Category Archives: Features

News, articles and opinion pieces

A Working Canadian’s Breakfast (in Glace Bay NS)

While surfing through your daily feeds of social media, sometimes you find a remarkable comment that strikes a chord for its authentic, insightful message. Today a self-described “Conservative politico” – Mitch Heimpel – provided that ha-ha moment for me.

Here’s the necessary background:  The federal Conservative Party spent last night and today responding to the Trudeau Government’s Throne Speech by accusing the Liberals of being out of touch with the priorities of working Canadians. The Conservatives are making the argument that most Canadians today are worried about inflation and the rising costs of everything, which is making living unaffordable.

To underline this point, in social media, Conservatives Leader Erin O’Toole stated:

“Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, but it’s also getting more expensive. The rising cost of living under the Trudeau Liberals means you’re paying more for the same meal this year than you were last year.”

And he posted this image…

O’Toole’s salvo elicited an immediate reply from non-other-than Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s BFF and his former Principal Secretary (before he had to resign in the Jody Wilson-Raybould scandal). Butts tweeted the following:

“Does this breakfast come with a defibrillator on the side?”

And with that the Twitter-verse was sent into a tizzy with conservative partisans and TruAnons swapping insults; Butts was trending for most of the morning.

Then late in the morning, Mitch Heimpel waded into the exchange with a full series of tweets that replied directly to Gerald Butts. Here is Heimpel’s response:

There’s something about this tweet that’s been bugging me all day, and it’s not the author. What follows will be a slight exercise of the blue collar chip on my shoulder. 1/11

I used to work the line at a factory on one week turnarounds . That means nights one week, days the next and afternoons were the final week of the cycle. The final night shift of the week started at 11pm Thursday and would end at 7am Friday 2/11

At the end of that last shift, the lines would go out for breakfast together. Your production crew was probably 6-10 people. You usually worked with the same people, though temp agencies screwed this up a bit 3/11

This meal looks like what we all ate on those Friday mornings (not me, because of the egg allergy). But look down the table you would see plates like this. It was everyone else. Why? 4/11

Because it was a filling meal, and wherever you went, it was usually inexpensive. You could get a plate like this usually for less than $10. Never more than $12. The places that served it range from a Denny’s to community staple greasy spoons and 50s theme diners. 5/11

Why did it matter that it was cheap? Everyone at that table made between $11 and $17 an hour (it was 2010). That meal was an hour’s wages. I bet you for most people now doing that Friday ritual, it’s more expensive than that and climbing. 6/11

that’s why I hate that tweet. It’s not the “you don’t understand inflation”, it’s the eye-rolling derision directed at the meal itself. Do a week of nights on the factory floor, know that you have a weekend to reset your entire sleep schedule, and then look down on that meal.7/11

For most of us, even me (and remember, I couldn’t actually eat it, allergies suck), it was one of the only restaurant meals we could afford and the only real sense of community we got. 8/11

More than half of my coworkers were temps, many of them we didn’t know would be there at the end of our next Friday night shift. That’s still true in way too many workplaces. Some of them we had worked with for months. 9/11

So, no, that meal doesn’t come with a defibrillator. Any more than condescending elitism comes with a cravate. But thousands of workers eat it every Friday morning. After a week of nights making your chocolates or your HVAC system. 10/11

It might be the only reward they get. They earned it. But your derision? They didn’t earn that. 11/11

Ha-ha. In reading this Butts must have choked on his uncaring “let them eat cake” sideswipe.

Heimpel’s comments exposed the reality that Butts has indeed forgotten what a blue collar worker enjoys as the sun rises on a Glace Bay diner. But perhaps with his jet-setting life Butts never knew the simple pleasures of his mining relatives? And, does it surprise anyone that Butts’ BFF also would not have a clue what inflation and rising living costs mean for working Canadians who have no trust fund to dip into for their food, gas, heat — and family vacations?

SOURCE: Tweets of @MitchHeimpel

The incredible costs of Trudeau’s carbon taxes

The Niagara Independent, November 19, 2021 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his two minutes on the world stage at the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) to urge other countries to follow Canada’s example and impose an escalating carbon tax on their citizens and businesses. Trudeau called for other countries to join together and introduce a series of carbon taxes that would cover 60 percent of global carbon emissions by 2030. His solicitation went unanswered.

Yet, PM Trudeau made a rash of pledges on behalf of Canadians. Canada is the only oil-producing country to announce that it is imposing a hard cap on emissions at today’s levels for the oil and gas sector. It is also phasing out all coal-fired electricity and will halt Canadian exports of thermal coal by 2030. The Canadian government will withdraw billions of dollars of its financial support for Canadian companies and pension plans that are invested in oil, coal, and natural gas projects internationally. Trudeau also gave away tens of millions of additional dollars to the treasure trove that Canadians have already pledged to U.N. climate change programs.

Trudeau also took every opportunity to highlight his government’s intent to increase the federal carbon taxes through the decade in order to meet Canada’s CO2 emission targets in 2030. In a 2020 government document on the country’s environmental agenda, the Canadian carbon tax is explained: “The principle is straightforward: a carbon price establishes how much businesses and households need to pay for their pollution. The higher the price, the greater the incentive to pollute less, conserve energy and invest in low-carbon solutions.”

Bottom line: the carbon taxes are meant to adversely impact Canadians. These are punitive measures to alter our behaviour and energy habits.

So, Canadians are to pay dearly. Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, predicts that Canadians will soon be paying $2.00 per litre at the pumps and suggests some Canadians will need to manage heat-or-eat scenarios through the cold winter months.

Every April through this decade there is a schedule of tax hikes that will increase pump prices annually by approximately a dime, and home fuel prices by $20 per month. The current price on carbon is $40 per tonne and this is set to rise to $170 per tonne by 2030. So, carbon taxes paid at the pump on each fill-up by 2030 will account for an additional $27 for a minivan, an additional $45 extra for a pickup truck, and truck drivers will pay an additional $204 to fuel their transport trucks. Consider what this means for commuters each week.

This tax will hit farmers and truckers hard and Canadians will experience hidden tax increases with groceries and merchandise bills. It will be difficult to factor and track these tax increases as they will be unseen, folded into the cost of goods.

Canadians will also experience increased taxes on their home heating, natural gas and propane bills. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) factors that a home using 2,700 cubic metres of natural gas per year would be dinged an extra $240 in taxes annually as the carbon tax is hiked.

Apparently, it makes no difference that these carbon taxes are a greater burden for lower-income Canadians. A Finance Canada analysis on the carbon tax recently concluded that “increases in transportation fuel and home heating expenses would disproportionately impact lower and middle-income households [and] those living in single detached households or those without control over the energy efficiency of their dwellings that use heating oil.”

Remarkably five weeks from now, on Jan. 1, the Trudeau government is introducing a new Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) carbon tax on the country’s business community. By the government’s own estimates, the new CFS tax will increase energy costs by an additional $208 annually for households by 2030. There is no CFS rebate system planned to defray these increased taxes.

AND THERE IS MORE… the GST is collected on top of all of the various carbon taxes. The federal government is taxing its carbon taxes – and pocketing it. In 2019, the CTF estimates Ontarians paid $243 million in GST on top of carbon tax charges.

In a recent Globe and Mail column, Andrew Coyne questioned the premise that escalating carbon taxes will ensure Canada meets its 2030 emissions targets. In reviewing government estimates, he calculates that the changes brought about through “carbon pricing” will only result in about one-third of the reductions the country needs to get to by 2030. Coyne points to the fact that the federal government will need to introduce other subsidies and industry regulations to meet its goals.

By logical extension, the massive investments promised in the Liberal green agenda to transition our resource-based economy away from fossil fuels will require new sources of revenue. This past year Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Finance Canada had floated a series of trial balloons: a wealth tax on high income earners, increase the capital gains rate, a new capital gains tax on the sale of primary residences, and an inheritance tax.

It is not surprising that Chrystia Freeland, who sits on the Board of the World Economic Forum (WEF), and globalist Michael Sabia, who has been parachuted in as the finance department’s Deputy Minister, are taking pages from the WEF playbook to produce the federal government’s plan for financing its green agenda. Canadians can expect to see new economic policies introduced “to fight climate change” that are detailed in WEF documents and presentations:

  • steadily increase carbon taxes to prompt behavioural change
  • increase corporate taxes
  • introduce wealth taxes on assets (i.e. holdings and property)
  • withdraw subsidies from fossil-fuel industry
  • create new funding programs for green initiatives
  • enact measures to increase government intervention in corporate boardrooms and the private sector

In this way, “paying for pollution” is a Trojan Horse for an onslaught of new taxation.

It remains to be explained what will replace the wealth generated by Canada’s energy and natural resources sectors. Deputy governor of the Bank of Canada Toni Gravelle recently predicted that whole sectors of Canada’s economy will “shrink significantly,” that there will be “sharp declines” and untold job losses with the climate change programs. The billion-dollar question is, “How will we pay for the losses in jobs, businesses and investment, in transitioning away from the economic sectors that have served to underpin Canada’s prosperity through the ages?”

