The Private Citizen 106: Concluding the Coronavirus Coverage, Part 2

Just to give an update: in Russia, anti-COVID measures are being rapidly dropped. Masks in public places are still mandatory, but that is pretty much the only thing left (and many people ignore that as well, it is rarely enforced anymore).

The running joke is:
COVID-19 is calling off its strains and stopping all business in Russia.

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We have the same here. My province hasn’t backed down on any restrictions or mandates, but the people have had enough. I was in a large store the other day and out of the 20 people I saw, only the store manager was wearing a mask.

Here the word is that Putin ended the global pandemic.

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Steve is plainly sympathetic to the protesters which may tinge his view. On the other hand, he still lives in Canada and I don’t. Still, let me give a somewhat contrasting perspective, as a Canadian (and American) citizen not particularly sympathetic to the protesters, one who likely has very different politics, but also one who is concerned about both the flawed text of the Canadian Emergencies Act and its invocation in this case…

As suspected, nothing was said or done about the pipeline protest mentioned in my above post. Actually, as it turns out, the pipelines appear to have been exempted from the emergencies act in this occurrence, but luckily there has been no further acts of vandalism or threats in this regard.

Not sure what Steve wanted here. Using the Emergency Act would equally have been an abuse in that case (or equally proof that the criteria needed for its invocation are too easily met), it being nothing the local police couldn’t handle.

However, every province in the country, with the exception of British Columbia, has either dropped mandates and passports, or announced dates for doing so.

It strikes me as a huge stretch to suppose this relaxation had very much to do with the trucker protests. There’s been relaxation all over because the case counts have gone down. See above where Quebec was already relaxing restrictions and their premier’s funny comment offering to let the protesters take credit for in return for staying away from Quebec City. My sense (and that of most polls?) is that the majority of the Canadian public were unsympathetic to the protesters and that there would be no political cost to ignoring them if they weren’t such a pain in the ass to Ottawa residents and if they hadn’t disrupted the auto industry for a few days by blocking the border near Windsor, Ont.

opposition party was against the invocation, as were the other minority opposition parties (we have 5 “major” parties, with our leading party having around 34% of the vote).

This is inaccurate. The house review passed in a vote of 185 to 151. The Liberals do not have a majority government, so if the opposition were all against the invocation this could not have happened. The Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois voted against it, but the NDP and Greens for.

This was disappointing to me, since the NDP was who I always voted for when I still voted in Canadian elections. It’s a really dumb stance for the left to go this way. Singh tries to have it both ways in his speech but plainly is playing politics or is stupider than I thought:

Even if you can’t bring yourself to empathize with protesters from hating their ideology or whatever (which would be too bad) you ought at least be able to imagine how “our people”, the anarchists, environmentalists, BLM, labor activists or whatever, will pay for your newly authoritarian inclinations. E.g. anyone with anarchist leanings in Florida had better word your online postings very carefully:

Next time Canada gets another Stephen Harper type asshole in just wait for, “what’s good enough for Trudeau is good enough for me,” maybe against indigenous people protesting pipelines.

The way this review works is bent. It didn’t go to senate vote cause it was un fait accomplit by the time even the house voted on it. Trudeau cancelled it the next day. Get that? It went into effect the week before, what was it Wednesay or Thursday. They flagged or froze bank accounts and forced tow truck drivers to help clear the protest (otherwise it was a normal police action on a protest with no permit that blocked streets with few serious incidents). Friday the House didn’t convene for review, supposedly for their own security given the proximity of the police action. That largely completed by the end of the weekend. Then Monday the house votes to pass review. Tuesday Trudeau ends the emergency state before the Senate votes. Some months down the line I think a commission is supposed to report on it. For how that goes see the various ethics commissions that have gone against Prime Minister Teflon in the past.

There were lots of stories that came up about frozen bank accounts.

The Emergency Act allowed two major abuses: 1. financial aggression against protesters and their supporters, that with no judicial oversight. That took the form of temporary bank account freezes as well as FINTRAQ flags previously reserved for “terrorism” and money laundering. 2. forcing tow truck operators to tow in Ottawa when they previously refused.

On #1, my mom tells me accounts were not frozen very long. I raised a concern about the account flags based on reading this early CTV news article:

“Kim Manchester, managing director of financial intelligence training company ManchesterCF, told The Canadian Press that flagging accounts in this way could financially ruin those targeted and make it difficult for them to get any financial services in the future.”

