feature of the Pickton case—families of the female victims, most of whom were sex workers and First Nations people, accused police of ignoring their concerns and pleas for a more serious investigation of the disappearances. Police denied for years that a serial killer was at work. Wikipedia.]
* Latest anti-Russia propaganda: ‘Torture centers of homosexuals’ in Chechnya, by Roger Annis, New Cold War.org, May 12, 2017 (updated on May 21)
[In the spring and summer of 2017, Toronto police were denying that a serial murderer was targetting Toronto’s gay village. The Canadian government was on the case… well, not really. Ottawa was stirring a chorus of international voices alleging gruesome treatment of gays and lesbians on the other side of the world, in the Russian Federation republic of Chechnya. Human rights outlets in Canada and internationally and even some gay rights defenders in Toronto joined the chorus. Evidence of the alleged situation in Chechnya remains unsubstantiated. In the CBC ‘The Current’ program cited above, the second story broadcast on January 30 is a story alleging that ‘Russian propaganda’ is taking over the airwaves of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. The guest presents a heroic story of the violent, right-wing protests in Kyiv, Ukraine which overthrew the elected president of that country and the civil war by the rightists against the people of eastern Ukraine which followed.
[These are examples of the dangerous consequences of anti-Russia propaganda run amok. The CBC is not failing to learn lessons; it is one of the propaganda agents creating the problems.]
Another top politician in Canada steps aside following allegations of sexual assault, Maclean’s Magazine, Jan 28, 2018
[In 2014, Rick Dykstra was a Conservative member of Parliament. A female staff member accused him of sexual assault. The Conservative Party became aware of the allegation but later decided he could remain the party candidate in the October 2015 federal election, for the riding of St. Catharines, Ontario. He lost the election and went on to become president of the Ontario wing of the Conservative Party. He stepped down from that post with no explanation on January 28 following the publication of the above report in Maclean‘s. The leader of the Ontario Conservatives resigned on January 25 following allegations against him of sexual harassment in 2015 while he was a Conservative MP in Ottawa.
[The state-run broadcaster CBC is terming sexual assault and harassment by politicians as “sexual misconduct” or “inappropriate behaviour”.]
* Interview with Conservative Party staff member who first fielded the 2014 allegation against then-MP Rick Dykstra, on CBC Radio One‘s ‘As It happens’, Jan 29, 2018
* Parliament debates changes to labour law governing its operations after exposes showing workers and political staff are victims of sexual harassment and predation, report on CBC News, Jan 27, 2018
* Liberal MP and former cabinet minister Kent Hehr remains in Liberal caucus as second complaint of sexual harassment filed, Globe and Mail, Jan 28, 2018 … Kristin Raworth, an Alberta public servant, raised allegations last week on Twitter about Mr. Hehr, saying he made verbally suggestive comments to many women and she avoided being in an elevator with him because he made her “feel unsafe.” Since coming forward, she said she’s received threats. “I’m getting threats. Called names. Attacked by people who don’t even know me. I’m afraid to leave my house. This is why people don’t speak up,” Ms. Raworth said in a Tweet on Saturday…
* Even Conservative Party MPs are speaking out against the culture of sexual harassment and assault on Parliament Hill, report in Globe and Mail, Monday, Jan 29, 2018 The dark side of Parliament Hill faced the full scrutiny of the House of Commons on Monday as female MPs described a workplace where sexual harassment is common..
Toronto’s death toll of homeless people is at least 94 in 2017, Toronto Star, Jan 28, 2018
… Prior to 2017, the city only tracked the people who died in city-administered emergency shelters. There was no comprehensive system to monitor the number of people who died for reasons tied to homelessness, a Star investigation revealed in 2016…
Related: Toronto’s death toll of homeless people is 94 in 2017, Toronto Star, Jan 28, 2018
Routine police work in Canada is now militarized, by Kevin Walby, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Winnipeg, and Brendan Roziere, law student, Robson Hall, University of Manitoba, published in The Conversation, Jan 24, 2018
Bombardier’s upstart ‘C Series’ jet wins cancelation of punishing U.S. duries in win over Boeing, Bloomberg News, Jan 26, 2018
… Welcome back to America, C Series. Bombardier Inc.’s marquee jet, slapped with crushing U.S. tariffs last year, got a new lease on life when an American trade panel nixed the duties. The Friday ruling, a surprise defeat for Boeing Co., enables Bombardier to jump-start sales campaigns in the world’s largest aircraft market…
[Bloomberg provides a rosy interpretation of the evolution of Bombardier’s C Series passenger jet program, specifically the shotgun “partnership” with Airbus which was agreed in late 2017. Airbus won control of the C Series for a song due to Bombardier running out of financing and due to the then-daunting prospects for selling the jet in the U.S. market. An initial ruling by the U.S. Department of Commerce in summer 2017 levied punishing duties against the C Series of nearly 300 per cent of Bombardier’s sale price.
