The following is a largely AI-generated transcript for Ep 195. Excuse any errors, we’re trying to catch up on these and need to sort out a workflow. Want to help make our transcripts better? Let us know if you can help our support us on Patreon.
[00:01:17] Ian Bushfield: Let’s jump into our first segment back in the legislature. It doesn’t quite rhyme with back in the USSR, but that’s what I was going for. It’s better when I explained my jokes, uh, BC has launched into phase three of our COVID response level, which I keep seeing as basically phase two, but they’re not going to judge you as much.
[00:01:44] If you travel around the province.
[00:01:47] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, it’s not quite that. Uh, so it does also mean, uh, industry such as film can get started back up again, which is a major part of the economy here. So there is more than just people won’t frown at you quite as much. If you drive around the province a little more.
[00:02:07] Ian Bushfield: And it’s interesting as you kind of look at the daily case numbers, we’re staying in a reasonably low level.
[00:02:15] I think today was the highest at 20 or 19 cases, 19 positive tests and one Epic link to case. Um,
[00:02:24] Scott de Lange Boom: I can remember when 20 cases was a good news day.
[00:02:28] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. Uh, and now we’re kind of trying to stay there or lower and
[00:02:35] Scott de Lange Boom: kind of five to 20 for the past couple of weeks. Now it’s in that range as being fairly flat, but I don’t know, I feel a little more comfortable with phase three.
[00:02:45] If we actually had a zero case day.
[00:02:48] Ian Bushfield: Well, we had the modeling come out. I think earlier this week that showed, we seem to be sitting around 65% normal social interactions, which is right on the precipice, the Cliff’s edge of going. Back into outbreaks and keeping it at a nice stable equilibrium of a few cases a day.
[00:03:10] Uh, each person who get it base gets it basically transmits to one other. And that is pretty manageable from public health perspective. Um, That’s a very nervous situation to be in though sitting right on that edge. I’d like to see it a little bit less. Um,
[00:03:26] Scott de Lange Boom: yeah, particularly as we move into a different phase,
[00:03:31] Ian Bushfield: but within this space we have, uh, the legislature reopening the session started on Monday for a six week sitting, uh, through the summer.
[00:03:41] There’s going to be. Uh, no more than 25. I believe it is MLS in the chamber, including the speaker. Uh, most of the committees are holding via a zoom. And they have giant television screens within the legislative chamber for many of the MLS who can connect from home. And so there’s lot more, uh, remember to unmute yourselves and extra pauses, but otherwise it seems like it’s going pretty well.
[00:04:09] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, it seems to be doing so. And as part of legislature resuming. Bills are starting to be introduced. Again, we don’t have a bunch of them this week, which is pretty normal for a start of a session
[00:04:22] Ian Bushfield: only. It’s not fully the start of a new session. We didn’t adver and the spring session. And so there are still five bills on the order paper.
[00:04:30] A couple were at first reading, but they’ve all advanced to committee stage in the last week. There’s updates to the employment standards amendment act to give five pay days. Leave for survivors of domestic sexual violence. Uh, there’s the vehicle and shirt, the big ICBC changes that are still sitting on the order paper.
[00:04:47] Uh, some other motor vehicle amendment act changes too. Uh, alter training requirements for driver’s licenses. Uh, the evidence changes for that. David Eby is also hoping to reduce the number of expert witnesses that can be introduced in automobile injuries and then just a miscellaneous amendment act. So a lot of the big ICBC changes are still, uh, waiting further debate.
[00:05:10] And given the government wants to roll out their enhanced care or not no fault insurance system. Next year we’ll have to. See if those all make it through.
[00:05:21] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. We’re still always off from a provincial election, but it’s neat getting close enough. They don’t want to be pushing through basic structural changes to anything as it gets really, really close.
[00:05:34] So there are no doubt conscious of time. I want to push that lawn as quickly as they can.
[00:05:40] Ian Bushfield: Nevertheless, there was a bevy of new bills released this week. I counted at least I think it was seven or eight different ones. Some are very minor like the amendments to the wills and succession act, which just allows people to sign wills, electronically amendments, other amendments to the motor vehicle act that basically allow you to update your insurance easier and not need to get new stickers every year for your license plates.
[00:06:06] Minds and clean energy amendment acts that basically just clean up some of the complexities around there. Um, and also allow BC hydro to add new energy sources to its portfolio. So nothing too major or seemingly controversial. I mean, maybe I’m missing something in the minds act. It’s not my, uh, specialty or focus.
[00:06:29] Scott de Lange Boom: I am done deep dive into that either, but. That is one of those potential areas where there can be something that stirs up a lot of controversy. But, uh, so far there isn’t much indication of that. What I think is probably going to be maybe a little more, uh, controversial is the act bill 18, the economic stabilization act, which lets the province run up.
[00:06:55] Budget tasks that for the next three years, which when everyone was expecting as soon as covert hit, but it’s now being formalized.
[00:07:03] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. It’s one of those things where we have a law that bans budget deficits, which. Is largely a fake law, right? It’s on paper it’s done as political theater, you know, it’s not the end of the world.
[00:07:19] Yeah. It’s not a big deal. If a government runs a deficit every now or then, uh, especially in a situation like this and this bill kind of shows that yes, you can undo those with just another piece of legislation. Um, it’s actually kind of surprising the government decided to only go for three years. Uh, rather than just to eliminate the balanced budget law entirely, I guess it’s a kind of way to signal and not give talking points to the BC liberals that they’re going to be a perpetual deficit government.
