The (Right) News Rundown
- The Alberta party had their first leadership debate in Edmonton this past Wednesday.
- Roughly 330 people were in attendance, a very large event for the Alberta Party.
- The Alberta Party debate touched on all the current issues that Alberta is facing.
- One of the most pressing as we've talked about before is the budget Deficit.
- Kara Levis wasn't afraid to touch topics and one of those was a PST.
- “I would really like to see us start to consider a value-added point of sale tax. That’s a source of revenue that we really haven’t been able to talk about, and none of our opponents have had the courage to talk about that in the past."
- Her rationale is that the province needs a "stable base of revenue, particularly for day-to-day program spending."
- Recall previously that the UCP has called for a reduction in spending that would bring us down to the same level as BC.
- When a province spends roughly 20% more per capita that's evidence of a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
- Both Stephen Mandel and Rick Fraser did not like the idea of a PST.
- Mandel stated that if he ever was going to bring in a PST he would hold a referendum.
- Mandel also believes that the tax burden placed on the residents of Alberta should not increase and balancing the budget would be a priority through looking at what's being spent where.
- Economists have been telling finance minister Joe Ceci that a sales tax is a good source of revenue but the NDP will to be bringing in a sales tax.
- Let's also remember that the carbon tax wasn't specifically mentioned in the NDP platform but we got one of those anyway.
- With that it's highly likely that the NDP or Alberta will look to bring in a provincial sales tax despite what's been said.
- One of the most memorable quotes to come out of the May 2017 election was BC Green Party leader calling his supply and confidence agreement with the governing NDP the beginning of a "strong, stable minority government". Political scientists, and myself chuckled a bit at that news, as minority governments are rarely stable. It appears that cracks are appearing in the "strong stable minority government, as the Green Party leader threatened to bring down the government if the NDP attempt to pursue LNG projects.
- “If B.C. starts to focus again on trying to land an LNG industry given all that has happened, I can tell you I am voting government down,” the Green leader vowed in a Dec. 31 interview. He repeated his line in the sand this week on Twitter: “If the B.C. NDP caucus continue their generational sellout embodied in the LNG folly of the B.C. Liberals, their government will fall.”
- As Les Leyne of the Times Colonist writes, "[Weaver] seems to be assuming Liberals would vote against LNG, which is a big logic leap. Any vote on LNG could easily go 83-3. He’s also assuming it would be a confidence vote, which isn’t necessarily so."
- The Feb. 13 Throne Speech would provide the first opportunity to vote against the NDP, but under the rules of the House, the New Democrats could forestall the vote for weeks. Still, the Greens and the opposition Liberals could cause a vote of non-confidence in this coming session, which could trigger a provincial election just a year after the last one. However, the Liberals elect a new leader on Feb. 3, which I'll probably be talking about next week, and an early spring election would force the party to campaign with an unproven leader.
- Now, the premier confirmed that during the trade mission to Asia this past week, he had every intention of exploring support for the LNG Canada export terminal that Shell and its Asian partners are proposing for Kitimat.
- “I’ll be meeting with partners of LNG Canada just to let them know that we’re OK with LNG development, provided that there are benefits to British Columbians through jobs, there’s a fair return for the resource, our climate action objectives can be realized, and that First Nations are partners. You’ve heard this from me before, and you’ll hear it from me again,”.
- The NDP’s four conditions for LNG approval date back two years and were clearly stated in the party election platform. Weaver can scarcely claim they come as a surprise. However, although the NDP campaigned in the past election on a promise to pursue LNG investment so long as it meets the party's conditions, Weaver said he was blindsided by the Premier's plans to court investors.
- Government officials say their LNG position was discussed with Weaver during those negotiations between the two parties that led to the Confidence and Supply Agreement. The party no doubt feels blindsided by Weaver’s threat, although Weaver feels the same way about the NDP’s push for LNG. And even though said in the summer that switching to proportional representation was his top priority, he now says fighting climate change trumps that and is the real reason he got into politics in the first place. “There is no way I will stand by and allow future generations under the bus by a bunch of politicians who gave them hope but now throw them under a bus”
- Weaver said the governing agreement includes a commitment to a climate action plan and, based on his 30 years of work as a climate scientist, he is convinced B.C. cannot launch an LNG industry and meet its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "You can't have LNG and meet the targets. … This is that sword I would die on." The governing agreement stipulates the BC Green MLAs will support the NDP during confidence votes, as long as there are “no surprises.” Well, Weaver now thinks supporting LNG ranks as a “surprise”.