Crisis in Canada’s trade unions after Unifor, country’s largest trade union, splits from Canadian Labour Congress, by John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, published on the labour council’s website, January 22, 2018
… The key issues in that split 37 years ago [the construction unions leaving the CLC] were similar to what we face today. They revolved around workforce rivalries, the relationship with the NDP [the right-wing unions wanting to cozy up to the Liberal Party instead), union democracy and Canadian autonomy…
[A generation of radicals in Canada has failed to provide a left-wing alternative to the country’s social democratic New Democratic Party. Failure also marks the building of a militant and social trade union movement, one which would champion the interests of all working class people, not just dues-paying union members. Unifor and its CAW (Canadian autoworkers) predecessor presented themselves as social unions, but they failed the test. They went the route of defending at all costs the climate-wrecking industries where their dues-paying members work, and cozying up to Canada’s Liberal Party to achieve that. They eschewed anything to do with the class struggle.
[A key problem is that Unifor’s base is in the ‘sunset’ industries, that is, the industries that are key culprits in the global warming emergency–auto assembly, forest clear-cutting, tar sands extraction and oil refineries, railways, airlines and aerospace manufacture. These sunset industries and the consumerist patterns they feed need to be wound down and ‘transitioned’ to a sustainable and socially enriching economy if the world is to have any chance of averting catastrophic global warming. But that requires a far-reaching social vision. The leaders of Canadas’ industrial and construction unions follow, instead, the same mantra as the owners of industry: ‘More, whatever the social and environmental cost’.
[An editorial comment on the Unifor split published in the online journal The Bullet on January 26 offers only superficial explanations of the decline in Canada’s trade unions laid bare by the Unifor split from the CLC (Canada’s equivalent to the AFL-CIO). That was followed by a published commentary by a U.S. writer on January 30 that similarly fails to analyze the full sope of what has taken place in Canada’s unions and why. The article is headlined ‘Don’t let a union split tear the labour movement apart’, but unfortunately, there is no ‘labour movement’ in Canada, only organizations whose members pay dues and receive benefits and services in exchange.]
One year after the Quebec City mosque shooting: Lingering wounds and fears for the future, by Ingrid Peretz, Globeand Mail, Jan 25, 2018 One year after a gunman opened fire in the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre and killed six men attending prayers, the Muslim community is still marked by the lingering wounds of the Jan. 29 shooting… The promise of tolerance and acceptance that followed the assault has failed to translate to reality, and some worshippers still come to pray at the mosque in fear…
[Overlooked in this Globe report is that Quebec’s political spectrum from left to right support a ‘secularism’ law that would, for example, prohibit government workers from providing services to women of Muslim faith wearing a veil.]
Related: Federal government staying out of court challenge to Quebec’s face-covering law, Globe and Mail, Jan 25, 2018 The federal government will not participate in the upcoming constitutional challenge of Quebec’s law that bans people from receiving or providing public services while wearing face coverings, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says…
Canada rocked by sexual abuse scandals as prime minister pursues foreign policy rhetoric concerning women and girls in the Global South.
[Two doctors previously working for Canada’s national police force stand accused of sexual assaults of RCMP female recruits (reports below). The force was condemned by Human Rights Watch in 2013 for failing to protect women and girls in northern British Columbia. Conservative Party leaders in Ontario and Nova Scotia resigned on January 24, 2018 following allegations of sexual assault against young, female party members and staff. In the case of Ontario Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown, the allegations against him pertain to the time he spent as a member of the federal Parliament from 2006-2015.
[Indigenous women and girls in Canada are facing a social emergency, as a federal inquiry into missing and murdered women and girls falters. Women and girls are the hardest-hit victims of Canada’s ongoing housing crisis and opioid poisoning epidemic. United Nations ‘peacekeeping’ forces which Canada has long supported and in which it has long participated have a grim record of sexual abuse and assault against the women and girls in the countries where they operate, notably in Haiti and in Africa.
[Presently, Richard Pound of Canada’s Olympics program is on a tear against Russian athletes seeking their complete ban from the Olympics for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. But Canada’s female sporting programs, including skiing and gymnastics, are being rocked as athletes come forward with accusations of sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of coaches. Canada’s minister of sport and disabilities, Kent Hehr, is facing allegations of sexual harassment. Seven weeks ago, female survivors of Canada’s thalidomide drug poisoning scandal of the 1960s charged the same minister with making insulting and degrading comments to them about their physical conditions. The insults took place at a meeting with the minister on October 19, 2017 where the victims were pressing for improved compensation. At the time, Canada’s self-described ‘feminist’ prime minister refused to discipline or remove the minister from the portfolio. On January 25, he resigned his cabinet position though not from his seat in Parliament.
[Canada’s state-run broadcaster the CBC is smoothing the waters by referring to the reported sexual harassment and assault by politicians as “sexual misconduct” or “inappropriate behaviour”.]
