When I began Whoa!Canada I’d been determinedly non-partisan all my life. For various reasons I did end up joining a party —the Green Party of Canada — in middle age. Even so, I’ve worked to keep partisanship out of this blog. But the Green Party Leadership race, like any major party leadership, is important for all of Canada. TVO recognized this from the get go, but even so there has been very little serious coverage. In the Internet era, we’re no longer entirely at the mercy of MSM gatekeepers, so there’s been plenty to see online. Tonight CBC, Youtube and Facebook will present live election night coverage.
As most of the GPC Leadership campaign has coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, although a few of the Candidates had begun cross Canada tours when the shut downs hit, there has been very little opportunity for Green Party members to actually engage with leadership candidates face to face.
But that hasn’t stopped the Canadian Greens from putting on an excellent engaging leadership campaign. Interim Leader Jo-Ann Robert’s People, Politics and Planet podcast hosted interviews with all the candidates. We began with 10 candidates, and end with 8 going into tonight’s election.
The Canadian federal government’s announcement reapproving the Trans Mountain Pipeline is inconsistent with the government’s declaration of a climate emergency the day before. This will likely lead to more legal challenges and protests that will continue to delay and block the controversial project, said international environmental organization Stand.earth.
“Approving the Trans Mountain Pipeline is inconsistent with our government’s declaration of a climate emergency. Oil and gas emissions are the largest and fastest growing component of Canada’s emissions. If we are going to fight climate change in Canada, we need to face the fact that we can no longer expand fossil fuel production and infrastructure. Canada’s oil is high cost and high carbon, and it is struggling to compete in a global market. Investing pipeline profits into clean energy? How about you just put the $10 billion directly into clean energy, instead of wasting taxpayer money on this risky investment?” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth. “We stand by city leaders, the B.C. government, and First Nations who oppose this project, and we call on organizations and individuals around the world to stand with us.”
“No matter who forms the next government in Ottawa, the Trans Mountain Pipeline will never be built,” said said Sven Biggs, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Stand.earth. “People care deeply about protecting the BC coast, and British Columbians remain opposed to this pipeline and the risks of a devastating oil spill that come with it. Whenever construction resumes, another wave of protests is guaranteed in British Columbia.”
Opposition to the pipeline remains strong, with tens of thousands of people pledging to stop the pipeline and multiple cities, municipalities, and the province of B.C. also stating opposition.
People power: Nearly 27,000 people have pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Number of arrests: From March through August 2018, around 230 people with Protect the Inlet and other environmental groups were arrested for violating a court-ordered injunction while demonstrating against the pipeline. More than 30 people have served jail time after receiving sentences in BC Supreme Court.
Construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the likelihood of a spill associated with the project poses significant risks to the climate, the public safety of the communities it passes through, the economy, and the critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.
Climate change: If built, the Trans Mountain Pipeline would expand the production of Canada’s oil sands, and the increase in emissions would be the equivalent of putting 2.2 million cars on the road. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report in late 2018 showing that Canada has just 12 years to reduce its climate emissions by 40%. Meeting those climate objectives is simply not possible if Canada continues to build new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Spill risk: If the Trans Mountain Pipeline is built, it will lead to a 700% increase in oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, with the likelihood of an oil spill in the 50-year lifespan of the project as high as 79-87%. A major oil spill would expose the entire Vancouver population to human health risks due to inhalation of toxic chemicals.
Public safety: A potential tank fire at the Burnaby Mountain Terminal poses a significant risk to nearby high-density neighborhoods, elementary schools, and Simon Fraser University. Proposed increased storage capacity could cause multiple tanks to ignite during a fire.