- As well, the mayors of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John in B.C.'s northeast — where gas for the export facility would come from — joined forces with Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth and Haisla Nation councillor Kevin Stewart to demand the province "strongly support" LNG development.
- Bill Tieleman, co-chair of the No B.C. Proportional Representation Society, who I talked about 2 weeks ago, minced no words in an email to Global News' Keith Baldrey: “Not only are Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party creating political instability, they are creating economic instability – where businesses and investors have no idea from one day to the next what might become an issue for the B.C. Greens to bring down the government.”
- Weaver also wants a ban on foreign house-buyers, going on another Twitter tirade on the subject. Horgan won’t go that far. Will this eventually come to “ban foreign buyers or I’ll bring the government down,” as well? Hard to say.
- The standoff counters the impression that the Greens and NDP have morphed into one big entity, which is what the Liberals say is a big reason to not support proportional representation. But Weaver's threat erodes all his previous assurances that minority governments can be just as stable as majorities. That, in turn, blows a big hole in the campaign to change to a proportional-representation voting model — a reform that the Greens really want, as I've talked about before.
- Proportional representation almost guarantees continuing minority governments in B.C. So Weaver will be campaigning for such a move at the same time he’s proving how much more precarious and uncertain it is than the current system. If voters have to put up with a confidence crisis every time the NDP does something he disagrees with, a lot of people will realize that proportional representation does not offer a strong stable minority government after all.
- It has long been no secret that Justin Trudeau is pro-choice.
- Pro-choice refers to the opinion when it comes to abortion that abortion should be available freely upon request if desired.
- During the 2015 campaign Trudeau made headlines when he necessitated that all candidates and MPs under the Liberal party must be pro choice.
- Blue Liberals
- The government recently introduced their summer jobs program and included with this, to receive funding, a group must support abortion rights.
- Employers must declare that, "both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada … these include reproductive rights."
- This has one of the Liberal MP's from Newfoundland pushing for a reverse of this clause.
- Scott Simms, the MP in question said, "The application is asking them to do something that they shouldn't be asked to do for the sake of a summer job for kids."
- The issue is that some of these groups taking part in the summer jobs program, which are geared towards teenagers ultimately, are churches or Christian groups.
- Scott Simms is willing to compromise and have the clause be rewritten to only limit funding for jobs or programs that are involved in campaigning to change Canadian law.
- The issue that now comes into play and is being missed or forgotten is the hypocrisy of this government.
- While being super selective with his MPs in the 2015 race, Trudeau was running on a platform of multiculturalism and tolerance for different viewpoints.
- Recall that in our episode last summer titled, "The Scheer Smear" where as soon as Andrew Scheer was elected the media set out to unearth his past and paint him as the conservative scary man.
- One of the points they talked about was abortion and how Scheer just like Prime Minister Stephen Harper would supposedly have a hidden agenda to limit abortion rights.
- This was covered at length even though it wasn't true, but here we have the Liberals who campaigned on tolerance and multiculturalism extensively limiting what groups may receive government funding but this hypocrisy isn't being talked about.
- One may even call it a hidden agenda against those of the Christian religious faith.
- I guess we should be thankful that the issue is being talked about at all...
- Nonetheless, for a party that preaches tolerance of ideas, this is not the way that they should be campaigning.
The Firing Line
- Patrick Brown, Jaimie Baillie and Kent Hehr
- Oh boy. You'd have to be living under a rock to not hear about this story. It would be remiss of us not to weigh in on it as well, and give you a full blow by blow of the media's coverage. For those who haven't heard, this past week the nation was stunned as 3 powerful male politicians resigned in disgrace after allegations of sexual harassment were reported in the media and calls were made for them to resign. Whether or not these allegations are true or not will be up to the police to decide, but the media has gaily reported on all of them to the Canadian public, without verifying whether they are true or not. To keep things together and simple, I'm going to go through them one by one.
- The first one we'll mention is now former federal Liberal cabinet minister Kent Hehr. It seems we've talked a lot about Kent Hehr in the past 2 months, but it appears we need to mention him once more. I first covered Kent Hehr's appalling behaviour on episode 46, where Hehr openly mocked a group of thalidomide survivors, and dismissed people with disabilities, saying they "don't have it so bad" and "if their lifespans are shortened, that's good for the Canadian government".
- Many people over the past few months since that story have come forward about Hehr's behaviour and recently there have been sexual harassment complaints levelled against him by accusers who have gone to the media to report their stories. Hehr has since resigned from cabinet.