* Canada doubles global aid for girls’ education as Trudeau pushes gender agenda at Davos, Switzerland, CBC News, Jan 25, 2018 Canada is doubling its aid to the Global Partnership for Education to $180 million over three years. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement while participating in a panel discussion on the education and empowerment of girls and women at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Thursday…
* There is a whisper network in Canadian politics. To protect young women, it has to end, commentary by AH Reaume, Globe and Mail, Jan 25, 2018 … In a recent recent survey by The Canadian Press, MPs were asked if they had ever experienced sexual harassment, assault or misconduct. Fifty-eight per cent said they had. A whopping 76 per cent also said they had either witnessed or been told about sexual misconduct that affected another woman working in the House of Commons.
Toronto police are investigating a second RCMP doctor accused of sexual assaults during hiring of women recruits, Canadian Press, Jan 24, 2018
[The new allegations cover a period from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s (Globe and Mail report). They follow accusations against an RCMP doctor in Nova Scotia that he assaulted female RCMP candidates during a period from the early 1980s to mid-2000s. See that report below, dated Jan 23, 2018.]
Background: Explosive report by Human Rights Watch says RCMP failing to protect Indigenous women and girls in British Columbia, Feb 13, 2013
Grim social indicators for First Nations people in Canada, from a report in the Globe and Mail on Jan 24, 2018 (additional sources indicated)
- 44 per cent of children from First Nations reserves graduate from high school, compared with 88 per cent of other young Canadians
- Life expectancy of Indigenous people is 15 years shorter than the Canadian average
- Inuit people are 270 times as likely to have tuberculosis
- About seven per cent of Canadian children under 14 are Indigenous, but about 52 per cent of those in foster care are Indigenous.
- In June 2017, there were some 153 First Nations communities with boil water advisories [there are more than 600 First Nations communities in Canada]. Some of those advisories were several decades old. The Liberal Party government in Ottawa has lifted 40 boil-water advisories since it was elected in October 2015, but 26 more have been added.
- Suicide rates are six-to-seven times the rates of non-Indigenous people (see chart, source CTV News, April 2016)
- Indigenous people make up approximately five per cent of the population of Canada. Indigenous men comprise 25.2 per cent of all in-custody males, while Indigenous women comprise 36.1 per cent of all females behind bars (source: CBC News, Sept 15, 2017). The Indigenous incarceration rate is ten times higher than the non-Indigenous population. In the U.S. Black people are six times more likely to be imprisoned compared to those of Caucasians decent (source: Canada’s prisons are the ‘new residential schools’ for First Nations people, by Nancy Macdonald, MacLean’s Magazine, Feb 18, 2016).
Related: Canadian prime minister grandstands in Davos, Switzerland as advocate for the world’s poor and disenfranchised, report on CBC News, Jan 23, 2018 … “We cannot neglect our responsibility to the people who matter most, to the people who aren’t here in Davos and never will be.”
Canada’s financial sector is missing in action on climate change, commentary by Celine Bak and Ed Waitzer, published in the Globe and Mail‘s ‘Report On Business’, Jan 23, 2018
[This commentary laments that Canada’s highly monopolized banking and financial industries are doing next to nothing to promote a new capitalist investment climate that will rely less on fossil fuels as primary energy sources (whenever that may happen). The authors worry about the stability of capitalism if billions and trillions of dollars of ‘stranded’ fossil fuel assets are lost in the event of failure to take prompt action in anticipation of fossil fuel decline. The authors have a quaint faith in the potential of capitalism to salvage a planet threatened by the global warming emergency. Be that as it may, of note in their commentary is that whatever one thinks of the potential of an ‘energy paradigm’ shift from fossil fuels to alternatives, Canada’s capitalists are so lazy and besotted with oil money as to not even line up at the starting gate. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 38 per cent from 2005 to 2015 (see chart below).]
British Columbia Green Party’s Andrew Weaver threatens to take down NDP government over its liquefid natural gas ambitions for the province, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, BC edition, Jan 23, 2018
[British Columbia is failing to meet its already-risible target for lowering greenhouse gas emissions–33 per cent reduction by 2020 and 80 per cent reduction by 2050, from 2007 levels. Three years before leading the Green Party’s electoral breakthrough in the BC provincial election in May 2017, party leader Andrew Weaver was touting the construction of a multi-billion refinery on the north coast of the province which would process Alberta tar sands.]
Related: British Columbia quietly releases emissions update showing it will blow past 2020 climate target, by Judith Lavoie, DeSmog Canada, Jan 12, 2018 Emissions are only 2.1 per cent lower than the baseline year of 2007 and are on the rise.
