The following is a largely AI-generated transcript for our Episode 201. 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.
[00:01:56] Ian Bushfield: Well, joining us on politicos from Evidence for Democracy is Tej Heer the author, one of the coauthors of a new report, spotlight on integrity that looks at the state of science in British Columbia, which is something I think we’re both pretty big fans of.
[00:02:18] So Tej welcome to the podcast.
[00:02:20] Tej Heer: Thanks for having me.
[00:02:21] Ian Bushfield: So this new report comes from the group evidence for democracy, for those who haven’t heard of it, what is .
[00:02:29] Tej Heer: Evidence for democracy is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that broadly focused is on trying to promote evidence-based democracy and evidence space policymaking.
[00:02:41] We do three types of work. Our first as a issue based campaigns. We also do education programs that include training tools. And then we do research programs. Um, and oftentimes these crossover, like in the case of this current study, it’s mostly researched with a bit of issue based campaign thrown in.
[00:02:58] Scott de Lange Boom: Okay.
[00:02:59] So you have a new report out a spotlight on integrity as well as there was a previous report oversight at brisk, both focusing on public sector science and specifically members of. The professional employees association. Can you give us a better sense of who the scientists are and what their job is and why they’re important?
[00:03:18] Tej Heer: Yeah, so essentially we worked with them, the professional employees association, which is the union that represents some of the, uh, scientific professionals in the public sector and largely what the scientific professionals do, uh, is. Work on the science generally in the natural resources sector or forestry and departments like that.
[00:03:38] But these are the scientists that are monitoring your natural resources monitoring for the environment I’m doing work sometimes even in public, uh, where there are the basis of making the policies that the government uses. Um, they are keeping them our environment’s healthy. They’re keeping your public healthy and they keep the economy going.
[00:03:58] So they’re important as they’re the backbone of what BC policies are supposed to be based off of.
[00:04:04] Ian Bushfield: And so the 2017 report. Looked at British Columbia and it looked at the, I guess, the freedom and the transparency within public sector science, uh, you weren’t around for the writing of that report, but I’m sure you read it and know it for sure.
[00:04:19] Well, could you just kind of give us the broad overview of, you know, what was the motivation for that report? What did it find? You know, what were the concerns that came out of that in 2017?
[00:04:29] Tej Heer: Yeah. So on a broader scale level, E for D came about during the Harper era and was motivated by sort of the muzzling of government scientists that was going on at the federal level, um, is that it informed a lot of our earlier work leading to the 2017.
[00:04:44] And at the same time, there were concerns about, um, external professionals within the working with the BC public sector. And there are incidents that have led us to. Do this with the professional employees association, the survey of the scientific professionals, and essentially what they were trying to find was like, what was the state of the scientific integrity in 2017 and broadly what the big conclusions would there were that.
[00:05:10] There was this concern of over-reliance on external professionals. There wasn’t enough internal search capacity for the scientists doing the work in house. So they were going to external professionals. And oftentimes there wasn’t oversight of these professionals. Um, and there were sort of conflict of interests and this was leading to problems.
[00:05:27] On top of that, there were also concerns about the ability of scientists to speak to the public or speak to the media. Um, and also just the ability of them to do their own job. And if they have the research capacity to complete the work at the highest level, it sounds
[00:05:41] Scott de Lange Boom: the last report. Uh, this one, the 2020 report to give us a brief overview of kind of what the high level, uh, things you learned from it were and who you talked to to get that information.
[00:05:53] Tej Heer: So we did a follow up survey essentially in 2020, uh, with the PTA again. Um, and we got around 300 responses, which is, uh, pretty good. And our broad scale one was we. So how we look at scientific integrity as we split it up into three main categories, the first is research capacity. Like that’s all the things required to do research.
[00:06:14] That could be knowledge that can be, uh, The people working that can be time. Um, the second pillar that we look at is communication. Um, scientists should be able to communicate to the public and also to policy makers. And the third is the science should be independence. There shouldn’t be interference and science should be able to be done with independence.
[00:06:35] And largely what we found was there were concerns for all three of those categories. Um, there wasn’t enough broadly research capacity for. Scientific professionals to be completing their work to their mandate. The mandates were clear, so they knew what they were supposed to be doing, but there was large concern that they didn’t have enough internal research capacity to actually complete the mandates.
[00:06:56] So that’s hits that first pillar, the second pillar of communication. Um, even though they were largely allowed to go to conferences and professional development and to talk to the public, the problem was due to the lack of right capacity. They didn’t have time. And oftentimes they were doing this on their own time and they didn’t have funding to do this.
[00:07:14] And the third thing with regards to independence was that scientists perceived, even though that people were coming to them for their advice to me, these policies, they also believe that the ministry’s ability. To develop policies based on the best available evidence had been compromised by political interference, close to 43% of people surveyed believe that.
[00:07:36] So there’s obviously concerns that science was happening with interference from politics. And what we’re looking for is that science is done and then given to the policymakers and then they use that in their decision making process assess with transparency. So we can see how the science is used in the final decision with all the other considerations that go with.
[00:07:55] I’m right now. It’s not clear if that’s happening. So then we from that made, uh, eight recommendations, um, for related to research capacity, two are related to communication and two are related to scientific integrity and independence.
[00:08:09] Ian Bushfield: So we’ll come back to the recommendations, cause those are really interesting as well.
[00:08:13] I want to kind of dig in a little more on this research capacity question. One of the things your report brings up is how. How much our capacity has. I, you know, I can’t put it in another way, but being gutted since the early two thousands, uh, like big 25% reduction. Yeah. In staff size over the years, um, And it seems like what you found is there hasn’t even been, um, within the past couple years, since your previous report, a significant effort to return to those larger numbers or even increase the capacity.