- Late Wednesday night, Alberta public servant Kristin Raworth tweeted that she was told “to avoid being in an elevator with Kent Hehr” on her first day working at the legislature. She alleged that Hehr made “verbally sexually suggestive comments” to a number of women, and once told her: “You’re yummy.” Others have come forward, either on social media or in the media, talking about Hehr's inappropriate behaviour with women. On Twitter, another woman says there have been warnings circulating in Ottawa for more than a year: stay away from Hehr at receptions. Don’t let his hands get close to you. Don’t get close to him when he drinks. Another woman said “There is a lot of ableism involved with Kent Hehr, because no one wants to be mean to the guy in the wheelchair”. Raworth challenged Trudeau: Kent was a cabinet minister "in the government of a man who claims to believe in gender equality. So let’s test that, Justin Trudeau. So get rid of him."
- Hehr has since resigned from cabinet. Trudeau made a statement shortly after: “Harassment of any kind is unacceptable and Canadians have a right to live and work in environments free from harassment. As a government we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously. Today, I accepted the Honourable Kent Hehr’s resignation from cabinet pending the outcome of the investigation.” Hehr is still in the Liberal caucus. Fellow Calgary Liberal MP Darshan Kang resigned from the Liberal caucus after similar allegations were raised against him. The prime minister made clear that Hehr is on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of an investigation. The law firm Rubin Thomlinson is already investigating allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a senior PMO official, Claude-Eric Gagné, who is on leave from his position as deputy director of operations.
- Let's move on to Jamie Baillie, the now former leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative party. Tara Miller, the president of the party says she was told by "multiple sources" about a single incident involving inappropriate behaviour by Baillie and an unnamed victim, and the party moved swiftly to force him to resign. Miller later disclosed that an investigator hired by the party to look into an allegation of harassment made against Mr. Baillie last month found him to be in breach of legislature harassment policy. At the time, Halifax police said they had not received a report related to the situation.
- Caucus spokeswoman Jenni Edge later clarified that the initial information Miller received did not come directly from the individual at the centre of the complaint. She said it was the result of that person telling other people -- who then went to the party president.
- News of the allegations has left many members of the party reeling. Baillie, who had previously announced his intentions in November to leave office when a new leader is chosen later this year, has a record of defending women's rights in Parliament and otherwise. The PCs are scheduled to hold their annual general meeting and convention in two weeks in Halifax. While a leader will not be chosen at the meeting, registration numbers are up.
- Miller said an experienced, third-party Halifax-based lawyer conducted an investigation, and Baillie and the individual "participated fully" and were represented by legal counsel. She said the lawyer used definitions from the legislature's policy to make findings which concluded that Baillie was in breach. "Those findings were delivered on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The PC Party of Nova Scotia requested and accepted the immediate resignation of Mr. Baillie on Wednesday, Jan. 24," Miller said. "The findings are a privileged report that will not be made publicly available, in order to protect the identity of the individual."
- And finally, we have the now former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown. After allegations of sexual harassment were levied against him in the media he held a late night press conference tearfully denying the allegations and defending his character. Hours later, his senior staff had resigned on him and he was forced to resign from party leadership only months before an election to be held in June. Brown resigned as leader after a conference call with his fellow party members, after CTV News "reported the exclusive and serious allegations from two women."
- The first incident happened when Brown was in his late 20s. The woman, an 18 year old high school student in Barrie at the time, said she and a mutual friend met Brown at a bar. (Keep in mind the drinking age in Ontario is 19.) Brown then invited them back to his home and provided them with alcohol. She says she was drunk when Brown invited her for a tour of his home. When the pair entered the bedroom, Brown closed the door and exposed his penis to her. "He pulled down his pants said, and I don’t know if he said 'suck my dick' or 'put this in your mouth,' but something along those lines,” she said. The woman alleges that he then asked her to perform oral sex, which she did for a short time before stopping. “It was like a controlling thing… like I just remember I wanted to go, but that wasn’t happening." She says she then left his house and went to a nearby friend’s place. "He's an old, single, politician preying on young girls. He’s just a sad person," the now-29 year old said.