[00:07:52] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. That’s still at the same time. There’s such a. Clear case of why it’s needed here, that the chance of any political blow back really landing and causing any damage is pretty tiny.
[00:08:05] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, that bill also includes some of the previously announced measures, including the tax deferrals for many businesses and people who are getting a little bit of a reprieve from the government.
[00:08:18] Uh, one of the other. Sort of related acts coming out of COVID-19 is literally called the COVID-19 related measures act bill 19, which when you read it, it’s kind of. It basically takes the ministerial orders that were passed during or under the emergency measures act and allows the government to keep those in place for 45 or 90 days after the end of the state of emergency.
[00:08:46] And it generally moves a lot of power to cabinet that wouldn’t otherwise be there. So the way our emergency measures act operates is when we’re in a state of emergency, which we continue to be, the government can do a lot more. But not as much as it, as they think it turns out. And we’ll talk about that in a bit, but they can do a lot more to quickly change laws or loosen up restrictions or tighten new restrictions to help respond to that crisis.
[00:09:14] So this act is interesting because it, I think the argument for it is, well, we might end the state of emergency at some point soon. Maybe things are calm enough, but we want to keep the things we enacted. Outside the legislature in place, which is a transfer of power from the legislature to the executive.
[00:09:35] Clearly, although there is a time limit on this, and I think the maximum would be one year of keeping an additional emergency measures in the hands of cabinet. Like it’s a very wonky and niche kind of issue, but for people who care about divisions of powers, this is one, I think people should look a bit closer at and decide whether this feels like a justified.
[00:09:56] Move or if it would just be better to keep the state of emergency in place for an extra month or two,
[00:10:02] Scott de Lange Boom: this sunset provision in there does reassure me. So think it’s not going to be a case where it’s that problematic that they’ve given themselves these extra measures. As long as it is temporary.
[00:10:17] Ian Bushfield: I mean, the default of Canadian parliaments and legislatures is to just centralize more power in the executive.
[00:10:23] So it’s not too surprising of an act, but I can see why some of the measures might need a little bit longer, even though we’re not known official emergency. Uh, one of the other interesting bills that’s been brought forward that I think we’re both looking at is the, um, strata amendment act, essentially the one that’s looking at municipal affairs and housing.
[00:10:42] And this is what the government is calling their first step to tackling the, uh, spiraling out of control insurance, a strata insurance market. So there’ve been a number of stories in the last year or two of Strata’s condos facing, you know, two, three, 400% increases in their premiums as the insurance market just decides they don’t have the capacity to afford buildings with giant liabilities.
[00:11:12] And this is, you know, hitting stratas as a whole. So the entire building is sometimes struggling to get insurance and it’s sometimes hitting individual property owners who are trying to get contents insurance, whose, who are looking at their properties, deductible go double or triple. So, you know, I had to update my strata insurer or my property insurance recently, and we saw a 20% increase in our premium because some of our deductibles had doubled the act itself though, kind of tweaks around the edges.
[00:11:44] And I’m not sure if it will accomplish the solutions that we need to see for what is. A pretty big crisis.
[00:11:52] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I trust a quick look through the text of it and it wasn’t entirely clear was what it was going to do because it’s a statues and Ben meant to act or changes a bunch of clauses here and there in minor ways.
[00:12:05] And you actually need to. Go back and check against the original legislation to really understand what’s going on. There’s helpful little explainers though on the, uh, PC ledge website, which I appreciated, but yeah, overall, it just makes a few minor tweaks here and there and kind of gets the ball rolling in a lot of ways, but there’s going to be a lot of stuff coming after this to really tackle it, include a bunch of, uh, regulations that will be put out that this enables.
[00:12:37] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, the way I read it from the government’s releases was that this is. A bill that basically increases some of the reporting requirements. So strata, you know, you can have the case where you have a bad strata council that doesn’t do the depreciation reports and doesn’t do its due diligence in the way it should.
[00:12:56] And so this is forcing
[00:12:57] Scott de Lange Boom: a crazy that that’s even allowed.
[00:12:59] Ian Bushfield: And so this is taking care of some of that, which that will help in some cases, but I mean, a depreciation report that says your building is going to fall apart is not going to help you get insurance. I mean, not much is going to help you get insurance at that point, but you know, it’s a tough situation and you know, it’s a very big challenge because you have not too many, I think fewer and fewer companies and agencies that are actually insuring.
[00:13:27] Buildings cause it’s a very expensive market and there’s not, it’s tough. So a good start, but I’ll really have to wait to see what a minister Robinson and the government can come up with on this. You know, maybe we give ICBC some power to run a strata insurance market.
[00:13:46] Scott de Lange Boom: It’s not the crazy suggestion out there.
[00:13:49] One of the big problems with insurance in general is that. There’s a lot of adverse selection going on. And typically it’s talked about in terms of people, when there’s a voluntary insurance, they not wanting to insure unless they’re high risk. But the flip side of that is you can get a lot of insurance companies not wanting to insure certain markets.
[00:14:14] Ian Bushfield: So, yeah, and I mean,
[00:14:17] Scott de Lange Boom: it’s one of the markets where we’re more government intervention actually makes more sense.