[00:08:49] Now I get that government, uh, it always looks or is always eager to try to keep costs under control, but, um, what does this. A fact, what do these public sector cuts really mean in terms of our government’s ability to get good evidence? Essentially, if
[00:09:07] Tej Heer: the internal capacity isn’t there to do the research, then the government isn’t getting the best available evidence and the best available advice to make their policies.
[00:09:18] Um, the scientific professionals are working for the government, so they have the BCS public interests at heart. Like that’s part of their mandate. That’s part of their job. Um, so having them do the work internally means that it’s going to be for the public good. Um, unfortunately when they don’t have these resources, that’s when they go to external professionals, um, and external professionals have their own, um, oversight mechanisms and things like that.
[00:09:44] But when the oversight professional, or when the external professionals give their reports back to the, um, government, sometimes there isn’t even the capacity or the knowledge to be able to provide correct oversight to that. So even if we’re getting outside people that do it, we can’t even look over it to make sure it’s correct.
[00:10:01] It’s something that we saw come up a lot. So essentially just the whole thing falls apart. If we’re not getting the best available science, the policies might not end up being the best available evidence and that all just tailspins from there essentially.
[00:10:15] Scott de Lange Boom: So in order to correct that lack of capacity within the government, would this be more of a direct funding thing or is this a staffing issue?
[00:10:24] Like obviously staffing. Has funding implications, but would we be able to track this just by giving the existence scientists more resources, or is this going to require expansion of public sector scientists in general?
[00:10:40] Tej Heer: So it’s, um, we, they come at it from both angles into the report. Um, we don’t specify like what would potentially solve it, but in our recommendations, we have, uh, identified that right now there’s a lot of vacancies.
[00:10:52] So jobs that are filled or B are supposed to be failed, they’re being delayed filling. So even like if they were hiring, if they just filled those vacancies, then they’ll have more research capacity. Another thing that came up was that there was a lack of succession planning when people were retiring or leaving there, wasn’t the transfer of knowledge to the new person taking over the job.
[00:11:13] And that obviously loses a lot of institutional knowledge and reduces that research capacity. And these are all things that if you put in place hiring policies, uh, hiring practices and succession planning, that you can very easily increase the research capacity. Um, without having to make like significant funding additions like that, this was already there.
[00:11:32] You just need to, in those vacancies and develop plans for it. On top of that, we do recommend that there might need to be increase in support and technical staff for the ministries. A lot of the researchers, uh, the scientific professionals that we surveyed, uh, notified us that they were doing a lot of support work and a lot of administrative work, which obviously takes time from, uh, the actual research which they’re hired to do.
[00:11:55] So there is that need. Also for the increase of research shirts in the public sector, but also you can do simple fixes that will help increase the research capacity without having to make those substantial additions.
[00:12:12] Ian Bushfield: So one of the things we have seen changed in the past couple of years since their previous report was, uh, the passage of a couple of bills, largely around professional reliance.
[00:12:22] And we’ve talked with in the past with green MLA and now leadership candidate, I guess, on your first to now, who I know personally was very interested in championed a lot of efforts to improve, uh, Professional governance and public reliant, professional reliance in the public sector. You know, you talk a little bit about that in your report, maybe just for listeners, how have those moves, uh, improved if at all, uh, scientific integrity in the province
[00:12:53] Tej Heer: from our survey results, we didn’t really see a shift from 2017 to 2020.
[00:12:58] We asked the question that was, has your research capacity improved? Um, since 2017 and it was mostly split, uh, 33% or one third, one third, one third for no change, increase and decrease. Um, so we haven’t seen it from the people that we’re serving. Um, and largely that it is because the bills that were passed were more focused on, uh, the first two recommendations from the hat of report.
[00:13:22] So haddock made a report in 2018 where they made 121 recommendations and, uh, the bill that was passed, I believe bill 49. Um, was more to do with the professor or external professionals themselves. Then with regards to the internal research capacity of the, uh, public sector science, um, bills might be successful in what they were doing, which was making an office of the superintendent of professional governments.
[00:13:46] And they’re clarifying the role of a nonprofessional government. Non-government professionals. Sorry. Um, but that we didn’t see that translate into a change in research capacity or not one that we could substantially pull out, uh, in the eyes of the people that we serve
[00:14:02] Scott de Lange Boom: us. Let’s move on a bit to the communications and training.
[00:14:05] How has that situation evolved since the previous report?
[00:14:10] Tej Heer: Again, we didn’t see a lot of changes since the 2017 report and that followed in the communication. Uh, we saw that people were largely allowed to communicate with the public. Um, although I’ll be it with permission. Um, but we didn’t see any sort of major shift from the previous results in 2017.
[00:14:31] Do you,
[00:14:31] Ian Bushfield: what kind of steps do you think need to be taken to improve that freedom to communicate?
[00:14:39] Tej Heer: One thing we saw a lot in the results was that, uh, people weren’t sure if they were allowed to communicate or when they’re allowed to communicate or whether or not they’re, um, had permission to do something.
[00:14:49] So one thing we recommend is that to have clear scientific. Communication policies so that you can reply to requests to speak to the public or speak to the media in a timely manner. And that the average employee has access to these policies so that they’re able to understand what they’re allowed to do and, um, who they have to ask to do something.
[00:15:09] Um, these policies will also clarify to everybody on the outside, like what’s allowed. And then once we have that sort of information, it’s easier to make direct recommendations of how to improve these policies. But right now we are seeing from the people that were surveyed, that they weren’t even sure whether or not they were allowed, um, when they were asked.
[00:15:25] So that was leading them to just not do it. Um, so obviously we need to have clearer, uh, Outlining of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. And then from there you can make more clear recommended.