Tar sands markets:Economists have questioned Trudeau’s claims that the pipeline would help Canada reach new markets in Asia, instead of simply expanding into existing U.S. markets in California and Washington, where opposition to the pipeline is heating up. Last week in California, the Protect the Bay coalition launched to oppose an increase in tar sands tankers in the Bay Area. In May, the California Assembly threw its support behind AB 936, a proactive measure to protect California’s critical marine and freshwater resources from harms caused by a spill of non-floating oils like tar sands, which if passed, would join similar legislation in Washington state on non-floating oils. In Washington, the King County Safe Energy Leadership Alliance sent a letter to the Department of Ecology to strengthen oil spill response requirements for dilbit, specifically calling out the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The letter includes signatories from multiple city mayors, city and county councilmembers, and state senators.
As I have been asked by a couple people, I wanted to provide a few thoughts on the evidence at the Gerald Stanley trial. I have kept on top of the trial, as it is of historic importance to our community; have followed the evidence closely in person, in media, and on Twitter; and attended to watch summations of the Crown and Defence cases this morning.
Before talking about the key issues, it is worth talking about what the key issues aren’t.
First, there is no debate about basic who, what, when, and where questions. Gerald Stanley held the gun that discharged and killed Colten Boushie and the resultant injury was the cause of death. No debate there was a homicide or that Gerald Stanley caused that homicide. All of that is admitted.
Second, the case is not about self-defence. All the internet yapping about “castle law” and “property rights” came to nothing at trial, and Mr. Stanley did not make a self-defence argument – because the Defence lawyer, knowing his job, knew that Gerald Stanley was not under threat when the gun was fired. In Canadian law, lethal force in self-defence is only justified in the face of threat of serious injury or death to you or another person. That threat did not exist in this case, and, wisely, the Defence did not grasp at that straw. This case changes nothing about the right to self-defence, and those nonsense arguments should stop.
The issue the jury is forced to decide on – the defence put to the jury – is limited only to the defence of accident. And here is where the evidence put forward by Gerald Stanley is exceptionally interesting.
To set the scene (and you will likely know much of this, so skip this paragraph if you like) on the day in question, an SUV carrying Colten Boushie and four other young people came on to the Stanley farm, and was located at various points on the Stanley driveway. Gerald Stanley and his son Sheldon formed the opinion that the young people had come to the farm to steal, and Mr. Stanley and Sheldon Stanley decided to give some form of chase or response. Sheldon ran toward the vehicle and smashed the windshield with a hammer he was carrying. Mr. Stanley kicked out the tail light. After the windshield was smashed, the vehicle carrying Boushie took a hard turn into an SUV owned by the Stanleys, and the Stanleys felt the crash was deliberate and potentially a run at Sheldon. Gerald Stanley ran back to his shed and got a Tokarev pistol. Sheldon went to the house, where there were several other firearms. One of the witnesses in the vehicle claimed that Gerald yelled at Sheldon to go to the house to get a firearm, but Sheldon’s evidence was that he went to the house to retrieve his keys. At that point, Boushie’s vehicle appeared to have been immobilized in the Stanleys’ driveway, and two male occupants exited the vehicle. Two female occupants and Boushie, who was likely passed out or asleep, stayed inside.
Now, here is the crux of Mr. Stanley’s evidence on his defence of accident – and where Mr. Stanley’s evidence becomes truly amazing.
Stanley claimed while in the shed, he loaded the Tokarev with three shells. He claimed he thought he loaded two, but later realized there were three – the same number the RCMP found had been discharged.
Stanley then claimed he pointed the semi-automatic Tokarev up in the air, and began pulling the trigger, to fire “warning shots”. He claimed he fired two warning shots, and after that believed the firearm was empty. After the shots were fired, the two males who exited the vehicle ran from the scene, leaving only Boushie and two female occupants in the vehicle.
Gerald Stanley then claimed, even though he believed he had only put two rounds in the Tokarev, that he pulled the trigger several more times after the warning shots to make the firearm safe, and nothing happened. He then claimed he opened the slide and removed the magazine, also to ensure the firearm was made safe.
Gerald Stanley then claimed he saw the riding lawnmower his wife had been driving parked on the lawn, with his wife no longer driving, and somehow formed the belief that she may have been run over by the vehicle containing Boushie.