Freeland was recently before a Canadian Chamber of Commerce audience where she made this comment, “None of us can understate the magnitude of the transition that the global economy is beginning now when it comes to moving from using fossil fuel energy to renewable energy. I think that is a shift comparable only to the Industrial Revolution itself. It is going to take so much hard work from all of us.”

Translation: For Canadians, the government’s green agenda and its carbon tax regime means more taxes and higher costs of living. We’re to drive less, lower the thermostat, and still pay increasing taxes to fund Canada’s and the UN’s climate change programs.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-incredible-costs-of-trudeaus-carbon-taxes/

Photo credit: The Canadian Press – Sean Kilpatrick  / PM Justin Trudeau with his newly appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021.

The George Soros Series

 The George Soros 4-part series by Chris George in the Niagara Independent

reviews Soros’ life and achievements, beliefs and goals, and his ties and influence in Canada.

 Introducing George Soros

 The core beliefs and aspirations of George Soros

George Soros and his Canadian Chess Game

George Soros casts a long shadow across Canada

 

For the index of Chris George’s columns in the Niagara Independent, click here.

 

The cost of Canada’s promises made at the U.N. Climate Change Summit

The Niagara Independent, November 12, 2021 – For two weeks the world has been absorbed with the rhetoric and grand announcements from the planeloads of global elites and environmental experts all conferring at the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) in Glasgow, U.K.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his newly ensconced Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault made tonnes of commitments (both figuratively and literally) on behalf of Canada. As the jet contrails begin to dissipate over the Glasgow horizon, Canadians are now beginning to assess the costs of all the government’s promises.

PM Trudeau waxed eloquently in the two days he was on the summit stage. He made a number of “bold” pronouncements to demonstrate to the world that Canadians are serious about meeting the objectives of the U.N.’s Paris Agreement and achieving a net-zero economy by 2050. Five of the Canadian commitments in Glasgow are significant.

First, the government will impose a hard cap on emissions at today’s levels for the oil and gas sector. In his allotted two-minute speech to the global forum, PM Trudeau called this policy initiative “no small task for a major oil and gas producing country” and said Canada is prepared to limit the growth of one of the country’s largest industries “to help the world.”

Second, the government will phase out coal-fired electricity and will strengthen its plan to end Canadian exports of thermal coal by 2030. News media Blacklock’s Reporter places this pledge into context: Canadian coal production is less than two percent of China’s production. Also, Canadian thermal coal exports account for only four percent of the country’s coal production; the vast majority of coal produced in Canada is high-grade, used for steelmaking – and not part of our commitment.

Third, PM Trudeau urged world leaders to establish new “pricing mechanisms” to have sixty percent of global emissions covered by “a price on pollution” by 2030. Cutting through the euphemisms, Trudeau was urging other countries to follow the Canadian example of establishing an escalating carbon tax. However, while the PM was championing the carbon tax, the IMF and OECD were calling for an alternative tax strategy that would set “an international carbon price floor.”

Fourth, this week the prime minister announced a number of increased foreign aid pledges to U.N. bodies overseeing climate change programs. For example, Canada will pay out:

  • $55 million over three years to a global research partnership engaged in food security;
  • an additional $9 million to a global ocean alliance;
  • an additional $6 million towards a global coral reef conservation effort; and,
  • an undisclosed amount to a fund of $19.2 billion U.S. over five years to support third world countries manage new deforestation efforts.

It is unclear whether any of these new commitments are factored into the promise made this past June when PM Trudeau announced Canada will double its international climate finance commitment to $5.3 billion over the next five years.

Fifth, the government has pledged to end financing for foreign fossil-fuel projects within the next year. Canada will stop all loans, insurance and other forms of financial backing to Canadian oil and gas companies doing business abroad. (This promise is separate from the Liberals election promise to end all domestic oil and gas subsidies by 2023.)

Aside from these five Glasgow commitments, Canadian financier Mark Carney – acting in his capacity as the special U.N. envoy on climate action and finance – made a significant announcement about a new global financial alliance. Financial companies from 45 countries including Canada have agreed to manage their investments with the objective of achieving net zero carbon emissions. Carney crowed that more than 450 companies collectively managing $130 trillion are now part of the U.N. investment program. (This fund is impressive in scale; however, it came under criticism because the fine print does not promise that participating companies will divest from fossil fuels.)

And that all unfolded in week one of the summit. This week has seen further news headlines as the COP26 delegates met to negotiate the details of how the global community and individual countries might meet the various emissions targets and initiatives. Minister Steven Guilbeault led the team of nearly 300 Canadian government officials, all actively participating in the countless chinwags.

Guilbeault’s delegation sent back more news to Canadians. Canada signed onto a zero-emission car accord that will produce emissions targets to reduce international air travel, as well as ensure all heavy trucks and buses are emission-free by 2040. Canada is also part of the push to have all participants sign onto a commitment to increased carbon reduction targets by the end of 2022.

So, what are the costs to Canadians of all these COP26 promises? What will it cost individuals, Canadian companies, and our national economy? The answers are unclear, but factor these points:

  • Canada is the first (and remains the only) major oil-producing country to commit to capping emissions at current levels from its oil and gas sector. Canada has moved unilaterally even though it accounts for less than 1.5 percent of global emissions. The five countries that produce the vast majority of carbon emissions – China, Russia, India, United States, Japan – are not committing to immediately act to limit their oil and gas development.
  • The government has no defined plan to meet its oil and gas emissions cap pledge – and it made the commitment without consulting the Canadian business community. It did not engage with the oil and gas sector leaders even though, in 2019, this single sector accounted for 10 percent of Canadian gross domestic product and supported over 832,500 direct and indirect jobs.
  • The government (again without any consultation) announced it will remove government financial support for companies invested abroad in oil, coal and natural gas projects. There are no details regarding this announcement but the scale of its impact on Canadian companies and their investors can be found in Export Development Canada annual reports. The government agency provided $8.1 billion in total business support to the oil and gas sector investments in 2020 (and that is down $4.4 billion from pre-COVID levels in 2018).

In reviewing the facts and statistics, Canadians might be able to piece together the impact the government’s commitments at COP26 will have on the country’s economic performance.

The international finance magazine The Economist noted this week that oil and gas – and coal – remain valuable commodities and increasingly valuable for countries producing these resources: “modern life needs energy and there is still not enough investment in renewables to keep the lights on.” Yet the Trudeau government is willfully ignoring this reality and planning to stunt the development of the country’s resource riches to meet the U.N.’s climate change objectives.

From the multiple announcements in Glasgow, evidently, this Trudeau government is intent on purposefully disadvantaging our Canadian business community and, in doing so, it may perhaps jeopardize the economic sustainability and future prosperity of the country itself.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-cost-of-canadas-promises-made-at-the-u-n-climate-change-summit/

In Flanders Fields – John McRae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNIATIONS.

 

Dulce et decorum est – Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

 

(ed. – DULCE ET DECORUM EST are the first words of a Latin saying taken from an ode by Horace. These words were often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” which is “It is sweet and right to die for your country.”)

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

It is the Solider! – Charles M Province

It is the Solider! Not the Minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

For the Fallen – Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Lest we forget

Poignant quotes and verse, lest we forget…

poppies-field

  • The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them. – Czeslaw Milosz, The Issa Valley
  • The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children. – William Havard
  • We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war. There is no task that is more important or closer to my heart. – Albert Einstein
  • When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep? – George Canning, The Pilot that weathered the Storm
  • And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave. – Joseph Drake
  • When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow we gave our today. – John Maxwell Edmonds
  • The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem. – Aaron Kilbourn
  • They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation. – Henry Ward Beecher
  • To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. – Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground
  • I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’ -Eve Merriam
  • In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. – Jose Narosky
  • For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. – William Penn
  • They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. / At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. – Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen
  • In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. – American General Douglas MacArthur
  • And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Nurture your minds with great thoughts, to believe in the heroic makes heroes. – Benjamin Disraeli
  • Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. – Michel de Montaigne
  • Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened. – Billy Graham
  • The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war. – Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
  • Heroism … is endurance for one moment more. – George F. Kennan
  • The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. – Benjamin Disraeli
  • Give me American supply lines, British planes, German officers and Canadian troops, and I can take over the world. – German Nazi General Erwin “The Fox” Rommel
  • Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear. – William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

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Remembrance Verses

Our cheer goes back to them, the valiant dead!
Laurels and roses on their graves to-day,
Lilies and laurels over them we lay,
And violets o’er each unforgotten head.

– Richard Hovey

 

How sleep the brave, who sink to rest,
By all their country’s wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow’d mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy’s feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung,
There Honour comes, a pilgrim gray,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair,
To dwell, a weeping hermit, there.

– William Collins

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Cover them over with beautiful flowers,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,
Lying so silent by night and by day
Sleeping the years of their manhood away.
Give them the meed they have won in the past;
Give them the honors their future forcast;
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.

– Will Carleton

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

.