[00:15:36] Scott de Lange Boom: You mentioned, uh, professional conferences and, uh, professional development for, and how many of the scientists weren’t able to take advantage of those and travel to them.
[00:15:49] Has that significantly changed?
[00:15:52] Tej Heer: Not since 2017. No, we’re still seeing that, uh, they are allowed to, uh, in theory to go to these things. Uh, but it is again, that lack of research capacity that leads to them not being able to. Uh, have the time and the funding to actually attend. So most of them, uh, I think we have a stat in there that a substantial amount felt that they were missing out on advances in their field that were occurring at these training and conferences that they weren’t able to attend.
[00:16:24] 42%, I believe. So we also recommend that there should be a, some sort of policies for increased time off and funding to attend these sort of professional developments and conferences.
[00:16:35] Ian Bushfield: If they’re ever allowed to go back to conferences, post pandemic. That is of course.
[00:16:40] Tej Heer: Yeah. And also that, uh, because conferences are starting to go virtually now, maybe that will ease the, uh, wait the financial burden to go to this, but it still leaves the time, um, to have to like set up a presentation or go and watch all the talks.
[00:16:54] So it might be a little easier now with the sort of virtual things that are coming in and we’ll see how that shakes out. But, uh, it actually makes it. I think easier to now get to conferences. If you don’t have to take like the funding and stuff to get there, although there will still be conference fees.
[00:17:10] Ian Bushfield: I want to switch to the section on independence and your comments earlier about political interference are really interesting looking at these poll results or your survey results. It’s almost a two to one factor of people who have your response, who said their ministries, uh, policies have been compromised by political interference.
[00:17:29] So the ability to develop those policies, uh, what kind of examples are we talking about? Because this is a pretty. Possibly concerning, uh, issue for people who care about evidence based policy. If you know, the ideology is overtaking or even just other political factors are overtaking, um, the science.
[00:17:50] Tej Heer: Yeah.
[00:17:50] So we had some follow up questions and we also had, uh, open comments. So we went through all the comments and pulled out things that were coming up over and over again. And what we were seeing were sort of the entire spectrum of what you would consider political interference. Um, there were data, um, that people were being pressured or felt they were being pressured to not present because they were detrimental to industry.
[00:18:13] And then there were reports of at the highest level, just like key legislation being significantly change in response to industry pressure and also MLS, uh, not liking the repercussions of certain policies. So trying to get, uh, The best practices overturned were two of the examples that we pulled out in the report.
[00:18:33] We also have 25% of scientific professionals having knowledge of information being suppressed or declined by their ministries and specifically leading to misleading impressions by the public industry or government officials. So we’re seeing that, uh, I think at the highest levels, but there was also reports of just managers and sort of a culture of pressure to not.
[00:18:53] Go against what is expected of them with the data. So if there was data or results or policies that they thought were against what was expected, then there was sort of this culture of pressure that people were boarding. Not everybody I shouldn’t say, but from the people that were reporting this the 43%, um, those are the types of stories that we were seeing.
[00:19:15] Scott de Lange Boom: So since the previous reports been done, there’s been a change in government. Do we have any indication whether or not that’s had an impact on this or in whether, uh, scientists were feeling more pressure under one party or another? We didn’t
[00:19:28] Tej Heer: directly ask that question, but we did ask the question about the chain since 2017, as we saw with the sort of one third split, there are some people that are finding that there was an increase in research capacity.
[00:19:39] So maybe there are changes due to the new government’s. Uh, That aren’t being seen, like evenly across all the people that we surveyed. Uh, cause we do have a range of departments, um, and uh, different types of jobs that these scientific professionals are doing. So maybe in some cases they’re seeing an increase due to the government change, but people were also reporting a decrease.
[00:20:02] So it’s hard to tease that out and we didn’t directly ask in this survey.
[00:20:07] Ian Bushfield: I want to pivot a little bit. And one of the things you bring up in the report is how evidence for democracy has been involved in campaigns at the federal level. Um, we don’t need to go through all of that work, but I’m curious what changes, because you know, you mentioned the famous war on data under the Harper government versus.
[00:20:30] Trudeau running in 2015, really on a evidence-based platform or using those that language a lot. Um, what, and one of the, you know, Trudeau brought in a chief scientific advisor and a number of changes. What lessons can we take from the changes that have happened or not really happened at the federal government, uh, and important to BC.
[00:20:55] Do you think, what
[00:20:56] Tej Heer: are the ones that we specifically really point out that the federal government had done was create a model policies on scientific integrity, um, that I believe all of the science-based departments at the federal level, uh, had impact to have in place by the end of 2018. I believe. Um, and so now that they are in place, add all those signs, specific departments or science-based departments, and essentially they’re quite comprehensive documents about that.
[00:21:22] Just lay out the rules for, uh, understanding what the role is of both the government and the people working at the government, the scientific professionals and how we can, uh, what the policies are around commuting, education and research and maintaining that integrity. And that was very much done. I believe directly.
[00:21:40] Um, in result of the Trudeau government being elected, um, obviously there’s, uh, that’s just one thing and we need to. Understand if that had any sort of impact, but as long as the, if the policy is in place, then you can stop worrying about whether or not the enforcement of the policy is in. Currently we would, we recommend making similar policies, so covering that sort of science.
[00:22:01] Yeah. Fricking integrity and also science communication at the BC level. Right. Then it’s like they have the model policy, uh, on the website, uh, further the departments to use. And it’d be very easy to adapt that to a British Columbian context. And also it wouldn’t take all that many more resources to get that into place.