Gerald Stanley then claimed he ran to the Boushie vehicle, and wanted to look underneath it to ensure his wife was not there. He claimed as he was going to look under the vehicle, the vehicle revved its engine, and he decided he needed to turn the vehicle off.
Gerald Stanley then claimed, holding the Tokarev in his right hand, he reached through the Boushie SUV’s driver side window with his left hand to try to turn off the ignition. (I encourage you to actually try this, on a vehicle, and think about why you would use your left hand to turn off a vehicle as opposed to switching hands and putting the firearm in your left. Motion it out. Using your left hand makes no sense, and is incredibly awkward.)
Gerald Stanley then claimed that, as he was trying to turn the ignition off, the Tokarev was in his right hand pointed at Colten Boushie’s skull. And Stanley claimed at that moment, a hang-fire occurred – there was still a shell in the Chamber, and the firearm discharged spontaneously without a trigger pull, killing Colten. Despite the fact Stanley had opened the action, pulled the magazine out, and repeatedly dry-fired it. And despite the fact hang-fires are extremely rare, and normally last less than half-a-second.
Gerald Stanley’s defence is the defence of accident. If you believe it, his defence explains all of the physical evidence, and most particularly a Tokarev casing found on the SUV dash and Colten’s DNA found on the Tokarev itself. But to believe it completely, you have to accept the following:
A. Gerald Stanley did not know how many rounds he put into the Tokarev;
B. Gerald Stanley, who believed he or his family were under threat, loaded his firearm with two shells, and then fired both shells in the air, leaving his firearm empty and useless for self-defence;
C. Gerald Stanley tried to make the Tokarev safe by repeatedly pulling its trigger into the air;
D. Gerald Stanley took the time, in this situation, to make the Tokarev safe before proceeding to the vehicle he believed had run over his wife;
E. Gerald Stanley believed the Boushie SUV had run over his wife, even though there was no explanation for his belief, other than his wife not being on the lawnmower;
F. Gerald Stanley went to the window of the vehicle to turn the vehicle off to immobilize it, even though the driver had exited the vehicle, and Colten Boushie, the person nearest the steering wheel, was asleep or passed out;
G. Gerald Stanley used his left hand to attempt to turn off the vehicle ignition, keeping the firearm in his right hand, even though he claimed the firearm was made safe, and using your left hand through a driver’s side window to turn off an ignition is incredibly awkward; and
H. Gerald Stanley experienced a hang-fire – an extremely rare occurrence in itself – with a duration of many seconds – an almost impossible length of time for a hang-fire – at the precise second his Tokarev was aimed at close range at Colten Boushie’s skull.
Points A, C, D, E, and F make Mr. Stanley’s story hard to believe. Points B and G simply make no logical sense whatsoever. Point H is beyond reason, and is a submission somewhere along the lines of the magic bullet that shot JFK. While the story raised by Mr. Stanley is not impossible – in the way that suggesting Colten Boushie having died of a heart attack ten seconds before he was shot is not, by way of example, impossible – in my opinion, it is an extreme stretch to suggest that a story of this level of credibility should raise a reasonable doubt as to Mr. Stanley’s intentions.
This is, from what I have reviewed, a fair synopsis of Mr. Stanley’s evidence that the homicide of Colten Boushie was accidental. If you read it, and catch any errors, feel free to point them out, and I may revise. Here is the link to the CBC synopsis.
I am not sharing this information to tell you that Mr. Stanley is guilty – whether he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is for the jury to decide. Rather, I hope it assists folks in understanding what the trial has been about, what it is clearly not about, and the extremely specific chain of unlikely events the jury will have to believe occurred to accept Mr. Stanley’s incredible version of events.
My thoughts continue to be with the mother and family of Colten through this difficult time.
Last night, I went to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford.
And I watched an all-white jury, instructed by a white judge, under counsel from white Crown Prosecutors and white Defence lawyers, supported by a white clerk, surrounded by white sheriffs, acquit a white man who held the gun that killed an Indigenous man.
