Beginning September 2017, this website page features article headlines and weblinks from the mainstream and alternative media in Canada with the aim of providing an overview of the large trends in Canadian political economy. Text in square brackets [ ] is by Roger Annis. The most recent entries are at top of the list. Headlines in red denote articles by Roger Annis. These are published on the website main page and also listed in their respective subject categories. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser.
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 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 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
Donald Trump becomes the first president in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first year, by Daniel Dale, Toronto Star, Dec 31, 2017
[In its public relations exercises, Ottawa feigns discomfort with the blunt force, right-wing politics of Donald Trump. And it is true that Trump’s ‘America first’ economic stumblings alarm Canada’s economic elite. But on all fundamentals–more globalization of the capitalist order, expanding fossil fuel extraction, militarization, overthrow of unpopular foreign governments–Ottawa is in lock-step with Washington. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spokesman calmly admits it in the above article.]
… “The PM and president have developed a constructive, positive working relationship and have spoken or met on numerous occasions,” Trudeau spokesperson Cameron Ahmad said in November, noting that the two leaders have had “17 individual interactions” since Trump was elected. “Our offices, diplomats, ministers, and officials communicate regularly on many key files and shared priorities. The prime minister has extended an invitation to the president to visit Canada and continues to look forward to future opportunities to engage.”
By most accounts, including Trump’s own, the 46-year-old multilateralist Liberal prime minister and the 71-year-old nationalist Republican president have developed a friendly working relationship. Even as he disparages the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trudeau supports, Trump regularly tells audiences he likes Trudeau..
As the year draws to a close, Global BC’s legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey sits down with B.C. Premier John Horgan to take a look back at 2017. What were the highs and lows and what is his favourite Christmas song?
BC Premier John Horgan had a clear message for his BC NDP at year’s end: “If we’re going to be a government that governs for all British Columbians, we have to set aside our activism and start being better administrators,” he said in an interview with Global BC’s Keith Baldrey to cap off an eventful 2017 for the NDP leader…’
… The spread of Hepatitis A has been concentrated among the homeless and illicit drug users, who are also often exposed to unsanitary conditions. But about a third of those infected and two [of the 20 to date] who died were neither homeless nor drug users. Experts don’t know exactly how the disease spread to the general population, but it is easily transferable by even the slightest contact with infected feces.
That has helped spark a public outcry in San Diego to address the city’s long-standing issues with homelessness. It has also pushed the deadly epidemic into the international spotlight as a cautionary tale of how ignoring an affordable housing crisis can have broader public health consequences for cities – including those in Canada…
[The homeless population of San Diego is estimated as 5,600, fourth largest of U.S. cities and up 40 per cent since three years ago. That compares to 3,600 in Vancouver region in 2017 (up 30 per cent since 2014) and 5,200 in Toronto. Eighty homeless people have died in Toronto in the first six months of 2017.]
A tough year for human rights must give way to a brighter 2018, op-ed by Alex Neve and Béatrice Vaugrante of Amnesty International Canada , published in Toronto Star, Dec 29, 2017
[In a year-end statement published in the Toronto Star, the people heading Amnesty International Canada present a rosy view of the Canadian government’s actions on the international stage and offer milquetoast words for its record at home (“Canada has made contributions in 2017 to addressing many of those global challenges; but that has not always been backed up with consistent action at home.”). Meanwhile, they ignore the egregious human rights record for which Canada is directly responsible in such countries as Ukraine, Haiti and Honduras, and they ignore Canada’s interferences in support of regime-change in such countries as Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Brazil.
[Canada remains a staunch ally of the Trump-led U.S. and its support for such autocratic regimes as Saudi Arabia and Israel, but this is a truth that Amnesty International Canada cannot bring itself to utter.]
Canada expels Venezuelan diplomats as it deepens efforts to overthrow Venezuela’s president and government, report in TeleSur, Dec 25, 2017
[Canada announced the expulsion of Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires (second-ranking diplomatic official) on December 25. It also announced it is barring Venezuela Ambassador to Canada Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernández from returning to Ottawa. He was recalled to Venezuela following sanctions levied by Canada against Venezuela in early November under its new sanctions law targetting Russia and Venezuela. That law was approved unanimously in October by the House of Commons and Senate.
[Canadian mainstream media is presenting the expulsions as the fault of an aggressive Venezuela. The Venezuelan government expelled Canadian chargé d’affaires Craib Kowalik on Dec 24 due to his incessant interference in Venezuelan affairs. Canada has been openly backing the violent political opposition in Venezuela which is seeking the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro. But that didn’t stop the state-run CBC from headlining on Dec 25 ‘Canadian government retaliates by expelling Venezuelan diplomat’. Other mainstream media run similar headlines, as though it is Venezuela which is threatening Canada, rather than the opposite.
[Canada’s alternative media has been silent on the dispute. It is uncomfortably marooned by the support or acquiescence to Canadian sanctions coming from the members of Parliament of the soft-left New Democratic Party and the Green Party and by its own anti-Russia prejudices. As the anti-Russia drive by Ottawa and its NATO partners proceeds apace, progressive opinion in Canada is frightened by the propect of being labelled–McCarthyism-style–as sympathetic to Russia and its president Vladimir Putin.]
Sears Canada staff, retirees live amid uncertainty, special report in the Globe and Mail, Dec 28, 2017
[The looting of the Sears Canada department store chain by shareholders has left vulnerable its 18,000 retirees and 16,000 staff losing their jobs from Sears ‘bankruptcy’ closing. Governments have consistently failed to protect private sector pensions from looting by the very companies supposed to protect their pensioners’ interests.]
… Retired Sears clerk Donna England watched for years as federal and provincial politicians failed to respond to retirees’ pleas for legislative protections when companies get into trouble and fall behind in funding their employee pensions…
Governments and the real estate industry 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 (James Cohen is the director of policy and programs at Transparency International Canada, an anti-corruption organization headquartered at York University. Peter Dent is a former chair.)
… Our fractured system does not allow the tracking of foreign ownership of privately held companies so how can Statscan create a measurement of foreign ownership? It can’t…
Veteran female officer alleges ‘culture of sexism’ embedded in Toronto police force, by Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star, Dec 28, 2017
[Little surprise here–Canada’s national police force, the RCMP, is paying settlement money to more than 1,000 past and present female officers in a class action lawsuit settled earlier this year. A national advocacy group for female police facing on-the-job harassment was formed several months ago because female officers facing discrimination “don’t have the time” for the years which lawsuits take to process.]
Canadian gov’t obliged to fire anti-Muslim voice sitting on its ‘race relations’ foundation, by Jennifer Yang, Toronto Star, Dec 21, 2017
[The Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created out of the settlement in 1997 between the federal government and Japanese Canadians over their internment during World War Two. The government promised to create a foundation that would “foster racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding and help to eliminate racism.”
[Board member of CRRF Christine Douglass-Williams is a frequent writer at Jihad Watch. She wrote earlier this year, “You need street smarts with regard to immigrants. Islamic supremacists will smile at you, invite you to their gatherings, make you feel loved and welcome, but they do it to deceive you and to overtake you, your land and your freedoms.” She was appointed in 2012 on the recommendation of Jason Kenney, then the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, now the leader of Alberta’s opposition United Conservative Party.]
Trudeau ‘sorry’ for violating conflict [corruption] laws with holiday to Aga Khan’s island in Dec 2016, CBC News, Dec 20, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for his actions after the federal ethics watchdog found he violated some provisions of the Conflict of Interest [anti-corruption] Act when he vacationed on a private island owned by the [billionaire Aga Khan] last Christmas season and took a private helicopter to get there…
* Aga Khan could face lobbying probe for Trudeau trip, CBC News, Dec 21, 2017
* My exclusive interview with the prime minister (prime minister not included), by Andrew Coyne, columnist, National Post, Dec 20, 2017
Prime Minister, thank you for this. Might I just start with the news of the day? With regard to your holidays on the Aga Khan’s private island in the Caribbean, you’ve been found by the ethics commissioner to have broken the conflict of interest law in four places. Yet you face no penalties of any kind. You’ve said the decision should give Canadians confidence in the process. Why?
You claim you accepted his hospitality because he was a “close family friend.” Yet the ethics commissioner found you hadn’t seen him in 30 years, but for a hug at your father’s funeral…
As overdoses mount, U.S. cities and counties rush to sue opioid makers, by Mitch Smith and Monjica Davey, New York Times, Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017
AKRON, Ohio — Citing a spike in overdose deaths, growing demands for drug treatment and a strained budget, officials here in Summit County filed a lawsuit late Wednesday against companies that make or distribute prescription opioids. On Monday, Smith County in Tennessee did the same. And on Tuesday, nine cities and counties in Michigan announced similar suits…
The legal battle is playing out as the sale of prescription opioids, which include oxycodone and hydrocodone, have quadrupled since 1999, as have overdose deaths. More than 183,000 people died from overdoses tied to prescription opioids in the 15 years leading up to 2015…
U.S. drug overdose (drug poisoning) deaths hit 64,000 in 2016, report in New York Times, Sept 2, 2017
[There were 64,000 drug overdose (poisoning) deaths in the United States in 2016 according to the U.S. government National Center for Health Statistics. That’s up 22 per cent since 2015 and 540 per cent since 2011. About one third of 2016 deaths were attributable to the opium derivative fentanyl. In Canada, the BC Coroners Service says more than 1,100 British Columbians died due to a suspected illicit drug overdose [poisoning] in the first nine months of 2017, an annualized total of nearly 1,500. Total opioid poisoning deaths in Canada will hit 4,000 for 2017.]
Ontario judge rules long-term ‘administrative segregation’ [solitary confinement torture] in prisons unconstitutional, by The Canadian Press, Dec 18, 2017
… Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco said banning the practice immediately could be disruptive and dangerous, so he suspended his ruling for one year to give Parliament a chance to fix the problem.
Opioid deaths in Canada expected to hit 4,000 by end of 2017, The Canadian Press Dec 18, 2017
… Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, said Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have yet to report all of their opioid-related overdose deaths for the first half of the year. But based on figures reported by the other provinces and territories, Tam said the number of overdose deaths are on pace to surpass 4,000 by the end of the year — far above last year’s tally of 2,861 opioid-related fatalities…
[Mainstream news in Canada continues to blame the toxic illegal drug supply laced with fentanyl for skyrocketing deaths from opioid drug poisoning. But it is the racist, class-biased ‘war on drugs’ which is to blame. Governments treat drug addiction as a crime, not a public health emergency. For a history of the failed, 100-year old ‘war on drugs’ originated in the U.S., read Chasing The Scream, by Johann Hari (2015), a New York Times bestseller. ‘Best books on the war on drugs’, by Johann Hari, is here.
