The (Right) News Rundown
- Rachel Notley is tied as Canada’s second least popular premier. This ranking is only preceded by Kathleen Wynne in Ontario. Notley’s approval sits at 28% this month. This of course means that her disapproval rating is 62%.
- Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kuri said, “the movement toward a united conservative party in Alberta and the prospect of a British Columbia NDP government that will try to block the Kinder Morgan pipeline may be hurting Notley.”
- This trend is echoed by another poll done by Mainstreet Research which has Notley at 33% approval. Both polls show a similar decrease in points over the period from September 2016 through today.
- For comparison sake when Alison Redford resigned in the spring of 2014 her approval rating was around the 20% marker. It took Alison Redford roughly 6 months to move from 26% down to her final 20% approval rating. During this time there was constant pressure from the opposition and media for Redford to resign.
- We’ve seen no similar pressure with Premier Notley. While it is not the job of the media or opposition to decide when a premier should resign, they should be driving the focus of conversation to shine a light on why this might be. Is it the slow economy? Is it the carbon tax? Is it the increasing amount of bureaucratic red tape that exists for businesses looking to invest in Alberta?
- Regardless of the cause we must realize that if the former PC government was still in power there would be an endless amount of questions from the media as to why the premier’s approval rating is sinking. Ultimately, there has been no real journalism done regarding this poll data. In fact, the data was mentioned in passing earlier this week.
- We return to BC, where even after almost 2 months, we still don't know for sure what's going to happen in government, following an election resulting in a hung parliament.
- The BC Liberals presented an ambitious Throne Speech that offers a wholesale redesign of the party’s re-election platform from the spring. The speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, includes promises related to campaign finance reform, housing, education and transit. It's been noted that some of the promises are "eerily similar" to promises put forward by the New Democrats – and which the Liberals derided as too expensive and irresponsible.
- Bill Bennett, a former mining and energy minister who represented Kootenay East for the Liberals from 2001-2017, said Friday the abrupt changes will put pressure on the free-enterprise coalition of centre-left liberals and right-wing conservatives. The challenge will be to deliver the new promises while not compromising the basic principle to balance the budget, pay down debt and maintain the province’s AAA credit rating, said Bennett. While he said he has no doubt the policy adoptions are well-meaning, the question is whether they are affordable.
- From the speech: “The May election delivered a divided result. Your government has listened to that result and brings forward this agenda to gain this House’s confidence and, in doing so, the confidence of the people of British Columbia. It is submitted with humility and openness to change.”
- Speaking to reporters following the Throne Speech, the premier said voters expect political parties to work together, share ideas and adapt. “This Throne Speech is a sincere response to what we’ve heard, and so we want to gain the confidence of the legislature,” said Ms. Clark. “We ran an election, and we got the most seats and the most votes. But it was a very mixed result, and the responsibility of a government is to listen to those results.”
- In total, there were more than two dozen policy reversals and new policies not in the Liberals’ election platform.
- The speech includes platform reversal promises to ban corporate and union donations to political parties, as well as support for a referendum on electoral reform. Proportional representation was a key priority for the Green Party and is also supported by the New Democrats. They also plan to move the province’s fixed elections to the fall so that elections can take into account the government's financial updates in July. The government said that several expensive new programs were made possible by a larger-than-expected surplus, which the government says will be revealed when the province’s public accounts are released next month.
- Other highlights of the speech include:
- A $1-billion daycare plan to create 60,000 additional spaces and offer subsidies for families earning less than $100,000 a year – including full subsidies for families making less than $60,000.
- A rent-to-own program that will allow new buyers to access 50,000 units of housing that would be built over 10 years. There would also be new protections for renters to prevent unfair rent increases.
- Larger contributions to public transit, and support for rapid transit on the lower Mainland
- Eliminate tolls on two bridges in the Vancouver area – the Port Mann and Golden Ears – and speed up the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey.
- A poverty reduction plan – something advocates have been demanding for years. The plan would focus on children, and there would also be basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 who age out of care.
- A new minister of state for mental health and addiction and a large increase in healthcare funding, especially for seniors and the disabled
- A royal commission on education – the first in 30 years – and a review of the funding formula for the province’s public schools districts
- Something conspicuously missing from the Throne Speech are energy and industry projects, such as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion, the Massey Tunnel replacement project, and anything to do with natural gas, forestry or the resource sector. The Site C dam was mentioned but effort was made to label it as a "clean hydro energy opportunity". From the speech: "Site C gives us the opportunity for an abundance of clean energy, allowing us to meet our obligation to transition our economy from carbon to fight climate change." The speech then highlights the plan to increase the provincial carbon tax by $5/tonne per year starting in 2019 to the proposed total of $50/tonne by 2022 which was put forward by the Federal Trudeau Liberals. Originally the Liberals campaigned that the carbon tax would be frozen until the other provinces put in their own carbon taxes.
- Liberal MLA Steve Thomson was acclaimed Speaker after formally resigning his post as forests minister. But Thomson may not be in the role for long. The Liberals have said earlier that none of their members want to serve as Speaker under an NDP government, suggesting the new Speaker will likely resign if the government falls. Said Thomson: “If the government changes, it’s the government that identifies a Speaker. Again, I’m not going to speculate as to how things will unfold. My job will be to manage the house in the legislature to the best of my ability.”