Scandals deepen over sexual predation in Canada’s national police force as doctor who examined recruits for decades is investigated, report in Globe and Mail, Jan 23, 2018
… The allegations [against the doctor in Nova Scotia who ‘examined’ RCMP female applicants from 1981 to 2003] come after nearly 1,000 women have filed claims in a class-action lawsuit, settled in 2016, that required the Mounties to compensate current and former female employees who were sexually assaulted, harassed or discriminated against at any point after September, 1974, when the force began to recruit women. Many hundreds more claims are expected to be filed before the deadline of Feb. 8…
For a healthier population in Canada, spend more on social services, says a new University of Calgary study, by Lauria Monsebraaten, social justice reporter, Toronto Star, Jan 22, 2018
If provinces want a healthier population, they should spend less on health care and more on social services, new Canadian research suggests.
“Spending more on health care sounds like it should improve health,” said Daniel Dutton, a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. “But our study suggests that is not the case and social spending could be used to improve the health of everyone,” said Dutton, lead author of a ssix page report is here published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
[The six page report is here. Neither the report nor the Toronto Star examine the vested, capitalist interests in Canada’s partial, quasi-public health care system which block the expansion of health-promoting social services. The state-funded health care industry in Canada is heavily infiltrated by drug manufacturing multinationals and doctors who are in it for the money. For them, promotion of healthy lifestyles is less profitable than a system which favours treatment of those falling ill. Meanwhile, many essential health services in Canada such as dental and optical care as well as child care remain privately owned and operated.]
Jury acquits all three rail workers who were scapegoated for 2013 oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, CBC News, Jan 18, 2018
[After nine difficult days of deliberation, a jury in Sherbrooke, Quebec has acquitted all three of the employees of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway who were on duty at the time of the oil train derailment disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, during the night of July 6, 2013. Forty seven people died when a 73-car oil train that was parked overnight on a slope lost its braking, careened into the scenic town located 250 kilometers east of Montreal at high speed and derailed.
[Mainstream media loves a good disaster story, and so news reporting of this jury decision is widespread. What is decidedly NOT widely reported by the mainstream is the story of the corporate conspiracy of oil and rail companies, together with the federal government’s railway oversight agency Transport Canada, whose business plan and negligence caused the disaster. The oil in the train at Lac Megantic was en route from North Dakota–known for the high volatility of the oil coming out of the ground there–to Irving Oil’s refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, a distance of some 3,500 kilometers. The Montreal-to-Saint John portion of that route traveled over rickety rail lines which Canadian Pacific railway sold in the mid-1980s to what became a succession of shortline rail companies, of which MM&A was the latest installment.
[In its report of the jury decision, the right-wing National Post daily explains, “Back when the three men were charged, Lac-Mégantic residents said it was the railway’s chairman, Ed Burkhardt, they wanted to see in handcuffs. He was never charged, but the railway faces similar criminal negligence charges. A trial date has not been set, but even if convicted, the only penalty for a company is a fine — one that would likely never be paid because MMA went bankrupt.”
[The freight trains began to roll through Lac Mégantic once again in late 2013 under the new owners of the railway (Fortress Investment Group) despite strong opposition from the town’s residents. (Montreal-Saint John passenger train service was abandoned decades ago by CP Rail, with Transport Canada approval). Transport of hazardous materials is not permitted in the resumed service. The Canadian and Quebec governments have ignored residents’ calls for the rail line to be re-routed around the town.]
Interview with Thomas Walsh, lawyer for Thomas Harding, the on-duty engineer of the train that derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, eight-minute interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘As It Happens’, Jan 19, 2018
* Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, Wikipedia
* Oil trains and the Lac-Mégantic, extensive dossier of articles by Roger Annis, published from 2013 to 2016 on A Socialist In Canada
Lead Now.ca and Ontario’s ‘Fight for $15 & Fairness Campaign’ organize cross-country protests at Tim Hortons outlets on Jan 19 for higher minimum wages, press release by Lead Now.ca, Jan 18, 2018
[It is symptomatic of the state of trade unions in Canada that an NGO, Lean Now.ca, and not the trade unions is taking the lead in coordinating cross-Canada actions for higher minimum wages. (Minimum wages in Canada are legislated by provincial governments.) The unions are too busy defending their dues-collecting fiefdoms, as evidence by the decision of Canada’s largest trade union, Unifor, to split from the Canadian Labour Congress. The CLC, in turn, has for several decades been an English-language only union central, with only superficial ties to the trade unions in French-language Quebec.]
Man charged with murders of two men who disappeared last year from Toronto’s Gay Village, CBC News, Jan 18, 2018
* What we know about the suspect in the disappearances from Toronto’s Gay Village, CBC News, Jan 19 2018
* ‘We believe there are more victims’, report by Brennan Doherty and Ainslie Cruickshank, Toronto Star, Jan. 18, 2018 Just over a month ago police tried to dispel fears of a serial killer targeting Toronto’s Gay Village saying they had no indication that disappearances from the area were connected. On Thursday, they arrested and charged 66-year-old Bruce McArthur with murder in the cases of two men missing from the Church and Wellesley area and they believe there are more victims…
* Community worked tirelessly to keep investigation on public radar, by Tamara Harris, Toronto Star, Jan 18, 2018
[Toronto police have long denied any connection between multiple disappearances of people residing in or visiting the Gay Village in downtown Toronto. Residents have pressed police and municipal officials to investigage many disappearances over the years. They have been angry and disatisfied with the responses by officials, as the CBC News report above documents.