- Another woman came forward with a similar story, detailing her time working for the MP in then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s government. She spoke to CTV News in an on-camera interview. She said she met the then-Conservative MP in November 2012 on an Air Canada flight when she was 18, coming home from university. Hours after the flight, at 11:21 p.m. -- a time that was verified by social media accounts viewed by CTV News -- Brown sent the woman a message: "Are you impressed I remembered your name? I am.. LOL"
- Brown gave the woman his phone number and the names of Barrie bars that he’d be at that night, offering her help to skip any lineups, even though she was 18 at the time -- below Ontario’s legal drinking age. "I kinda laughed it off as an older man… hitting on me," the former staffer said. She didn't take him up on the offer, but months later when she was looking for a summer job she reached out to Brown and asked if he had any openings or if he knew of other opportunities. After an interview in his Parliament Hill office, Brown hired her to work in his Barrie constituency office. Brown tasked her with organizing the Hockey Night in Barrie charity game he hosts annually. Emails from Brown viewed by CTV News confirmed this. "You know you are my favourite :)" writes Brown in an email to the woman days before the Aug. 15, 2013 event. At an after-party in a now-closed local nightclub, The Bank, the woman says Brown and others provided her with a string of free alcoholic beverages. She was by then legal age. "It was too many to count," the former staffer said.
- When the bar closed, the party moved to Brown's home, all captured on social media. The woman says she was extremely drunk when Brown invited her and a male friend of his to Brown’s bedroom to look at photographs of a trip to Asia stored on his iPad. Brown's friend then left, leaving her and Brown to sit alone on the bed. "The next thing I know he's kissing me. Sitting beside me, kissing me and then I was, I kind of just froze up. He continued to kiss me and he laid me down on the bed and got on top of me. I remember consciously trying not to move my mouth and I was just not moving, so I was laying there immobile and he kept kissing me," she said. "That
- scenario, like of a very inebriated young employee in the bedroom of her boss, alone with him, who hasn’t had a drop of alcohol all night, just that’s an intimidating situation and I was not sure what to do about it," the former staffer said. She told him to stop, saying she had a boyfriend and told Brown to take her home, which he did, driving her back to her parents’ house.
- Just two days after Brown's resignation, Vic Fedeli was voted by caucus as interim leader of Ontario PC Party on Friday. Just hours later, the party executive announced it would hold an open leadership race to be held on March 24. Fedeli said he will seek the permanent post. While Brown remains as MPP for Simcoe North and has denied any wrongdoing, Fedeli called for him to voluntarily take a leave of absence as the allegations are investigated, despite having the power to force Brown out of the caucus if he wants. Fedeli has said he was "disgusted" by the allegations, but also said he "never saw anything that would have indicated" such behaviour by Brown.
- Many media outlets have written editorials or opinion pieces all questioning Brown's credibility and character, such as The Globe and Mail's "Patrick Brown can protest his innocence, but he had to go". Despite the allegations being unproven in a court of law and with due process and the concept of "innocent until proven guilty", it seems that the court of public has judged these men guilty nonetheless.
- Christie Blatchford wrote a column for the National post a week before these stories broke entitled "With #MeToo, we have lost the presumption of innocence". In it she says that there has been a shift in society to view allegations as being true, without testing them to see if they are true or not, and that it's fostering a culture that paints men as liars and women as truth tellers.
- She followed this up with "What happened to Brown is fundamentally wrong. Every man in the world is now vulnerable". She writes "Kathleen Wynne spent nearly 18 minutes in front of the TV cameras [talking about the Brown story]. Only one journalist even bothered to ask her about due process. “These are allegations. He’s not had a chance to defend himself. Are you in any way concerned there is a bit of a public trial going on and is that fair?” the reporter asked. Wynne urged Ontarians to get out their “own little flashlights” to “shine a light” into their own lives and to work together to “create safe spaces for everyone”, except everyone doesn't include those being accused. The point is that purely on the say-so of two women who claim Brown sexually assaulted them his reputation and career is permanently ruined, whether true or not."
- I'll finish off with one last quote from Blatchford. "Whatever the merits of their accusations — and how is anyone to know? — the mere act of making them to a journalist was enough. This is all it takes now. It means that every man in the world is vulnerable, not because he has necessarily misconducted himself, but because a woman may say he has. The truth of the alleged misconduct — did it happen? Were there mitigating circumstances? Does the accuser have motive to lie? — is incidental, if not irrelevant."
Word of the Week
allegation - a claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof: he made allegations of corruption against the administration | allegations that the army was operating a shoot-to-kill policy.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Defining Allegations
Teaser: The Alberta Party discusses a potential PST, the BC strong stable minority is in doubt over LNG, hypocrisy over the abortion clause in the fed government’s summer jobs program, and a critical look at the allegations leading to 3 politicians resigning.
Recorded Date: January 27, 2018
Release Date: January 28, 2018
Edit Notes: None