Newfoundland & Labrador may have only joined Confederation in 1949 to become Canada's 10th province, but May 16th is the 50th General Election in its history. The House of Assembly has 40 seats, one of the rare legislatures with an even number. This election comes at a momentous time in the history of the province, due to more than one major issue that will likely decide its future for generations.
Muskrat Falls - as the inquiry into how the largest project ever undertaken in its history rolls on, the evidence is clear. This project should have never happened, but it is virtually complete and will commence operation later this year. What will also commence is the massive debt repayment of a project that doubled in price under false promises and predictions. The next 70 years will require money that isn't readily available to pay for what has rightly been called a "boondoggle" but the bills don't stop coming.
The Cod Fishery - Mismanagement is a huge understatement in the handling of what was once the greatest natural fishery on earth. Touted to last a few years when brought down in 1992, the latest numbers on cod stocks indicate it will not be lifted anytime soon. It changed the way of life, the culture and the population lineage never to be the same again.
Healthcare - For a long time, healthcare results in Newfoundland have been last in Canada with very high costs. Will this election change any of the systemic problems within it? And where will the money come from?
The View Up Here welcomes Con O'Brien, a true Newfoundlander from a family with literally centuries of experience on the water and in the cod fishing way of life. Front-man for legendary Newfoundland folk group The Irish Descendants, Con joins us to discuss the election, the Muskrat Falls disaster, thoughts on whether the cod will ever return and the debt-ridden future of tomorrow's Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
How does a campaign promise, with wide-spread public support, turn into an election-year tug of war? An apparently long settled convention, agreed to by more than one country and international maritime organizations since the 1970's, to be codified into Federal law. Seems like the last step in formalizing what is accepted reality, doesn't it? Not when there are political advantages to be manufactured.
Bill C-48 seeks to make practice into procedure regarding oil tanker traffic along the Pacific coast of British Columbia from the Alaskan border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This exact action was a campaign promise of 2015 and a big part of the Oceans Protection Plan of the Trudeau government. The bill was crafted and made its way through the House of Commons in relatively short order but has been before the Senate for over a year where it has become just another example of what can happen when partisanship, regional priorities and profit (real or imagined) becomes the driver over sound policy.
Despite there being zero port facilities currently, zero port facilities under construction and zero supplies of fossil fuels being delivered to this region of coastline, the lure of the same old touted but non-existent "future markets" has divided governments, First Nations, and citizens. To repeat, there is nothing in this bill that deviates from how things have been for the last 4 1/2 decades. There is nothing in world markets or global predictions as far as demand or profitability go that indicate any change in this convention being worth pursuing. But yet here we are. Polarization and viewpoint being driven by the usual culprit. Money. Or more accurately, the promise of money.
The View Up Here looks at the different sides in this drama and their seeming motivations.
October 21, 2019. The day Canada will vote in its 43rd General Election. There is a subject of discussion that will only grow as voting day nears and it isn't about the parties and policy or lack thereof. It's about the integrity of the electoral system. In a digital world with information from everywhere to seemingly everyone, the issue of reliability is not a new question. Integrity of electoral processes around the world have been compromised. There is no disputing this fact. The 2016 US election. The 2018 US midterms. Brexit. France. Austria. Turkey. And right here at home with Electoral Reform referenda, Ontario and Alberta. New shadowy players in a new arena with an awful lot at stake.
Canada's current government has done more than most nations recognizing and trying to identify, contain and counter the threat. But surprise surprise, not everyone involved wants to take action. Why? Politics and money.
Bill C-76 did a lot to restore rights for voters, limit financial shenanigans and set limits regarding timeframes on advertising and fundraising. But nothing specifically on digital skullduggery. The environment changes rapidly and sources of influence disappear as quickly as they appear. Wiil the extra efforts protect the integrity of the election?
The Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP) is made up of five senior bureaucrats that will assess threats and determine if they are serious enough to inform Canadians. The Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force consists of CSE, CSIS, RCMP, Global Affairs Canada and the Intelligence Advisor to Government. It is mandated to prevent covert, clandestine or criminal activities from influencing or interfering in the electoral process.
Will these measures work? Why weren't political parties made to comply with PIPEDA private information guidelines? Why aren't social media platforms willing to voluntarily comply to C-76? $$
Just in case you haven't heard, traditional media in Canada has fallen on hard times. Just ask them. Coverage on this topic by corporate print, periodical, radio and television has not been sporadic or lacking detail. But it's not like this is an overnight avalanche without a clear pattern developing over the last 30 years.