[The Canadian government went on a tear against Russia in 2017 using sketchy or undocumented allegations that gay and lesbian people in Russia’s Chechnya republic were being repressed, placed in ‘concentration camps’, and even that dozens were murdered. Human rights and even gay rights organizations in Canada went along with the government’s anti-Russia propaganda drive, as did mainstream media outlets such as the CBC.]
Indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons ruled unconstitutional by B.C. court, CBC News, Jan 17, 2018
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has ruled that the practice of prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons is unconstitutional… The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC) brought the challenge against the federal government, arguing that rules regarding administrative segregation, more commonly known as solitary confinement, are inhuman and unconstitutional…
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said in a statement the government will review the B.C. judgment along with an Ontario ruling [December 2017] which found administrative segregation for longer than five days is unconstitutional. Goodale said the government has new legislation before Parliament to impose time limits [sic] and independent oversight on solitary confinement…
[The federal government opposed the court actions in BC and Ontario, as did the national ‘union’ of prison guards in Canada. United Nations convention defines solitary confinment longer than 24 hours as torture. Torture in Canada–how can that possibly be? Surely the country’s history of cultural genocide against First Nations peoples and cruel exploitation of workers and farmers is long gone?]
Background, from Wikipedia:
… In 1949, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Although the Declaration is non-binding, the basic human rights outlined within it have served as the foundation of customary international law. The relevance of the Declaration to solitary confinement is found in Article 5, which states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Thus, if solitary confinement is believed to constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, then the country practicing solitary confinement is violating the provisions set by the UDHR.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), effective 1976, reiterates the fifth article of the UDHR; Article 7 of the ICCPR identically states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Because the ICCPR is a legally binding agreement, any nation that is signatory to the covenant would be violating international law if it practiced torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
At the time that the UDHR and ICCPR were adopted, solitary confinement was not yet believed to constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Its practice, therefore, was not believed to violate international law. This changed, however, after the UN definition of torture was outlined in detail in the 1984 Convention Against Torture (CAT)…
* Four prison guards at federal prison in Edmonton fired after allegations of intimidation, criminal activity, CBC News, Jan 9, 2018
* Correctional Service Canada fires two more staff at Edmonton prison, CTV News, Jan 18, 2018
Why Margaret Atwood, author of Handmaid’s Tale, is facing #MeToo backlash, by Constance Grady, VOX News, Jan 17, 2018
Fourteen-point rebuttal to mainstream journalist Keith Baldrey after he praises BC Premier John Horgan for kicking Site C dam critics to the curb, commentary by Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight (Vancouver weekly), Jan 13, 2018 (Charlie Smith is the editor of the Georgia Straight)
* First Nations file civil lawsuit against Site C hydroelectric dam, Alaska Highway News, Jan 16, 2018
* West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations file court claim to stop Site C, CBC News, Jan 16, 2018
Federal court rejects Ottawa’s bid to halt Saudi arms deal lawsuit, by Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, Jan 9, 2018
A Federal Court judge has rejected the Trudeau government’s attempt to sink a fresh legal challenge of the $15-billion sale of weaponized armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, saying evidence last summer showing Canadian-made machines being deployed in a Saudi neighbourhood has breathed life into the matter. This means a new lawsuit to block these arms exports will be allowed to proceed and Ottawa will be forced to shed light on what happened in the summer of 2017 when Canadian-made armoured vehicles were filmed and photographed taking part in a fight [sic] between Riyadh and residents of the Saudi kingdom’s Eastern Province.
This is University of Montreal law professor Daniel Turp’s second attempt to block exports of $15-billion of Canadian-made light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country with an abysmal human-rights record. In January, 2017, a different Federal Court judge rejected his lawsuit, noting there was no evidence demonstrating Canadian machines had been used against the civilian population. That decision is still under appeal…
When it comes to workers rights at Tim Hortons, who’s the boss? The multinational owner or the franchisees?, by Sara Mojtehedzdeh, Toronto Star, Jan 13, 2018
Defense minister Harjit Sajjan defends proposed new powers to Canada’s CSE spy agency, by Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star, Jan 11, 2018 ‘Critics argue the legislation could open the door to the kind of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns that have recently targeted Western democracies [sic].’