The people who gathered with me last night, to suspend their disbelief in hopes that justice would be done, were acutely aware that Courts composed entirely by white people are not an unusual thing in our part of Saskatchewan, and regularly try Indigenous defendants. All that was unusual in this case was that the man in the prisoner’s box shared the skin colour of the folks who made decisions on his fate.
I make no comment on the jury’s decision. I have given my thoughts on the evidence elsewhere. I believe in the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence. What I cannot accept is that the colour of my skin makes me superior to anyone – and I reject as gravely wrong the practice that one racial group sits in judgement of another, while members of that group take benefit of the exclusive judgement of their own.
I have heard clear calls for change and justice over the past few days from people I look up to, and for whose strength and wisdom I have the utmost respect – Jade Tootoosis, Eleanore Sunchild, Alvin Baptiste, Kim Jonathan, and Kenny Moccasin, to name a few. If Saskatchewan, in this time and place, wants to be judged by history as righteous, and just, and upright – if we take the word “justice” seriously – we must not let those calls go ignored.
To Colten’s family, friends, and community, if you happen to read this, for the little my words must be worth right now, I am saddened and I am sorry, and I am inspired by your strength.
Robert Feist is a private practice lawyer in North Battleford, SK
Follow Robert on Facebook or Twitter
An excellent tool to keep track of whether or not the Trudeau Government is fulfilling the promises made in its election platform is the non-partisan collaborative citizen initiative website called the “TrudeauMeter.” We are reminded
“Change the House of Commons Standing Orders to end practice of using inappropriate omnibus bills to reduce scrutiny of legislative measures.”
So far there has been absolutely no movement to keep this promise.
Instead, what we are seeing here is that the Trudeau Government has chosen to use an inappropriate omnibus motion to change the House of Commons Standing Orders, reducing what little power opposition parties in phony majority governments (eg Mr. Trudeau’s Government, which he likes so much he’s disavowed his clear electoral reform promise to replace our unfair winner-take-all voting system).
“We’re filibustering to protect the right to filibuster. Who would have thought it would be this government, under this prime minister” to try to use its majority to make changes to the Standing Orders without all-party backing, he said. “It’s not your House… we have rights, too.”
Rather than making Parliament more transparent, this is yet another attempt to make it more efficient for a party with a phony majority to undemocratically impose its will on our nation. Promising one thing and not doing it is bad enough, doing the opposite of what you’ve promised is unacceptable. In a democracy, that is.
Although CPAC is not covering this, @Kady is LiveTweeting, so Canadians can follow along and watch this unfold…
[CORRECTION NOTE: In the original version of this article I incorrectly described the “Omnibus Motion” as an “Omnibus Bill,” which I have corrected in this version. ~ LLR]
7.2.2 DGR Not a Concern
Research shows that there is little interest among the general public regarding the DGR Project at the Bruce Nuclear site. OPG had a social media analysis prepared in the fall of 2016. The analysis began with a detailed query in Sysomos MAP – a media analysis platform that provides news, blogs, forums, tweets and many other media results. A year’s worth of data was passed through IBM Watson’s Alchemy – a language analysis platform to identify key themes identified from OPG DGR related media activity and conversations in the past year. In addition to media analysis, the Google Keyword Planning Tool as well as Google Trends was used to understand how Ontarians are seeking information about nuclear waste disposal. In particular, the analysis focused on the keywords being used, and the frequency with which Ontarians are looking for this information.
The analysis showed that Ontarians are not looking for information on nuclear waste disposal in large volumes. This topic is not a popular one, nor is it generating large volumes of curiosity.
Compared to other energy related keywords (wind turbines, solar power) there is very
little curiosity about nuclear waste disposal, or deep geologic repositories.
DGR related searches are at a frequency of virtually zero, and nuclear waste as a topic
shows less interest amongst Canadians than other energy topics.