[00:22:18] And once you have that sort of contract in place, then you can start understanding whether or not it’s working or not. But first we need to get to the point where these rules are laid out clearly so that everybody knows what they’re doing and they’re up in the public.
[00:22:32] Scott de Lange Boom: So in terms of the recommendations, what do you see as the major obstacle to actually get?
[00:22:36] And then we implemented,
[00:22:38] Tej Heer: I think, uh, getting them to the. Having the pressure from on, from MLS to make these changes. I think most of these changes are common sense. Um, once you understand what the problem is, and everybody agrees that the solve the problems, the problem is is that with so much going on, especially now, uh, it’s.
[00:22:58] Up to the people to get the information to their respective MLS and the more MLS that are pressured to sort of make these sorts of policies and enact these recommendations. And the more that they see that there is this kind of public support. For public sector science, um, then the ball starts rolling at that pace.
[00:23:17] Um, so definitely the biggest problem that I see is just making sure the politicians know that there is this whale to get these recommendations and to support the public sector science.
[00:23:28] Ian Bushfield: So you released this report in June, and I imagine did much of the work earlier in the year and did writing in the midst of the pandemic.
[00:23:38] What. You know, what is the influence of that? Because this is a situation where, you know, public health officials, dr. Bonnie Henry is on a live stream every day and has been kind of the face of the province. Uh, is this a positive step towards trying to recenter evidence in democracy, evidence in our democracy or, uh, it kind of highlighted different issues that might need to be taken out.
[00:24:05] Tej Heer: think largely we believe that it’s been a good thing, that it sort of puts it to the front and center in the eyes of the beast, the public, uh, what public sector your science can do and the sort of decisions that can be made. Uh, at that type of scale and how they could personally impact people’s lives.
[00:24:23] And I think keeping that in the center is what’s going to lead to sort of getting the ball rolling and having these recommendations in place. And especially if you look at the success of BC in comparison to other provinces and also, uh, to the South, to the States, you can see the difference of using, uh, the political or the.
[00:24:45] Public health scientists and the information, and directly translating that to the Canadian public and specifically NBC, we can see all the different ways that different kinds intrusive reacted a real time. And when you can see the different results that have happened. Um, so from that, uh, we’re hoping that people, I see the benefit of public sector science and then use that going forward as a way to, uh, talk to their MLS and talk to their representatives and make sure that they know.
[00:25:13] That this is something that the BC public wants to strengthen going forward.
[00:25:18] Scott de Lange Boom: Are there any recommendations in the report that we didn’t cover so far?
[00:25:23] Tej Heer: I think we covered most of the, um, yeah. So the broadly there about hiring practices, um, succession planning, uh, increasing the competitive of hiring practices.
[00:25:34] Uh, one thing that we saw was that, uh, people were being. I’m enticed essentially by going into the private sector due to like a lack of. Um, competitive wages and career, uh, career laddering path. So we have two recommendations on that. Um, the rest, I believe we went over with regards to communications and training and then scientific integrity policies and transparency.
[00:25:59] Ian Bushfield: Great. Well, if listeners want to support these recommendations, what should they be doing?
[00:26:05] Tej Heer: So evidence for democracy has set up on their website, uh, evidenced for democracy.ca a tool that you can use. Uh, if you live in BC, uh, to contact your MLA, we, so you type in your postal code and it links up which MLA is representing you.
[00:26:22] And we have. Donut prewritten email. That kind of goes over what I’ve been saying today and, uh, reiterate sear, MLA
[00:26:29] Ian Bushfield: that
[00:26:31] Tej Heer: the public wants support for public sector science. I’m the editor, the email is editable, so you can add your own personal message, but if you don’t want to do that, you just click the submit button.
[00:26:41] Button at the bottom of the page and it’ll send it to your MLA and you’ll get a confirmation.
[00:26:46] Scott de Lange Boom: So one final question I have is presumably there’ll be another report in three years’ time and other survey. Is there anything that kind of peaked your curiosity from the initial or responses here that you’d like to ask more about next time?
[00:27:01] What are the questions still
[00:27:03] Tej Heer: I would like to ask more specific questions about. Political interference. We had some specific ones about like knowledge suppression, but the range of responses that we got in the comments to the political appearance raised issues, that it would be useful to have more survey data on.
[00:27:20] We obviously couldn’t anticipate all of the range of results, but now that we have that going forward, you can start to refine the survey and specifically ask about who is doing this. Is it the manager? Is it the people above them? Um, Examples like that so that we can provide more direct recommendations on how to prevent political interference.
[00:27:41] Um, other than that, it would be interesting to see how things change even after the pandemic, um, and during the pandemic. But obviously if we do it in three years from now, the world might be a very different place. So it’ll be very interesting to see what, how this. Goes into the future with regards to public sector science, hopefully at least to a place where we have strengthened policies and strengthened support for our public sector scientific professionals.
[00:28:05] Ian Bushfield: All right. Well, we’ll make sure to put a link to that action tool and the report itself in our show notes, and people can find those there. Are there any other links or, you know, where can people follow you if they want to learn more or just. Get your opinions on things on the internet. Yeah. So
[00:28:22] Tej Heer: evidence for democracy has a Twitter account, you for DCA, and we also have a Facebook page evidence for democracy.
[00:28:29] Ian Bushfield: Thank you so much stage for taking the time this evening to speak to us.
[00:28:33] Tej Heer: Thank you so much for having me. It’s really nice of you to promote our work
[00:28:41] Scott de Lange Boom: under segment two orange is the new green. We don’t fundraising numbers this week and the NDP is doing well, but the liberals certainly are not. So the top line numbers are the BC NDP rates. 757,000. The liberals were raised 283,000 in the greens raise 142,000. So pretty big gap there between. First and second, in terms of fundraising hole
[00:29:09] Ian Bushfield: and compared to you won both the NDP and BC greens are, it’s been absolute dollar amounts.