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Environment Minister Steven “Canadians must go faster” Guilbeault

The Niagara Independent, November 5, 2021 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s selection of Steven Guilbeault as Minister of Environment and Climate Change has sent a clear signal that his government holds environmental objectives above all else. Guilbeault, the self-proclaimed “climate activist,” is now holding all the cards in the high stakes game involving our country’s economy. Ottawa’s new table rules have the environment trumping the economy and all players have taken notice: the oil and gas sector, Canadian business leaders, as well as the international business community and foreign investors.

In the first moments as the lead of Trudeau’s green agenda, the newly anointed minister leaned into a microphone outside of Rideau Hall to exclaim, “Canadians must go faster.” Like someone who was just dealt four aces, Guilbeault is eager to play his hand.

Being named the country’s environment minister is a crowning achievement for a man who has spent his 30-year career rallying opposition against Canadian energy projects. Guilbeault has a storied history of environmental activism. It began in the early 1990’s when Guilbeault founded a grassroots environmental group in Montreal and later went on to manage the Quebec chapter of Greenpeace.

Canadians are familiar with the photo of this proud activist in his orange jumpsuit being led away in handcuffs. In 2001, as a radical Greenpeace stuntman, Guilbeault scaled the CN Tower to hang a banner “Canada and Bush Climate Killers.” He is remembered by Calgarians for installing solar panels on then Premier Ralph Klein’s home – without his permission. Also, it has been reconfirmed in the report on the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns that Guilbeault received Tides Foundation grant money to coordinate environmental and Indigenous groups in an anti-oilsands campaign. For this Montrealer, western Canada’s oil and gas sector has always been in his crosshairs.

“I am a climate activist,” Guilbeault summarized in a CBC exclusive reporting on his new cabinet post. He downplayed his criminal past and recast his activism as working with industry and government. Guilbeault dismissed his past deeds with a shrug, “For some, I’m a radical. And for others, I’m not radical enough.” (The state-subsidized national newsroom wrapped up its interview by giving Guilbeault its editorial thumbs-up.)

In another interview to the Ottawa press corps last week, Guilbeault emphatically stated, “I don’t have a secret agenda as environment minister.” He took this opportunity to explain his immediate priority would be to introduce legislation (or new federal regulations) that will establish an emissions cap on oil and gas produced in Canada. The first task is for the federal cabinet to set new five-year targets to rachet down oil and gas emissions to meet a net-zero target by 2050.

Guilbeault revealed he has already prompted a review of emissions levels of the oil and gas sector alongside his cabinet colleague Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The ministers made public a joint letter that they have sent to the federal government’s Net-Zero Advisory Board requesting recommendations on the guiding principles to cap emissions. The ministers underlined their request by noting the Liberals recent electoral victory: “Canadians gave us a clear mandate to deliver.”

It was a heady first week for the new minister before he had to jet off to Glasgow and the United Nations COP26 climate summit with 300 bureaucrats and contracted experts from the department of Environment Canada. Minister Guilbeault will be leading the Canadian delegation at the global environmental groupthink after the opening days of ceremonial meals and speeches from the participating countries’ leaders. Today through to next weekend, he will be the country’s primary spokesperson to promote elements of Canada’s climate agenda to his international audiences.

Back in Canada, reaction to Trudeau’s new cabinet and his new environment minister has been one of anxiousness. There has been concern expressed for both Canada’s economic prosperity and for its national unity. In a powerful National Post opinion piece entitled “Welcome to Justin Trudeau’s no-growth cabinet,” John Ivison assessed that “Putting an activist in charge of a government department is always a dangerous thing.”

“Who around the cabinet table worries about investment and growth?”, and Ivison answers his own question by surmising, “This is not a cabinet that inspires confidence that it will be able to ensure continued prosperity or national unity…Guilbeault and his band of eco-warriors will push for degrowth.”

In another damning PostMedia column, Jesse Kline stated “anti-oil crusader Steven Guilbeault hasn’t grown up since his radical lawbreaking days” and that this “pick for environment minister is a signal of more hostility to Canada’s energy industry. Globe and Mail editorialists echoed this view, suggesting the new minister’s anti-oil opinions could spur western alienation, “Well, get ready for NEP 2.0,” as “the 51-year-old Montreal MP represents Alberta’s worst nightmare.”

When the word of Guilbeault’s new cabinet responsibilities made it to Edmonton, Premier Jason Kenney observed, “His own personal background and track record on these issues suggest someone who is more an absolutist than pragmatist when it comes to finding solutions.” Alberta’s NDP Leader Rachel Notley chimed in, “I share some of the concerns about some of the historical positions taken by him in the past, some of his anti-pipeline commentary, that is certainly troubling.”

In assessing western Canadians’ initial take on Guilbeault, a fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Calgary, Heather Exner-Pirot, stated that the PM “couldn’t have picked a more perfect villain.” She assessed, “This sends a chilling signal to potential investors who might have been interested in investing in Canada.”

To that point, in the financial pages of the Washington Post, the paper identified Guilbeault for its American readers by his nickname “the Green Jesus of Montreal.” 

Because of Guilbeault’s past it is understandable that Canada’s resource industries are anxious. According to the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, as many as 800,000 Canadian jobs are dependent on oil and gas, mining, heavy industry and auto manufacturing industries. These industries account for almost 70 per cent of Canada’s exports and generated more than $300 billion in export revenue and investment in 2019.

Much is at stake. How Canadian resource industries rebound from the pandemic – for the future prosperity of Canadians – depends primarily on how Steven Guilbeault chooses to play out the aces in his hand.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/environment-minister-steven-canadians-must-go-faster-guilbeault/

An unforgiving blossom

I leave this out in view for everyone (but mostly me) to take note of.

From a certain angle, with the light reflecting off it in a certain way,

you can see the blossom of an abandoned dream.

It’s wilted and shriveled, yet the vibrancy of the pedals still pricks my conscience.

And it taunts me to carry on and not leave uncultivated

the seeds of my madness.

 

– Chris George

October 2021

The dirty secrets of Canada’s ‘green’ agenda – that the government would rather not talk about

The Niagara Independent, October 29, 2021 – For the next two weeks Canadians can anticipate foreboding forecasts on the world’s dire environmental condition. Thousands of world leaders and environmentalists are jetting their way to Glasgow, U.K. to take part in a two-week United Nations Convention on Climate Change. The understood objective of the COP26 Climate Summit is to get participating countries to commit to an immediate plan of action to save the planet.

Canadian state-subsidized mainstream media will be reporting on every statement and promise made by the country’s Glasgow delegation. Expect to hear opinions from every corner of Canada’s environment industry: from the David Suzuki Foundation to Simon Fraser University, to a bevy of organizations funded by the Open Society Foundation Canada.

The Trudeau government will be leading a discussion – both in Glasgow and at home – on the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canada is committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. So, there will be a great amount of analysis on how Canadians can ensure the country’s emissions will be significantly reduced. In essence, the government’s dialogue is focused on validating a mathematical formula that will demonstrate we have done our part.

Our Canadian delegation’s proclamations at COP26 Climate Summit aside, the CO2 mathematical equation in no way reflects the ‘green’ record of the Trudeau government. Let’s consider four dirty secrets of Canada’s green agenda.

The St. Lawrence River serving as Quebec’s toilet bowl 

Quebec municipalities routinely flush their sewage into the St. Lawrence River. The very first act of the newly elected Trudeau government in 2015 was to sign off on a permit for Montreal to dump its sewage into the seaway. With this government, there has been 900 billion litres of raw sewage poured into Canada’s waterways. CTV News reports that this disgusting figure is equivalent to filling an Olympic-sized swimming pool more than 355,000 times.

It is especially disturbing what is happening in La Belle Province. Foundation Rivers, an environmental watchdog group, recently reported data on the amount of sewage being discharged daily in Quebec – more than 60,000 “spills” in 2019 and 52,000 in 2020 (a rate in excess of one thousand a week). CBC reported earlier this month that the St. Lawrence River is polluted with high concentrations of E. coli. Apparently, the City of Montreal has caused E. coli plumes that drift as far downriver as Trois-Rivieres.

On the same wavelength, this past summer, the Trudeau government secretly granted municipalities a twenty-year waiver to continue dumping raw sewage into fish habitat. Canadian municipalities now have until 2040 to comply with stringent wastewater standards set in 2012 by the Harper government. Remarkably, Trudeau had already exempted cities and towns in Quebec from these national water quality standards.

Canada is exporting increasing amounts of coal to China and India

Figures released this month show Canadian coking coal exports to China and India are on the rise. The Vancouver port is receiving increased amounts of coal from the United States and shipping increasing amounts to China. Meanwhile, coal exports to India have tripled in the first half of 2021.

It is perhaps our country’s dirtiest of dirty secrets – B.C.’s Roberts Bank Super-Port and Westport Terminals. This is the largest, busiest port in North America, shipping millions of tonnes of coal each year, which in turn produces millions of tonnes of CO2 annually. In fact, the Sierra Club has factored an emissions formula that reveals the annual coal exports from Vancouver produce 99.8 million tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime.