The once exclusive domain of print for classified ads which generated a huge portion of revenues started to disappear with eBay, kijiji, Craig's List and others near the turn of the century. It has been replaced by...nothing. A high market saturation of subscriptions to print started to decay more than a generation ago. It has been replaced by...nothing. The speed and agility of the internet is no competition for hard copy physical text in delivery or currency. That was countered by creating a new delivery system by entities with no digital experience. Aggregators simply took it and ran, also taking almost all the revenue from the activity. Television thought the video format would insulate their ad revenues. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and others said not so fast. These lost revenues have been replaced with...nothing. Only radio has managed to keep afloat, but not anything more than that.
Everybody knows the problem. It's only been almost 50 years since the Davey report in the Canadian Senate "The Uncertain Mirror" sounded the alarm on the then new issue of media concentration. Today, Google and Facebook take 2/3 of all advertising revenues in media. That's concentration. Canadians still trust and value their traditional media by a large margin compared to the internet giants of today.
In 2017, the Public Policy Forum undertook a new study to guide government on how to go about trying to rescue legacy media in Canada - "The Shattered Mirror". The money has been earmarked, $600 million of it. Now the hard part begins. TVUH looks at the study and the options going forward.
Tragedy such as the massacre in New Zealand rightly brings calls for action from the public at large and therefore from Governments. It seems that there is a new wrinkle with every new terror event and Christchurch exposed the futility of Big Data to control content. The most disturbing part may be that despite Facebook removing the terrorist's video in short order, it was copied and re-posted globally by a magnitude over live views.
The Christchurch Call is the resulting action from a global group of nations, corporations and monitoring agencies. It builds on initiatives already underway mostly from a control perspective but calls for urgent measures by platform providers first, government regulatory efforts second. History does not indicate that Big Data can or will control the problems on their own. Where the momentum goes as the latest mass slaughter of innocents fades from screens has yet to be determined.
Canada has not been a spectator as the internet devolves and indications are that patience is wearing thin. Electoral integrity has been in the news with a lack of co-operation from social media platforms to comply. The reality is any regulatory measures on Big Data will fall to the next government. Canada's Digital Charter seeks to reform competition and privacy rules to build a "foundation of trust" between Canadians and the digital world. It's the result, to this point, of a topic that has been prominent since 2016 for Ottawa. How much can be accomplished without regulation and penalties for non-compliance? How can Big Data be trusted?
Enter a private initiative called The Trust Project. Funded and controlled by Big Data and friends, the premise is to restore credibility to media. But which media? Is it a new censorship and independent media suppression tool? Is it integrity or revenue that drives these efforts? Will artificial intelligence algorithmic policing help or continue to confuse things?
We are in the last scheduled week of sitting for Canada's 42nd Parliament. Normal procedures would be the House rises for Summer Recess, they return for one day in early September for a Motion of Dissolution, after which the Prime Minister asks the Governor-General to dissolve the House and drop the Election Writ. However...this may not be a normal recess. The rush is on to pass legislation for Royal Assent before that election campaign can begin and both the House and Senate have extremely packed Order Papers.
The Senate is scheduled to sit an extra week compared to the House, which depending on how things go down, could force a longer than one day return and more than one motion in the House. Negotiations on Amendments and shuffling of papers from West Block to the Senate Building and back is at a hectic pace. How do topics from the last election campaign end up being rushed in the last week after four years? Politics.
But let it be said, the 42nd Parliament sat for the entire mandate in ONE session. No proroguements. No contempt of Parliament. No obvious subterfuge of proceedings for political leverage. So, there's that. A refreshing return to normalcy. But then, no idiot Speaker in either chamber this term either. What a coincidence.
Environment, Natural Resources, Public Safety, Justice and Indigenous Relations have the large majority of logjams with progress. Considering the disarray those portfolios were left in by the previous Government, to a degree it stands to reason they are the big holdups four years later. Or does it? Has the new "freedom" of the Senate made our system better or worse? The only remaining partisan caucus there, the Conservatives, have gone from compliant lapdogs to opposition yapdogs. But their majority is a distant memory. The Independents now rule the roost.