[00:29:16] The NDP raised almost $80,000 more than last quarter and the greens almost 37,000 from last quarter, but the BC liberals took a nosedive. Dropping 355,000 versus what they made in the first three months of the year. Uh, the NDP picked up almost a thousand new donors versus the liberals and greens who just bled donors.
[00:29:40] The liberals lost over 3000 donors and the greens actually managed to make that extra money. From basically half as many donors as they had in the first quarter.
[00:29:49] Scott de Lange Boom: So prize that the liberals are down in fundraising, little more surprised that others aren’t it’s pandemic massive, you know, near great depression level drop in economic activity and a recession late.
[00:30:04] I’m actually surprised anyone holding steady in these circumstances. I would have expected a significantly bigger. Drop for everyone.
[00:30:12] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. The NDP have clearly I had a very strong fundraising game for the past three months. I mean, the majority of that uptick was from small donors. Those giving under $250 whose names aren’t reported, uh, there’s 846 additional.
[00:30:30] Donors in that range, giving an extra 84,000. So, you know, that’s the bulk of where the NDPs money is coming from. The liberals are a little more split. They take about 102 from the a hundred thousand from small donors versus 175,000 from larger donors. And the greens are a smaller donor party as well.
[00:30:52] You know, it’s not surprising, like you say, with the pandemic to see a lot of people not giving. And I think that’s where. The greens and liberals got hit on number of donors. Credit to the greens fundraising machine for squeezing more from less, in this case, you kind of lose fat lose sight of the fact that they lost so many donors when their fundraising numbers are actually flat to slightly up.
[00:31:18] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So I w the source are doing a leadership race right now. I don’t know what their exact structure of how the fundraising works on up, but usually parties will take a cut of a fundraising that the. Official candidates managed to, uh, raise so that that may be helping boost the greens numbers a bit.
[00:31:38] Ian Bushfield: The other thing of note here is the per vote. Subsidy is still in place. The NDP takes 760,000 from that, for the last quarter, the BC liberals just shy of 800,330 2000 go to the BC greens. And that was to help the parties transition off of corporate union donations. And onto smaller individual donors. Uh, there’s only gonna be a couple of years left before the promote subsidy goes away.
[00:32:07] It’s going to drop slowly down from where $2 that it was to a dollar 75 provoked. So all of these parties are gonna have to really build up their individual donor game. And right now it seems like the NDP is really leading that game.
[00:32:24] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, certainly it seems that way. And you usually the party in government, especially when they haven’t worn out their welcome yet.
[00:32:35] Generally post the better fundraising numbers. So not entirely surprising there, but what is notable is the gap. It’s just such a large divide between where the BC NDP are, were any of the other parties are. And you know, that that can’t be comfortable for the liberals or their, uh, leadership right
[00:32:56] Ian Bushfield: about now.
[00:32:57] Definitely. I think we’ve talked in the past about some of the more detailed a year end financials for each of the parties and how they hint that there might be not actually a lot of money in the tank for the BC liberals. Their income may just be paying off the expenses. They have let alone any debts versus the NDP are starting to bankroll, you know, fill their coffers and.
[00:33:22] I can’t quite remember where the BC greens are. I think their expenses are actually quite low, so they’re able to operate that tight ship and put some money away. But you know, this may be one of the first times we really have the NDP going with a significant, uh, war chest advantage over their opponents.
[00:33:38] And that I think has renewed consideration of what we started to talk about last week of. A potential fall election. Like if you’re John Horgan’s team right now, and you look at these fundraising numbers, do you just go, this looks like the perfect time.
[00:33:54] Scott de Lange Boom: I think it would be a bad decision for the exact same reasons we talked about last week.
[00:33:59] If anything, this will just make it look more opportunistic and also like. You’ll expect the party to raise a bunch of money during an election. So the liberals might be able to play catch up a bit during the campaign. And overall, it’s just not a good idea to run a fall election. And I can’t say how that’s changed in the last year.
[00:34:22] Ian Bushfield: Nothing sparks. Uh, and anti-socialist donors like the threat of a NDP majority, I guess.
[00:34:29] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. You’d expect to see a lot of those fundraising emails coming out little liberals and yeah, because that’s really what they’re they have going for them right now. Like they haven’t had a good message or really being able to settle on something that works outside of the people who are already pretty on board with them and, you know, hit the NDP on principle.
[00:34:52] There’s nothing. That shows any indication that can change that and fits those deficiencies.
[00:34:58] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, I don’t. I also don’t see any significant advantage that the NDP can pull from an election right now. Like their best case scenario is taking a majority and that gives them four years unimpeded at the same time.
[00:35:14] They can just continue for the next year, fairly smoothly. Like the numbers are still tight, but they’re not so tight that things start getting past. Now, if Andrew Weaver decides that he’s too tired or too many others obligations in his life to continue in politics that could upset the numbers a little bit or any other number of resignations, but.
[00:35:37] At the same time you can coast for a bit. And there’s a lot of leavers that you have when you’re in government government that you risk losing out on. So I can, I can, I can understand the temptation being there, but I have trouble seeing how you sell it as anything other than opportunistic.
[00:35:54] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And voters have often punished the opportunistic politicians who call them lechon.
[00:36:00] And the other thing to think about here is like, there’s no sign, Andrew Wilkinson is. Fixing his issues at all. And, you know, finding a way to actually connect with British Colombians or going to be in a better position to run campaign in a year from now is time. And in the meantime, like there’s, I’m here, rumors are growing dissatisfaction within the liberal party about their current leadership.