So, while the federal government bears down on Canadians to change their travel and heating habits in order to reduce CO2 emissions, it turns a blind eye to the coal trade with China and India – two countries that have publicly stated they will not sign on to emission targets set at the COP26 Climate Summit.

Two years and millions spent – and not one tree planted

As part of its green agenda, the Trudeau government announced a tree planting program as part of the lead up to their re-election campaign bid in 2019. The promise was to spend $3.6 billion to plant two billion saplings across Canada in ten years. The program was announced in summer 2019; Trudeau campaigned on it in 2019; it was in the 2019 Throne Speech and the 2020 Budget; and, the promise was remade in the 2021 election campaign. The sad reality of this promising program is that not one tree has yet to be planted.

However, there is a budding hope that the federal government will eventually turn ground on this initiative. The government is sketching out a new plan that would pay private landowners and other agencies to plant the trees. As witnessed earlier this month, Liberal MPs will be pressed into action to hand out cheques in their constituencies (Brampton was just presented $1.3 million to implement a local tree planting program next summer). This new twist to Trudeau’s promise is estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Office to increase the cost of the program to $6 billion.

Whatever the taxpayers’ price tag, this green item amounts to nothing more than tokenism when factored against data that shows Canada currently has 318 billion trees and forestry companies are planting 600 million trees annually.

Canada’s CO2 emissions are rising (but do as we say, not as we do)

All green rhetoric aside, Statistics Canada data reveal that under the Trudeau government CO2 emissions have risen. In 2019 (the latest figures available) emissions were 730 million tonnes – up from 723 million tonnes in the last year of the Harper government. Under this government’s environmental stewardship, Canada missed its Copenhagen 2020 targets and, today, the U.N. estimates Canada will miss its next emissions target in 2030 by 15 per cent.

Still, the Trudeau government is insistent that Canadians must do more. Catherine McKenna, who has been the green face of Trudeau’s climate crusade for the last six years, logged a remarkable 22,600 kilometres by air in just 10 days this summer to fight climate change across our land. Blacklock’s Reporter exposed McKenna’s high-flying, swansong tour where she chastised Canadians on “the need to reduce air pollution.”

As incredulous as this is, Canadian hypocrisy pales in comparison to what we are about to witness with the COP26 Climate Summit. In preparing to welcome the hundreds of world leaders and thousands of climate change experts, U.K. media reports that there are two airports in England designated to cater exclusively to private jets. It is currently unknown how many in the Canadian delegation will make use of this courtesy service.

Next week: Canada’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven “Canadians must go faster” Guilbeault  

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-dirty-secrets-of-canadas-green-agenda-that-the-government-would-rather-not-talk-about/

Photo Credit: Time Magazine / Banners advertising the upcoming COP26 Climate Change Conference line the streets of Glasgow. Trudeau and his Canadian delegation are currently on route to participate in the summit.

Ottawa has become a theatre of the absurd

The Niagara Independent, October 19, 2021 – There is really no other way to describe Ottawa these days but as a theatre of the absurd. At centre-stage we have our dramatic PM Justin Trudeau continuously performing – all hair and socks, and virtue signaling and apologies. This farcical character has Canadians (and the subsidized mainstream media) spell-bound, mouths agape, while all the serious action for the country takes place off stage, behind the curtain.

There is so much happening, so quickly, on so many levels that Canadians have lost track of what counts – or they simply have lost interest; imagine some dulled to the point of contentment with the amusement of Jagmeet Singh’s TikTok gyrations?!

It has become that weird in the Nation’s Capital.

Let me introduce three scenes from this past week to illustrate how Canadians have been numbed into a prolonged willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to Trudeau and his troupe.

Scene One. PM Trudeau graced a media conference to pronounce the future dates for revealing his cabinet and for opening parliament. On October 26, the PM will parade out his selected cast of cabinet characters to take the stage and play out the government’s next Act.

On November 22, the PM has decided to swing open the doors of parliament and let MPs back to work – media like to point out that it will be two full months since the election and more than six months since the lights were on in the House of Commons.

Yet, it will be much longer before MPs will get down to work. The first week back is filled with the drama, pomp and ceremony to elect the Speaker and to read the Throne Speech. In early December, the MPs’ committees (where the real work occurs) are likely to select their chairs and then go in camera so they can sort out future work agendas. Then MPs will be sent off for their Christmas recess – and they’re not scheduled to return to Ottawa until January 31, 2022.

So, it will actually be nearly eight months before MPs are “back at it.”

“What’s the big deal?,” we’re inclined to ask. Canadians are managing fine through a fourth wave of COVID and the uncertainties of store shortages, rising gas prices, inflation and, of course, the announcement of extended government support programs.

The truth is Canadians are now accustomed to seeing their MPs MIA. We were quite satisfied with the PM’s Rideau Cottage soliloquies while parliament was shuttered. It did not matter that MPs sat for a mere 40 days from Trudeau’s election of 2019, through the first and second waves of the pandemic in 2020…

The synopsis of this sidestory is there’s an increasing disregard for parliament, our country’s house of democracy. Parliament’s role is to have elected representatives debate the limits of government’s spending and taxation. It’s at the core of the Westminster model of responsible government dating back hundreds of years. Yet, this tradition and democracy itself has been punted aside by Trudeau and his backroom – without even a sigh or whimper from Canadians.

Scene Two. Our federal health minister appears from behind the curtain to clear her throat and casually say, “I’ll remind Canadians that, as annoying as it is … we still have travel advisories in place recommending that people don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Baa-zing! This warning just after Canadians were entertained by thousands of dancing candidates in an election extravaganza. And daily, we are treated to the PM and his cabinet cronies making announcements from different stages set against backdrops across our beautiful country. Now Patty Hajdu tells us to think twice before making any holiday travel plans. (This is the same actor who told Canadians in early 2020 not to travel beyond their front doors while she herself was jetting back and forth weekly from Ottawa to her home in Thunder Bay.)

We are told to stay at home. The government is working on a vaccine passport that will allow us to go to a local restaurant or movie theatre. It should be ready by the Christmas holidays.

The hypocrisy has not been lost on Canadians (even though we remain in the fetal position wishing away COVID). It appears the audience is not amused. The best catcall for Patty and her flubbed lines went viral on Twitter: “Do as I say, not as Hajdu.” 

But, in all seriousness, the TruAnons have already surfed passed the PM’s Tofino episode. And in coming weeks Trudeau is about to jump the shark with scenes of group hugs at the Glasgow shmoozefest summit, pulled together for global jetsetters to save the planet.

We are to accept that there’re no double standards here – just you, you dutiful Canadian, don’t travel! (Can’t you hear Patty mumbling under her breath, “Stay on your couch and don’t mind us romping across the world’s stage.”?)

Scene Three. The re-elected Liberal MPs met to send off their friends who did not get enough votes to keep their bit parts in Ottawa. And it is reported to us by certain subsidized media sources that behind the closed caucus doors PM Trudeau gave a rousing speech to his Liberal tribe, reassuring them that no defeated candidate would be left forgotten.

This scribe thought it was amusing that in the business news of that particular day, Frank Baylis came to sell his company for $1.75 billion (U.S.).

Recall that Frank Baylis is a former Liberal MP from Montreal who last summer was given a lucrative $237 million contract to make 10,000 pandemic ventilators even though Health Canada had not approved them. The same Mr. Baylis was given a $422,946 “research contract” for undisclosed research. It is a niggly point-of-fact that, to this date, the company has yet to produce the ventilators and it is unknown what research has been completed.

So, on the basis of a wonderful spreadsheet that shows $200 million (U.S.) revenues expected in 2022, and an apparent fast track with federal government procurement, an American firm stepped forward and penned the deal to buy Baylis Medical.

To be fair, it’s an amazing success story for this family business, led by a man that has become one of Canada’s wealthiest businessmen due to his deal-making acumen. Having said that, Baylis’s recent payday is still quite the sweet deal for a Liberal tribesman. Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. Zero accountability for goods and services delivered. And a billion-dollar-plus retirement handshake. This, all in 14 months.

It’s absurd. It’s all absurd.

It was Warren Kinsella (long-time Liberal party strategist and former PMO staffer to PM Jean Chretien – and Sun Media columnist) who first described the Trudeau government as a kleptocracy. He pulled no punches in his pointed editorial about “Trudeau’s cabal.”

Kinsella wrote: “It never stops, this fetid, foul stew of corruption and moral blindness. Even during a pandemic, the Trudeau government’s descent into the muck continues unabated. So, there’s a name for what we’ve now got. There’s a name for a government like Justin Trudeau’s – a government run by those who seek status and personal gain at the expense of the rest of us. It’s a kleptocracy.”

By extension, we can conclude that these scenes from last week are not characteristic of a parliamentarian democracy, but rather something one might expect in a third-world dictatorship. Through a masterful centre-stage performance, Trudeau and his friends are enjoying free rein to do as they wish. There is no parliamentary oversight into the finances of the country, or anything else for that matter.