Looking at how Ontarians search, there is an even greater discrepancy. Energy and
power are more important (or generate more curiosity) than disposal and waste related
Currently, interest in DGR in Ontario has flat-lined; outside of a spike in May 2015
attributed to the release of the Joint Review Panel report, there has been very little
search frequency for ‘deep geologic repository’.
Even if I didn’t have a lot to say, I’ve had a look at the questionaire, and I don’t like it much because the instructions about the electoral system questions are unclear. (If you “disagree” with the correct discription of an electoral system, does it mean you don’t approve of that system or does it mean you don’t want that system?) The worst part is that people can’t just skip those; everything on every page must be answered in order to submit. Not good.
A “brief” may sound daunting, what it really is is a way for Canadians to tell them what we think. It can be a scholarly essay if you like, or it can just be a single line that says you want Proportional Representation. I can tell you just saying “I want Canada to adopt Proportional Representation” will be incredibly important; they will be crunching numbers. If 90% of the submissions say they want PR, we might just get it.
If you wish to say a little bit more, the actual election promise was,
We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.
You can also offer opinions on other things, like lowering the voting age to increase voter engagement, restoring the per vote subsidy and limiting election spending.
The committee mandate is to find out what Canadians want, starting with the five principles:
Effectiveness and legitimacy
Accessibility and inclusiveness
We don’t need to choose a specific electoral system; in fact, the best possible outcome would be for the committee to recommend a type of Proportional Representation, Mixed Member Proportional or Single Transferable Vote, and then direct Elections Canada to convene a panel of experts to work out details to best conform to the mandate.
This is the fifteenth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series
Although I don’t think public opinion polls should decide elections, public opinion polls can be a useful way of gathering information.
My public opinion poll is not scientific. One of the biggest drawbacks of public opinion polls is that there is no obligation to answer truthfully. And for self-selecting public opinion polls like this one, the people who answer are probably the ones who follow me on twitter because they agree with me.
Still, I am curious about what the people I talk to in social media actually think about this. And I am curious what the people they talk to on social media might think. That’s why I have launched the above twitter poll. Maybe my friends in the twitterverse will vote in my poll, and share with their friends to bring the question to a wider pool of voters. If you are not on Twitter but have friends who are, if you send them a link to this article or the twitter post, maybe they will vote too.
Electoral reform shouldn’t be for the benefit of parties, it should be for the benefit of citizens.
I have set my public opinion poll to run for a week, and pinned it to the top of my twitter feed. If this gets traction, I will publish the results here after my public opinion poll concludes.
[This is a guest post by Verna Brunet, an ordinary Canadian with serious concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.]
Yesterday I went to Windsor, Ontario to join the protest against the TPP outside the hotel where the Trudeau Liberal government was holding consultations on this treasonous trade agreement.
My sign read:
TPP is Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a corruption of Democracy
I was told that we could speak to the government for maximum 2 minutes between 2pm and 3pm, if we signed up.
The problem with me has never been how to get me to shoot off my mouth. The usual issue is how in the world to shut me up once I get started.
Didn’t have anything prepared. Had to scramble some notes.
Here’s what I said:
The people of Canada elected your party to administer our DEMOCRACY. The TPP destroys our democracy, replacing it with OLIGARCHY. We the people have never given you the authority to do that. The TPP makes the Trudeau Liberals, like the Harper Conservatives before them, a rogue government.
Secret ISDS courts are a swift kick I’m the face of Democracy and a sucker punch to the gut of Justice
The only right protected by this sickening trade agreement is the insane, irrational right of millionaires to make a profit.
We elected you to govern in a manner that protects our economic rights. Instead you have sold our economic rights to the elite 1%. You are a rogue government.
The TPP allows the pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last shreds of our cherished and democratic environmental protection laws.
These are the same environmental laws we elected you to protect and enforce.
With these toxic trade agreements you have become a rogue government like the Harper Conservative government before you.
The TPP allows pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last frail shreds of our civil rights — the same rights we elected you to restore.
You have betrayed us. You are a rogue government.