* Critics fear the government’s national security bill puts Canadians in the crosshairs, by Stuart Thomson, National Post, Jan 15, 2018 Bill C-59 has been touted as the Liberal government’s improved version of the Harper government’s national security legislation, Bill C-51. It provides the super-secretive Communicatoins Security Establishment with new powers, inclluding to spy on Canadians.
* Under Bill C-59, the Communications Security Establishment Act, would receive an explicit mandate to launch cyber attacks, report by Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic, Dec 18, 2017 The Citizen Lab (University of Toronto) and the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (University of Ottawa) have collaborated to produce a report which provides timely legal analysis, political context, and historical background on the Communications Security Establishment Act and related provisions in Bill C-59 (An Act respecting national security matters), First Reading (December 18, 2017)…
* The same Democrats who denounce Donald Trump as a lawless, treasonous authoritarian just voted to give him vast, warrantless spying powers, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Jan 12, 2018
Another blow to Trudeau government’s signature political initiative, the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, CBC News, Jan 11, 2018
[Debbie Reid is the second executive director to resign from the inquiry and the latest in a string of high-profile resignations of inquiry staff and directors. Reid left only three months after replacing Michelle Moreau, who resigned for unspecified reasons in July 2017. An email by Reid had stated that the primary purpose of inquiry staff is to protect inquiry commissioners from “criticism or surprises”. The National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was established in December 2015 (Wikipedia). As its operation has bogged down and disillusioned the families of missing and murdered women and girls, many First Nations spokespeople have called for the resignations of the inquiry commissioners and a “complete reset” of the inquiry’s operation.]
The opioid prescription/addiction machine in Canada, report on CBC News, Jan 11, 2018 One in five Canadians has been prescribed an opioid driug in the past five years; in the same time, one in eight say a family member has become dependent or addicted.
Related: Opioid deaths in Canada in 2017 expected to exceed 4,000, far surpassing 2016 figure of 2,861, Canadian Press, Dec 17, 2017 [In 2016, there were 4,611 drug poisoning (‘overdose’) deaths registered in Britain. It has app. twice the population of Canada. The corresponding number in the U.S. (ten times the population of Canada) was 63,600 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).]
Imagine cities that shelter people, not war, by Azeezah Khan, columnist, Toronto Star, Jan 11, 2018 Turning Toronto’s Moss Park Armoury into an emergency shelter for homeless is practical but also symbolic of Canada’s misguided priorities when it spends so much more on making war than taking care of its poor.
Related: Price of a house rose 10.8 per cent in fourth quarter of 2017 over the same quarter in 2016, by Canadian Press, Jan 10, 2018 Condominium prices in Toronto and Vancouver rose by 20 per cent in Q4 2017.
Tim Hortons brand is getting ‘dragged through the mud’ in Ontario minimum wage fight but the multinational owner isn’t doing anything to stop it, Financial Post, Jan 10, 2018
* Union leaders says companies would be ‘foolish’ to move their operations to avoid rising minimum wage, by Ross Marowits, Canadian Press, Jan 10, 2018
* In raising the minimum wage, Ontario gov’t simultaneously ignored recommendations to make it easier for service industry workers to join a union, commentary by Marty Warren (Steelworkers Union), Toronto Star, Jan 11, 2018
[For years, union leaders in Canada and their political party the NDP have offered little more than platitudes in support of raising the minimum wage. Three factors came together to convince the Liberal Party government in Ontario to raise the minimum wage to $14 per hour as of Jan 1, 2018 and $15 as of Jan 1, 2019: an activist campaign waged for years by the ‘Fight For $15 and Fairness‘ campaign and its predecessors; the Liberals seeing an opportunity to gain political advantage over the NDP; and the fact that employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find and retain staff at starvation-level wages. This Canadian Press article (weblink above) reports more platitudes from union leaders, while an op-ed commentary reports background to the sotry being ignored by mainstream media and commentators.
[Alberta’s NDP government hiked the minimum wage to $13.20 on Oct 1, 2017. It says the minimum wage will rise to $15 by October 2018.
[In neighbouring British Columbia, the NDP government elected in May 2017 has scrapped its election promise to ‘eventually’ raise the minimum wage to $15. Employers of minimum wage labour are increasingly complaining that low wages and skyrocketing house prices are making it increasingly difficult to hire workers in Vancouver. But class allegiances and loyalties are keeping employers from pressuring governments to raise the minimum wage and build affordable housing. ]
Tim Hortons coffee chain’s warm-and-fuzzy brand identity becomes faded and torn, by Edward Keenan, columnist, Toronto Star, Tuesday, Jan 9, 2018 (and see related coverage further below)
… ‘Any lingering doubt that this is just another cold-hearted corporate behemoth was dispelled this month when Tim Hortons franchisees — led by the husband-and-wife team descended from the Joyce and Horton families who founded the chain — decided to react to an increase in the minimum wage by squeezing their employees.
… The response from some in the public has been anger. Some launched a No Timmies Tuesday boycott this week. A protest at the Cobourg location is scheduled for Wednesday, as well as protests at nine Toronto locations throughout the day.