And weary from the constant strain of the pandemic, Canadians are politely applauding as the play unfolds. It matters not that a cadre of unaccountable, behind-the-curtain, political operatives are pulling the levers, absurdly like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz.

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Ottawa anymore.” 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/ottawa-has-become-a-theatre-of-the-absurd/

Photo credit: AFP ~ The Economist / Justin Trudeau – comfortably on stage, beneath the spotlight – gestures to supporters following his Sept. 20, 2021 election victory.

Canada’s relations with Communist China hurt our international reputation

The Niagara Independent, October 22, 2021 – In the past month there have been headlines in Europe about the Communist China government’s extensive, undue influence on Canada. The French government’s Institut de Recherche Stratégique de l’Ecole Militaire (IRSEM) published “Chinese Influence Operations: A Machiavellian Moment,” a 640-page report on broad and pervasive tactics employed by the communist regime to undermine Canada’s traditional international relationships and sway them to enter into stronger ties with China.

The IRSEM report details covert operations in Canadian politics, media, education, and a systematic approach to sway Chinese-Canadians within their local community groups. Communist China’s objective is to prejudice Canadians against the United States and western allies, and to place the communist regime in a positive light. It undermines western liberal values and our democratic institutions, while stifling criticism of the Chinese government’s treatment of Muslim Uyghurs, Hong Kong and Taiwan independence, Tibetans, and Falun Gong. The report states, “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using every non-kinetic means in its toolbox to sway Canada and Chinese-Canadians.”

France and its European neighbours view Canada as an example of what may happen in their countries with Communist China’s rising influence. The IRSEM report warns European countries to be on guard against CCP’s subversive tactics used on diaspora, such as surveillance of dissident communities, cyberattacks, refusal of visas, and identity fraud. It also makes the point that these activities on Canadian soil are not being countered because of “a lack of political will.” The Canadian Government is viewed as decidedly pro-communist China: “Despite recurrent warnings from CSIS and numerous cases revealed in the press, political resistance—in essence a propensity to perceive China as a partner more than a threat—remains strong in Canada.”

The international community recognizes the Canadian government and many key players with the Liberal Party of Canada as having become inseparably linked to today’s Communist China. Dating back to the early 1970’s, when then-PM Pierre Trudeau forged diplomatic links with Chairman Mao and established new economic associations with the Beijing communists, Liberal-CCP relationships have grown.

The fountainhead of most Canadian-Chinese business relationships is Power Corporation, the multinational enterprise founded and controlled by the Montreal Desmarais family. Power Corp has significant investments in China including assets in state-owned China International Trust Investment Corporation. Power Corp also holds more than a quarter of the stakes in one of China’s biggest asset managers – China Asset Management Corp, which currently oversees $245 billion investments in Chinese Belt and Road Initiative projects around the world.

Unquestionably, Power Corp’s ongoing financial success lies in its China investments. The fact that Power Corp and the Liberal Party are interchangeable is the rub:

  • former PM Jean Chretien’s son-in-law Andre Desmarais is President and co–CEO;
  • former PMs Paul Martin, Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau all served within Power Corp;
  • former PM Jean Chretien has served (and may still) as a Power Corp lobbyist in China;
  • John Rae, brother of former Liberal leader Bob Rae is a long-serving senior manager;
  • Senator Peter Harder, named to the Upper Chamber by PM Justin Trudeau, served as President of the Canada-China Business Council (a business advocacy founded in 1978 by Paul Desmarais’s lead advisors on China) and was Board Member of Power Financial Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corp.; and,
  • Olivier Desmarais, grandson of Paul Desmarais and Jean Chretien, today leads the Canada-China Business Council.

On top of this Gordian Knot, consider the numerous business and personal relations of the Trudeau-appointed Ambassador to China and his wife. Ambassador Dominic Barton lived in China for decades operating within corporate and financial circles, serving in senior managerial posts at McKinsey (the same company exposed for promoting Chinese street opioids worldwide). The other half of this multimillion-dollar power couple is Geraldine Buckingham, senior managing director and head of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock – where she manages billions of dollars of investments in Asia-Pacific.

These personal and financial interests suggest a reasonable explanation for the unfathomable foreign policy stance the Trudeau government is taking with the CCP. How else to explain that, just four days after Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were freed from China prison cells, Ambassador Dominic Barton was urging Canadian businesses to increase their stakes in China. In conjunction with Barton’s pitch, Foreign Affairs Minister (and Montreal MP) Marc Garneau announced Canada’s new approach to China going forward as one that will “co-exist,” “compete,” “challenge,” and “co-operate.” And Beijing’s official response came from China Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu, who stated: “This truly illustrates that China-Canada trade co-operation … continues to grow closer and deeper.”

This shameless display by Canadians leaders prompted fierce criticism from many quarters in Ottawa – including former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, and former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney, who observed: “It’s beyond appalling that senior Canadians are already working the conference circuit pitching the benefits of the kowtow. Pay no attention to Xinjiang, Hong Kong or domestic interference, there’s serious money to be made if we just bow low enough.”

Without a doubt, the diplomatic dance between the Trudeau government and the CCP has resulted in Canada being considered suspect (perhaps rogue) by its traditional allies. The surprise announcement of AUKUS, the U.S.-U.K.-Australia defence and intelligence pact, is perhaps the first of many alliances Canada will be excluded from.

Canadian international affairs experts have been vocal since the return of the two Michaels. Should the Trudeau government wish to stem the erosion of trust and reestablish a good standing with Canada’s traditional alliances, it must begin to stand up to the Communist China regime. There have been many pro-active steps floated for the Trudeau government to consider, here are ten suggestions:

1) exclude Huawei from Canada’s 5G networks;

2) recognize CCP’s systematic repression of Muslim Uyghurs;

3) denounce CCP’s aggressions in Hong Kong and against Taiwan;

4) denounce the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners;

5) block China’s membership to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership;

and, in Ottawa:

6) reveal the secrets about the joint Canada-China coronavirus research at the Winnipeg Lab;

7) halt all future joint military winter-warfare training exercises with CCP forces in Canada;

8) halt the $1 billion payment to Asia Infrastructure Bank;

and 9) re-establish the MPs’ special parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing Canada’s foreign relations with China.

Pro-active step no. 10: In order to make a political statement that the whole world will take notice of, Canadian officials and athletes should boycott the opening ceremonies of the February 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Final word on restoring Canada’s international reputation goes to Charles Burton’s lucid comments. As senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former diplomat serving at Canada’s embassy in Beijing, Burton states: “Canadian virtue signaling on the Chinese regime’s malign policies at home and abroad no longer cuts it with our allies… Simply put, we can’t have it both ways when it comes to China, especially now that Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor are finally back in Canada. We can no longer take a free ride on the U.S. defending the integrity of the rules-based international order in trade and diplomacy while we try to make enriching deals with the Chinese Communists.”

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadas-relations-with-communist-china-hurt-our-international-reputation/

Photo credit: Photo credit: The Canadian Press / Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau shakes hands with Chairman Mao Zedong while on an official visit to China, Oct. 13, 1973.

The ‘AUKUS’ announcement and Canada

The Niagara Independent, October 15, 2021 – A significant new global alliance – involving our country’s traditionally closest allies – was announced mid-September and nobody in the Canadian Government knew anything about it. From the initial reactions by PM Justin Trudeau and Canadian officials to the new alliance, it appears that Canada is deliberately choosing to not pick sides between the United States and its allies and China.

The U.S., U.K. and Australia signed what is billed as a “landmark security partnership” which has bound the three countries together to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region. With the moniker “AUKUS,” this partnership will support the countries’ defence and security interests to further peace and stability in the South China Sea and greater Pacific Ocean. The unsaid mission is to defend western values and democratic societies in the face of an increasingly aggressive Communist China Government.

In a joint statement, U.S. President Joe Biden, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated: “AUKUS will bring together our sailors, our scientists, and our industries to maintain and expand our edge in military capabilities and critical technologies, such as cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and undersea domains.”

AUKUS is a military defence pact, but it is also much more than that. It is an alliance to develop intelligence and technological equipment and expertise. It will develop joint cyber capabilities that will defend against espionage and sabotage. As was announced with the development of the nuclear-powered submarines, this pact will also lead to inclusive trade agreements.

Sam Kessler, a geopolitical expert at the multinational firm North Star Support Group, observed in an interview with the Epoch Times, “What we are seeing is that redrawing the lines and going outside the box can create a new scenario and range of opportunities that previously didn’t exist – which is why multilateralism and traditional established alliance structures in the West can potentially find new life and meaning in this new strategic reality.”

AUKUS could provide the template for future security alliances among democratic countries; perhaps it will serve as a model for the natural evolution of The Quad – an existing forum among India, Japan, Australia, and U.S. that was created to promote a free and safe Indo–Pacific region.

As a catalyst for future global alliances, the AUKUS pact is significant – and it is remarkable that Canada was overlooked.