[A map of opioid deaths in Canada by province here. The highest rate of deaths is in British Columbia; the rate for 2017 is averaging 32 deaths per 100,000, in 2015 it was 11 per 100,000. The five U.S. states with the highest rates of death due to drug poisoning in 2015 (latest available figure) were West Virginia (41.5 per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3), Kentucky (29.9), Ohio (29.9), and Rhode Island (28.2). See also: Canada ranked second in world for per-capita opioid use, The Canadian Press, Aug 24, 2016]
Feature investigation: How a simple name change can deceive regulators and allow offenders to escape prosecution, by Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso in Globe and Mail, Dec 18, 2017
[This is the second report in the Globe and Mail’s investigation of crime and corruption in Canada’s stock market and retail investment industries. The first report is here: Thirty years of data: How The Globe and Mail detected repeat offenders in Canadian securities markets, by Tom Cardoso and Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail, Dec 16, 2017]
All of Canada’s state-run pension plans use offshore tax havens to invest, as revealed in ‘Paradise Papers’, report on CBC News, Dec 18, 2017
… None of the pension plans would say exactly how much of their revenue is generated by investments through tax havens. In response to questions from CBC, almost all of them pointed out that Canada doesn’t tax pension plans on their investment income, so their use of tax havens makes no difference to federal or provincial government coffers.
But other countries have different tax rules, and some Canadian pension funds acknowledged that offshore investment structures help them legally minimize their tax burdens abroad. Some even said it’s their duty to do so in order to maximize savings available for retirees…
Investigators keep low profile after billionaire drug company couple found dead from hanging in their Toronto mansion, report in Toronto Star, Dec 18, 2017
Barry and Honey Sherman and their ‘Apotex’ drug manufacturing company had a long history of litigation, more than 150 cases, report in Toronto Star, Dec 18, 2017
[Toronto police are already saying they may never know what happened, while Canada’s corporate elite is rushing to celebrate the Sherman couple as great humanitarians.]
New insights into Canada’s endemic stock market corruption, reports in the Globe and Mail and in Postmedia, Dec 2017
[Canada’s stock market and retail investment industries are among the most corrupt in the Western world. Enclosed are two recent mainstream news reports probing the matter. The Globe and Mail report is a lengthy product of months of journalistic investigation; the Vancouver Sun report is the latest in a series. These reports coincide with a new Toronto Star investigation (see immediately below) showing how Canada’s corporate elite has worked for decades with successive Canadian governments in massively shifting the income tax burden from themselves to the rest of Canadian society.]
* Thirty years of data: How The Globe and Mail detected repeat offenders in Canadian securities markets, by Tom Cardoso and Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail, Dec 16, 2017
* Fraudster’s condo transfer to wife shows difficulty B.C. securities commission has collecting fines, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, Dec 15, 2017
The high cost of low corporate taxes, special report in Toronto Star, Dec 14, 2017, by Marco Chown Oved, investigative reporter, Toby A.A. Heaps of Corporate Knights, and Michael Yow, data analyst, Dec 14, 2017
Sixty-five years ago, people and corporations contributed equal amounts of income tax to the Canadian government. Since then, the scales have tipped in the corporations’ favour. Corporate taxes have been slashed and people have been forced to make up the difference. In 2015/16 — the most recent statistics available — Canadians paid $145 billion in income tax, while corporations paid $41 billion.
At a time when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made tax fairness a centrepiece of his government, the Toronto Star and Corporate Knights magazine spent six months poring over tax data to determine how much income tax corporations are really paying. We found the amount of tax most big companies pay has been dropping as a proportion of their profits for years, and not only because the corporate tax rate has been cut repeatedly. Canada’s largest corporations use complex techniques and tax loopholes to reduce their taxes significantly below the official corporate tax rate set by the government.
Our analysis of the financial filings of Canada’s 102 biggest corporations shows these companies have avoided paying $62.9 billion in income taxes over the past six years.
The 2011-2016 audited financial statements of all large Canadian corporations (those worth more than $2 billion) reveal they paid an average of 17.7 per cent tax. During that time, the average official corporate tax rate in Canada for this group of companies was 26.6 per cent. That 8.9 per cent gap translates into tens of billions of dollars that could have been used to pay for the schools, roads, hospitals, police and paramedics we all rely on…
Related: 100 years of Canadian income taxes, by Toby Heaps and Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star, Dec 14, 2017 You have to go back 65 years to 1952 to find the last year that people and corporations paid the same amount in income tax. Since then, the gap has steadily grown. Here’s how we got here
Canada to buy used Boeing Australian figher jets while multi-billion$ purchase of new jets is decided, CBC News, Dec 12, 2017
Related: Ottawa relaunches the process to buy 88 new fighter jets, by Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, Dec 12, 2017 Canada will purchase used F-18 fighters from Australia as a stopgap for the air force, a move seen as taking a slap at Boeing.
[Canada is embarked on spending billions of dollars on fighter jets and warships. There is no opposition in Parliament to the plan, nor is there any opposition in the streets. Canada’s former antiwar movement has been sidelined by its confusion and disarray over NATO’s new cold war offensive against Russia and other challengers to NATO diktat. Canada’s trade unions support military spending because it preserves the privileged niche of dues-paying workers who manufacture and repair military equipment. Thus does the climate-wrecking, military-industrial complex march onward.]
NDP government in British Columbia will proceed with ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam boondoggle, report on CBC News, Dec 11, 2017
[Premier John Horgan announced on December 11 that his government will proceed with construction of the $11 billion-and-counting hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in northeast British Columbia. The decision has drawn immediate and widespread condemnation from social rights activists and environmentalists across the progressive spectrum. The decision is a flagrant violation of the NDP’s promises to seek reconciliation with First Nations people (similar to the promises of the federal Liberal government). ‘Site C’ dam will flood large stretches of valuable farm land. It will power continued capitalist expansion and natural resource plundering. The dam’s proponents cannot explain at this time where much of the electricity to be generated will be used, but among the options is to power longstanding but frustrated plans for a natural gas liquefaction (LNG) industry in BC. The Liberals have been touted this mirage for years, with support from the NDP. LNG would be fed by expanding the northeast’s fracked gas industry that has already wreaked untold pollution and harm to water, land, air and wildlife. If an LNG industry fails to be realized, a fallback position is to sell the power to tar sands operations in Alberta (termed a ‘greening’ of the tar sands) and other resource extraction plunderers.
[Overshadowing construction of Site C are the massive cost overruns of a similar project on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Canada–the ‘Muscrat Falls’ hydroelectric dam now completing construction on the Lower Churchill River in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Lower Churchill Project (Wikipedia) has come in at more than twice its original cost estimate–$13 billion (!)–condemning the people of the province to steep rises in the price of electricity. That project, too, violates First Nations rights. For that side of this story, listen to a 25-minute interview which was aired on CBC Radio One‘s weekday newsmagazine ‘The Current’ on Nov 21, 2017. Related reading: A tale of three mega-dams, and why Site C in British Columbia could face the axe, by Jonathan Drance, Glenn Cameron and Rachel V. Hutton, The Tyee, Nov 22, 2017 .]
The pipeline tyrants, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, Dec 8, 2017
National Energy Board ruling that Kinder Morgan can ignore Burnaby bylaws just latest injustice.
[This article by Andrew Nikiforuk provides valuable information on the ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline proposal by Kinder Morgan. But the article is soiled by the author’s anti-foreigner argument saying that the Trudeau government is supporting Trans Mountain “To please the totalitarian Chinese government.” As though Canada’s corrupt, fossil-fuel soaked ruling class has no criminal complicity in the global warming emergency. ‘We’re babes in the woods; China made us do it!’
[Coincidentally, Tyee editors have reprinted a commentary on China by a right-wing, former columnist at the Vancouver Sun daily. He has a book forthcomiung in 2018 titled . Thus does liberal Canada’s new cold war span from Russia to China.]
Chief of West Moberley First Nation says costs of Site C dam cancellation are exaggerated by dam proponents, by Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, Dec 6, 2017
… The BC Utilities Commission found terminating the project and remediating the site would cost about $1.8 billion, not including the cost of replacing the power Site C would generate. “I think it’s out of line,” [Chief Roland] Willson said of the $1.8 billion figure. “These people are trying to fear monger everybody and saying ‘it’s going to cost too much to stop.’ That’s BS. That’s literally idiotic.”
… Willson isn’t the only person to question the BCUC’s figure. In an open letter to Horgan, energy consultant Robert McCullough, who has been retained by the Peace Valley Landowner Association and the Peace Valley Environment Association, wrote that the BCUC’s number is higher than what either BC Hydro or Deloitte estimated.
In Quebec, ban the niqab, keep the cross, by Graeme Hamilton, National Post, Dec 9, 2017
… There are frequent reminders that secularism in Quebec comes with an asterisk. Typically, the religions that need to be restricted are those of minorities – Muslims, Sikhs, Jews. More often than not they are practiced by relative newcomers to Quebec. And despite the conventional wisdom that Quebecers broke free from the yoke of the Catholic Church in the Quiet Revolution, a stubborn attachment to Christian symbols remains, leading critics to label Quebec’s secularism “catho-laïcité.”
… Census data show that while Quebec pews have emptied, a strong attachment to the church remains. The 2011 National Household Survey found that 75 per cent of Quebecers declared a Catholic religious affiliation, and just 12 per cent declared no religious affiliation – the lowest of any region, according to University of Waterloo professor Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme. It is British Columbians who are the least religious Canadians, with 44 per cent declaring no religious affiliation.
Related: Judge grants stay of part of Quebec’s controversial religious neutrality law, CBC News, Dec 1, 2017
A Quebec Superior Court judge has granted a temporary suspension of the section of Quebec’s religious neutrality law that deals with face coverings. Justice Babak Barin granted a stay to Section 10 of the law, which requires anyone who gives or receives public services to do so with their face uncovered.
In his decision, Barin went on to say that Section 10 cannot come back into force until the government adopts guidelines dictating how the restrictions on face coverings would work in practice. The government has said it will not have those guidelines ready until next summer…
Unfounded: Globe and Mail investigates why police in Canada dismiss one in five sexual assault cases, by Robyn Dolittle, Globe and Mail, Dec 8, 2017
Law-enforcement agencies are reviewing more than 37,000 case files as part of a nationwide effort to improve how police handle sexual-assault investigations – an unprecedented overhaul of oversight, training and investigative practices designed to address substantial flaws in the way sexual violence is policed in Canada. An investigation by the Globe and Mail published in February 2017 revealed that one in five sexual assault cases were being dismissed as “unfounded,” meaning the investigating officer did not believe a crime occurred or was attempted…
Newly disclosed data shows need for inquiry into fracking in northern British Columbia, op-ed commentary by Ben Parfitt, Vancouver Sun, Dec 9, 2017
[BC’s Oil and Gas Commission is supposed to safeguard the public interest. But it acts instead as a shill for the natural gas industry. For years, it has withheld information from the public about the industry’s pollulting practies. Canada says it wants to ‘reconcile’ with First Nations over the country’s colonial past. The oil and gas industry is not only a relic in a warming world, it is a reminder that colonial practices continue.
[The NDP government in British Columbia is committed to a gas fracking future for the province, joining its NDP government counterpart in Alberta in extolling the virtures of planet-wrecking fossil fuels. According to the Vancouver Sun‘s lead columnist on provincial affairs, NDP Premier John Horgan is expected to anounce that his government will proceed with the ‘Site C’ hydro-electric dam boondoggle on the Peace River, notwithstanding critics who condemn Site C’s environmental damage, its violations of First Nations concensus, and the fact that the electricity to be generated has no proven market. But the hidden story is that Site C is a gamble that its power will eventually be needed for the crazed plan to develop a liquefied natural gas industry in BC. NDP leaders have always shared the LNG aspirations of the corrupt Liberal Party government which the NDP defeated in the May 2017 election.]