My mom also seemed to think that turned out less severe than that early article portrayed, but I’m not satisfied with that answer. I haven’t been able to find new info on possible long term financial harm from these flags, whether Kim Manchester’s concerns were justified.

And on a final note, America now has their own convoy that has departed the west coast, and is headed to Washington.

This never happened as far as I can tell. I heard somewhere that roughly 40 people showed up in D.C., but now can’t find any info at all. I happened to rent a car and drove across part of Massachusetts that day. I saw American flags and a sign in support of “truckers” on one or two overpasses but that was the limit of it with one guy standing over it waving his arms or something. With the war this story is dead.

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This was simply me just pointing out that although we have been having issues with protests that have blocked our rail lines for weeks at a time, caused considerable damage to private property, and destroyed public infrastructure such as bridges, there has been no move to prevent this from happening. I wanted to contrast that this one has been going on here for over a year with no escalation on the laws or enforcement of existing laws while the protest in Ottawa apparently needed to be escalated to needing the emergencies act, despite the lower level of violence and destruction. I do completely agree that it was not required for either.

I’m not sure how my information was inaccurate. The official opposition party is the Conservative party, which you also indicated voted against it. My point in that sentence was actually that the vote itself was combined into a confidence vote, meaning that if the vote failed, an election must be called. It was widely reported that having the vote tied to a confidence vote would have swayed people. I probably just worded it poorly.

I would also like to add that several banks have come forth since stating that they not only froze accounts belonging to names that the police provided them, but they also proactively froze accounts showing similar patterns. Banks went beyond RCMP list of names in freezing a ‘small number’ of accounts under Emergencies Act: Bankers Association - The Globe and Mail

I fully agree with that statement. I guess it could possibly have long term effects, but nothing that I have read about yet.

I haven’t actually been following it, but I think your account is likely accurate, as it has not come up in any of the places I read either.

I agree here too, however I’m still cautious.

And to end on a positive note, British Columbia announced the end of masks yesterday, and the end of passports next month.

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One other thing that I am taking away as a positive on this is Petit-Michel. The area I live in is predominately “right of center”, and I also fall in that group. The area that Petit-Michel comes from is predominately “center” or “left of center”, and the NDP party that he previously voted for is “left of center” for sure. So for me to be seeing so much common thought on issues such as this, considering the differences in political stance, I find this to be reassuring that people out there still have critical thinking skills and morals. I had actually started feeling like those two things had died lately.

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Thanks for the compliment, but the sad thing is, whether it’s this or the slightly similar attitude to protesters at the Jan. 6th 2021 Capitol protest in the U.S., there seems not many people on the center left who use my trick of mustering empathy with protesters whose aims I don’t share by trying to imagine if they were peace or environmental protesters in the same situation. And Canadians have I think a real problem with emphasizing, “Peace, Order, and Good Government,” as a contrasting or distinguishing statement of political values to the U.S.'s “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I’ve heard debates in Nova Scotia where an idea is panned simply because it has currency within the U.S. It’s like, the U.S. has lots of problems, but “Americans say X, Americans are idiots, therefore X is wrong,” is not great syllogism.

So for instance, I got together with a Canadian expat social club in Boston several years ago. It was around the time of the Snowden revelations. I remember this older guy from Ontario just really hated Snowden, said he was a traitor and all this stuff. I’m not saying I haven’t heard that from Americans (Diane Feinstein comes to mind) but thinking back to the October Crisis I’d learned about in intro Sociology back in Nova Scotia, it had me thinking there’s this unhealthy side of Canadian political thought that could lead to heavy handed crackdowns on dissent accompanied by broad political support for said crackdowns. And of course the reaction, the polling especially, to the trucker protest only solidifies my view. Speaking of Snowden, I see from wikipedia that he’s been following the issue and sounded in in support of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association challenge: Emergencies Act - Wikipedia

I would say still, though you may not have meant to, I think you were understating the degree of NDP support for using the Emergencies Act. Thanks for the tidbit about Trudeau trying to make it sound like a confidence vote. I’d missed that. This National Post article seems to cover it fairly well:

The trouble I have with supposing Singh might have voted otherwise if not for this classic bit of Trudeau-esque weaselism is that he’d already stated the prior week that he was in support of use of the emergency act, well before the threat that this (may or may not be?) a confidence vote. And if you look at his statements in the national post article and in the speech I linked to yesterday, he’s very much playing up the idea that the protesters were dangerous and were looking to overthrow the government (that when the strange initial list of demands including that the government step down, the one coming from the Canada Unity party, had long since been withdrawn).