[00:36:28] So, you know, Okay. Maybe not a terrible thing for the NDPs perspective, if it drags out a little launder and those that discontent, festers, a pit, the liberals have a lot of work they need to do to fix up their party and put them in a position to run a strong and competitive campaign. And they’re not there yet.
[00:36:51] And I haven’t seen much indication, unfortunately, that they’re going to be in there position in the near future.
[00:36:58] Ian Bushfield: Well, I guess we have the rest of the summer and a few more weeks in September of continued speculation, Pell, it may be just continued speculation until we hit whenever, whenever the scheduled elections supposed to kick off October.
[00:37:14] I guess the election would be October, 2021. So until next fall we’ll be speculating.
[00:37:23] Let’s jump into quicktakes. First thing we want to talk about is more fundraising numbers. The federal ones are out as well. I don’t think we have as many thoughts or opinions on these. Uh, the core second quarter fundraising shows that the conservatives pulled in about three and a half million dollars in direct donations and they pulled another.
[00:37:43] Uh, almost half a million from their leadership campaign transfers. CBC compares this to their 2018 numbers, which they note that it’s hard to pair their 2019 numbers because of the election year. And in 2018, they pulled over 6 million. So a drop of almost a half, the liberal similarly bled fundraising compared to 2018 that year they had.
[00:38:07] Pulled in 3.1 million in Q two this year, just 2.6 million. But I think one of the under reported stories is the NDP increased their fundraising federally, uh, to 1.3 million. The bloc Quebecois went from 42,000 in 2018 to 131,000 this year. So apparently. The block is back, who knows?
[00:38:27] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, but both of the block, Andy, Andy P D they were not in good shape two years ago.
[00:38:34] So they’ve really only had opt to go. So yeah, they can serve as, or one of the rare parties that flips the thing where. Parties generally do better when they’re in power versus out of it. But that’s pretty much it fairly effective small donor operation, which has its own drawbacks because it constantly incentivizes them to no, right.
[00:38:57] The most outraged fundraising emails about every little slight that they perceive from the liberals and that in turn. Has given them a, you know, party that cried Wolf a problem, which, you know, I think we saw with all this weed stuff that’s been going on is, you know, when you say that whatever’s going on is the biggest scandal in Canadian history.
[00:39:23] You can only do that so many times before that no longer has an impact and people tune it out and yeah, it may help them a bit in terms of getting a bigger war chest, but. On the bigger narrative level. I think their focus on that small party or small donors fundraising, and the incentives that are inherent in that has.
[00:39:45] Actually probably hurt them more in the long run.
[00:39:47] Ian Bushfield: Best reason I’ve heard in a while for a stronger per vote subsidy city system. I think both of the major parties here, you know, they’re showing the challenge faced by trying to fundraise in a pandemic. When so many people were out of work or struggling to pay their own on bills, let alone worry about fundraising for political parties.
[00:40:08] You know, many of these parties have taken the. A federal wage subsidy and justifiably. So because they want to keep their staff on board and those staff shouldn’t lose their job just because of a downturn in the economy. So, you know, things will still be ongoing. Yeah.
[00:40:26] Scott de Lange Boom: People like to shit on political staff and, you know, they’re, they may be as unpopular as politicians depending on the day of the week.
[00:40:33] But, uh, since we all kind of agreed as a country that, you know, People shouldn’t have the like employee, employer relationships have. There’s no reason why political stop should be exempt from that. So it’s reasonable that. It also goes to political parties
[00:40:48] Ian Bushfield: on the polling side to bite these fundraising numbers.
[00:40:51] It shows that the liberal still hold a fairly commanding lead. According to the CDC poll tracker, they have a 52% chance of a majority. If an election were held today and a 45% chance of winning the most seats, they’re just shy of 37% of the. Uh, polling average, although that is down 3.7% since last month.
[00:41:12] So perhaps we is really taking a big chunk of
[00:41:15] Scott de Lange Boom: Oh yeah.
[00:41:15] Tej Heer: think you’re definitely is
[00:41:16] Ian Bushfield: those votes, Sarah kind of spilling all over the place, which is why they still sit in such a commanding spot. You know, just under a percent goes to the conservatives to bring them up to 29%. 1.7% goes to the NDP, bringing them up to 17% and the.
[00:41:33] Block gets almost a point to get to 7.4 and the greens are at 6.4. So no one has a strong enough position to challenge the liberals, which is kind of their ideal situation to be in. I guess
[00:41:45] Scott de Lange Boom: they’d be happier if they’re pulling numbers, sports clippings, but they have some, you know, room. They can a slide a bit more, but you know, it can’t be comfortable seeing the trend lines.
[00:41:55] But speaking of uncomfortable, trendlines VC has released its greenhouse gas numbers for 2018. A total net emissions were 66.9, 9 million tons of steel, two equivalent, which is a net increase of 6% or 3.5 million tons from, uh, 2007. You know, not great on that front.
[00:42:20] Ian Bushfield: It’s particularly not great on that front as well.
[00:42:23] That 2018 number is an increase of 2.6 from 2017. So things yeah are still pretty high. The press release notes that clean BC and all the programs included in it were announced in December of 2018. And so those only started being implemented in 2019. So even our 2019 numbers probably won’t really start to show the effect of our climate change initiatives beyond the carbon tax and some of the existing programs.
[00:42:56] I think this is one of the things, the NDP, and Green’s really campaigned on and especially with their Casa agreement was taking strong action on climate change. And, you know, any government takes a few years to see the effect of its policies, uh, which is always fun because governments can switch before you even know if their policies work.
