The (Right) News Rundown
- In BC this week, much of the Cariboo-Chilcotin region remains on fire. Despite the frequent winds and lightning strikes that are complicating matters, it appears that the brave firefighters are making some progress. Emergency crews are trying to keep as many people as safe as possible, but some are refusing to leave their homes, including parts of a First Nations band about 2 hours west of Williams Lake, the area around which contains most of the worst and dangerous wildfires.
- Chief Joe Alphonse of the Tl'etinqox-t'in (pronounced Clay-teen-co-teen) First Nation community of Anaham Reserve announced that several hundred members of the community would be staying behind, most to fight the fires and set up fire blockades to save the town. Alphonse says emotions ran high between himself and the RCMP when he told officers residents wouldn't be obeying an evacuation order as several wildfires threaten the community.
- "We're going to fight for our place," the chief said. "We'd rather be out there fighting, protecting, than allow somebody else. We appreciate the work [of firefighters] … but this is what we want."
- The chief said he had a run-in with the RCMP on Sunday over his decision to stay put. "I notified them that we're not leaving. Community stress levels were really high and RCMP said, for those that don't leave, they will call the Ministry of Children and remove the children."
- After that, Alphonse said, tempers flared. "At that point, I kind of lost it a little bit and said, 'We're not leaving.' If you guys want to set up roadblocks on both ends of our reserve, that's fine, but we'll set up roadblocks right beside yours to stop you guys getting in. They told me our roadblock won't hold them back, but I said, 'It may not hold you back, but once you start dodging bullets, you'll start turning around.'"
- Asked to clarify the latter part of his comments, Alphonse said, "Take it however you want, I made a statement and that's that.
- When an evacuation order goes into effect, the RCMP mandate is to advise people to move to safety and inform them of the risks they'd take in staying behind. Adults who are mentally competent are entitled to remain on their property if they wish. However, Mounties could remove minors under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, if they were in danger.
- "Children may be removed for their own safety," RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Annie Linteau said. "It's certainly not where we want to get, and there's a fair amount of discretion, but we do have a responsibility to protect those who are not in a position to make adult decisions."
- "Our RCMP First Nations policing officers continue to engage with the community and there is an understanding around our concerns for their safety," she said.
- Emotions have settled, though, and the community’s Aboriginal firefighters are working with B.C. Wildfire Service crews. Word came Thursday that 300 firefighters from Alberta were moving into the area. Alphonse remained adamant Thursday that they were staying, saying he believes they have received more resources because of that very decision.
- He also said staying and fighting the fires is good for the community, which has been improving slowly in the past decade and recently rebuilt a church and health centre destroyed by arson, as well as constructing a new elementary school. “It gives everybody a role — stepping up and fighting for the community. It will give people confidence to fight for other issues, maybe social issues,” said Alphonse. “By staying in the community, it’s nothing but positive for us.”
- It seems even though relations between the First Nations band and the RCMP have gotten more amiable since the standoff, it's very possible that the situation could have turned into another Oka Crisis. For those who don't know, the Oka Crisis occurred in 1990 when the town of Oka, Quebec approved the development of an expanded golf course on land that was considered a sacred burial ground by the Mohawk tribe living in the area, without consultation of the Mohawk tribe. Members of the tribe then blockaded the area and refused to let anyone in. The standoff resulted in 2 casualties and around 100 wounded on both sides, though with the gunfire going back and forth it could have been much worse. The Oka Crisis received a lot of attention, and other First Nations bands blockaded or protested at other government properties all around the country in solidarity with the Oka Mohawks.
- So what does this have to do with the Anaham reserve refusing to leave and threatening to set up a blockade if the RCMP tried to take the children away? If the RCMP had followed the law in this case, and taken the band's minors, they probably would have had a huge problem on their hands, and relations with First Nations bands would have been set back decades. When it comes to emergencies such as wildfires, it's sometimes not always clear on the best way to solve a problem.
- This week the Bank of Canada raised the key lending rate 0.25% to 0.75%. This affects everyone who has a loan or is looking to borrow money. What’s often overlooked by this is that it also affects governments who are in debt.
- Here in Alberta, Finance Minister Joe Ceci isn’t happy about the interest rate rise. He said, “I would’ve appreciated a little more time. I think Albertans would’ve appreciated a little more time. We’ve had pretty stable house prices here and low mortgages and this will cause a little bit of a tick in that.”
- What’s clear based on the finance minister’s comments is that he feels that Alberta is not ready for an interest rate hike. However, the rest of Canada has an economy that is doing well and could benefit from the cooling off factor that an interest rate hike provides. When an interest rate hike happens this slows the pace of lending by the banks and the amount of lending requested by their customers. This is done in the situation where the economy is performing better than expected.
- This recent interest rate hike was well perceived by the stock markets and the Canadian dollar went up to a new high for the year of 79 cents compared to the US dollar. This ultimately makes Canada more competitive on the global stage and is a very encouraging sign to businesses who export.
- The reason that Finance Minister Ceci doesn’t find the interest rate acceptable to Alberta is that our economy is still struggling. Plus, Alberta also has an increasingly large debt that will need to be paid off. According to the NDP government a rise in interest rates by 1% would mean an extra $230m in debt servicing costs, therefore, a 0.25% increase means the province has to pay an extra $57.5m on our debt.