Now, my mom had heard some rumor the Friday before the vote that Singh might withdraw his support, and you can see his statement in the Post article that he’d planned to vote against when the measure became unnecessary. But statements of his as late as Monday have him worrying over the protesters remaining nearby and being able to come back. So my interpretation is that he was playing politics and/or genuinely had contempt or fear of the protesters (more likely politics, maybe contempt). Trudeau’s little trick was good cover for him which he took full use of, as you see in his statement saying he also considered voting against the measure as conceptually a no-confidence vote (whatever that is supposed to mean legally). I’m going to also guess that Singh will look for future favours from Trudeau and the Liberals somewhere down the road in exchange for his support, but that also the bulk of NDP supporters or maybe more importantly those on the fence between Liberal and NDP were in the “these people are a menace and must be stopped by any and all means” camp, so he felt taking a principled stand would be a vote loser.

One last thing. Someone on a private forum (the dark net, yuk yuk yuk) shared this with me: Trudeau Plans To Invoke Emergencies Act -- This Has NEVER Been Done Before -- A Lawyer Explains - YouTube
It’s Canadian lawyer Ian Runkle in his podcast explaining the Emergencies Act and why it was inappropriate (and surprising to him) that Trudeau had planned to (and did) invoke it. The article I posted earlier is excellent too, but this gives just what you need to know in 24 minutes.

I really can’t see what the argument for its use could be. I think the act should be changed to require a Supreme Court justice to sign off before it goes into effect, with the other review measures also kept. As it stands there’s no pre hoc review and the post hoc one is subject to political partisanship with the reviewing entity (the house of commons) of course having a make up to reflect who is in power at the time. It makes no sense to me. While a judge might be some kind of law and order bondage and discipline type who’s not fond of protesters, at least he or she would have to make some reasoned legal argument. The way Runkle describes the act and what I’ve read before (e.g. where it refers to the CSIS (Canada’s intelligence body) act’s definitions of national threat, not mentioned by Runkle), I think it could not have been done in this case.

Which kind of makes him the anti-fab? Sorry, man, I couldn’t resist. You know we love the show.

I fully agree with that statement. Singh has pledged his allegiance to Trudeau repeatedly. My concern here is that any NDP members that were eligible to vote normally would only have to consider their party line, but in this case also had to consider if they stood to be re elected if the government fell. With Singh having sided so heavily with Trudeau, it has rather blemished their reputation, as more than just you have pointed out their disappointment in some of their recent moves.

Oh, it is well understood that there will be back room favours going on. This is part of the problem with our current political system, and one of Fab’s episodes made me admire the German system in this area. The problem here being that we can have a minority government (a government formed by less that 51% of the vote). The nice part about what I understand of the German system is that they then form an official coalition, which would mean the people have a bit of an understanding on predictability. In Canada we do not have that, so for every voting instance in parliament that the minority government feels is important, back door deals are made to have members from other parties support them. As these are back door deals, most of our people will never know what was promised. This does not play well for a party that got their minority government position by running on the promise of “transparent government”.

Again, I fully agree. Whether it is a supreme court issue, or a special mandatory session of ALL parliament, the requirements need to be higher. The current requirement is “because I said so”, but I think in the case of a real emergency here at home, obtaining a 70% or higher in favour vote should be quite easy. Something like a special session of each provincial parliament saying yes or no, and then going with the results of that tally could even work. So many better options out there…

Actually, in Germany, we are relaxing things now and the case counts are higher than ever.

cases-germany

Ouch. That was harsh. :neutral_face:

:wink:

This is a really nice threat, BTW. I am planning to do an episode that includes talking about the Canadian account freezes and what stuff like this means for all of us, BTW. Should be one of the next few episodes I do.

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Well, I hate to breath new life into this particular thread, but it appears things may be heating up here in Canada again.

Our Prime Minister was a recent guest in Europe, where he received a less than welcoming string of speeches from the European leaders: European MPs blast Trudeau for COVID 'rights violation' | Toronto Sun

Upon return to Canada, a back door deal was created between his minority leadership party (Liberals) and one of the smaller minority parties (NDP). this is basically a pledged continuation of the NDP providing unconditional support to the Liberal party for the remainder of their time in office. Petite-Michel and I discussed this briefly above, in it’s application to some previous votes, but this will now be applied to all votes going forward. Canada's Liberals, NDP reach tentative deal to support government to 2025, CBC reports | Reuters