Deadly freezing temperatures in Toronto, but hundreds of homeless are left out in the cold, Vice News, Jan 5, 2018
[Toronto set a record low temperature for January 5 of minus 23C (minus nine Farenheit). Dozens, maybe hundreds, of homeless people had to brave the street due to the decades-long criminal negligence of federal, provincial and municipal governments in failing to build and manage housing for low-income working class people. One month ago, Toronto city council and its mayor voted against a motion asking the federal government to make its Moss Park Armoury available as an emergency shelter. Pressure by advocates for the homeless led to the Armoury being opened on January 6, but for two weeks only. Advocates say many of the city’s 62 homeless shelters and winter respite centers are of poor-quality and call them ‘refugee camps’.]
Related: Winter respite centre pushed to the limit during prolonged cold snap, by Julien Gignac, Toronto Star, Jan 8, 2018
Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak of appointed Canadian Senate defends her claim that cultural genocide in Canada against Indigenous people (residential schools) had positive sides, report on CBC News, Jan 4, 2018
Related: Residential school survivor says he told Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer about Lynn Beyak’s letters months ago, interview with Garnet Angeconeb on CBC Radio One‘s ‘As It Happens’, Jan 5, 2018 (eight minutes) Son of Lynn Beyak defends his mother’s views
Tim Hortons coffee chain hits back against Ontario’s minimum wage hike to $14 per hour, cuts paid breaks and other benefits of employees, CBC News, Jan 4, 2018
Family founders of the chain, sold to a Brazilian multinational in 2014, are eliminating paid breaks at the franchise outlets they own in Coburg, Ontario (which Ontario labour law permits) while a Toronto franchisee is eliminating employees’ tip jar.
[Corporate news outlets in Canada, including the CBC, are full of doom-and-gloom stories of “tens of thousands” of jobs due to be lost because of forthcoming minimum wage hikes in some provinces. Thanks to the inertia and lack of will over the issue by Canada’s trade unions and their political party, the NDP, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is able to masquerade as a champion of minimum wage earners. Her Liberal Party government’s $14 per hour rate as of January 1, 2018 looks downright rosy compared to the BC NDP government’s hike to $11.35 (!) in September 2017 and its simultaneous decision to scrap its 2017 election promise of $15 ‘sometime in the near future’.]
* Minimum-wage hike spurs Ontario businesses to cut benefits, hours, by Brenda Bouw, Globe and Mail, Jan 5, 2018
* Bullying bosses and pliant media whine about Ontario minimum wage increase to $14, Rank and File.ca, Jan 5, 2018
* Postmedia columnist and CBC television news commentator, Andrew Coyne, says no minimum wage is best, by Andrew Coyne, columnist, National Post, Jan 6, 2018
Columnist says starvation wages should be supplemented by government from general tax revenue
* Of course businesses would act like businesses in wake of minimum wage hikes, by Robyn Urback, opinion editor at CBC News, Jan 5, 2018 [This is a cynical argument by a CBC ‘opinion editor’ which echoes all the pro-business lies saying that improved wages for workers ruins economies.] * ‘I will not back down from legislating a $15 per hour minimum wage’, op-ed by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, in Toronto Star, Jan 7, 2018
Will Canada finally deal with its torture-in-Afghanistan skeletons?, op-ed commentary by Erna Paris, in The Globe and Mail, Jan 5, 2018 … Canada’s unexamined role in transferring captured Afghans to notorious prisons where they were certain to be tortured is another stubborn entity that keeps popping out of the cupboard. Both former prime minister Stephen Harper and current PM Justin Trudeau have tried to ignore the unwelcome visitor, but it will not be snubbed…
Actresses accusing Soulpepper Theatre director Albert Schultz of sexual misconduct had to ‘suffer in silence,’ lawyer says, CBC News, Jan 4, 2018
* Soulpepper Theatre artisitic director Albert Shultz resigns amid sexual harassment allegations, CBC News, Jan 3, 2018
* Interview with two of the four actresses suing Albert Shultz and Soulpepper Theatre directors, on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Jan 4, 2018 (40 minutes)
* Board of directors of Soulpepper Theatre is a who’s-who of Canadian bankers, corporate elite, article in Globe and Mail, Jan 4, 2018
… Among the most prominent current board members are Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Joe Natale and Delaney Capital Management partner David Fleck. Nancy McCain, a scion of the McCain Foods Ltd. dynasty and wife of federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, serves alongside Maureen Dodig, who is married to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce chief executive officer Victor Dodig – a former Soulpepper board member himself. James O’Sullivan, who heads Canadian retail operations for Bank of Nova Scotia, is one of several senior bankers around the boardroom table. [Full list of Soulpepper Theatre Board of Directors (27 members) is here.] * Albert Schultz resigns on heels of lawsuits, sex assault allegations, Toronto Star, Jan 4, 2018 [Actress Kristin Booth says her decision to come forward and undertake legal action against Soulpepper was sparked by the theatre’s statement on sexual harassment policy in October 2017 following the firing of guest artist Laszlo Marton over sexual harassment allegations. “The hypocrisy of that statmeent is what motivated me to come forward…”]