At the time of the announcement, the Globe and Mail interviewed officials representing Canada’s foreign affairs, intelligence, and defence departments and the paper reported that the most senior government officials, including Canadian cabinet ministers, were “not consulted about the pact, and had no idea of the trilateral security announcement.” One official surmised that Canada is now recognized by its allies as a “weak sister” when it comes to China relations and speaking out against Communist China aggressions.

Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney was active on Twitter the day of the announcement, stating that Canada’s exclusion from AUKUS is a “monumental snub” and “feedback on our virtue-signalling foreign policy.” Mulroney tweeted: “Countries that have become vulnerable by neglecting their own defence are most likely to need alliances and least likely to be included in them.”

When PM Trudeau attempted to play down the obvious embarrassment of being caught unaware, retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman commented to media, “He doesn’t understand what is going on internationally and he doesn’t understand what the significance of an arrangement like this is as it relates to international security.”

Norman, who was a decorated commander of the Canadian Navy, stated that AUKUS is an “unprecedented” trilateral arrangement. He assessed, “This is about accessing both current and emerging technologies, from cyber and artificial intelligence to acoustics and underwater warfare – a whole range of very important strategic capabilities.”

The retired Vice-Admiral went on to say that he suspects Canada is no longer considered by its traditional allies as a contributing partner, “I don’t think our allies think we are serious when it comes to defence. I think they have concerns not just about our defence expenditures, but also the extent to which our [international] commitments are both lasting and meaningful.”

Canada’s spending on defense as measured by percentage of GDP has dropped steadily from 4.2 percent in 1960 to less than one percent (0.99) in 2014. It has climbed to 1.4 percent in 2020, however there remains a laundry list of military items that require immediate action: NORAD radar, submarines, aircraft, icebreakers, military pistols, to name a few. To actively participate in our alliances, Canada must begin to substantively contribute to them. (In the joint international military air and naval exercise off the coast of Japan last week, Canada sent a single frigate.)

Canada is also suspect when it comes to the security of the Five Eyes pact, an intelligence-sharing alliance that can be traced back to our nation’s contributions to Allies’ efforts in World War II. Today, Canada is the only country in this long-standing partnership that has not limited or banned China’s Huawei technology company from developing its 5G infrastructure. By permitting Huawei, Canada allows the real possibility that China Communists will be able to access sensitive networks and data that would undermine Five Eyes security.

The AUKUS pact effectively negates that security threat by excluding Canada from any intelligence-sharing activities. In fact, in the beforementioned Globe and Mail article, one of the government officials made reference to AUKUS as the new “Three Eyes.”

At a media briefing on AUKUS in Washington D.C., a senior U.S. government official revealed America’s current thinking on their trusted partners when he said, “I just want to underscore, just generally: Obviously, there are no better allies than the United Kingdom and Australia.”

There was no mention of Canada. No mention of America’s largest trading partner, (still by nature of NORAD and NATO) closest defence cooperative partner, and neighbouring country that happens to share the longest undefended border in the world.

Evidently, AUKUS has dealt us out. With the Trudeau Government’s on-going posturing on Canada-China relations, it now suggests we will not be invited to the table.

More next week: Canada-China relations is hurting the country’s international standing. 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-aukus-announcement-and-canada/

Photo credit: Photo credit: AFP – Brendan Smialowski / U.S. President Joe Biden holds a virtual press conference on the AUKUS pact with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) at the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2021.

Trudeau government moving quickly to regulate the internet

The Niagara Independent, October 8, 2021 – The Liberal campaign platform contained pledges to act within 100 days of re-election on 10 pieces of legislation, three of which create new federal government powers to regulate the internet in our country and censor Canadians’ online content.

When MPs return to Parliament Hill later this month Canadians can soon expect three internet bills. The new legislation will introduce novel regulations for social media platforms, censor online content, and impose new licensing fees on media giants Google and Facebook to subsidize Canadian news media.

The Trudeau government’s intent to regulate the internet in Canada has been openly talked about for years by Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault. The minister began to set in place the framework of the country’s new internet laws when he introduced Bill C-10 last year. The legislation empowers the CRTC to regulate the content on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. It also extends CRTC control over Canadians’ news websites, podcasts, online videos, as well as their creative content on social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

The minister introduced his second piece of internet legislation on the last day of Parliament before MPs summer recess. Bill C-36 empowers newly created federal regulators to monitor and censor Canadians’ online content in the name of eliminating “harmful online speech.” The federal government’s internet regulators are to be given sweeping powers to take down online content and de-platform Canadian individuals and organizations, and they can operate via in-camera (closed session) investigations and non-public hearings.

And there was a third piece of internet legislation that was not produced by the minister, although he spoke often of introducing a new federal law to impose multimillion dollar licensing arrangements on Google and Facebook to pass onto news media.

The principal criticism of these internet bills is the Liberals’ heavy-handed manner to control the internet in this country – and the extent to how this will curtail Canadians’ freedom of expression online.

OpenMedia, a Canadian non-profit, non-partisan organization recently sounded the alarm on the Liberal plan to hastily re-introduce Bill C-10 and Bill C-36. Matthew Hatfield of OpenMedia wrote in an appeal to its members: “Liberals are poised to push forward with their harmful internet censorship plans. Our newly-elected government is cynically taking advantage of our political fatigue and frustration with the internet to try to trick the public.”

Hatfield claims that the Liberal legislation would make “Canada’s internet one of the most censored and surveilled in the democratic world.”

There are many critics who agree with this frank assessment. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, former CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein stated Bill C-10 “should not be passed in its present form.” He commented, “You don’t want to discourage people from being innovative and finding better ways to use the internet. You should only deal with it to the extent it’s necessary to protect Canadian cultural institutions, not more.”

Bill C-10 was eventually held up in the Senate. At legislative committee, Senator Pamela Wallin made a few pointed remarks about intent behind the bill: “Shouldn’t we ask Canadians if they even want the internet regulated in this way?… It might be a good time to remind ourselves that members of the current Liberal cabinet quite openly embrace the idea of empowering the federal government to control social media. That is not just regulation. It’s censorship.”

In a federal government consultative process conducted through the summer months, Minister Guilbeault learned there was an equal amount of anger and criticism for Bill C-36. Dr. Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa has become one of the fiercest critics, stating: “The proposed approach does not strike an appropriate balance between addressing online harms and safeguarding freedom of expression.”

Geist questioned the minister: “The government should be asking a simple question with respect to many of its proposals: Would Canadians be comfortable with the same measures being implemented in countries such as China, Saudi Arabia or Iran. If the answer is no (as I argue it should be), the government should think twice before risking its reputation as a leader in freedom of expression. The risk of overbroad or overzealous enforcement is very real.”

The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) echoed this sentiment, saying the legislation “will jeopardize Canada’s claim to being a leader in advancing free expression, a free and open internet, and the human rights upon which our democratic society has been built.”

Byron Holland, the CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (the organization that manages dot-ca domains), issued a report entitled Canadians Deserve A Better Internet that suggests Guilbeault’s internet legislation is too far-reaching for Canadians’ comfort. The report states: “With the federal government considering legislation that could have far reaching impacts on social media, a healthy majority of Canadians agree with the concept of a law that would require platforms to remove illegal or harmful content. But their attitudes are tempered by concerns about hampering free expression.”

The authority’s survey of Canadians revealed a majority (62 per cent) are concerned that the new internet laws could result in “the removal of legitimate, lawful speech.” Almost one in two Canadians (46 per cent) said they were “concerned this could prevent people from freely expressing themselves online.”

The report serves as a siren’s cry for MPs when the Liberals re-introduce their internet legislation. The authority opines: “The question remains whether Canada will commit to a democratic and open internet that puts people first, or will it put a damper on the greatest transformative economic force of our time? As internet regulation looms, public opinion on these issues matters more than ever.”

“Lawmakers should take heed of the feelings of Canadians. Trust is badly shaken. Canadians are looking to lawmakers to help restore it.”

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/trudeau-government-moving-quickly-to-regulate-the-internet/

Photo credit: The Canadian Press- Adrian Wyld / Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault speaking in the House of Commons, Nov. 3, 2020.

Favourite Quotes of Albert Camus

Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. At the young age of 44 Camus was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature. His remarkable works include: The Stranger, The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Fall and The Rebel. (More on Camus below.)

Here are By George Journal’s 15 favourite quotes of Albert Camus.

The Wikipedia overview of the life of Camus reads:

Camus was born in French Algeria to Pieds Noirs parents. He spent his childhood in a poor neighborhood and later studied philosophy at the University of Algiers. He was in Paris when the Germans invaded France during World War II in 1940. Camus tried to flee but finally joined the French Resistance where he served as editor-in-chief at Combat, an outlawed newspaper. After the war, he was a celebrity figure and gave many lectures around the world. He married twice but had many extramarital affairs. Camus was politically active; he was part of the left that opposed the Soviet Union because of its totalitarianism. Camus was a moralist and leaned towards anarcho-syndicalism. He was part of many organizations seeking European integration. During the Algerian War (1954–1962), he kept a neutral stance, advocating for a multicultural and pluralistic Algeria, a position that caused controversy and was rejected by most parties.