[00:14:22] Ian Bushfield: And any insurance market is almost stronger, more centralized when you have a bigger pool. Of assets so that, you know, if one building needs a giant payout, it doesn’t hit all of the others in that.
[00:14:37] Company’s portfolio so pooling, it can help, um, the challenges. You don’t want to put a strata insurance on the back of all British, Colombian taxpayers, because not all British Colombians live in a strata, it’s a kind of pro it’s a home owning situation, right. It’s more privileged than not. And we don’t necessarily need to bail out homeowners
[00:14:58] Scott de Lange Boom: as a class.
[00:15:00] Yeah. Homeowners already get a lot of subsidy in various ways. So, I mean, Hey, well, if they canceled the homeowner’s grant and shift that subsidy over to insurance, it might actually be a net positive, but yeah, there’s a bunch of complications. No doubt. And yeah, it’s an imperfect
[00:15:18] Ian Bushfield: solution. Well, and the final bill that I’m taking a stronger look at was just introduced in the last couple of days as the mental health amendment to act from the ministry of mental health, which proposes to.
[00:15:32] A quote, stabilized care for youth following an overdose. And the idea is to permit the government, uh, to take kids into custody. If they are deemed to be in a dangerous situation and forced them into a treatment, this has been something I think the BC liberals have been pushing on for a while and the government has generally avoided it.
[00:15:54] For the civil libertarian reasons and just the general approach, at least that I believe that forcing someone into a treatment for substance use is rarely effective. Uh, it was interesting to see the chief coroner, Lisa LaPointe issue a statement right after this bill came out saying. Without an established evidence-based accessible system of substance use treatment services.
[00:16:19] She’s concerned there is potential for serious unintended consequences as a result of these legislative amendments, including the potential for an increase in fatalities. And the argument there is that, and I saw this from some drug user activists is if teenagers, for example, know that there’s a risk, they’ll be arrested for seeking some treatment.
[00:16:38] They’ll. Go further underground use in more dangerous situations. And it’s a net negative overall. Like it’s better to try and take the harm reduction approach rather than just, even if we never end up using the arrest abilities. It’s a kind of dangerous posture. I
[00:16:55] Scott de Lange Boom: think I saw it was, this was a seven day.
[00:16:57] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, it’s two. It would be for 48 hours up to seven
[00:17:00] Scott de Lange Boom: maximum seven days.
[00:17:01] Ian Bushfield: Short term emergency care.
[00:17:03] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Is only following a life threatening overdose. So it’s, I, I hear the concerns at the same time. It’s just another tool in the toolbox, but needs to be paired with a lot more options as well, to put a complete picture together on that.
[00:17:20] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. It was just most notable for me to see the chief coroner speak out so strongly about a proposed amendment. I know a lot of activists are going to be watching this closely and trying to push back on it. And so, uh, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on that. But along with the bevy of bills, there’ve been a few re uh, regulation changes and regulatory changes as we sort of sh that are tied with, I guess, the shift from phase two to phase three, uh, you wanted to flag some of the changes to tenancy rules that have come up recently.
[00:17:54] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So back when the crisis started PC put in place, a bunch of rules around, uh, banning evictions, as well as rules about, um, what landlords can and can’t do. Uh, so in the latter case, for example, they, uh, limited non-emergency. Entry of landlords into tenant suites. Uh, in normal times there’s a 24 hour notice period.
[00:18:20] Uh, but that was just limited to emergencies. Only that’s being rolled back as well as. The promises now changing the regulations back to what they were when it comes to evictions with the inception of nonpayment of rent that a particular veteran band staying in place for the time being as well as the renter’s assistance is being extended.
[00:18:49] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. So the money is still there. That is flowing until the end of August. Um, But these changes on eviction questions, uh, are raising some concerns among tenant activists and tenant organizers. Cause you know, it will result in some people being evicted, whether it’s for, um, rent, eviction type situations.
[00:19:12] Um, maybe not exactly that, but anytime you have a property that someone wants to renovate, maybe the landlord wants to move back in. Um, you know, there’s a number of situations that will come up and it’ll be interesting to see what the effect of this is. And if there’s going to be a sort of, Oh, well, he was, I’m not evicting them for not paying I’m evicting them for these other reasons and how those kind of sort out, but, you know, We’re in a slightly better situation than we were a couple of months ago.
[00:19:48] So, you know, these weren’t going to last forever. So
[00:19:53] Scott de Lange Boom: no, it was always going to be a temporary measure because you do want there to be methods for a landlord to evict someone if necessary. And that can be for stuff like wanting to move back into one’s own property and. Important to have that option available.
[00:20:13] So it made sense as we’re coming out of the worst of the crisis, that, that, um, gets reinstated as an option,
[00:20:20] Ian Bushfield: at least until we, uh, eliminate the need for private landlords and the drain they create on the economy. That’s
[00:20:29] Scott de Lange Boom: not really going to happen.
[00:20:31] Ian Bushfield: No, not under, not under this government or one we’re likely to
[00:20:34] Scott de Lange Boom: get likely government.
[00:20:37] Ian Bushfield: All right. In addition to the regulatory changes around renting, there’s a number of new reports in other, a task force being formed. Uh, the first one that was actually quite shocking earlier this week was the announcement. And the release of, uh, some findings that there are allegations of racism in the healthcare system, particularly up North.