What will make it to Royal Assent? What will die on the Order Paper with the dropping of the Writ? We will take a look.
After more than two years of orchestrated panic, corporate media (mis)direction, intensive industry lobbying, legislative time-delaying and threats of litigation from industry-captured Provincial governments... Bill C-69 is now law. No more National Energy Board on new projects. No more Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 pre-determining the "review process". Considering the complete failure of that regime from the Harper era that resulted in nothing other than Federal Court appeals, Certificate quashing and projects being sent back to actually follow the rules of the process, this should be welcome news. Alas, it is not if most sources are to be taken at face value.
The reasons for rewriting Canada's major project environmental assessment rules are clear. But what about all the other fundamental factors? Why isn't the first question to be answered based on economic viability? Why does evidence demonstrating extreme harm to every species in the project's path turn out to be mere footnotes in decisions? How did the concept of "Indigenous consultation" turn into note-taking exercises? How did "public input" turn into an undefinable obstacle course designed to discourage that input? Why are alternative projects to acheive the supposed goals rejected out-of-hand? Something along the lines of the inmates are running the asylum is an accurate description.
Does C-69 fix all these shortcomings? Not by a longshot. It never would have without the eventual 150+ amendments to the original bill, never mind what was given Royal Assent. Why does the industry with the majority of project assessments, Mining, accept C-69 as a necessary update and clarification to the process? Why is their viewpoint being virtually ignored while corporate media wails for Oil & Gas? This episode will look at what has really changed, and it isn't all that much despite the narratives of Chicken Little.
"When They Came For The Beach" tells the story of a group of friends livng in direct proximity to what some want to become an oil tanker parking lot. There is no doubt that working, living and playing in the Lower Mainland around metro Vancouver is a unique lifestyle that, like anywhere else, can be taken for granted with familiarity and routine. But can it be taken for granted without worry anymore? Based on real events, this is the first novel from author, economist, corporate executive and fierce intervenor/thorn in the side of the NEB - Robyn Allan.
It's one thing to be anywhere in the world and read about the protests, court cases and hearings over the controversial Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline proposal. It's quite another to consider the project in your back yard or seeing it looking out your front window. This is the motivation for "Trainer" and her friends as they become immersed in the process of supposed approval of this environmental albatross. From following the rules and finding hardly anyone else does, to networking with like-minded citizens, to embracing some methods of the opposition when necessary, to coming to the realization that the system meant to protect Canadians does nothing of the sort, this is an unfinished journey of discovery and education that reveals an unappealing truth not easily found. By design.
In the all-too-real world, TMX has received approval once more from the Federal government but it is only one of many things that must happen for construction to start. Robyn returns to The View Up Here to discuss her novel, her motivation to write it and her thoughts on what's next for the TMX circus.
You can get "When They Came For The Beach" in multiple formats or read it for free at https://novel.robynallan.com
The Council of Federation is the official name for the 13 leaders of Canada's Provincial and Territorial governments to congregate and accomplish... nothing much. Ever. Lots of communiques and photo-ops and demands and bluster, but scant little on actual movement towards solving any of the issues they insist Ottawa is responsible for creating. Because, of course, it could never be their own doing.
The most outstanding difference in this year's attendees is that they were all male. For the first time since 2008, there are no female Premiers in Canada. Did any of the 13 leaders comment on this, or did the press ask about it? Nah. Too much so-called business to take care of, no time for trivialities. Besides, that 52% of the population is out-of-sight, out-of-mind in the White Male GenXer Power Club (with guests based on their electoral wins despite not being caucasian).
This edition of the Council's itenerary also included an invite only pre-conference with Alberta's under RCMP investigation newbie Premier Jason Kenney. This event's photo-op purpose being to try and appear like average people flipping pancakes and planning how to influence the Federal election. The other pre-conference photo-op was at Big River First Nation north of Saskatoon. Only 9 Premiers showed and the AFN ended their boycott of this biannual waste of time as a concession. Representatives from Inuit and Metis organizations did not.
Despite the premise of gathering to solve problems for their respective citizens and "helping the country", as usual once in the meetings began it was special interests that drove the agenda. Domestic trade, international trade, so-called energy corridors, health care and Indigenous issues all got varying length communiques issued that will effect or change absolutely nothing. As usual.
Considering this is a Federal election year, the corporate media coverage was spotty and shallow. Well not here lol