Assembly of First Nations votes for chief commissioner of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls Inquiry to resign, report by Aboriginal Peoples Televison Network, Dec 7, 2017
[But 80 per cent of delegates were not in attendance and didn’t vote when inquiry head Marion Buller addressed the AFN’s ‘Special Chiefs Assembly’ in Ottawa on its third and final day.]
How British Columbia became a gangster’s paradise, by Gary Mason, columnist, Globe and Mail, Dec 7, 2017
… It’s been so easy to play the game in B.C. [launder money through casinos], it’s become notorious around the world… The fact is, there has for years been suspicions that Vancouver has been a prime money-laundering destination and that a lot of that cash has been used to fuel the insane rise in house prices. In fact, court documents uncovered by Postmedia’s Sam Cooper, whose seminal reporting has exposed the degree to which money laundering has become a massive undertaking in B.C., show that some of those suspected of having prime roles in this shady business own mansions and penthouses around the city…
Related: How B.C. casinos are used to launder millions in drug cash, special report by Sam Cooper, Vancovuer Sun, Sept 29, 2017
Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet fired after years of revelations of corruption, more recent revelations of spying on journalists, report on CBC News, Dec 6, 2017
[The Montreal police force has a tradition of violently suppressing social protest, but its known history of corruption is dominating news. Similarly, its practice of illegally spying on journalists is playing second fiddle; more than one year has lapsed since that was uncovered. ‘Only in Russia’, you say?]
Background: Uproar in Canada as widespread police spying on journalists in Quebec revealed, news compilation by New Cold War.org, Nov 3, 2016
Polluting pulp mill in Nova Scotia pressures Coles bookstore chain to cancel event for book critical of its operations, CBC News, Dec 5, 2017
[Conservative family dynasties and natural resource vandals rule the roost in Nova Scotia. Coles bookstore in New Glasgow cancelled an event scheduled for December 2 featuring author Susan Baxter and her new book, The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest. The local ‘Northern Pulp’ mill was built by Scott Paper near Pictou in the 1960s and has been poisoning the surrounding air, land and waters ever since. Wikipedia.]
Liberals reject warship proposal that European companies said is half the price of the Lochheed Martin/BAE bid, by David Pugliese, National Post, Dec 6, 2017
[The original injury is that in the era of Russia truthing and the new cold war, a multi-billion warship building program by the Canadian government would pass without antiwar protest. Adding insult to injury is the patronizing favouring the Lockhhed/BAE/Irving consortium and doubling the cost.]
How former Canadian PM Mulroney panders to his billionaire friends and arms dealers exposed in Paradise Papers, front-page report in Toronto Star, Nov 29, 2017
Related: New Mulroney Institute at Nova Scotia university is bankrolled by international billionaires steeped in scandal, CBC News, Nov 30, 2017
Four in ten Metro Vancouver workers are immigrants, census finds, by Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, Nov 29, 2017
… Immigrants account for 43 per cent of all workers in Metro Vancouver, with 586,000 in the labour force, one of the highest proportions in the world, according to new census figures. One of the few major global cities with a stronger percentage of immigrants in the labour force is Greater Toronto, where half of all workers are immigrants.
…Only 47 per cent of the 35,000 adult ethnic Chinese immigrants who arrived in Metro Vancouver between 2011 and 2016 told census takers that they were available for work. That compares to 80 per cent of recent Filipino immigrants who were available for work, 82 per cent of white [sic] immigrants and 71 per cent of recent South Asian arrivals. The low rate of ethnic Chinese participation in Metro Vancouver’s workforce dovetails with other demographic analyses that indicate the city is increasingly becoming home to wealthy trans-national Chinese immigrants, many of whom choose not to work even while they’re able to afford condos and houses.
Across Canada, 4.5 million immigrants are in the labour force. Immigrants have grown to 23.8 per cent of all workers in 2016, up from 21.2 per cent in 2006.
The census figures on immigrants in the workforce does not include hundreds of thousands of non-permanent residents who also hold down jobs in Canada. Statistics Canada official Sylvie Bourbonnais said Wednesday the census found 35,000 non-permanent residents, out of a total of 71,000 in Metro Vancouver, work in the city. Many are international students.
Figures provided by Canada’s Immigration Department suggests the 2016 census, which relies on self-reporting, underestimates the total number of non-permanent residents in Metro Vancouver by about half. The actual figure is closer to 130,000.
However, UBC economists Craig Riddell and David Green are among those disputing claims immigration can offset Canada’s large baby-boom generation.
Related: How migration wars impact Metro Vancouver’s high-tech sector, by Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, July 29, 2017
Six points on the Liberals’ national housing strategy, by Jean Swanson and Sara Sagaii (housing rights activists in Vancouver BC), Nov 25, 2017 [Read the two-page statement here: Six points on Canadian gov’t housing strategy, by Swanson and Sigalii, Nov 25, 2017.]
News background: Liberals detail $40B for 10-year national housing strategy, introduce Canada Housing Benefit, CBC News, Nov 22, 2017
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls risks sliding into irrelevancy, by Gary Mason, columnist, Globe and Mail, Nov 28, 2017
Generally, when 22 or more people quit or are laid off from a small organization in the span of just over a year, it’s never a good sign. It would usually point to deep dysfunction, if not complete chaos and upheaval. A
ll are terms being used to describe what is going on inside the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Almost from its inception, it’s been enveloped by controversy, leaving chief commissioner Marion Buller to try and convince a skeptical public and angry Indigenous community that all will be fine – eventually. I’m not so sure…
Green party scores ‘absolutely astounding’ win in Prince Edward Island by-election, Canadian Press, Nov 28, 2017 [The conservative Green Party wins its second seat in PEI legislature.]
CSIS is secretly capturing phone-identifying data of those it calls terrorism suspects, report by Colin Freeze, in Globe and Mail, Nov 28, 2017
Canada’s domestic spy service has been capturing the phone-identifying data of terrorism suspects for years without judicial knowledge or oversight, according to a ruling released Tuesday. But the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s warrantless use of data-capturing devices is legal and proper in most instances, the ruling says, as long as the agency restricts what it does with captured information.
The decision from Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton relates to CSIS warrant applications for an “Islamist terrorism” investigation, although the identities of the target individuals are being withheld. It amounts to the most detailed ruling to date by any Canadian court on government agents’ use of devices known as IMSI catchers, “Stingrays,” or “cell-site simulator” (CSS) technology…
BC government meeting with experts all week to decide fate of Site C hydro-electric dam, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, Nov 27, 2017
… The NDP government sent the project, which is already $2-billion into construction, to a review of the B.C. Utilities Commission and Mr. Austin said that independent review demonstrates that the project, even this far along, is destined to be a white elephant because of the cheap renewable-power alternatives that are available.
Gridlocked in Canada, TransCanada eyes U.S. Gulf Coast for oil and LNG exports, by Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, Nov 28, 2017
Related: This $16B Alberta-B.C. oil pipeline has First Nations backing — but it may still never get built, by Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, Nov 23, 2017 First Nations left empty-handed as environmentalist pressure kills B.C. energy projects, by Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, Nov 16, 2017
Former NDP MP to ask International Criminal Court to investigate Canada’s Afghan war conduct, CBC News, Nov 27, 2017
… Craig Scott, an Osgoode Hall law professor who was defeated in the 2015 election, will hand deliver a 90-page brief to the court in the Hague, arguing that successive federal governments “abdicated” their responsibility to investigate reports of torture…
Public editor of Globe and Mail daily offers up a defense of the Globe’s Nov 18 witch-hunt article directed at Global Research website, column by Sylvia Stead, public editor, Globe and Mail, Nov 25, 2017
Related: Defending RT America against new cold war censorship, by Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, Nov 15, 2017 (with additional analysis contained in website posting)
I was the lone Canadian media reporter inside the world climate summit, by Mike De Souza, The National Observer (three free reads per molnth), in Opinion | November 23rd 2017
White collar criminals in British Columbia rarely face police investigation or jail time, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, Nov 24, 2017 (latest article in an ongoing series in the Vancouver Sun)
‘The [police] bosses would rather see investigators take on a drug case. That can be wrapped up more quickly than a complex fraud case…’
Related: Hundreds of millions of penalties issued by B.C. Securities Commission going unpaid, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, Nov 17, 2017
Canada National Archives uncovers 300 letters of outrage from Japanese Canadians who lost their homes [lives] during the 1940s internments, by Jordan Stanger-Ross, published in The Conversation, Nov 21, 2017 (Jordan Stanger-Ross is Associate Professor, History and Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria
[Rachel Notley’s blue-chip speaking tour has her speaking in Toronto to the Empire Club on Nov 20, in Ottawa to the Economic Club of Canada on Nov 21, to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Nov 24 and Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Dec 7, and to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Nov 30. This is a case of ‘preaching to the converted’ if ever there was one. But her message is intended for the federal government and for that part of the Canadian population unaware of the consequences of runaway global warming.]
[For a report on what Notley is saying to business leaders and the rest of the country, see: Alberta’s Rachel Notley urges Trudeau to speak up for pipelines, The National Observer, Nov 21, 2017 … Demand for oil worldwide will “continue to rise,” Notley said, and “the world can either buy its oil from Alberta, where we are taking climate change seriously, or it can buy it from places with runaway emissions like Venezuela and Russia.”
[In the eyes of some on the left in Canada, the Alberta premier is leading a fight against climate change. See: Rachel against the storm, by Chanchal Bhattacharya, Rabble.ca, Nov 23, 2017
[Canada’s fossil-fuel corrupted trade unions have welcomed recent statements by the Alberta and federal governments that they will financially assist workers who may lose their jobs in the coal extraction and burning industries as a result of the phasing out of electricity generated by the burning of coal. Alberta has a plan to replace coal with natural gas in generating electricity by the year 2030. It is a key point in the Alberta government’s public relations drive saying it is concerned about global warming (all the while encouraging a 50 per cent increase in tar sands production in the coming decades–market conditions, public opinion and contrary environmental defense actions permitting). Presently, 55 per cent of electricity in Alberta is generated by coal. The two other, large coal-sourcing provinces for electricity are Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.
[Canada will continue to extract and export coal. Vancouver BC is North America’s largest coal exporting port. Like other large, capitalist countries, Canada does not factor into its greenhouse gas emission figures the emissions caused by its exports of Alberta tar sands, natural gas and oil to the United States and coal to Asia.]
One in two Canadians is a bundle of nerves about money, by Rob Carrick, financial investment columnist, Globe and Mail, Nov 16, 2017
A recent survey of 5,200 people by a financial services consulting firm has uncovered a staggering level of repressed financial stress. Forty-seven per cent of participants agreed that money worries cause them extreme emotional stress, and 40 per cent said money worries cause them to lose sleep. Only about half of money worriers are talking about their problems with others.