[00:21:01] Um, when I saw that headline, it was kind of just raises flags. And when you dig into the story, it turns out nurses in ERs and certain hospitals were playing games of guests, the blood alcohol content of typically indigenous, um, Patients as they come in or people they thought might be. And I get that, there’s a dark humor that kind of goes along with anyone who works in these kinds of very traumatic fields, like ER, health care, but, you know, playing on these stereotypes and these racist, um, tropes is very dangerous and can have a very direct effect on the.
[00:21:45] Health outcomes of the patients. So the province has launched a task force to review this and has appointed, um, well known, very reputable, um, lawyer, Mary Ellen, triple LaFond to investigate it and start to figure out what’s happening, root out the problems and try to. Make sure our healthcare system is equitable and not racist.
[00:22:14] Scott de Lange Boom: So where the goal of the report that just got released was from the office of the ombudsperson, uh, it related to, to the ministerial orders that were put forward during the crisis. So this is specifically orders. Emo 98, which suspends the limitation periods and loss, statutory decision makers to wave suspended said mandatory timeframes relating to their decision making powers.
[00:22:41] What it sounds like basically allows them to put stuff off that they’re statutorily required to do, uh, in light of the pandemic. And then a ministerial order, M one three nine, which exempted local governments from bunch of statutory requirements around. The conduct of meetings and public hearings and passage bylaws, and the ombuds person found that the ministers, the ministers didn’t actually have the authority to issue these orders.
[00:23:12] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. The second one is the really interesting one as. That was issued so that municipalities could hold virtual public hearings or how old or Matt and skip them in some cases are still get around and still function.
[00:23:30] Scott de Lange Boom: They couldn’t skip them, but they could
[00:23:32] Ian Bushfield: hold hearings without the public and attendance, for example, at council meetings.
[00:23:37] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, but the council meetings themselves could be done without public attendance and the public hearings should be moved entirely
[00:23:43] Ian Bushfield: virtually. And a number of bylaws have been passed under that order. And they’re now, I guess in question of, are they valid since arguably they were unconstitutional? Uh, the minister notably did replace that second order with a newer one, which the ombudsperson says is an improvement.
[00:24:06] But there are still some it’s still not perfect. There’s still questions that could be raised about it. Uh, some of these issues were addressed in bill 19, the COVID related COVID-19 related measures act, which is positive to see that the government listened very quickly to these flags. But yeah, there’s still leaves a lot of questions about what will happen with municipalities, where there might be contentions about.
[00:24:31] How they proceeded.
[00:24:32] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So I was just looking at this now. So the final revision to the order that got passed was yeah. yeah. I’m looking on the sea of Vancouver website right now for public irrationally drone to be speeding that after we finished recording here and they’re still listing so. Was clear, clear a few things that still need to be sorted out here on that.
[00:24:55] Uh, so the specific reason why the ombuds person found that these were not legal orders was that. The ministers don’t actually have the ability to just decide certain statutes aren’t applicable anymore, even in an emergency case, which, you know, makes a lot of sense from a rule of law point of view and do it they’re catching up.
[00:25:19] But yeah, like she said, it’s going to need some fixes at the back end to get these, to be a suitable so that local governments can actually carry on their business as needed.
[00:25:30] Ian Bushfield: I mean for all the different changes we’ve made as a society through COVID-19 the like technical wonky cleanups of so many laws and bills is probably going to be like one of the most likely to actually stick.
[00:25:46] Like there’s a lot of things that I’ve half joked, half seriously wish could be more permanent or a better way to do things. On a longer term, but what I think we’ll mostly see is just all of these bills and all of these laws become more nimble at allowing well, even just modernized, you know, allowing hearings to be online in part and allowing people to participate in things virtually or societies to hold meetings virtually.
[00:26:13] And that’s good.
[00:26:15] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It’s definitely good. The public hearings that are required any time. A city wants to change its own name, which happens all lot. They’re required to do a public hearing and they’re horribly unrepresentative because they’ll who has time to spend four hours on a random weekday night at city hall, except, you know, well off homeowners who don’t have much else going on.
[00:26:40] So there’s a bunch of problems with them that they should definitely look at updating and allowing people to call in. Does. Incrementally move things to a slightly more representative way. So that’s good. It’s a little, but like you said, it’s annoying that it took a pandemic to actually get this underway.
[00:26:58] And there’s a lot of little things like that throughout society that when push comes to shove, if you know, Restaurants can sell alcohol for a delivery. Now, there was clearly never any real reason why they couldn’t have done it before,
[00:27:15] Ian Bushfield: except, or that they can buy it at wholesale prices rather than liquor store prices.
[00:27:20] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, exactly. And yeah, the, this was stalling that’s being thrown about, about like there’s no libertarians and a pandemic, but. The libertarians kind of had a point about a lot of these laws and regulations that once we hit an emergency turned out not to actually have any real use
[00:27:40] Ian Bushfield: to them. Quite indeed.
[00:27:42] Uh, the final thing on BC politics before we shift gears. That I guess that I guess turns out also, arguably doesn’t have a use, at least in Alan Mullin’s view is the Sergeant at arms, uh, Richard Osman for global news, got a copy of the report that he had submitted to the legislative affairs management committee lamps.