You campaigned on CHANGE You have failed to change: the TPP the ISDS courts.
This is the seventh in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series
First Past The Post (FPTP)
Although democracy seems like the best form of political system for citizens, there are different ways to go about it, and as with most things, some are more effective than others. England bestowed our single member plurality winner-take-all electoral system on our young nation in our very first Canadian federal election in 1867, and we’ve been using this First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system ever since. Canada has seen a lot of innovation since then — from automobiles through air travel to space exploration. Our lives have changed and improved in a wide variety of ways: indoor plumbing, universal health care, the internet — most things have improved and modernized… but not our electoral system.
Like many Canadians I have come to understand the serious democratic deficit inherent in our 18th century voting system, but I’ve had an opportunity to learn about the alternatives over the past few years. As I’ve mentioned before, I hear many of the same arguments against Proportional Representation used over and over again. One of the most pervasive arguments is the one that insists if we switch to a Proportional system it will necessarily be unstable and have to suffer many more elections than we do now.
So let’s compare the Canadian record of elections with countries that use some form of Proportional Representation.
The reason I decided to look at Israel, Italy and Spain are because these countries are the ones most often trotted out to “prove” just how bad Proportional Representation is.
But I was still interested in finding a Proportional Representation system that had actually had more elections than Canada. So next I looked Denmark, a country many Canadians admire because of its’ excellent social safety net. Denmark has used List PR since 1953 (but I’m not sure what they used before that). Since 1945, they have had 25 elections in 1945, 1947, 1950, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2015
Something else to keep in mind is that all three of these countries use List PR, which I’m pretty sure is the oldest form of Proportional Representation– and certainly the most commonly used. The thing that is important to understand is that List PR is one form of Proportional system that nobody is recommending for Canada.
So maybe we ought to take a peek at the proportional systems that are recommended for Canada, in countries that have a little more in common with us.
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
After List PR, Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) is the most common form of Proportional Representation used at the national level around the world, so it’s not surprising to learn that MMP is the system most often recommended for Canada.
New Zealand replaced their First Past The Post electoral system with Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) in 1996, and since then they have had just 7 elections, in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 — the same as Canada.
The other form of Proportional Representation that has been considered for Canada is the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This system is not as widely used as the others, but it found a lot of favour here in the BC referendum, where more than 58% of BC voters voted to adopt it. As often happens, the government holding the provincial referendum didn’t actually want to change the electoral system that had given it a disproportional amount of power. Their referendum was designed to fail by requiring a super majority of 60% before BC-STV would be adopted. Last night Dennis Pilon remarked on the irony of BC referendum requiring a higher threshold of support to change its provincial electoral system than had been required by the Quebec secession referendum.
Admittedly, I have not made a comprehensive study, but it seems clear Canada’s First Past The Post system is less stable than many Proportional Representation systems.
National Stability with Alternative Vote (AV)
While Canada’s Liberal government has promised to replace our existing electoral system, it has not ruled out adoption of the winner-take-all Alternative Vote (AV), a voting system also known as “Preferential Voting” (PV), “Instant Runoff Voting” (IRV) and lately “ranked ballot.”
As we can see, Canada’s winner-take-all First Past The Post system has resulted in more elections than many of the least appealing Proportional Representation systems.
The evidence from Australia — the only country in the world to have used Alternative Vote for any length of time — shows the Alternative Vote system is much more unstable than Canada’s FPTP and indeed every Proportional Representation voting system I’ve looked at here.
This evidence demonstrates the “instability” argument against Proportional Representation is simply not true, and suggests
any electoral system that provides Proportional Representation is likely to result in *fewer* elections than we are used to with First Past The Post.
And if stability is an issue, adopting Australia’s Alternative Vote is far more likely to dramatically increase the number of elections we have.
“Let’s be clear, the Conservatives are proposing to limit what topics Canadians are allowed to debate. That’s not the role of government. This goes against our fundamental freedoms and the NDP will be voting against it.”
— Tom Mulcair