“We were shocked, to be honest, at the levels of stress,” said Eloise Duncan, principal at Seymour Management Consulting, which commissioned the study to support its Financial Health Index…
Related: OECD warns of rising private debt as Canadians most in the red, Bloomberg News, Nov 23, 2017
… The OECD warned that rising private debt loads in both advanced and developing economies pose a risk to growth as Canada, South Korea and the U.K. lead the world in household borrowing… Consumer debt tops 100 per cent of gross domestic product in Canada, with South Korea and Britain both above 80 per cent…
War, cholera, lack of food are pushing Yemen to the brink, by Michelle Shephard, national security reporter, Toronto Star (page one), Nov 18, 2017
… The heads of three UN agencies — World Food Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organization — issued a joint statement on November 16 saying seven million Yemenis, mainly children, are on the brink of famine…
[While the Canadian government, its broadcasting arm, the CBC, and the Globe and Mail daily newspaper ramp up the rhetoric and threats against Russia and Venezuela with a ‘Magnitsky Act’ law, Canadian ally Saudi Arabia is destroying an entire nation of Yemen. Even a commendable article such as this one in the Toronto Star softens the treatment of Saudi Arabia by calling the war in Yemen “an apparent proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran”.]
Religion is still an instrument of colonialism, by Zainab Amadahy and Azeezah Kanji, op-ed commentary in Toronto Star, Nov. 15, 2017
Anti-Russia witch-hunt intensifies in Canada, feature article attacking the polyglot website project Global Research, by Steven Chase and Mark MacKinnon, in the Globe and Mail national daily, Nov 18, 2017. Original headline: NATO research centre sets sights on Canadian website over pro-Russia disinformation.
… The site has disseminated articles that claimed the Assad regime was not behind the April chemical weapon attack that drew a punitive U.S. missile strike, also suggesting it was a hoax and that the deadly nerve agent sarin was not used.
… In the case of the April 4  sarin-gas attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people – and which sparked U.S. President Donald Trump to order a cruise-missile strike on the Syrian air base from which the attack was launched – globalresearch.ca was among the first to carry a story that claimed the Syrian regime was innocent of the attack
* ‘Fictitious probe, baseless accusations’: Russia blocks new extension of Syria chemical inquiry at UN Security Council, news compilation on New Cold War.org, Nov 17, 2017
* Did Al Qaeda dupe Trump on alleged Syrian sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017?, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Nov 9, 2017
* America’s righteous Russia-gate censorship, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Nov 14, 2017 (with extensive, related readings). For an extensive compilation of the writings of Consortium News editor and publisher Robert Parry, see the author page on New Cold War.org containing a selection of his writings from Consortium News.
* How Stephen F. Cohen became the most controversial Russia expert in America, by Jordan Michael Smith, published in Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 15, 2017
* Defending RT America against new cold war censorship, by Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, Nov 16, 2017 (and in the same posting on New Cold War.org: U.S. politics even more conservative under Trump, but not for the reasons expected, by Danny Haiphong, contributor, Black Agenda Report, Nov 15, 2017
* Simpler explanations are usually correct, even on Russia, by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg News, Nov 15, 2017* U.S. votes against UN resolution condemning Nazi glorification, allies abstain, by Associated Press, Nov 16, 2017 (with extensive, related documentation in the posting of this item on New Cold War.org)
Hundreds of millions of penalties issued by B.C. Securities Commission going unpaid, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, Nov 17, 2017
[You’re a corporate criminal looting people’s investment and retirement funds? No problem! Welcome to British Columbia, Canada! Vancovuer Sun writer Gordon Hoekstra explains:]
… Michael Lathigee and Earle Pasquill… are among more than 80 fraudsters who have harmed thousands of investors — in B.C., other parts of Canada, the United States and as far away as Switzerland — yet have escaped paying the largest penalties issued by the [B.C. Securities Commission], an investigation by Postmedia News has found.
From fiscal 2007-08 to 2016-17, the B.C. Securities Commission has collected less than two per cent of $510 million in fines and orders to pay back the proceeds of fraudulent activities, according to the commission’s financial reports and other records. For the biggest fines, handed out for the most egregious violations and frauds, such as those for Lathigee and Pasquill, the collection rate is far worse.
On human rights and climate change, Justin Trudeau’s actions don’t match his talk, by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, Nov 14, 2017
… The former Conservative government of Stephen Harper came up with a plan to phase out most coal-fired generation. The Trudeau government accelerated it. Ontario has closed its coal-fired plants and Alberta has promised to do the same. But Canada is not phasing out coal.
First, the federal government plans to exempt coal-fired generating plants that are able to reduce their emissions significantly through new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. This is perilously close to the notion of clean coal that Trump is mocked for discussing.
Second, Canada continues to mine and export coal for other countries to burn. In 2015, it exported more than 30 million tonnes, mainly to Asian steelmaking plants.
All of which is to say that [Environment Minister Catherine] McKenna’s crusade against coal, while welcome, isn’t exactly as advertised…
In 2015, then-BC Premier Christy Clark met, encouraged tycoons in Hong Kong fueling Vancouver’s house price bubble, but she lied to the BC public about her doings, report in Vancouver Sun, Nov 14, 2017
… Back at home, meantime, public complaints about housing affordability in B.C. was so intense that Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson had released a letter urging Clark to take extraordinary tax measures to cool speculation in the market. Clark’s response said there was no reason to tax luxury housing because Finance Ministry data suggested little evidence that foreign investors made up a significant portion of the market.
However, notes for Wat’s 2015 Asia trade mission show a different “master narrative” for internal use only… The notes say potential Asian investors were to be told that, “the government’s willingness to permit a foreigner to own a significant portion of Vancouver … marked a significant turning point in the city’s development.”…
Amid booming economy, homelessness soars on U.S. West Coast, by Gillian Flaccus and Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, Nov 9, 2017
* Affordability crisis worsens homelessness in Vancouver, Canada, by Cheryl Chan, Vancouver Sun, Sept 26, 2017 … Across Metro Vancouver, the number of homeless people jumped by 30 per cent to 3,605 people compared with the year 2014. That’s the highest since 2002 when the homeless counts started. About half of the homeless who participated in the anonymous survey identified high rents and lack of income as the main barriers to housing. Addiction and mental illness were also factors, with 82 per cent of people dealing with at least one health condition.
* At least 70 homeless people have died in Toronto in the first 9 months of 2017, by Muriel Draaisma, CBC News, Oct 30, 2017
* Homeless count rising sharply in England; 4,100 for an average night in 2016, BBC, Jan 25, 2017
Ontario government lied for decades, saying it didn’t know about mercury poisoning of Grassy Narrows First Nation, by David Bruser, news reporter, and Jayme Poisson, investigative reporter, Toronto Star, Nov. 11, 2017
Will Ottawa take up the legal fight against Quebec’s face-covering ban?, by Chantal Hébert, columnist, Toronto Star, Nov 11, 2017
Discovering my mother’s secret and my Métis family’s heroism, by Dana Robbins, special to Toronto Star, Nov 11, 2017
Great-aunt’s action in Battle of Fish Creek during the Métis rebellion of 1884-85 and Métis family heritage was a family burden but later a lesson for Canadian reconciliation
Canadian governments’ history of facilitating offshore tax havens, analysis by Marco Oved, Toronto Star, Nov 10, 2017
… Offshore tax havens were born decades ago, in an era when currency controls and restricted trade ruled the global economy. Then tariff barriers came down, globalization gathered speed and tax havens grew from a cottage industry for a few currency traders into fortified fortresses for family fortunes and multinational profits.
How the Paradise Papers leak unfolded at the Toronto Star, by Kenyon Wallace, news reporter, Toronto Star, Nov. 10, 2017
It was early one morning in January 2017 and the phone on Toronto Star reporter Rob Cribb’s desk rang. It was Marina Walker Guevara, deputy director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “There’s been another leak,” she said. “I think you’re going to be very interested. There are a lot of prominent Canadian names. Can you come to Munich for a meeting?”
And with that, the Toronto Star’s involvement began with the Paradise Papers, which, like the Panama Papers in 2015, are a trove of leaked electronic records revealing the ways many of the wealthiest people and companies in the world stash money in tax-free offshore investments…
Number of deadly overdoses in British Columbia passes 1,100 for 2017, CBC News, Nov 9, 2017
The BC Coroners Service says more than 1,100 British Columbians died due to a suspected illicit drug overdose [poisoning] in the first nine months of the year, with most happening in the days immediately following welfare payments. On November 9, the service reported there were 80 suspected deaths in September — up 31 per cent from the same month last year. That brings the total for the year up to 1,103, far surpassing the 922 in all of 2016…
[The rate of drug poisonings in British Columbia is approximately equal to that of the United States. In 2015, the U.S. state with the least overdose deaths was Nebraska, with 6.9 deaths per 100,000; the state with the most was West Virginia, with 41.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 (source). BC’s rate for 2017 is headed for 32 deaths per 100,000; in 2015, it was 11 per 100,000.]
Canada: ‘Every single year, we’ve seen an increase in Aboriginal prison rate’”, by Tamara Khandaker, VICE News, March 16, 2017
Over the past decade, the percentage of Indigenous and black inmates in Canadian prisons has risen dramatically, even as the population of white inmates has dropped, according to the latest figures from the office of the correctional investigator…
While Indigenous people make up less than five per cent of the Canadian population, they make up 25 percent of the total inmate population. Just three percent of the population is black, yet they’re 10 per cent of the prison population…
Student calls for return of Louis Riel’s walking stick to Métis, National Post, Nov 2, 2017
Related: Petition calls for return of Louis Riel’s walking stick to Métis people, Winnipeg Free Press, Oct 31, 2017
Review of ‘Ste C’ hydroelectric dam boondoggle in northern BC says alternative energies are a better choice, CBC News, Nov 1, 2017
[A review by the BC Utilities Commission which the preceding Liberal Party government had bypassed in commencing construction of the $10 billion-plus Site C dam on the Peace River in northern British Columbia warns that the economics of the dam are dubious.
[The ‘Muscrat Falls’ dam project in Labrador is on every analysts’ mind–that project has come in at $13 billion–more than double its estimated cost–and now condemns future generations of residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to huge electricity price hikes.
[The unspoken story of Site C is how it was planned to fuel natural gas fracking and liquefaction as well as mining projects in northern BC; if all else failed, Site C electricity would be sold to Alberta to power tar sands extraction.]
Columbia River Treaty interesting option as NDP ponders Site C, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, Nov 3, 2017
Why BC Liberals blocked usual independent review for Site C, by Zoë Ducklow, The Tyee, April 10, 2017 Politicians wanted to avoid tough questions about need for project, future costs, critics say
Alberta NDP premier Rachel Notley undertakes national speaking tour on behalf of fossil fuel industry, Globe and Mail, Nov 7, 2017
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley will embark on a speaking tour this month to ask Canadians to gather national support for a new pipeline project, in an effort to neutralize a sustained political attack from a United Conservative Party energized by the recent crowning of Jason Kenney.