[00:28:06] Earlier this year, that’s been under lock and key since then, this is the report he generated. I believe following his tour, his driving tour around North America. Visiting different legislatures,
[00:28:18] Scott de Lange Boom: Western North America. I think it was, I don’t think he visited the Florida legislature. No, but he spent a bunch of time and I think it was $13,000 driving around both Canada and the U S looking at how they handled their.
[00:28:35] Uh, legislative security and in the end has recommended that the Sergeant at arms and head of security positions be split apart. And the Sergeant at arms. Yeah, basically relegated to a ceremonial position. Well, security’s headed up by a separate individual
[00:28:55] Ian Bushfield: and this is a pretty interesting recommendation because he also goes and says that we should repeal the legislative assembly police force and replace it with more of a security force, which is actually a very interesting call.
[00:29:09] Right. As people talk about defunding the police, I don’t think most activists had strong opinions about the legislative assembly police force, but suddenly Alan Mullin is on their side.
[00:29:20] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Although the report also recommends moving to an unarmed security force, which probably not a great idea. It wasn’t that long ago that, um, armed security at the federal legislature.
[00:29:35] Was needed to stop a shooter. So it was one of those things like you do actually want to have that level of protection at a major government building like that. So,
[00:29:47] Ian Bushfield: I mean, that’s a one, that’s one case in 20, 30 years of all of Canada’s legislatures, which, you know, Building policy off exceptional situations is probably not the best approach.
[00:30:01] Uh, with security, with security, you do want to be cautious.
[00:30:05] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, the thing is you want to protect against the tail events that the unlikely, but quite damaging events and security is one of those things where. Yeah. The worst case scenario may happen very rarely, but you do need to be prepared for it.
[00:30:21] Ian Bushfield: The report does put out that making the changes suggested I believe could save about a million dollars a year for the BC legislature as the.
[00:30:31] Uh, police force that they have right now, I believe it’s like almost 40 armed constables or fulltime constables, which is not a small force for the legislature. Uh, and this would help. I mean, if we saved a million dollars a year, it makes us $13,000 trip around the Western continent, a splash in the bucket, uh, that said Allen Mullen and Darryl plexus have clearly had it.
[00:31:00] At four, not headed out for, but have clearly been happy, focusing their eye on the Sergeant at arms and security and arrangement around the legislature. And it’s always been this back and forth of, they do seem to have a lot of good points, but the way they go about recommending or tackling them have always raised eyebrows.
[00:31:21] So it’s a question of, I guess, whether this is. Something lamps he is going to take up seriously, or if it’s going to kind of gather dust and I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the committee decides to do. I think they’ve probably been focused on quite a few other things recently, but eventually this will come back to.
[00:31:41] Their desk,
[00:31:45] Scott de Lange Boom: if not our second segment, two mites for our main, this past week, uh, China officially charged the two Canadians they’re holding, uh, Michael Corvette and Michael’s before, uh, with espionage, uh, these are the. Two individuals who China arrested shortly after, uh, Canada detain Walway it’s editive mainwan Joe at the ventral for airport.
[00:32:11] And until now that have been held without charge in China and China is now moving ahead with officially charging them.
[00:32:21] Ian Bushfield: The related story to this is it’s now coming out. Sort of indirectly through, uh, one of their spouses, one of the Michael’s spouses that, uh, if Canada releases . China will happily, or maybe not happily, but will release these two Michaels.
[00:32:41] Scott de Lange Boom: not just from, uh, the spouse, a spokesman for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, explicitly linked to the, to basically removing any subtext from this and making a pretty explicit example of cats that. These two Canadians are being held as bargaining chips or leverage to try and stop the extradition of Manoir.
[00:33:07] Ian Bushfield: Joe. One of the other stories that also came out is that there’s this group of parliamentarians diplomats, uh, who. Include a former Supreme court justice Louise, our bore, a former liberal foreign affairs minister, Lloyd Axworthy, former conservative foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, a QC gal, former conservative Senator, and even NDP former leader at Broadbent and many others who cite some specific legal opinions saying, uh, the justice minister will have to make a choice.
[00:33:42] At a certain time and can use and has the authority to consider political situations and realities in that before an extradition is granted. And so the foreign affairs minister, or, sorry, the attorney general, um, can make a call about whether to have her be extradited or to essentially just release her and the, uh, diplomats and parliamentarians here.
[00:34:05] Say, you know what? It’s probably cleaner just to let her go. Back to China.
[00:34:12] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Um, so I think Andrew Cohen probably set it past that legal opinion was more of a political opinion being covered as a legal opinion because everybody knew that the attorney general does have the ultimate sign off on any extradition.
[00:34:31] But this really is, is the, uh, political argument that Canada is better off. Trading a way Mang for the two Canadians. So that that’s been put out last couple of days, a Trudeau today responded with a pretty emphatic not going to happen. And I think just reasoning was pretty compelling on this. That basically if countries around the world, I’m following him to countries around the world, including China realized that by arbitrarily arresting random Canadians, they can get what they want out of Canada politically.
[00:35:03] Well, that makes an awful lot more Canadians who travel around the world, foldable to that kind of pressure. He’s not wrong on that. I
[00:35:10] Ian Bushfield: mean, it’s a nice bit of rhetoric from Trudeau, but it’s also largely I think bullshit because what’s the other side of it that if Canadians are arrested, arbitrarily that our foreign affairs team is gonna go too bad.