Philosophically, Camus’s views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He is also considered to be an existentialist, even though he firmly rejected the term throughout his lifetime.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The things we learn – after the vote

The Niagara Independent, October 1, 2021 – It was just days after Canadians voted and, remarkably, three news stories surfaced that shone new light on past clandestine activities of the Trudeau government. Within a single week there were headlines about the-behind-the-scenes administration of justice, our country’s changing immigration policy, and the PMO’s political maneuvers in the early days of the pandemic.  

On justice and SNC Lavalin 

It was only three days after the election that the RCMP made arrests and charged two senior SNC Lavalin executives and the company in relation to the RCMP bribery investigation involving Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Bridge. Thursday morning the charges of fraud and conspiracy were made public and the very same day Canada’s Justice Minister, the re-elected Montreal MP David Lametti, offered SNC Lavalin a deal to avoid further legal action.

The backstory begins in a 2017 court case, in which Michel Fournier, the former Federal Bridges Authority head, pleaded guilty to receiving $2.3 million in kickbacks from SNC Lavalin for work on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. (He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison but received full parole.) With Fournier’s conviction, the federal government had grounds but did not proceed with laying bribery charges against the company. Instead, the government directed a RCMP investigation of the affair.

Meanwhile, in 2018 the Trudeau cabinet wrote a new measure for the country’s Criminal Code that would permit the federal government to reach “deferred prosecution agreements” and arrange out of court settlements. In effect, they were dealing themselves a “get out of jail free” card to play at their discretion.

It is a deferred prosecution agreement that Lametti offered SNC Lavalin last week – and the minister provided a curt “no comment” on his powerplay.

In an unrelated case involving the same Quebec firm, recall that in 2018 the Prime Minister’s Office applied an intense lobbying campaign to have former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould excuse SNC Lavalin from its bribery charges related to work in Libya. Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to do so led to a cabinet shuffle and the arrival of David Lametti, who the PM entrusted to manage the SNC Lavalin file going forward.

On new immigration and refugee policies 

In another story that broke four days after the election, long-time political columnist for Sun Media, Lorne Gunter, revealed that the Trudeau government is about to remove all screening guidelines to vet arriving immigrants and refugees. Under the new guidelines, there is an expansion of the grounds immigrants can enter the country, and a direction for judges to rubber stamp immigrants’ appeals to remain in the country as “intersectional” claims.

Gunter has uncovered in internal emails from a senior official with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada that “no longer will claimants need to prove, for instance, that they face torture or death if forced to return to their home countries. Nor will they have to satisfy the UN’s definition of a “refugee.””

In the future, Gunter explains that Canada’s immigration judges “essentially, must now say yes to everyone who makes it to Canadian soil.” If the immigrant or refugee claims they are a victim of two or more of a broad range of abuses, then they are permitted to stay. The intersectional claims can be any perceived wrong relating to “race, religion, indigeneity, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, culture, disability, or immigration status.”

“These new rules render examining refugees’ claims pointless,” Gunter concludes.

This news story was not reported by CBC or any of the major Canadian newsrooms. However, it is an important adjunct to the larger story about the Trudeau government’s plans to dramatically increase Canada’s immigration numbers in the short term. In the last three years almost a million immigrants entered the country and in the next three years more than 1.2 million immigrants will find their way to Canada. Statistics Canada estimates by 2036 immigrants could represent 30 per cent of all Canadians and, by 2068, the country’s population could reach 55 million people – an increase of 37.1 million largely through immigration.

Although there was no discussion about immigration policies in the election, the internal plans uncovered last week by Sun Media reveal the set plan now underway to accept historic numbers of immigrants.

On the PMO’s pandemic politics 

Also in the week following the election, Canadians began to learn about a troubling story that played out in the early months of the COVID-19 health crisis. Ottawa’s investigative news agency Blacklock’s Reporter has pieced together that in March 2020 the Prime Minister’s Office engaged in a political sleight of hand with the Province of Quebec while hiding the truth from other premiers and the public. More disturbing is the extended thought that, in those early months of the pandemic, for political reasons, federal officials misled Canadians on a critical health and safety issue.

Through February and March 2020, as the news of the global pandemic was breaking in North America, Canadians were repeatedly being told by the country’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam that there was no need to use masks as a health measure. As late as April 3, 2020 Dr. Tam said masks were not scientifically proven to prevent COVID-19 spread.

As Dr. Tam was advising Canadians against masks, we now know the PMO was managing a supply crisis of its own doing behind closed doors. From a series of PMO emails dated in March, we know the PM’s staff was concerned over “a massive shortage of personal protective equipment … Doctors and hospitals are saying they don’t have it themselves. We are going to have to make choices.”

Yet the PMO had already made the decision earlier in the month to give preferential treatment to Quebec. The Department of Foreign Affairs had a stockpile of 400,000 surgical masks and they were quietly shipped to La Belle Province.

In another email, an advisor to the PM foresaw political backlash, “We can probably expect Québec and perhaps some other provinces to publicly say in the media, ‘Hey, we asked for stuff and we’re not getting it,’ and we should be careful about what we say in response.”

In fact, in early April, Ontario Premier Doug Ford asked the PM for Ontarians’ “fair share” of PPEs. The premier’s public plea was rebuked by the federal health minister and others as political grandstanding. The response from federal health officials was that the science concerning the effectiveness of masks was still unclear.

For the first week of a re-elected government, this is quite a string of headlines revealing untold stories. Oh, the things we learn – after the vote.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-things-we-learn-after-the-vote/

Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick / PM Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice David Lametti.

Canada’s 44th federal election – by the numbers

The Niagara Independent, September 24, 2021 – Political pundits referenced titles of popular movies and TV shows in an attempt to make sense of Canadians’ most recent exercise in democracy. The 44th federal election was labelled “the Groundhog Day election”, “the Back to the Future election”, and “a Seinfeld election”, due to the fact that after a 36-day campaign Canadians were staring at results that were almost a mirror reflection of the political parties’ standings in the previous parliament.

On election night, the re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed, “You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead. What we’ve seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan.”

The PM talking of “a clear mandate” and citing the endorsement of “millions of Canadians” is a distortion of the electoral results.

The fact is that Justin Trudeau has been returned to Ottawa and the Prime Minister’s Office with the least amount of electoral support ever in the history of Canada. Trudeau’s Liberals received 32.5 per cent of the popular vote – less than one in three people who cast a ballot chose to vote Liberal. The Monday vote continues a downward trajectory of support for the Liberal brand. Canadians’ support for the Trudeau Liberals has fallen from the high of 39.5 per cent in 2015 and 33.1 per cent registered in 2019.

On Monday night the Conservatives won the popular vote, garnering more than 5.6 million votes compared to 5.4 million for the Liberals.

The actual total votes cast was dismally low in this election. Elections Canada reports, with 99 per cent of polls accounted for, only 58.8 per cent of eligible voters got out to vote. Two in five Canadians did not bother to exercise their franchise. This figure matches the lowest turnout in the history of Canadian federal elections – which was in 2008.

When considering there are approximately 30 million Canadian voters, only one Canadian in six of eligible voters cast their ballots for Trudeau’s Liberals.

Yet, with the total number of seats in the urban and suburban areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the Liberals were able to secure a comfortable minority government. In looking at those three cities, the Liberals swept all 25 seats in Toronto, 17 of 18 seats on the island of Montreal, and 15 of 23 in Vancouver.

However, Liberal support in these urban centres does not reflect their support across the respective provinces. Consider these numbers:

  • Across the GTA, Liberals gained 49 per cent of the votes cast and 48 of 53 seats (with the remaining 5 seats retuning Conservatives). Outside of the GTA, Liberals picked up 30 seats, Conservatives 32, NDP 5, and Greens one.
  • In Montreal ridings, the Liberals registered 41 per cent support, which is well above their 33 per cent support province-wide.
  • In Vancouver, the Liberals got the lion’s share of seats with 36 per cent support. The provincial numbers tell a different story with support for the Liberals (27 per cent) trailing both the Conservatives (33 per cent) and the NDP (29 per cent).

The numbers tell us of a divide in the country between urban and rural voters and a divisive electorate that has only a sixth of Canadian voters supporting the governing party. Still, the Liberals have formed government and Justin Trudeau remains Prime Minister.

Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s best friend and Liberal backroom operative, took to Twitter this week to crow about the Liberals’ election strategy that delivered this result. Butts revealed that in the last few elections the Liberals have employed a specific method to maximize the vote efficiency in urban centres. Their tactics are dependent on vote-splits within the first-past-the-post electoral system (a system that Trudeau pledged to change in 2015 with his promised electoral reform).

In a series of tweets, Butts asserted, “If popular vote were the objective, campaigns would optimize for it…We count seats, not votes, so smart campaigns focus on delivering them…Politics is about delivering power to parties now; it’s no longer about serving the electorate. Your position of power simply because you know someone and rode the coat tails of their “brand” shows that to be the trend…Vote efficiency isn’t accidental.”