- While we often hear about what increasing interest rates means for the civilian population it’s not often talked about that these increasing interest rates also have a huge impact on government. Alberta has a large increasing debt and will be similarly impacted by any future rate increases. This summer that extra $57.5m in debt servicing fees could have been spent on services had we not been in deficit and accumulating debt. The same is also true for the federal government which shows no sign of running a surplus until the early 2050s. The media needs to focus on this and remind the population that our governments need are also similarly affected by interest rate increases.
- At The Right Side, we always remember to take polls with a grain of salt, as they have been wrong before. However, it is important to note when they produce statistics that are overwhelmingly on one side of an issue. And with that, we have a follow up on last week's story on Omar Khadr.
- A new survey from the Angus Reid Institute indicates 71% of Canadians are of the opinion the federal government made the wrong decision in settling a lawsuit with former child soldier Omar Khadr and instead apologizing and paying him $10.5 million in compensation for his treatment as a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the survey, most respondents thought the Trudeau government should have fought the case and left it to the courts to decide whether Khadr was wrongfully imprisoned.
- Further, 65% of Canadians reject the notion that government officials had “no choice” but to settle – but money appears to be the main source of opposition to the deal. Canadians are slightly more inclined to have said sorry to Khadr than offer compensation, had the decision been in their own hands.Around 64% also believe that Khadr remains a “potential radicalized threat” now living in Canada.
- Interestingly, in no province was there a majority of people that believed that the Trudeau government had made the right decision to settle. Residents in BC and Quebec were more likely to be in favour of the government's decision, at just 32%, whereas the province with the lowest number of support for the settlement is unsurprisingly Alberta at just 15%.
- As we mentioned last week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale blamed the previous Conservative Government of Stephen Harper for not dealing with the issue sooner, while current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer responded by calling the settlement “disgusting”. The Angus Reid article says that "Unsurprisingly, views diverge sharply along political lines. Where past Conservative voters are unequivocal in their views, there is less consensus among those who voted Liberal and NDP in the 2015 election."
- Just 9% of Conservative supporters surveyed agreed with the settlement, but interestingly Liberal and NDP supporters also did not agree with the decision, at just 39% and 36% respectively, when the above quote I just read makes it seem like the numbers are a lot closer.
- The survey doesn't make note of Bloc Quebecois or Green supporters, though Green Party leader Elizabeth May did drunkenly mention during an Ottawa Press Gallery dinner in 2015 that "Omar Khadr has more class than the whole ****ing [Conservative] cabinet". So it's clear that at least one Green Party member agrees with the decision.
- It's interesting that the federal government decision to settle with Omar Khadr and give him 10.5 million comes shortly after Parliament went on recess for the summer, meaning that the opposition parties would not be able to grill the government on the decision, but it appears that the attempt to keep this under wraps has failed, as it has definitely lasted through several news cycles.
- With a clear majority of people against the Khadr settlement, it's clear that the government needs to be held to account for its decisions. The best way to do that, of course, will be in the next election in 2019. We're somehow half-way there already.
The Firing Line
- While the summer continues on there is another leadership race going on in Canada that not many are aware of: the federal NDP leadership race. There are 4 people campaigning in the NDP leadership race who have effectively said that they want to do away with capitalism.
- Jagmeet Singh believes that Canada is a genocidal country filled with “systemic inequality and systemic racism.”
- In French the candidates were asked what area of the economy the government should run that they currently do not. Ms. Ashton believes that the government should be running a bank that would be administered by the post office. She also wants the government to take over the green energy sector and to have the government supply medication to pharmacists.
- The NDP leadership race were asked about the “Regina Manifesto” which was adopted by the CCF in 1933 and which piece of that vision should be brought into Canada today. The CCF was the precursor to the modern NDP. This document states, “No CCF Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Cooperative Commonwealth.” Put simply this means that the current crop of NDP candidates feel that capitalism should be reigned back or limited in Canada.
- Mr. Singh in the most recent debate has advocated for income redistribution. He states, “people have wealth and they need to transfer that wealth to those living in poverty now.” He feels that wealth transfers are different than social programs and should play a place in Canada.
- Furthermore, none of the candidates none of the candidates say that they will work with the Liberals in a minority government situation in order to keep the Conservatives out.
- All four of these platform points are significant changes to the way that Canada currently works. When Justin Trudeau was running for Liberal leadership for leader of the 3rd party the Liberal leadership race received much more attention than the NDP race is currently receiving. The media is once again doing a disservice to Canadians by not informing them of who is running for leader of our current third party. The Liberals made the jump from third party to governing party and the Alberta NDP moved from third party to governing party, so we know nothing in Canada is impossible. Elections have consequences and in order to make informed decisions the population needs to know what is going on in this NDP leadership race.
Word of the Week
1 the restoration of friendly relations: his reconciliation with your uncle | the colonel was seeking a reconciliation with his wife.
2 the action of making one view or belief compatible with another: he aims to bring about a reconciliation between art and technology.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Media Ignores
Teaser: A First Nations band in BC refused to evacuate, the Alberta Finance Minister isn’t concerned with an interest rate hike, a survey finds 71% of Canadians disagree with the Khadr settlement, and the media ignores NDP candidates extreme views on capitalism.
Recorded Date: July 15, 2017
Release Date: July 15, 2017
Edit Notes: Interruption and bleeding finger.