Her visits to Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver come as the Alberta government is looking increasingly cornered in its quest to get one project constructed from Alberta to a coast. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the West Coast has stalled amid a ferocious jurisdictional dispute with pipeline opponents in British Columbia, while TransCanada Corp. cancelled its plans for the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic last month…
Two years into her term as premier, Ms. Notley’s tone on energy development has become harder – even in relation to those in her own party. She said in Question Period on November 6 that federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s position against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is “dead wrong.”
“But just as important, he is irrelevant,” she said…
Related: Pipeline opposition in British Columbia animates right-wing protest against Alberta’s NDP gov’t, column by Gary Mason, Globe and Mail, Nov 6, 2017
Why BC needs a public inquiry into natural gas fracking, op-ed by Ben Parfitt, The Tyee, Nov 7, 2017 (also appearing in the Vancouver Sun)
Last year, more natural gas was produced in British Columbia than at any point in the past 10 years. That may come as a surprise to some people who thought growth in B.C.’s natural gas industry hinged on the emergence of a liquified natural gas sector. It does not. The reality is that even without a much-hyped LNG industry, natural gas production in B.C. increased 70 per cent over the past decade, with major customers, including Alberta’s tar sands industry, fuelling that growth…
Related: Public inquiry needed to properly investigate deep social and environmental harms of fracking, coalition says, press release issued Nov 6, 2017
With all Quebec parties supporting an anti-Muslim face-covering ban, Quebec voters face few options,
CBC News, Nov 7, 2017
… Québec Solidaire, the left-leaning party that has just three seats in the National Assembly, said it would not go as far as the Liberals did in their legislation, but it would maintain some restrictions on religious face-covering. Co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said his party would keep the ban for all public servants but would only require members of the public to unveil when it is necessary to identify them or for security purposes.
Related: Quebec’s face-covering law heads for constitutional challenge, CBC News, Nov 7, 2017
Indigenous youth who use drugs in British Columbia are dying at 13 times the rate of Caucasian counterparts, CBC News, Nov 6, 2017
… The report is an analysis of data collected between 2003 and 2014. Of the 610 young people followed during that time, 40 of them died. [But Canada’s foreign minister wants to talk about Russia and Venezuela.]
Indigenous child welfare rates creating ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Canada, says federal minister, CBC News, Nov 2, 2017
The disproportionate number of Indigenous children currently in the child welfare system has created a “humanitarian crisis” in the country, says Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott…
Philpott said in Manitoba, there are a total of 11,000 children in care and 10,000 are Indigenous children. Statistics Canada census data released last week revealed 4,300 Indigenous children under the age of four are currently in foster care. “This is very much reminiscent of the residential school system where children are being scooped up from their homes, taken away from their family and we will pay the price for this for generations to come,” she said…
[The new-found zeal of Canada’s government to recognize its past crimes against First Nations people might led Minister Jane Philpot to do something about the ongoing desecration of the gravesites of at least 74 Indigenous children who died after they were stolen from their families and forced to attend the Battleford Industrial School in Saskatchewan at the turn of the 20th century. Earlier, in 1974, the cemetery site was excavated by the Department of Archeology at the University of Saskatchewan.]
Canada, human rights hypocrite, uses its new ‘Magnitsky’ law to hit Russia and Venezuela with increased sanctions, report on CBC News, Nov 3, 2017
[Fifty two individuals from Russia, Venezuela and South Sudan are named by Canada for sanctions. The state-run broadcaster, CBC, dances in tune to the federal government action, calling the death of Sergei Magnitisky, a financial investment accountant, in a Russian prison in 2009 a “murder”. It sub-headlines its news article ‘Venezuela’s corrupt ruling clique’ and writes “Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and many of his senior officials were already sanctioned by Canada on Sept. 22 for their role in gutting democracy and rule of law in the country.”
[Canada’s mainstream as well as alternative media has been deaf, dumb and blind in failing to report the fraudulent, anti-Russia crusade of financier Bill Browder, who has spearheaded the drive for adoption of ‘Magnitsky Act’ sanctions against Russia in the U.S., UK and Canada (not coincidentally, the three NATO countries with troops in Ukraine.) He renounced his U.S.citizenship in 2008 in order to avoid paying taxes and lives in the UK. His story is told in lengthy report by the 100 Reporters media project in the United States and also in the 2016 film, The Magnitsky Act: Behind The Scenes. (See: Mainstream media in U.S. and Canada caught out as U.S. reporting project sheds unfavourable light on UK citizen financier and campaigner Bill Browder, by Roger Annis, Oct 27, 2017.]
Canada’s party line on Venezuela.
[The Toronto Star‘s Washington reporter, Daniel Dale, writes timely and insightful reports critical of President Donald Trump (Canada’s closest ally in the world). But Dale provides a recent example of the degree to which mainstream media in Canada chooses to parrot the drive by the Canadian and U.S. governments against Venezuela’s socialist revolution. In a November 3 article highlighting Trump’s performance, Dale writes, “He sounded like an autocrat, scarcely different than repressive leaders from Turkey to Venezuela.”
[Amanda Conolly of iPolitics writes on November 3 about Canada’s heightened sanctions against leaders of the Venezuelan government: “The sanctions against the 19 individuals from Venezuela are in response to acts of significant corruption and human rights violations which continue amid efforts by Maduro in recent months to consolidate his power and restrict democracy.”
[The state-run CBC sub-headlines a Nov 2 news article ‘Venezuela’s corrupt ruling clique’ and writes “Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and many of his senior officials were already sanctioned by Canada on Sept. 22 for their role in gutting democracy and rule of law in the country.”
[Anti-Venezuela and anti-Russia propaganda has so infected the body politic of Canada–from newspaper editors to journalists to members of Parliament–that stricken sufferers have lost their sense of what it is to be healthy. On every foreign policy issue that matters, they parrot the line of Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. corporate establishment.]
Globe and Mail’s lead U.S. reporter calls Oct 31 truck attack in New York the ‘first major terrorist attack’ during the Donald Trump presidency; the white guy who killed 58 people in Las Vegas on October 1 gets a pass, report in Globe and Mail, Nov 3, 2017
When an alleged Islamic State sympathizer drove a truck down a bike lane in Manhattan and killed eight people [on October 31], it presented a test for Donald Trump: How would he respond to the first major terrorist attack in the U.S. of his presidency? …
Retiring Supreme Court judge Beverley McLachlin misses the mark with sexual-assault comments, op-ed commentary by David Butt, Globe and Mail, Oct 31, 2017
Statement of the third meeting of the Lima Group on the situation in Venezuela, published on the website of the Government of Canada, October 26, 2017
The foreign ministers and representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru gathered in Toronto on October 26, 2017, to continue their evaluation of the situation in Venezuela…
Accusations of sexual assault and suspensions of prison guards at maximum security Edmonton Institution for Women, CBC News, Oct 31, 2017
Ten years later, two perjuring RCMP who killed Polish visitor Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport lose final appeal, will do time, report on CBC News, Oct 30, 2017
Meanwhile: No charges in mentally ill man’s death at Lindsay jail, by Fatima Syed, Toronto Star, Oct 30, 2017 Family continues to demand answers in December 2016 death of Soleiman Faqiri
What’s the next big thing after oil for Alberta?, by Gillian Steward, columnist, Toronto Star, Oct 30, 2017 While private industry is looking to the tech sector to create new jobs, none of the political parties has a plan that replaces lost oil revenue.
Five dead in nine hours from drug poisoning in Vancouver region city of Abbotsford, CBC News, Oct 28, 2017 Background: B.C.’s response to overdose deaths is nothing but criminally inadequate, by Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight, Aug 31, 2016
Canada stands back in northern Iraq, suspends military assistance to Kurds, as clashes take place between Iraqi and Kurdish armed forces, report by Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, Oct 27, 2017 [It’s the old game of ‘divide and rule’: provide weapons to the Kurds but stand back when they come under attack from NATO-member Turkey or the U.S.-allied government in Baghdad.]
* Canadian military reviewing whether to continue providing weapons to Kurds, report by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, Oct 25, 2017
* ‘Total destruction’ of Raqqa, Syria by U.S./Kurdish operation against the city, news compilation on New Cold War.org, Oct 25, 2017
Irving Oil ordered to pay $4M for offences related to Lac Mégantic disaster, by Sarah Petz , CBC News, Oct 26, 2017 Company pleaded guilty to 34 counts under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act [Ever wonder how much corporate Canada would measure the lives of Canadians in dollar terms? Now you know: $4 million divided by 47 killed at Lac Mégantic on July 6, 2014=$85,000 each.]
Liberals say there is ‘no plan’ to change law to protect pensioners in wake of Sears’ bankruptcy, CBC News, Oct 25, 2017
Once again, employee pensions threatened after corporate owners plunder then shut down a company, in this case Sears Canada department store chain, report on CBC Radio One’s ‘The Current’, Sept 26, 2017 (listen to the 21-minute broadcast by clicking here)
Puerto Rico of the north? Churchill, Manitoba will be warm this winter thanks to propane gas delivery by ship, but its future worries locals, report on CBC News, Oct 16, 2017 Rail cars shipped out by sea is a sign to residents the land line from Hudson Bay town to Winnipeg remains closed for winter
Northern Manitoba town of Churchill is isolated and ‘feels held hostage’ after U.S. owner decides not to repair rail line, report by Catherine Porter, on New York Times, Aug 30, 2017
Timeline: Two decades of turmoil at the Port of Churchill, on CBC Radio One’s ‘Now Or Never’ program, Oct 21, 2017
Ottawa pays $31.3 million to three Canadian men tortured in Syria in 2001-03, CBC News, Oct 26, 2017 2008 inquiry found the actions of Canadian officials contributed indirectly to the torture of 3 men
Key highlights from latest release of 2016 census data, The Canadian Press, Oct 25, 2017 Share of immigrants in Canada has reached its highest level in almost a century
… The census counted 1.67 million Indigenous people in Canada in 2016, accounting for 4.9 per cent of the total population — up from 3.8 per cent in 2006 for a growth rate of 42.5 per cent over the last 10 years, four times the rate of the non-Indigenous population. The average age of the Indigenous population was 32.1 years, nearly a decade younger than the non-Indigenous population at 40.9 years. The census counted 145,645 children aged 0-4, 8.7 per cent of Aboriginal people in Canada. One in five Indigenous people in Canada is living in a dwelling that needs “major repairs,” while one in 10 lives in a household that has a space shortfall of at least one bedroom…
Highlights from latest report on Canadian income levels (Census 2016), The Canadian Press, Sept 13, 2017
Census 2016: Toronto housing affordability now worse than Vancouver, Globe and Mail, Oct 25, 2017
NDP gov’t in British Columbia unveils new climate policy advisory council, by Simon Little and Liza Yuzda, CKNW News, Oct 24, 2017
[Following Premier John Horgan’s tour to northwest BC on October 21 promoting natural gas fracking and liquefying for export, his government has appointed a 22-member, environmental advisory council. It will meet quarterly and be co-chaired by Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, and Marcia Smith, a senior vice-president with Teck Resources. Clean Energy Canada is based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and promotes green capitalist solutions to the climate crisis–electric automobiles, replacing the grossly excessive production of energy by fossil fuels with grossly excessive production of energy by ‘renewable’ sources such as wind and energy, etc. Teck Resources is Canada’s largest coal extraction company.