[00:35:27] Like what, what exactly is Canada doing to get these two out of jail?
[00:35:32] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, I believe there are a bunch of. Diplomats in China right now from Canada working on this very question. And it’s not like we’ve just completely ignored it, but there’s also a pretty clear line that we’re not going to cross. And in my opinion, shouldn’t cross on this one that, that we will grant political consideration for their release.
[00:35:56] Ian Bushfield: I mean, this, this entire situation is just like, Aggravating and frustrating for me, like when Mangwana and Joe is in custody in Canada, not because we have decided she’s broken our law, although there’s this question about whether the fraud that she. Did to the U S as we discussed on a previous, uh, case was ruled to be, or, you know, it was ruled that she may have committed fraud through some definition of it.
[00:36:26] So our case will continue, but the
[00:36:29] Scott de Lange Boom: primary pretty clear definition of
[00:36:30] Ian Bushfield: the primary reason she’s under arrest is because the U S wants her under arrest for their own, you know, Purposes and you know, whether or not those are valid or not is not a Canadian legal issue. It’s whether or not we send her away.
[00:36:47] And so we’re basically just playing for the U S here and, you know, there are times we do that and there are times we haven’t in the past and I, you know, I’m struggling to see what’s the benefit to Canada of keeping . In the sex tradition hearing?
[00:37:05] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, we do have an extradition treaty with the U S that we would like to maintain and showed any Canadian or should any person commit a crime in Canada and fleet to the U S we would like to be able to have the Americans arrest them and extradite them to Canada, to face justice.
[00:37:22] And it is. In our general interest to maintain that ability,
[00:37:27] Ian Bushfield: but the Americans, aren’t going to tear up our extradition treaty. If we’ve decided for political reasons that we’re going to release her. I mean, it’s the same way as like we didn’t go to Iraq yet. We still maintained a good Alliance within NATO with the U S like Canada can take a stand that’s different than us at times, and not just be effectively hapless, lapdog.
[00:37:53] Scott de Lange Boom: Right. But at the same time, what’s the benefit for Canada of given into China’s demands on this and
[00:37:59] Ian Bushfield: we get our Canadians back.
[00:38:00] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. But when China took the hostages, I think they kind of forced our hand not to release man won joke. Because of the reasons that Trudeau articulated that if we, now that there have been hostages taking, if we give into that, that sends an explicit signal, that the nets time China is in a dispute with us, they should arbitrarily arrest.
[00:38:25] Two more Canadians in order to get what they want on that case.
[00:38:30] Ian Bushfield: I just feel like we’re playing this zero sum black and white approach to foreign policy where we have the good guys America and the bad guys, China. And it’s, you know, if we can, we can build positive relationships in both directions. For the longest time we had started to go down bit.
[00:38:47] Stronger relationship with trying to, even though, you know, there’s still flags and we need to talk, you know, we can’t let them off the hook for human rights abuses or any of that. But at the same time, You know, it’s not zero sum. We can try to work together and work with trade. Like other countries don’t have these as many issues it’s hardly, or maybe they just avoid it.
[00:39:07] Scott de Lange Boom: There are plenty of countries that are facing issues with China, whether it’s, um, Australia, which has had a similar issues that we’re having, whether it’s China’s neighbors in the South China, sea, who are quite rightly annoyed at China for. Claim large chunks of it that are outside of it. Maritime boundaries.
[00:39:28] Yeah. I get that. We want this to be positive some, but there are some cases where there are just going to be zero or some decisions. And this looks like one of them, like there doesn’t appear to be an obvious positive, some way out of this. And ultimately we’re going to have to make a choice one way or the other on this.
[00:39:47] And. Siding with the us has a default makes a lot more sense than siding with China on zero-sum issues like this, because we have an, a very important Alliance with the United States and advancing China’s interests is not really something that is generally in Canada’s interest on this. And if it does become an explicitly political decision, we’ve all decided with the U S because.
[00:40:15] It matters more for Canada’s longterm security and prosperity that the U that we maintain our relationship with the U S
[00:40:23] Ian Bushfield: I pushed back though. I think like the approach the U S has taken to foreign policy particularly recently, but for a long time has been one that is a greater threat to world.
[00:40:33] Stability is a greater threat to peace, like China aside for the U S we’re talking about. Decades of coups in South America, destabilizing the middle East, the U S has been a big blockage to peace in, uh, between Israel and Palestine. It’s only recently that Canada finally broke and joined the larger international consensus and trying to move to reconcile, uh, recognized Palestinian statehood.
[00:40:58] Once again, like Canada can take an independent approach that can also criticize. China’s threat to the world. Um, and world peace will not just siding uncritically with the States. I don’t know. Maybe we arrest her under our own law and keep her in Canada. Maybe that’s the worst situation.
[00:41:18] Scott de Lange Boom: I think that would actually just make everything worse.
[00:41:20] Yeah. The U S won’t get what they want. Yeah. It’s a complicated situation, but. At the end of the day, Canada should not send a signal. That hostage diplomacy is how you get what you want from Canada.
[00:41:35] Ian Bushfield: Maybe we send, no, this is, I was thinking of an even worse strategy of sending a, an, a covert mission into China.
[00:41:42] And that would obviously be bad. Nevermind that we’re not going to extradite. Okay. You know, go and rescue these people. Unfortunately. It’s tough. I do hope we can find a better solution.