[00:43:16] It’s too soon to say that clean BC Willow, we won’t have the effect we need it to have have, uh, but these numbers aren’t optimistic because we needed to have been taking a lot more action for a long time. And we still have an LNG project, uh, being discussed up in Northern BC that we haven’t really figured out how to account for, and there’s kind of a gap remaining in clean BC to cover the last little bit of emissions to get us to where we need to be.
[00:43:42] So that’s all extra, extra reasons to worry.
[00:43:44] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Plenty of work left to do on that front.
[00:43:47] Ian Bushfield: Hey buddy. At least a giant shutdown of the economy. This year will actually mean good things for our emissions, you know, silver lining there, and we haven’t had as many forest fires yet, which helps.
[00:44:00] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Although it’s been a while.
[00:44:02] Yeah. Ashley looked at kind of the initial estimates for 2020s. Emissions, but I think they were only down something like 6% globally was kind of the initial numbers I was seeing back in April or something, which kind of goes to show like, even when you grow up rind to the economy, to the whole lot of ways, it’s hard to meet I’m at targets that way.
[00:44:24] And like, I, I really think it does mean that we have to. Build our way out of this, we can’t just rely on, you know, cuts to human activity. We gotta figure out how to do the human activity in a cleaner way, rather than just scaling it back.
[00:44:39] Ian Bushfield: Well from climate emissions to maybe something that could have a positive knock on effect.
[00:44:46] Who’s Steven say we’re in the midst of a renewed trade war with the U S suddenly Trump restored 10% aluminum tariffs to imported Canadian aluminum citing national security concerns again. And the Canadian government announced $8 for dollar retaliation. On unspecified us goods that are going to be subject to countermeasures.
[00:45:12] Scott de Lange Boom: It’s just really seems like one of those things where like Trump is flailing around trying to, you know, read freight the greatest hits of what he thought got him popular last time. And I guess trade Wars are one of those things, even though they never worked well for Trump at all.
[00:45:28] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. I’m not even sure.
[00:45:29] The point of. The tariffs this round
[00:45:31] Scott de Lange Boom: it’s far from clear and like Canada, it does, you know, literally like the least are, or the smallest concern possible on us for the national security. Like it’s a bullshit rationale. Yes the last time it is still this time. It’s Trump being Trump with his bingo heritage.
[00:45:51] Ian Bushfield: What was nice about the last round and not really nice, but smart at least was Canada’s approach to targeting, uh, industries based in Republican governance States. And I imagine I suspect we might see something very similar again, since it’s a way to put pressure. At least within the party to not support Trump’s actions.
[00:46:14] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, for going to be super strategic about it, we should be targeted in, uh, stuff from swing States. On
[00:46:22] Ian Bushfield: that then you risk Republicans say they’re going to get even harder on Canada. There’s no winners in this.
[00:46:29] Scott de Lange Boom: I don’t think that’s super likely. I think the pro the bigger problem is like responsiveness is a swing state, and we are already have such high tariffs on cheese.
[00:46:38] Like how much more of a trade war.
[00:46:40] Ian Bushfield: It’s a mess. It’s a mess. Yeah.
[00:46:43] Scott de Lange Boom: So hopefully this is short lived and gets resolved before Trump gets voted out and fight it comes in. But with this stuff, who knows, but speaking of somewhat questionable behavior from the head of state or their stand standing, uh, governor general, Julie Payette is still in the news.
[00:47:04] Uh, this time regarding some odd going on at Rito hall and. Renovations and rules around who can, and can’t be around the governor general. Uh, so this was reporting, uh, from today that discusses how the governor general apparently or Frito hall on our behalf apparently spent $140,000 to. Designed a stair, a secret staircase that never got built.
[00:47:36] So the governor general code enter an app set. Uh, I know
[00:47:42] Ian Bushfield: it’s a bizarre story again, at least, you know, at least with this one, unlike the previous time she was in the news, there’s not, you know, Allegations of harassment and abuse. This one is just weird and kind of funny, although it is a gross misappropriation of public funds, potentially as it discusses essentially $250,000 being spent at her request for increased privacy and security.
[00:48:09] In a number of ways. Um, CBC basically got ahold of a national capital commission report that discussed a number of the projects she wanted, that were requested to be completed, including the staircase. You mentioned there was $117,000 on various Gates and doors to keep her office. Are closed off to other people.
[00:48:31] Uh, apparently this time, like it’s three years into our mandate and she has of her five-year mandate and she has still hasn’t moved into Rito hall because these renovations haven’t been fixed. CBC reports, multiple sources saying she doesn’t want to have maintenance workers in her line of sight. She doesn’t want to be able to see RCMP officers outside our office.
[00:48:50] They should be hidden down there, down the hall. And only specific staff should be able to actually get into our office. It’s all a bit bizarre. And the cost of it is like, you know, they’ve known in there. How typically they’re, you know, there’s usually a bit of a budget for renovations during a change over cause it’s a good time to do them, but usually it’s like, let’s update the paint and make sure that any maintenance work needs to be done, not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.
[00:49:18] On major overhauls.
[00:49:20] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Yeah. You’re right. When you call it bizarre, it’s just such a weird story. And like she’s apparently been living in the guest residence at Rideau hall rather than Rito hall itself would kind of odd. And I don’t know the thing about not having RCMP present. Like I wonder if that’s changed after recent events, but having a RCMP protective detail, it’s just.
[00:49:45] Something that comes with the territory of being governor general as does all the other public facing stuff and having a bunch of staff rounds. It’s a weird thing to be a sticking point. And I don’t know, did the governor general not know what she was getting into when she agreed to this?
[00:50:02] Ian Bushfield: It, yeah.
[00:50:03] That’s how the CBC article really finishes off is speaking to some political scientists on the, you know, this is a very public role and you can’t. Like people deserve that privacy, of course. But when she’s sitting at her desk at work, I don’t know that she should be able to expect the same level of privacy that she might otherwise in a different role.