[The previous Liberal Party government in BC also appointed a environmental advisory council. It issued a report in October 2015 with 32 recommendations, all of which were ignored by the government. Some members of the ‘team’ went public with its disappointments in May 2016. For a time, the government’s ‘Climate Leadership Team’ served a useful public relations role, including convincing ‘environmentalists’ to join it.]
Fraser Valley homeless population grows faster than Vancouver’s, by Justin McElroy, CBC News, Oct 13, 2017
Deadly Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster was avoidable corporate crime, by Justin Mikulka, Desmog Blog, Oct 24, 2017
Damning new testimony from an engineer of the locomotive involved in the deadly 2013 oil train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, reveals several ways corporate cost-cutting directly led to the accident, which claimed 47 lives…
Ontario’s environmental watchdog blasts province for inaction on ‘outrageous’ pollution in Indigenous communities, by Emma McIntosh, Toronto Star, Oct 24, 2017
The Ontario government has, for decades, turned a blind eye to “outrageous” pollution causing serious health effects in Indigenous communities, the province’s environment watchdog reported on October 24…
Anti-pipeline Gitxsan First Nation angry over BC government’s deal with unelected band chiefs for liquefied nattural gas project in Kitimat, by George Baker, Andrew Kurjata, CBC News, Oct 20, 2016
Members of the Gitxsan First Nation opposed to pipeline development are outraged that nine unelected hereditary chiefs are working on a deal with the province connected to a natural gas pipeline on B.C.’s north coast. The documents were leaked and posted online, prompting an emergency meeting to discuss next steps…
BC gov’t supports LNG project on north coast, by Brent Jang, Globe and Mail, Oct 22, 2017
[Shell’s ‘LNG Canada’ industrial plant in Kitimat would be fed by boosting natural gas fracking in the northeast of the province and constructing a 900 kilometer gas pipeline to the Pacific Ocean coast. A string of LNG projects for BC have been cancelled due to international economic conditions, but the NDP’s love of gas fracking, shared with the previous Liberal Party government, is undeterred. The Green Party opposes LNG but supported a now-dead, bizarre plan to build a tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat to then feed a multi-billion dollar refinery.]
Assembly of First Nations reveals it ceased cooperation with federal government on changes to ‘First Nations consultation on natural resource projects, APTN News, Oct 19, 2017
Related: First Nations leaders break with Ottawa on environmental policy, by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Oct. 19, 2017
Quebec ban on face coverings a blatant violation of religious freedom, op-ed commentary by David Butt, Globe and Mail, Oct 19, 2017 (David Butt is a criminal lawyer in Toronto and reglar contributor to the G&M)
With Halloween imminent, people turn their thoughts to the good-natured duplicity of costumes. But there is a much darker duplicity afoot as well. Under the mask of pursuing “social cohesion”, the Quebec legislature has passed a bill [Bill 62, approved on Oct 18, 2017] denying women the right to receive public services while wearing a veil for religious reasons. The law is a blatant violation of religious freedom guaranteed by the Charter of Rights…
Related: Words fail Trudeau in response to Quebec’s ban on face coverings, by Campbell Clark, columnist, Globe and Mail, Oct 20, 2017
Anatomy of a witchhunt in Toronto in early 2017 against a Muslim cleric, page one feature article by Jenifer Yang, Toronto Star, Oct 22, 2017
Muslim women respond to Quebec’s Bill 62, interviews with three women of Muslim faith from Quebec, on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Oct 20, 2017
Background: What Europe should learn from Turkey’s headscarf fight, by Nil Köksal, CBC News, March 15, 2017
BC NDP gov’t sticks with ‘bizarre’ first-time homebuyer program that fuels house price bubble, by Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, Oct 19, 2017
Quebec bans face covering in public services, raising worries among Muslims, by Ingrid Peretz, Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
[Bill 62 was approved by a majority of the Quebec National Assembly on October 18, 2017. The law was proposed by the Liberal Party government. Voting against the law were the two right-wing parties in the National Assembly, saying it was not harsh enough, and the left-wing Québec solidaire party. The latter agrees, in principle, with the need for a law to regulate ‘secularism’ in government services but says the government has failed to simultaneously address social and human rights discrimination against national and religious minorities.
[Two attempts by previous governments in Quebec to legislate ‘secularism’ in the public domain failed in recent years. A 2010 attempt by a Liberal Party government died after two years. Then came a highly controversial ‘Charter of Values’ (Wikipedia) proposal by a minority Parti québécois government in 2013 that would ban teachers, doctors and other public workers from wearing highly visible religious symbols and had similar face covering restrictions as Bill 62. That government was defeated by the Liberals in a 2014 election.
[On January 29 of 2017, a 27 year old university student shot dead six men while they were attending prayers at a mosque in Quebec City.]
Quebec’s niqab ban: Muslim women are an easy political target, commentary by Idil Issa, Globe and Mail, Oct 18, 2017
With Bill 62, Quebec attacks religious freedom, editorial, Globe and Mail, Oct 18, 2017
Quebec set to pass Bill 62 banning face coverings for anyone receiving public service — even a bus ride, by Benjamin Shingler, CBC News, Oct 16, 2017
[Quebec’s Bill 62 was approved on October 18. It is inspired by the official ‘secularism’ in France which, in reality, is neo-colonialism in ‘secular’ garb. The opposition parties in the Quebec National Assembly are opposing the law for different reasons. The two right-wing parties–the nationalist Parti québecois and Coalition avenir Québec–want the Parti liberal government to ditch the ‘reasonable accomodation’ clause in Bill 62. An August 15, 2017 report in the Montreal Gazette describes reasonable accomodation as follows:
Demand for reasonable accommodation for cases involving religious rights would be treated if:
* It is serious
* It respects gender equality
* It respects government religious neutrality
* If it is reasonable, meaning that it doesn’t impose any excessive constraints on individuals and takes into consideration the rights of the other parties involved, their health and security, the proper functioning of an organization, and the costs related to it
[The moderate left-wing party Québec solidaire voted against Bill 62 because it says those targetted by the new law already face much social and human rights discrimination. In the final National Assembly debate on Bill 62 on October 17, party leader Amir Khadir said his party will vote ‘no’ “notwithstanding the fact we would prefer to do otherwise”. Khadir says Québec solidaire would like to see a charter of secularism in Quebec along the lines of the recommendations in the report of the Bouchard Taylor Commission delivered in 2008. The commission’s formal name was ‘Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences’; background to it is here and here. Earlier this year, Québec solidaire proposed an ammendment to the law that the Christian cross which adorns the Quebec National Assembly be removed; the resolution was defeated. The party is proposing that the estimated $100 million of annual government subsidy to private (including religion-based) schools be phased out. As of October 17, the party’s website makes little direct mention of Bill 62.]
News and analysis:
* Bill 62 would mean no face coverings on the bus, minister confirms, by Philip Authier, Montreal Gazette, Oct 17, 2017
* Does Quebec need a ‘charter of secularism’?, by Québec solidaire member Benoit Renaud, June 13, 2013
Quebec and its niqab legislation needs to stay out of women’s closets, op-ed commentary by Shree Paradkar, Toronto Star, Oct 17, 2017
… Bill 62, labelled as “an act to foster adherence to state religious neutrality,” is the face of contemporary dog whistle anti-Islamic politics couched as a unique commitment to secularism. Just leave that crucifix hanging on the wall behind the Quebec parliamentary speaker’s chair, please. That’s historical…
The racist, anti-French mobs that burned down homes and Canada’s Parliament building in Montreal in 1849, Wikipedia
[The hidden history of Canada’s anti-French racist mobs in Montreal in 1849 has come to light as a result of the archaeological dig at the site of the Parliament building torched in the city that year. Ongoing English mob threats in 1849 prompted a move of the capital of the United Province of Canada from Montreal to Toronto. The United Province of Canada was formed in 1841 in the wake of the democracy rebellions of 1837-38 in order to diminish the rights of French-speaking settlers in the British colony of Lower Canada (the future Quebec). The formation of Canada in 1867 saw Ontario and Quebec established as distinct provinces with their own provincial assemblies.]
The drug industry’s triumph over the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency: Special reporting by The Washington Post and CBS ’60 Minutes’, report by Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, in Washington Post, Oct 15, 2017
In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets. By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight…
* DEA responds to explosive ’60 Minutes’ report about opioid crisis, CBS News, Oct 16, 2017
* Trump pick for drug czar Tom Marino pulls out after CBC/Wa Po report details his role in sabotaging bill to control opioid sales, The Guardian, Oct 17, 2017
* The secretive family that own Oxycontin and makes billions from the opioid crisis, Esquire, Oct 18, 2017
BC drug overdose deaths to end-August 2017 now surpass total for all of 2016, CBC News, Oct 12, 2017
The British Columbia Coroner’s Service says the number of overdose deaths in the province during the first eight months of this year has surpassed the total number of overdose deaths in all of 2016.
The service says in the first eight months of 2017, 1,013 people died from a suspected illicit drug overdose. The corresponding number in 2016 was 922. Preliminary data says there were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August 2017 [nearly 80 per cent higher than August 2016]…
U.S. drug overdose (drug poisoning) deaths hit 64,000 in 2016, report in New York Times, Sept 2, 2017
[There were 64,000 drug overdose (poisoning) deaths in the United States in 2016 according to the U.S. government National Center for Health Statistics. That’s up 22 per cent since 2015 and 540 per cent since 2011. About one third of 2016 deaths were attributable to the opium derivative fentanyl. That same year, there were 944 drug poisoning deaths in British Columbia, a higher death rate than in the U.S. The U.S.-equivalent death total in BC for 2016 was 70,000 (the U.S. population is 75 times that of BC). Drug poisoning deaths in BC to end-July 2017 are 876; that’s an annualized total of 1,500.
For Bombardier employees in Belfast, ‘America first’ amounts to ‘Northern Ireland last’, New York Times, Oct 10, 2017
Related: Boeing lands another victory against Bombardier, but taxpayers are the real losers, by Eric Reguly, Europe columnist, Globe and Mail, Oct 6, 2017
Canada’s farm industries look to expand international sales, will depend more and more on temporary foreign workers to do so, by Jennifer Wells, Toronto Star, Oct 6, 2017
In the same series: This sexually abused migrant worker is now safe — but she knows others aren’t, by Sara Mojtehedzadeh, work and wealth reporter, Toronto Star, Oct 7, 2017; and He’s worked legally in Canada for 37 years but the government considers him ‘temporary’, by Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter, Toronto Star, Oct. 5, 2017
More turmoil in National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as more directors resign, CBC News, Oct 7, 2017
… Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, has renewed a previous call she’s made for commission head Marian Buller to step down. She said the tone of the controversial long-awaited inquiry has been set by Buller and led to serious problems on the file. Families with missing and murdered loved ones are fed up and some want a complete reset on the inquiry.
… The RCMP pegged the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada at just under 1,200 in a 2014 report, but many — including members of the current Liberal government — believe that number is flawed and may actually be as high as 4,000.