- Next Thursday, the NDP are expected to propose an amendment declaring the legislature has lost confidence in the house. When the vote does happen, the NDP and Greens are expected to defeat the Liberals with a vote of 44-42, and the government would fall. Premier Christy Clark would then visit the Lieutenant-Governor to inform her that the government had lost the confidence of the house. Experts have suggested the Lieutenant-Governor is likely to ask Mr. Horgan to form government, especially since the New Democrats have a power-sharing agreement in place with the Greens, clearing the way for Mr. Horgan to become premier. The NDP would be governing to a tie with the Speaker making the deciding vote on almost every issue. Whether we'll see another election soon is anyone's guess, though we'll probably know more next week.
- The government's budget bill was passed in the House of Commons by the Liberal majority. It was then sent to the Senate for approval. For the entirety of Canadian parliamentary history the Senate has been a rubber stamp on government bills, as it is not uncommon for the governing party to have a majority in the Senate via appointments. The Senate currently has 105 members.
- "The Senate won't be splitting the Trudeau government's budget bill to hive off the portion dealing with creation of a new infrastructure bank.
- Senators have rejected by the narrowest of margins a motion to split the bill, defeating it on a tie vote of 38-38 late Monday."
- Senator Andre Pratte (I-QC) filed a motion that would have split the infrastructure bank provisions of the budget into a separate bill so that they could be further examined. The senate had one abstention, Marc Gold (I-QC). This meant that the vote was tied 38-38 and therefore defeated. The original House of Commons Bill remains the same.
- The idea of splitting the Bill was made because it was felt that the $35b infrastructure bank provision wouldn't receive enough scrutiny when included with the budget.
- Marc Gold's reaction was, "oh my goodness" upon realizing that he was the deciding factor on this vote. He was reported initially leaning towards voting for the Senate's motion to split the Bill.
- Justin Trudeau appeared on the June 18th episode of Global's West Block podcast and was asked about the newfound independence of the Senate. "Let me ask you about the Budget Implementation Act... it's kind of stuck in the Senate right now. Is this what you envisioned when you sort of triggered a redesign of the Senate by releasing Liberal senators from being Liberals and appointing 'independent senators"? Is this what you wanted?" Trudeau simply said, "Yes". This lead to further questioning based on the rationale that they're independent, less partisan, but not elected and whether or not they should have this much power.
- Trudeau then goes on to state that, "they would have more legitimacy, more weight because they've a direct mandate to do more things." Trudeau just said that senators would have more credibility and legitimacy if they were elected!
- Later on in the broadcast, David Akin (Parliamentary Chief for Global News) said that there is no accountability with the senators now being appointed. He said, "if I was ever angry at a senator like Mike Duffy, for example, I could at least take it out on Stephen Harper at the ballot box." This is a very valid point and highlights how much of a rogue body the senate has become. It'll also provide ammunition for the 2019 election campaign if further pieces of legislation are held up or altered by the Senate.
The Firing Line
- The story starts last Friday when Candice Malcolm of the Toronto Sun wrote a column entitled, "The real legacy of Trudeau's Syrian refugee program". The original article goes on to talk about a Syrian refugee named Mohamad Rafia who beat his wife with a hockey stick for half an hour. The beating went to court and in the Fredericton court he told the judge that he didn't know it was a crime in Canada to beat your wife. Rafia got 8 days in jail and 1 year probation.
- While this act is reprehensible and it raises real questions about Canada's refugee program. What is more astounding is that the media and opposition have failed to do any basic journalism. If the media had read the article that Ms. Leitch tweeted they would see that her tweet is indeed a part of the article. Twitter is somewhat of an informal means of communication. It's not uncommon for someone who tweets to forget punctuation or modify the quoting slightly in order to abide by Twitter's 140 character limit.
- Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that Ms. Leitch's tweet was as disgraceful as domestic violence itself. The immigration minister also further commented that, "what Ms. Leitch is doing is equally reprehensible because she's tying in a problem that exists everywhere - both in refugee communities and our society." What the Minister fails to realize from the story is that the refugee in question did not know that this was a crime. It should be a story and a wider issue amongst Canadian society that someone can beat their wife and only get 8 days in jail.
- Gerald Butts (senior advisor to Justin Trudeau) tweeted, "If you thought this was a cynical act for the #cpcldr campaign, it's not. It's what she believes and whom she is. History won't be kind." Once again we see that the entire point of the article was missed. What's more is that Butts is more enraged that a political enemy would take such a stance. The Liberal party is supposed to be the party of equality and has focused on feminism and reducing domestic violence against women.
- The Conservative party has dealt with this as though it was a quote from the article rather than Ms. Leitch's own words. Immigration Critic Michelle Rempel said that she wasn't going to speak on behalf of Ms. Leitch. Andrew Scheer correctly identified that this was a quote from the article when asked but was still hit with condemnation from the media for not having Ms. Leitch retract the tweet and resign.
- Analysts are going further and say that Andrew Scheer "missed a chance to censure Leitch". Scheer has said that he's not sure that this is Ms. Leitch's stance and that she was quoting from the article. As we saw when Andrew Scheer was elected the media is only too happy to target him as well.
- The question that ultimately remains is why did such a large and reputable paper (The Globe and Mail) run with a story on something that could have been disproven by reading the tweeted article?
Word of the Week
Accountable - adjective
1 (of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible: government must be accountable to its citizens | parents could be held accountable for their children's actions.
2 explicable; understandable: the delayed introduction of characters' names is accountable, if we consider that names have a low priority.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Frankenstein Throne Speech
Teaser: Plunging approval ratings for Premier Notley, and a surprising shift to the left in the BC Liberal’s throne speech. Meanwhile, there are questions of accountability in the Senate, and bad journalism leads to misplaced anger over the Syrian Refugee plan.
Recorded Date: June 24, 2017
Release Date: June 24, 2017
Edit Notes: Rachel Notley typo