[00:50:27] I don’t know. It also it’s feeling like there’s people out there who really have it out for her. Right. You know, two major stories scoops for CBC on these questions. And that’s not to say it’s an unjustified attempt, but there’s definitely like an effort.
[00:50:43] Scott de Lange Boom: Sure. So have it out for it, like, okay. You have the story about the harassment allegations, every dough hall that that seems like it came from people.
[00:50:53] The hall went to the media or kind of reported on that or wanted that to get out there. Fine. And then this seems to be more likely, Oh, there’s a big thing up Rideau hall. Let’s take a look and see what else we can find out about what’s been going on there. And this got uncovered in the process. I think categorizing it as the media had an Alford.
[00:51:16] Maybe a little unfair to the media on this one.
[00:51:18] Ian Bushfield: Oh, I wasn’t suggesting necessarily the media. It might be someone within Rideau hall and I’m just speculating.
[00:51:24] Scott de Lange Boom: If you have a bleed fairly directly from like obvious, bad thing that you want some public accountability for. And then, you know, just take Winchell stories that come after that from reporters doing report.
[00:51:37] Ian Bushfield: No, and they’re well reported stories. So definitely give it a read and try and see what’s going on there. No, hopefully we don’t see too many more stories coming out of Rideau hall because, well, it’s a very public position. It’s one that I think Canadians appreciate generally forgetting about until we need a ceremonial head of state to do something, but let’s finish off by talking about the COVID alert app that has come out.
[00:52:04] Uh, the federal government released this in the past week, largely targeting Ontario. And I think it’s starting to. Be effective here in BC in the Maritimes. And we’ll be partnered with provincial health agencies over the coming months. Uh, I personally been generally rather skeptical, uh, cynical hub Haute contact tracing apps on your phone, partially for privacy concerns, partially for whether this will be effective and whether it will just replace, uh, public health agencies doing the ground work of actually making sure.
[00:52:41] There was transmission and not just like two phones were on the opposite side of a wall from each other.
[00:52:48] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. You need to make sure there’s enough reliability and system edge and coverage too. That there aren’t going to be gaps or people getting too many false alarms or not enough alarm when it shouldn’t be going out.
[00:53:00] Ian Bushfield: But at least on the privacy side, uh, this app has gotten the seal of approval from the various privacy commissioners, Michael Geist, uh, fairly prominent. Uh, tech and privacy writer in Canada says he’s installed it. Uh, and a lot of people are just saying, Hey, the federal government did this right for a change.
[00:53:22] So the app doesn’t record anything personal about you. It simply uses your Bluetooth. On your phone and we’ll look to see if someone else’s phone has it. Who’s nearby you for at least 15 minutes. And if it does you just exchange your phones, exchange, Bluetooth codes, which are not personally identifiable.
[00:53:44] And then if either of you ever enter a code, you get from the government. If you get a positive COVID test, it alerts the other people using the app. Exchange your Bluetooth code. So it doesn’t tell the government anything about you, anything about where you’ve been like the worst that could maybe happen is if someone back engineered it, they might be able to see that this phone saw those other phones, but even then it’s, de-identified from like the Bluetooth app to the phone itself.
[00:54:15] So overall it seems pretty good.
[00:54:19] Scott de Lange Boom: There was some that I saw a little while ago where. Some data scientists were able to show that with like very little, uh, data from my couple of different sources, as long as one of those was a GM Tate, do you could actually get our figure out a huge amount. I don’t have it even if like a bunch of the stuff was anonymized and tracking individual.
[00:54:46] So, I mean, there may be some like edge case concern here with, you know, Enough data on like, from like very big companies or something, but yeah, for the most part, it does seem like a pretty reasonable balance on this and on it. Yeah. It’s, this is a situation where. Because of the crisis nature of the pandemic, the balance maybe needs to be less on the privacy side and more on the, just maximize the effectiveness of these measures.
[00:55:17] Ian Bushfield: And I mean, the number of apps that I have on my phone that are tracking far more than this, you know, I’ve lost count of, you know, I run an Android phone, Google knows a lot more about me and I give it a lot of permission. So overall I think. This was done. Well, my skepticism is mostly a suede. Uh, it, its effectiveness will be partially reliant at least on people, you know, downloading it and installing it.
[00:55:46] So do go out and look at it. Covert alert app. Just search that in either your Google or Apple stores. I think there is some issue with version control. If you have an older phone, it might be an issue. And that becomes one of the key accessibility issues that people are starting to talk about. Like, if you can’t afford the latest generation phone, you might not be able to get this app.
[00:56:07] Luckily we know that. BC public health and other public health agencies are not going to be solely relying on this. It will be one of many tools in the toolkit to help us combat COVID-19. But, you know, I recommend it go, go get the app, at least.
[00:56:22] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. The not working on older phones is concerning, especially considering how long it took them to roll this out.
[00:56:28] Cause we’re, you know, several months into this now, but nevertheless, late, if, if it was a choice between them. Rolling out now with only the latest phones are rolling out, you know, in another month or two, the, the balancing on that, I think significantly favors doing it now and trying to have the immediate impact and then patching.
[00:56:51] The deficiencies versus trying to get it perfect before taking an action in a crisis. And that has been flipped. Just find links to everything we talked about and support the show and get access to our Slack channel at patrion.com/flickers. To introduce a credit is beautiful. British Columbia. That’s your spot.
[00:57:13] Cross Waitrose is a production of ligand. Boop media and editing services are provided by C H L Y one Oh 1.7 FM in an IMO. Wash your hands and stay home. Thanks.