Six facts you need to know about Ottawa’s tax reforms, by David Olive, Toronto Star, Oct 7, 2017
The debate over Ottawa’s tax reforms has been marred by a proliferation of falsehoods akin to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Here are the facts.
U.S. secretly tested carcinogen in Western Canada during the Cold War, researcher finds, by Victor Ferreira, National Post, October 6, 2017 The U.S. Army secretly dumped a carcinogen on unknowing Canadians in Winnipeg and Alberta during the Cold War in testing linked to weaponry involving radioactive components meant to attack the Soviet Union, according to classified documents revealed in a new book, ‘Behind the Fog: How the U.S. Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed Innocent Americans‘, by author Lisa Martino-Taylor.
Controversy in Sidney Crosby’s home town of Halifax as NHL hockey champs snub fellow NFL and NBA athletes with plan to parade in Trump White House, by Michael MacDonald, Canadian Press, Sept 27, 2017
Related: Sidney Crosby should have done better, commentary by El Jones, in VICE News, Sept 26, 2017
… The fantasy about Canada as a haven from anti-black racism should be put to rest by the UN report [Sept 25, 2017] that details all the ways, from slavery until today, black people have faced injustice in Canada. Crosby himself grew up in a province where black hockey players, descendants of slaves, once pioneered the sport. In Cole Harbour, where he was born, there have been two “race riots” in his own lifetime at the high school… [El Jones, Wikipedia]
Vancouver’s homeless count up 30 per cent in three years, CBC News, Sept 26, 2017
[Upon election to his first term as Vancouver mayor in 2008, green capitalist Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness in the city by 2015. He failed in that goal, largely because provincial and federal governments don’t care about providing shelter; they are there to serve the property speculators and wealthy home buyers that have driven Canada’s dizzying house price spiral, with Vancouver at the pinnacle of the spiral. Concerns about First Nations rights are very fashionable these days in Ottawa and provincial capitals, but while Indigenous people are only 2.5 per cent of the population of Vancouver region, they are 34 per cent of the homeless population. That just one of a thousand similar statistics showing that Canada’s colonial past remains very much present in the social, economic and political status of Indigenous people.
[Parallel to Canada’s housing crisis is its grim descent into an opioid drug addiction (poisoning) crisis. In British Columbia, there were 944 opioid poisoning deaths in 2016. That number will be surpassed in 2017; by the end of July, there were 876 drug poisoning deaths. A key culprit in the deaths is the decades-old, failed ‘war on drugs’ of the federal and provincial governments, egged on by police agencies. Notwithstanding the quasi-legalization of marijuana possession planned by Ottawa, the ‘war on drugs’ continues relentlessly.]
Bombardier tumbles on new blow to $6 billion bet-the-company jet, Bloomberg News, Sept 26, 2017
Britain’s May ‘bitterly disappointed’ by Bombardier ruling as jobs threatened, Globe and Mail, Sept 27, 2017
How NAFTA’s Chapter 19 could save Bombardier’s C Series jet, Globe and Mail, Sept 26, 2017
U.S. proposals on labour standards fall short of Canada’s NAFTA goals, Globe and Mail, Sept 26, 2017
UN Human Rights Council to discuss report on anti-Black racism in Canada, will recommend federal gov’t apology for history of slavery, Canadian Press, Sept 24, 2017
RCMP agrees to return to Métis people stolen artifacts dating from 1884-85 Northwest (Riel) Rebellion, CBC News, Sept 23, 2017
‘It is, I believe, the first of many steps to come for our broader movement toward self-determination.’
Canada imposes sanctions on key Venezuelan officials, Reuters, Sept 22, 2017
40 individuals, including President Nicolas Maduro, targeted
The odd merger of Bombardier and the Canadian government, by Andrew Coyne, columnist, The National Post, Sept 22, 2017
It is increasingly clear amid the current Bombardier- Boeing dispute that the federal government, at least, views itself and Bombardier as being one and the same
Canada to add Ukraine to permitted weapons export list, Canadian Press, Sept 22, 2017
Opposition MPs urge Morneau to extend tax proposals to family trusts, by Robert Fife and Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, Sept 21, 2017
… The NDP, which had been sitting on the fence over the small-business changes, called on Wednesday for a 75-day extension to the Oct. 2 deadline for public consultations on changes to business taxation and to expand it to include complex tax loopholes used by rich Canadians.
[Small businesses, with doctors (!) in the lead, are fighting against proposed changes to federal tax laws that would make it harder for them to avoid paying taxes.But the Liberal government may have opened a pandora’s box as attention shifts to how the wealthy Canadians, including Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau, use ‘family trusts’ to avoid paying taxes. See: Trudeau dodges questions about taxes on his family wealth, by Robert Fife and Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, Sept 20, 2017 and Trudeau pledges to push through tax fairness agenda and defends own family’s use of tax rules, CBC News, Sept 19, 2017. See also: Insanely concentrated wealth is strangling U.S. prosperity, by Steve Roth, published on his blog Evonomics, Sept 18, 2017.]
Trudeau signals shift that would have Canada joining the U.S. ‘ballistic missile defence’ boondoggle, report by Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, Sept 19, 2017
[Following Donald Trump’s crazed threat at the United Nations on September 19 to “totally destroy” the country and people of North Korea (news report in New York Times), Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa the same day, “I share everyone’s concern over the reckless behaviour by the North Korean regime, and continue to believe that working with partners and allies in the region and around the world . . . is the best way to de-escalate this situation. As for what the president may have said, I look forward to seeing his speech myself.”
[Military leaders, Liberal and Conservative members of Parliament, and mainstream journalists are egging on the Liberal government to join an unproven ‘North American missile defense’. The Star‘s Bruce Campion-Smith writes: “Under an August 2004 amendment to its mission, Canadians at NORAD headquarters can interpret U.S. satellite and radar data about incoming missiles and transfer it to officials at the missile defence system, the United States Northern Command. That means Canadians could track an incoming missile but be left on the sidelines during the discussion about how to respond.” ‘Missile defense’ is not only unproven, it is a grave escalation of the danger of nuclear war.
[Mainstream Canadian journalists writing about the U.S. escalation of threats against Korea can’t resist genuflecting before those in power. Whatever criticism they might have of Donald Trump, they reassure readers that yes, the leaders whom Trump and the U.S. regime disfavour–particularly those of North Korea and Venezuela–are, indeed, “dictators”, “madmen”, etc, etc. Loyalty established, they go on to fret whether the Trump monstrosity isn’t going “too far” in his rhetoric and threats.]
France eager to have Canada join peacekeeping efforts in Mali, by Tonda MacCharles, Toronto Star, Sept 19, 2017
[Asked at a news conference in Ottawa on Sept 19 why Canada has not committed its 600 soldiers for the talked-about expeditionary mission to Mali, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied, “We are going to make the right choice about how Canada can best help in engaging in international peacekeeping, and when we make that determination, we will let you know.”]
Federal gov’t bill will give police the power to conduct random, roadside breath testing, by Brian Platt, National Post, Sept 18, 2017
Canada won’t do business with Boeing while it’s ‘busy trying to sue us’, Trudeau says, by Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press, Sept 18, 2017 [could also be titled: ‘Justin Trudeau, CEO of Bombardier Inc, er, Prime Minister of Canada’]. Related item: Trudeau threatens to not buy Boeing fighter jets to protest firm’s trade complaint, by Tonda MacCharles, page one report in Toronto Star, Sept 18, 2017
… “We won’t do business with a company [Boeing] that’s busy trying to sue us [sic] and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business.”
Trudeau was appearing alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said Canada and the UK would work together to defend Bombardier, which has a factory in Northern Ireland…
On finance minister Bill Morneau’s tax reform plan, column by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, Sept 18, 2017 [Small businessmen, including doctors, are up in arms over a federal government plan to reduce the many tax loopholes which allow them to avoid paying taxes. This modest column by Thomas Walkom is the best of a thin collection of commentary to date analyzing the proposed changes.]
Background on how the wealthy in Canada avoid paying taxes:
In Ontario, richest ten per cent take home more money than the bottom 60 per cent of all families combined, Press Progress, Sept 6, 2017 (based on the August 2017 report by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, ‘Losing Ground: Income inequality in Ontario 2000-2015‘.)
Canada’s tax system is still subsidizing the ultrarich, by Dennis Howlett, The Tyee, June 6, 2017 (Dennis Howlett is executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness)
Preferential Treatment: The History and Cost of Tax Exemptions, Credits, and Loopholes in Canada, report by David Macdonald, published by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, May 25, 2017
In 2016, Canadian corporations had $261 billion invested in overseas tax havens, undated report (sometime in 2017) by Canadians for Tax Fairness
[The other legal challenge to Canada’s solitary confinement policy is taking place in a Vancouver courtroom. That action is by the BC Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society. Government lawyers first sought to delay the trials. Now they say that UN rules prohibiting prolonged use of solitary confinement, to which Canada is a signatory, don’t apply in Canada because the prison system “doesn’t practice” solitary confinement. The federal government and prison officials call it “administrative segregation”.]
More drumbeat for Canada to join U.S. in ‘missile defense’, news report by Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press, Sept 14, 2017
[Canada’s top military representative to the NORAD alliance with the U.S. is the latest military leader to tell Canadian Parliamentarians that Canada should join the decades-old and failed ‘missile defense’ program of the United States. Be afraid, very afraid. Or not. Spending on North American ‘missile defense’ goes back many decades and has not produced a system that can destroy flying missiles.
[Canadian journalists also want Canada to pony up; the latest being John Ivison in a scaremongering column in the National Post on Sept 14. The Post headline reads, ‘U.S. policy is not to defend Canada’ from a missile attack (citing a U.S. military chief), while the sub-headline reads, Canada at mercy of a dictator’s whim, referring to the president of North Korea. The journalist writes, “… Canada is, and looks destined to remain, defenseless from ballilstic missile attack.”
[Academics are chiming in, too, with Charles Burton penning his latest, hawkish column in the Sept 15 Globe and Mail. The professor explains that China risks being attacked by North Korea if it doesn’t join the West in attacking North Korea! The real story of military tensions on the Korean peninsula is the decades-long effort by the United States and its allies to undermine and overthrow the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But you won’t read that in the National Post or Globe and Mail.]
Canada still pondering targets for an expanded, foreign intervention military force, report by Tonda MacCharles on Toronto Star, Sept 12, 2017
The Star has previously reported the options prepared for cabinet last year suggested a deployment at the upper range of those numbers  would have the greatest impact and offer the best chance of success. At the time the French government, under president Francois Hollande, was pressing hard for Canada to send its soldiers into Mali…
[Defense Minister Harjit] Sajjan said he wants any Canadian mission or missions to make a long-term difference using Canadian expertise on reducing “violence against women and how we’re going to reduce the child soldiers that are being recruited.” …
Cost of buying new fighter jets from Boeing pegged at more than $6 billion, report by David Pugliese in National Post, Sept 12, 2017
Related news: Canada, U.K. step up pressure on Boeing to resolve commercial dispute with Bombardier, CBC News, Sept 12, 2017. Bombardier aerospace workers in Montreal to hold rally on Sept 14 backing their company in commercial dispute with Boeing, by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, Sept 12, 2017
Montreal removes street name of colonial-era, genocidal British General Amherst and adds First Nations symbol to city flag, by Ingrid Peretz, Globe and Mail, Sept 13, 2017
Toronto food manufacturer fined $300,000 for death of worker one year ago, is under intense scrutiny following undercover reporting in Toronto Star, by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and 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
… In workplaces around the province, the use of temp agencies limits companies’ liability for accidents on the job, reduces their responsibility for employees’ rights, and cuts costs.