[00:41:54] Scott de Lange Boom: So a little too Hollywood and outcome.
[00:41:56] Ian Bushfield: Yeah.
[00:41:57] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, wonder if that does want candidate get a little tougher on China is a drip of 12 senators who are mostly conservative, but not entirely.
[00:42:06] We’re calling on. The government to impose or enact a law that we have on our footstep allows us to target the. Personal finances of foreign officials, responsible for violating human rights and freeze those assets in Canada and forbid Canadian institutions from doing business with them. China’s obviously engaged in a lot of human rights abuses, and that would allow us to target quite a few individuals within their government.
[00:42:37] If we enacted on that.
[00:42:40] Ian Bushfield: Remember, I think it was two or three years ago. Uh, China decided may have even just been last year, China decided they were going to stop taking canola imports from Canada and suddenly like it almost crushed a big chunk of our agricultural industry. That’s what happens if we start going after their officials, like we like to pretend we could play strong and uh, you know, I commend them for saying, we should take action on these human rights abuses and that’s.
[00:43:07] Not something I disagree with, but China is a bigger country and will crush us if we try to fight an economic war with them. And they’ve proven that they’ll do it.
[00:43:16] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. There’s been a lot of talk out of, particularly the conservative party about getting tough on China. And it’s not the sort of thing that’s easily done that takes, it will take quite a bit of finesse.
[00:43:27] And it’s one thing to not give into unreasonable demands. Um, like we were talking about earlier, but it’s quite another to. Doing a start a tit for tat with them that we’re not necessarily going to be able to come out, head on. And if this was a more coordinated action with other friendly governments, such as you countries, Britain, Australia, the U S it might be more effective as a coordinated effort, but just Canada going alone.
[00:44:01] We’re just not paid enough. And like, as long as Canada is a smallest country of 38 million, we’re just not going to have the ability to really throw our weight around so much because we just don’t have that much weight. And if we want to change that, that’s something we should maybe look at. But as long as we’re such a small fraction of China’s population and economy, we’re not going to be able to have much Billie.
[00:44:28] And I realize a lot is where. No only a 10th, the size of the us. We’re going to be reliant on them for a lot of things too. And there’s just limits to what Canada can do solo here. And I don’t know, maybe it would have been joined us. The liberals had spent more time with their foreign affairs team working on strengthening those relationships and building up a more United front against China.
[00:44:55] Then. Pointlessly campaign and for security council seat,
[00:44:59] Ian Bushfield: although to be fair, I don’t think that was actually such a cute, like listening to the latest boys and short pants where they really dig into that campaign. It was a small fraction, you know, it was 11 people in a small amount of money, but I don’t think global affairs has a clear mandate about what they’re doing on any question.
[00:45:17] Scott de Lange Boom: It may be in a small fraction on the, um, Staffing level at the civil service did not seem to be a particularly small fraction of the political levels, commitment to a foreign policy.
[00:45:30] Ian Bushfield: Fair. I do think this just plays into a larger, um, attempted conservative narrative to get out there of really trying to be tough on China.
[00:45:40] Uh, tough on communism. That kind of thing. It gets me though that like, when you think about it, like I brought up the canola sanctions for a specific reason, like those hit. The co like those hit conservative writings, like those had Alberta, Saskatchewan, rural ridings, where conservatives run up the table.
[00:46:00] That, so there’s a weird, like political calculus where the things they want to do are things that could actually indirectly hurt their own voters.
[00:46:10] Scott de Lange Boom: Although it’s not like the conservatives are gonna lures lose rural Saskatchewan, even in trade war. True. Very true. That conservatives aren’t necessarily wrong, that the liberal party in general has historically approached China with Rose colored glasses, and assume that they’re going to probably be more amenable to Candace in first then has been born out by fat, but it’s not clear that they can just a, will be tougher.
[00:46:39] Is this an inherently better strategy? Because there isn’t. Anything really articulated behind that and how that actually gets executed in practice. And that’s really gonna make a big difference when you’re the smaller player in a game.
[00:46:53] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. One of the other things they were talking about on the boys and short pans is how Canada kind of, we need to accept where a small country like Norway and Ireland who won security council seats.
[00:47:04] They both accept. That they’re small countries and act as such Canada. I think it’s still in this. We’re a middle power, you know, we’re not America, but we’re not a nowhere, you know, country you haven’t heard of or something like that. And, well, Canada, isn’t the smallest economy and we are in , we’re kind of at the bottom of those lists.
[00:47:22] We’re like the. We’re the biggest of the small countries. And maybe we could be a big fish in the small pond rather, rather than be the small fish in the big pond.
[00:47:31] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Like Norway has a population, the size of BC. So it’s yeah, definitely a lot smaller, but Canada doesn’t necessarily have the same position globally that it did at the end of world war two.
[00:47:45] And. We need to realize that trying to basically retreat like the Pearson error review of Canada’s place in the world, isn’t a practical one in entering the third decade now of, of this century. And it’s, it’s gonna be tough and we’re going to have to, I think actually have a serious conversation at some point about what Canada is.
[00:48:07] Foreign policy is how, what is place in the world is. How it substantively advances its own interest and Canada for whatever reason has a political culture that is not amenable to making those conversations easy. And maybe it’s the benefit of geography being separated from all of our potential adversaries and allied with.