And in assessing the Liberals’ success, Butts gave credit to another of Trudeau’s boyhood friends, “All three Trudeau Liberal campaigns were among the most efficient in history. The unsung team of super geniuses put together and led by Tom Pitfield (@tompitfield) at Data Sciences deserves a lot more credit than they’ve ever received.”

Butts even went on to suggest the Liberals would have won elections earlier than the 2015 campaign had he and Pitfield been able to employ their election strategy. Some may describe politics as a blood sport, but for Butts and Pitfield it is a game of numbers.

Other notable numbers from election night:

  • Of the 338 seats, only 16 seats flipped from one party to another. A total of 294 incumbent MPs have been returned to Ottawa.
  • 19 candidates won by more than 50 per cent of the vote – 17 Conservatives from Alberta and Saskatchewan, and two Liberals in Quebec and New Brunswick.
  • Conservatives swept Saskatchewan’s 14 seats with 59 per cent of the vote.
  • In Alberta, Conservatives took 55 per cent of the vote to win 30 (possibly 31) of the 34 seats. George Chahal is currently the only confirmed Liberal to win in a Calgary riding. Liberal Randy Boissonnault is leading in his Edmonton riding – but this riding has yet to be declared.
  • Two Liberal cabinet ministers were defeated – Bernadette Jordans and Maryam Monsef – only weeks before their six-year anniversary in office, when they would have qualified for their annual $71,000 “gold-plated” MP pension.
  • Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada doubled their 2019 vote count with more than 830,000 votes. Although much is being written on whether PPC takes directly from Conservative support, the fact is that in 21 ridings across the country, the PPC vote count is greater than the number of votes by which the Conservative candidate lost. Given the majority of those seats were won by Liberals, had the Conservatives not suffered from the “PPC leakage,” Monday’s results would have been a Conservative minority.
  • NDP incumbent Alexandre Boulerice retained his La Petite-Patrie riding on the Montreal island and is the last of the 59 “Orange Wave” NDP representatives from Quebec who rode Jack Layton’s coattails to victory in 2011.
  • Advanced voting was up: in 2019, 26.6 per cent of all ballots cast were at advance polls and in 2021, 34.3 per cent of all ballots cast were at advance polls.

Finally, here is a number that is irritating given the senselessness of what just happened. The 44th federal election was the most expensive in Canadian history: costing taxpayers at least $612 million.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadas-44th-federal-election-by-the-numbers/

Photo credit: EPA-EFE/Eric Bolte / With wife Sophie, a newly re-elected Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech in Montreal following the 2021 federal election – an election that ended up a near-mirror image of its predecessor from 2019.

Three factors to watch for on election night

The Niagara Independent, September 17, 2021 – Justin Trudeau’s “vanity election” is coming to an end. The term to describe this unnecessary contest was coined by national affairs commentator Rex Murphy. He summed up the vote succinctly: “This election is hollow. It is without centre. It is without national purpose. It is idle, contrived, opportunistic, premature and cynical. It is just a Liberal game.”

Indeed, Canadians felt the minority government was working and there was no need for an election in the middle of a national health crisis. In July, 37 per cent of Canadians were upset with the thought of an election call – and another 34 per cent were unsure of any compelling reason to go to the polls. In the aftermath of the first national debate, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole observed, “We should not be in a campaign. Only Mr. Trudeau wanted this campaign for his own personal interests.”

Still, Canadians have survived a pandemic election like no other and will now head to the polls on Monday with pollsters indicating there is a statistical tie between the Liberals and Conservatives. It’s a toss-up who will come out on top; there is a very high likelihood of another minority government.

Here are three factors to watch for on election night that will have a direct impact on the final vote count and which of the parties will form the next government.

  1. How the anti-Trudeau vs. ABC voting plays out in the GTA 

Both parties are pulling out all stops to win in the 56 seats in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Erin O’Toole reminds people he is a son of an Oshawa GM worker and is an ordinary family guy trying to make ends meet in the GTA. The Conservative leader describes Trudeau as a direct contrast: “privileged,” “entitled,” “self-interested, divisive and unworthy of trust,” “a man who is not a feminist, not an environmentalist, not a public servant…a man who is focused solely and squarely on himself.”

The Liberals counter with repeatedly mentioning Stephen Harper and hidden agendas, and playing the fear card about immigration with new Canadians. Trudeau fires back at O’Toole: “he doesn’t lead, he misleads.” He asks, “Do we continue and move forward even faster and harder on the fight against climate change, or do we let Erin O’Toole take us back?” Employing every wedge issue possible, Trudeau tells Canadians they have a choice with gun control, abortion, housing, child care, and “the rights of Canadians who got vaccinated.”

At a recent rally the Liberals rolled out the legendary former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion to give her endorsement (which is not as glowing as they promote). McCallion said: “I support Justin, I think he’s a young man that I think has tried to do a good job, but that doesn’t mean I’m always a supporter of the things that he does.” She went on to say, “Trudeau shouldn’t have called this election. It was wrong.”

So, the question is whether the anti-Trudeau disgust or the anything-but-Conservatives (ABC) strategic voting by progressives will have any traction and make a difference in the GTA? Current polling has the Liberals holding a 20-point lead, with 47 per cent support in this region. If there is to be a swing in fortune for the Conservatives, it must happen here. In the 2019 election, all 25 Toronto ridings and 23 of the 31 surrounding urban ridings returned Liberal MPs. If Trudeau maintains this stranglehold on Toronto and the GTA, there is little to no hope of a Conservative government.

  1. Whether Premier Legault’s direction to Quebecers impacts the vote    

Premier Francois Legault pulled no punches in signaling that he would like to see the Conservatives win a minority government. The popular premier stated, “To protect the nation of Quebec, I think we have to be careful with these parties (Liberals, NDP and Green). Those three parties, they are not ready to transfer powers to the Quebec government.”

He went on to say Justin Trudeau was dangerous to Quebec’s interests with health care, immigration, and with identity politics. In his rambling comments, Legault gave Erin O’Toole an endorsement by process of elimination and he stated that he hoped for a minority Conservative government before adding, “It’s up to Quebecers to choose…”

So, what might this endorsement mean for the Conservatives – and for the Liberals’ support in Quebec? The Liberals’ support is strongest in Montreal; and now with Legault’s comments can they win seats outside this urban area? Conservatives are currently polling 19 per cent on average in the province and, accounting on how that support is distributed, the best-case scenario would be to win 15 seats. Will they increase their seat count? In the last Parliament, Quebec’s 78 seats were divided as such: Liberals 35, Bloc Québécois 32, Conservatives 10, and NDP 1. Trudeau had hoped to form his majority with increased seats in Quebec – so we might know early in the night whether this is at all possible.

  1. Whether the vote for the People’s Party steals Conservatives’ seats 

This week’s national opinion polls showed the Liberals with 32 per cent, Conservatives with 31 per cent, NDP with 20 per cent, and Green Party with 4 per cent. The People’s Party registered 7 per cent support nationally.

Regional polling reported by the Globe and Mail show that outside of Ontario’s GTA the Liberals are only nosing ahead of the Conservatives 33 to 32 percentage points – and the PPC support is 8 per cent. In BC, the Conservatives lead the Liberals in support 30 to 28 per cent – and the PPC support is 8 percent. In both regions, the People’s Party has the possibility of denying Conservative candidates their victories. Pollster Nik Nanos commented on this data: “They’re a significant factor in a number of races and should be of concern to the Conservatives.”

In an interview with The Hill Times, The Niagara Independent’s own Kate Harrison stated she was watching the PPC numbers with “a bit of caution,” not agreeing their support takes directly from the Conservatives.  “They are largely people that have been apolitical to this point or…by virtue of supporting the PPC, perhaps reject partisan politics altogether.”

Abacus polling data reveals that 3 in 5 PPC supporters backed the Conservatives in 2019 – 1 in 5 did not vote and the other 1 in 5 voted half for the Liberals and the other half somewhere else.

So, the question will be answered on election night whether this will have a direct impact on the Conservative seat count. In Ontario and BC races, where Liberal and NDP candidates eke out a win, simply add 60 per cent of the PPC vote count to the Conservative count and see if this makes a difference.

One final point of interest on Monday night will be viewing the results come in from a few bell-weather ridings: the fickle Fredericton seat, where the 2019-elected Green candidate Jenica Atwin is now running as a Liberal “incumbent”; the Peterborough-Kawartha riding, where Liberal cabinet minister Maryam Monsef is running hard needing to outdistance a formidable Conservative as well as her associating with “our brothers” the Taliban; the Vancouver Granville riding, where constituents have great faith in Jody Wilson-Raybould and must now decide who is her successor; and, most-interesting is the riding of St. Catharines, “the perennial bell-weather riding” that most-often will signal the party that forms government, where the Liberal incumbent Chris Bittle is hard pressed to defeat his conscientious and community-minded Conservative opponent Krystina Waler.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/three-factors-to-watch-for-on-election-night/

Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld / Left to right: Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, Green Party leader Annamie Paul, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole at the English-language leaders’ debate (sans Maxime Bernier) in Gatineau, Quebec, Sept. 9.