Statement from the Iranian Canadian Congress regarding protests in Iran, issued on Jan 2, 2018 … In the days since the protests began, some politicians and political groups in Canada and abroad who have for years advocated for sanctions and aggression against Iran have tried to exploit these protests to justify their anti-Iranian policies…These efforts constitute nothing but an attempt to cynically exploit people’s legitimate demands to advance these groups’ own political agenda…
What will it take for Trudeau to split from Harper on foreign policy?, by John Ibbitson, (conservative columnist), Globe and Mail, Jan 4, 2018 (available to Globe subscribers only) … Over the past two years, Justin Trudeau has closely adhered to Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. One of the questions of 2018 is whether the Liberals will continue to imitate the Conservatives or strike out on their own… Mr. Trudeau is far more assertive than his Conservative predecessor on the need to combat global warming, but the government has only committed itself to meeting the targets set by the Conservatives…
Vancouver condominium prices soar as seller’s market emerges, big rise also recorded in Toronto, Globe and Mail, Jan 4, 2018
[Condo prices in Vancouver in December 2016 were 26 per cent higher than December 2015. The BC government’s 15 per cent tax on foreign home buyers introduced in 2015 was a hiccup that the industry has shrugged off.
[The average price regionally for condos sold in December hit $676,502, just shy of the record of $687,053 set in October… In the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s territory over the past year, the average price for condos jumped 44 per cent to $374,649 while the price for detached properties increased 11.4 per cent to an average of $1,018,629.
[In Toronto, condo prices rose 14 per cent in 2017.]
Facebook says it is deleting accounts at the direction of the U.S. and Israeli governments, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Dec 30, 2017
After years of stalling, British Columbia becomes sixth province to provide abortion pill Mifegymiso, CBC News, Jan 2, 2018 … Health Canada approved Mifegymiso in 2015. It costs $300 or more to those obliged by anti-woman provincial restrictions to purchase it out of pocket. New Brunswick was the first province to provide universal access to the pill last July; Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia have also made it accessible for free…
Related: Thirty years after Morgentaler ruling on abortion rights, Canada ‘still dealing with the same issues’, by Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press, Dec 20, 2017 Only one in six hospitals in Canada performs abortions and some provinces have no standalone abortion clinics at all. New Brunswick, meanwhile, continues to refuse to fund abortions at the province’s only clinic…
Canada’s National Observer joins the Russia-truthing media parade
[Canada’s online National Observer was a welcome addition to Canada’s alternative media when it expanded in 2015 from the original Vancouver Observer to report on Canada-wide news. Its focus was and remains, in the words of its publisher, “to counter the influence of the energy industry’s multi-million dollar spending on ads and editorial partnerships with mainstream media through factual independent reporting.” But reporter Sanday Gerassimo ventures into heretofore unexplored terrain in a very lengthy, year-ending interview with a “social sciences scholar” in the United States. The interview presents reams of complicated narrative apparently having to do with Russia influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But we come to the nub of the matter in this exchange:
Garossino: As a scientist, what evidence would you look for that Russian interference may have influenced the outcome of the election?
Caroline Orr: It’s going to be hard to ever definitively say whether or not the outcome of the election was changed…
[In truth, the cat was out of the Russia-truthing bag when the publisher of the Observer penned a gushing summary of a speech which the warmonger and former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton delivered in Vancouver on Decembver 2017 to a crowd of several thousand adoring fans.
[Postscript: The National Observer‘s first reporting, on Jan 4, 2018, of the social protests in Iran which erupted in late 2017 is decidedly hostile to the Iranian people. It echoes the foreign policy stance of the Trudeau government in Ottawa and Trump-led government in the United States. ]
Record-breaking CEO pay in Canada; now 209 times more than average worker, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Jan 2, 2018 … “Canada’s corporate executives were among the loudest critics of a new fifteen dollar minimum wage in provinces like Ontario and Alberta [in 2019] , meanwhile the highest paid among them were raking in record-breaking earnings,” says the report’s author, CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald.
Foreign buyers push up global house prices, The Economist, March 11, 2017 (Short text with graphs in pdf format here: Foreign buyers push up global house prices)
Related: Governments and the real estate industry in Canada are lying about the vast extent of foreign and domestic speculative investment fueling the real estate bubble and the country’s acute shortage of affordable housing, report by James Cohen and Peter Dent, published in The Globe and Mail, Dec 28, 2017 and Over 11,000 homes in Britain have stood empty for at least 10 years, data shows, The Guardian, Jan 1, 2018