[00:48:35] With not only a major, super proper like the superpower in our hemisphere. That’s right beside us. We tend to not want to talk about foreign policy issues very seriously. And we’ve kind of had the luxury of not doing that. And that seems to be coming to an end pretty quick. And Canada. Better start having those discussion soon because it’s going to get a lot worse if we don’t.
[00:48:59] Ian Bushfield: I mean, there’s also a bit of a consensus, I think, around Ottawa, bubbles, whether it’s conservative or liberal government about what sort of approaches to take globally. And it’s largely aligned with us interests. And so when. There’s challenges to that and challenges about when those issue interests may collide with Canada’s interests.
[00:49:22] Yeah. I think there’s a hesitancy among that establishment to really engage with those questions. And, you know, the NDP has never formed governments, so they can’t really Mount an effective critique of our federal foreign policy situation. I don’t think drug meets Singh or even. Tom will care how her Chuck, Jack Layton had a strong position on that.
[00:49:43] And so the NDP is just tried to keep their head down as well on these questions and focus domestically, where they do tend to be stronger on issues.
[00:49:50] Scott de Lange Boom: I don’t think even if the NDP somehow did the impossible informed government in Canada, I don’t think it’s that likely that they’d actually end up straying too far from what has been Canada’s foreign policy to date.
[00:50:08] Foreign policy is one of those things that operates in a space with a lot of constraints and geography and economic reasons does significantly constrain Canada’s ability to operate significantly independently of the U S like we’re just so well tied together. So well, integrated and geography is kind of forcing us to do that.
[00:50:36] Would be very hard for any government to substantively depart from that.
[00:50:44] Ian Bushfield: well, I’m moving on to just a couple of quick takes to close us off today. Canada’s credit rating has been downgraded by Fitch as our deficit continues to balloon due to coronavirus spending.
[00:50:56] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So they’re one of the credit rating agencies. They. Bumped us from a triple a, to a double a plus because of all the new debt we’ve taken on as a result of Corona virus and the economic, uh, responses to that.
[00:51:11] So like these predator rings are basically an assessment of how likely Canada is to repay and that can affect what our ability or how, how good an interest rate we can get when we issue debt. Yeah, a double AA plus is still pretty good. It’s not going to substantively change everything. Every other country in the world is taking on huge amounts of debt too.
[00:51:34] So it’s not like we’re drawing to become relatively less attractive as a place to purchase bonds from. So hopefully overall, it’s not a big deal one way or the other, and it’s going to cause some little hay. The conservatives will no doubt. You use this to point to Trudeau’s reckless spending and how they should have brought the Tufts at town under control earlier.
[00:52:01] And yeah, we’ll make a bit of it on the margins makes a bit of a difference, but overall, it’s not a huge in this probably would have been common whether or not we’d run a balanced budget for, for the last four years.
[00:52:14] Ian Bushfield: And BC is still sitting at a triple a credit rating though. There are some flags on that because similarly we have.
[00:52:20] Big deficits, uh, lining up, but you know, interest rates are still low. So this isn’t going to hurt too much and presuming we can get things back on track.
[00:52:30] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And the fainter campus is doing everything it can to keep interest rates pretty low during this time, too. So it’s not like the credit rating agency is the sole determinant of it.
[00:52:41] Plus the other two major agencies still have us at a, uh, triple a. So it took even only one to three right now, and like having a good credit rating, you know, a nice feather in your cap. But, so that’s an argument that if you’re. Have such a high credit rating. It does mean you might be leaving some money on the table that you could borrow to invest in, you know, longterm productivity enhancing investments in Canada.
[00:53:10] And that, you know, maybe in the time of low interest rates, the right balance, isn’t necessarily triple a in that case. And finally a follow up to our discussion last week. And I guess ties into our second segment a bit too. Foreign affairs minister, Felipe. Sean Penn has repaid the mortgages. He owed to a state owned bank in China.
[00:53:38] Uh, these were for the two properties in the UK that he’d taken out a mortgage for when he was living in the UK, working there prior to entering politics. And as we discussed last week, it wasn’t a great look and did raise some. Questions about the judgment of him and the prime minister and why he still had these.
[00:54:02] Uh, even after entering public service and becoming minister of foreign affairs, uh, but he has now repaid those mortgages no longer owes a Chinese state owned bank, any money, which is, you know, good. But why did it take a story in the globe and mail for that to happen is I guess my big question out of all of it,
[00:54:21] Ian Bushfield: I guess, I don’t know, maybe he’s the kind of.
[00:54:24] Wealthy aristocrat, who just forgets how many mortgages and properties he owns.
[00:54:31] Scott de Lange Boom: The 1.2 million mortgage is just around an error on the
[00:54:35] Ian Bushfield: thing you do. You outsource all this to your accountant and let them deal with it. He probably, I mean, the point is he should have done this when he took the job in cabinet or even before that.
[00:54:45] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, because it was the slowest too. So. Got on to the disclosure filing. So like it like that should have been a red flag or then,
[00:54:52] Ian Bushfield: I mean, the other thing, the other lesson here is go read those disclosure filings. There’s sometimes some good juice in there.
[00:54:58] Scott de Lange Boom: I’m actually surprised it took that long for that to raise any red flags because he’s been elected since 2015.
[00:55:05] You think someone would have looked at them before 2020.
[00:55:09] Ian Bushfield: But here we are.