… When I walk into the factory, I see mostly people of colour. Many are new Canadians. Many told me they have taken this job for one reason: to survive.
… Overall in Ontario, temporary jobs — which include but are not limited to temp agency jobs — have grown at more than four times the rate of permanent jobs since the 2008 recession, according to Statistics Canada. In food manufacturing work, temp jobs have skyrocketed by 110 per cent in Toronto in the past 10 years. Permanent ones have increased by less than 3 per cent…
… Three temp agency workers have died at Fiera or its affiliated companies.
Canada’s state-run broadcaster turns its war advocacy attention to North Korea
[For several years already, Canada’s state-run broadcaster, the CBC, has taken its cue from its paymaster, the Canadian government, and been advocating war preparations against Russia. Now it is turning its attention to North Korea. In its broadcast of Sept 6, 2017, the CBC weekday newsmagazine program ‘The Current’ interviews two guests from right-wing think tanks in the United States advocating nuclear escalation on the Korean peninsula. Over at the weekly, Saturday interview program ‘The House’, the Sept 9 edition of the program features an interview with the former chief of staff of the Canadian armed forces, Tom Lawson. He wants Canada to spend millions, maybe billions, to join a decades-old, untried and unproven ‘U.S. missile defense shield’ for North America. What you, most decidedly, will not hear on CBC is any information about the history of U.S. (and Canadian) aggression on the Korean peninsula (Korean War of 1950-53, and ever since), how this caused Korea to be divided into two countries, and why this has led the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to take extraordinary measures to prevent a Libya-Iraq-Syria-you name it-style ‘regime change’ intervention against it.]
Yes to star wars, says Toronto Star editorial board, editorial in Toronto Star, Sept 6, 2017
‘Everything that’s been tried so far to stop North Korea’s nukes-and-missiles program hasn’t worked. Building a system [‘missile defense’] aimed at neutralizing this threat is at least worth trying.’
Back to Star Wars for Canada’s pro-military pundits
[Canada’s pro-military ideologues are using the conflict in Korea to renew calls for Canada to join a long-dreamed but scarcely-realized ‘North American missile defense’ system. Such a system has been a dream of U.S. military planners for decades, including President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ program that helped to kill detente with the Soviet Union in the day. Billions of dollars have been spent over the decades, but there is little to show for it, as The National Interest, a conservative publication, reports. The Union of Concerned Scientists has practical as well as moral objections. But what do they know? National Post columnist Andrew Coyne (Sept 4) and former Canadian general and now member of Canada’s appointed Senate Romeo Dallaire (Aug 24) want you to join them in looking forward to a glorious future of missiles and war. Why negotiate with North Korea to eliminate tensions when endless aggression and billions of dollars of spending on illusory ‘missile defense’ can be had? You can read about the long and expensive record of failed ‘North American missile defense’ here on Wikipedia.]
Toronto’s commuter rail network Metrolinx freely shares passenger travel records with police, report in Toronto Star, Sept 9, 2017
A new hole in Syria-Sarin certainty, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Sept 8, 2017
[The page-one headline of the Toronto Star on Sept 8 is an article lifted from the New York Times: ‘The fake Americans that Russia created to influence the election’. So we bring you this report by Robert Parry examining the Times‘ shabby record on fake chemical weapons attacks in Syria.]
Bill Morneau, enraged doctors and the difficult art of tax reform targetting the wealthy, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, Sept 8, 2017
Communications Security Establishment-Canada’s rigged ‘Russia election’ scare an excuse to invade our privacy, by Matthew Behrens, Rabble.ca, Sept 7, 2017
Alarming doubling of death rate in British Columbia’s drug overdose crisis, by Sunny Dhillon, Globe and Mail, Sept 8, 2017[The BC Coroners Service reports 876 suspected drug overdose deaths in BC through the first seven months of 2017, compared to 482 deaths in the same period of 2016. That’s an average of four deths per day. But the death cult known as the Canadian government refuses to decriminalize drugs and treat drug addiction as a public health emergency, as Portugal has done successfully since 2001. See also: Doctors in BC say Canada has a drug ‘poisoning’, not ‘overdose’, crisis, CBC News, Sept 2, 2017. ]
Canada’s new warships program balloons to $62 billion, report by David Pugliese in The National Post, Sept 7, 2017
“… The program calls for the construction of 15 ships. The original budget for the program was $26.2 billion, or $1.7 billion per ship for 15 ships. But parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Fréchette estimates the program will cost $61.82 billion, or $4.1 billion per ship…”
[Canada’s antiwar movement is expected to vigorously oppose the grotesque expenditure on warships as poverty grows and the need to mitigate global warming becomes glaringly evident… No, wait, there is no antiwar movement and there are no protests; turns out that anti-Russia hysteria has succeeded in changing the narrative.]
Liberals government threats won’t deter Boeing from pursuing its trade dispute with Bombardier, by Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press, Sept 5, 2017
[In a case of the pot calling the kettle black, militarized corporate welfare case Boeing points to the extensive corporate welfare that has made Bombardier Inc. a Canadian capitalist success story. The Liberals enjoy a free hand in Canadian public opinion as they prepare to spend billions of dollars on new fighter jets; they are using that plan to pressure Boeing to back off.]
Toronto Star columnist mocks concern over Canada’s racist and genocidal history, column by Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star, Sept 6, 2017 [headline in print edition: ‘Making mountains of pedestals’]
[Comparing the common usage in Canada of an anglicized version of the name of Italian colonial explorer John Cabot]: ‘This could be condemned as a very early appropriation of an Italian accomplishment by Anglo Saxon culture…. If I were that sort of anachronous jackass, wailing and bemoaning over the injustices done to my peeps, from centuries ago to current ethnically insensitive textbooks. If I had endless whinges to pick. If I demanded an apology for Italians interned in Canada during World War II as enemy aliens…’
‘And, honestly, I don’t much care. Most people, I’m quite certain, don’t much care, not even about the symbolism inherent in monuments erected to extol Confederate leaders such a General Robert E. Lee… ‘Just stop shouting, Jesus H. Christ. Stop assuming the moral superiority on everything. Stop making mountains out of pedestals.’
[The Toronto Star columnist is too ignorant or too uncaring to know that the large majority of Confederate statues and symbols have nothing to do with commemorating the Civil War, per se. They were erected in the 20th century as part of the ‘Jim Crow’ counter-revolution seeking to block social gains by Black people freed from slavery at the Civil War’s end. For example, directors of the Washington Cathedral have decided to remove two stained glass panels featuring Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The panels were installed in 1953.]
Op-ed in Toronto Star calls for overthrow of North Korean government.
[An op-ed commentary in the Toronto Star on Sept 3 says Canada should join the U.S. in invading North Korea and overthrowing its government. The author is Charles Burton, an associate professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines and former counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. He also wants Canada to pony up for a very costly ‘North American missile defense’ program. Here is how the author pretties up Canada’s participation in the near-genocidal war of 1950-53 against the Korean people: “Sixty-seven years ago, Canada made a military commitment to defend South Korea against North Korean and Chinese military aggression…” The learned professor needs to go back to school to learn that ‘North’ and ‘South’ Korea did not exist in 1950-53. As in Vietnam in 1954, Korea was forcibly divided by the imperialist countries when they could not win their war of aggression and conquest. Kkorea’s division was codified in the 1953 armistice agreement ending war. Even then, the U.S. has not signed the armistice to this day. For a serious history of the current standoff in Korea, read: How ‘regime change’ wars led to Korea crisis, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Sept 4, 2017.]
[The Trump administration in the U.S. is threatening to end the temporary visa status of tens of thousands of political and economic refugees from Haiti who were granted the status by the preceding Obama regime. Several thousand of those threatened by the change have recently migrated to Canada and claimed refugee status. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told the Haitian asylum seekers that they are not welcome, going so far as to send emissaries to Miami to deliver that message. An editorialist at the state-run CBC has written that Canada should change its refugee procedure in order to refuse Haitian claimants.]
Looking to move beyond the Indian Act, can Canada shed its ‘colonial structures?‘, by Joe Friesen, Globe and Mail, Sept 2, 2017
[Big business interests in Canada are concluding that their neo-colonial and quasi-genocidal policies of the past towards First Nations people must give way to business partnerships, especially in resource extraction.]
Welcoming Haitian refugees to Canada isn’t about generosity but justice, by Martin Lukacs, The Guardian, Aug 29, 2017
[This is the only substantive commentary published to date in Canada to expose the hypocrisy of the Canadian government for refusing to welcome the wave of Haitian asylum seekers fleeing threatened deportation from the United States. Canada was fully part of the failure of the 2010 earthquake aid regime. That failure is part of the continuum of imperialist domination of Haiti throughout the 20th century. Canada was an active participant in the 2004 coup in Haiti that overthrew the country’s elected president and its elected senate and legislature. The entire political and foreign aid establishment in Canada was and remains complicit in the coup and complicit in the post-2010 earthquake aid failure.]
Related: Six month delay for Trump plan to end/change DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], report on New York Times, Sept 3, 2017
[In the May 2017 election, the New Democratic Party promised it would bring in $15… by 2021! Now, even that is scrapped. The scrapping was done at the request of the Green Party, whose three members of the BC legislature are supporting the minority NDP government. NDP Labour Minister Harry Bains was first elected in 2005; before that he was a longtime official of the Steelworkers Union. The Liberal gov’t in Ontario and the NDP gov’t in Alberta say they will stick to plans for $15 by 2019. That is already paltry, but it beats the sad story in BC. This is what failure to build a genuine party of the left delivers. More reason for do-nothing: Canada’s trade unions and left-wing are standing around and watching with baited breath to see which of the tepid candidates in the federal NDP leadership contest will win.]
UN solitary-confinement rules aren’t binding in Canadian prisons, Canadian gov’t lawyer argues, The Globe and Mail, Aug 31, 2017
[Two seperate court cases are challenging the widespread use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. The indiscriminate use of the practice is defined by the UN as torture. One of the court cases, brought by the John Howard Society and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, is currently being heard in a BC court. A Canadian government lawyer in the case told the court on August 31 that although Canada is a signator to UN conventions on the treatment of prisoners, these don’t necessarily apply within its prisons. He was referring specifically to the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’ approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2015 (‘United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners‘, 33 pages). Canada accepted the Nelson Mandela Rules at the time of their approval, but now it is signalling, ‘Ha ha, we were just kidding.’ Rules 43, 44 and 45 of the Nelson Mandela Rules apply to solitary confinement. In 2015-16, 65 prisoners died in Canadian federal prisons. From 2001-2002 to 2010-2011, 530 prisoners died in federal custody, of which 92 were suicides.]