This brings us to the next issue. Government has now tabled a bill that will provide measures that were provided by the emergencies measures act, but without the need to have an emergency. This means that at any point in time, if a police officer or government official feels you are protesting, and that said felt protesting causes any concerns, they may take any of the actions that were previously in the emergencies act, and more. Previously, under the emergencies act, this could have resulted in the seizure of your vehicle or bank account, which will still be true, but now also your drivers license, insurance plates, and any personal property. There will be no innocent until proven guilty, in fact you will be guilty until proven innocent. There will also be no court hearings or warrants required. There is no sunset clause on this act, so these new powers will be available for use for ever. This next video seems to do a good job of breaking it down, and while I can not vouch for the person breaking it down, he is using actual video footage of our government discussing this bill. Ontario Bill 100 TYRANNY ENSHRINED IN LAW - YouTube

While this bill has not yet been passed, the bill has been tabled by our Liberal government, and now that they have the new deal with the NDP to support their votes, there is little chance that this will not be voted into law here.

And this is how democracy dies…

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I have to do my taxes, so am not watching the video yet, but as a correction it appears to be an Ontario bill introduced by Ontario’s Solicitor General, member of the Conservative Party and Premier Ford’s government:

The title is sleezy/revealing, eh? Maybe better than the original title. I mean, “the we ran out of budget for keeping U.S. trade commission officials flush in hookers and blow act” doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely.

But this isn’t the federal liberal government doing it as far as I can tell.

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You are correct, this will be an Ontario law, but since that is where our federal government sits, it will make it impossible to protest the government where they sit.

All we can do is stand by and shake our heads.

Update on this story. The Emergency Act requires an inquiry which has gotten underway this week in the form of the Rouleau Commission:

Here again we see some weakness in Canadian law, IMO, in that the prime minister has the power to choose who heads the commission and has chosen a judge who previously worked for the Liberal Party of Canada, and in a major way, helping choose John Turner’s (a past liberal prime minister) cabinet. Now sure, it’s not unusual for the executive to have as a power to play a part in selecting members of the judiciary, but that’s generally before any particular case. To have Trudeau choose the inquiry head, the guy who will write the final report summarizing testimony on whether Trudeau is at fault, this hardly seems serious.

Some links from wikipedia follow this angle. Unfortunately, the reporting I’m finding all looks either very thin (David Fraser of Canadian Press wire service, CBC and National Post coverage) or very amateurish and biased (Kanika Batra Arora of TFIGlobal): Paul Rouleau - Wikipedia
If anyone knows who’s doing substantive reporting in Canada right now I’d appreciate the reference.

(Sorry, update to my update. There was an earlier inquiry, not the “independent” Rouleau commission, one involving some members of parliament last spring. Here is a CSIS (the Canadian intelligence agency) report from it, which introduces a new to me acronym: IMVE – ideological motivated violent extremist: https://www.canada.ca/en/security-intelligence-service/corporate/publications/special-joint-committee-on-the-declaration-of-emergency-2022-04-26.html Always interesting to hear who intelligence agencies are monitoring.)

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Thanks for the update! I appreciate being kept in the loop!

We are up to day 25 of the inquiry, last I looked. You won’t be finding too much serious reporting on it, as all the big media companies in Canada actually get government grants, which means they have to be careful what they report. As Petit-Michel already pointed out, our government got to choose who will be leading the inquiry into their actions, but missing context is that no one actually knows what the outcome would be if the government was found to be in the wrong. Having seen our current Prime Minister being found guilty of several ethics breaches, without so much as a fine or apology, I rather suspect that we will see the same here. It appears that most public servants have rebranded themselves “world leaders”, and forgotten that they are elected by their people to represent their people. They are servants, not kings and queens.

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Testimony to the Rouleau Commission ended this week, with Trudeau himself being the last witness. Here is where things stand as I’ve been able to glean from south of the border:

  1. The text of the Public Order Emergency section of the Emergencies Act begins with these two definitions:

Public order emergency means an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency

Threats to the security of Canada has the meaning assigned by section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act

  1. CSIS Director David Vigneault has testified that, “there did not exist a threat to the security of Canada, defined by the Service’s legal mandate.”

  2. The same also testified that he advised Trudeau on Feb. 13th that he should invoke the act. He stated that he gave that advice in the capacity of a national security advisor and not in his capacity as director of CSIS. In common with national security advisor Jody Thomas he expressed the view that the terms of the act are outdated and a broader interpretation is necessary today. He stated that he’d asked for and received a new, broader interpretation from the department of justice, giving that as justification for his views and advice to the PM.

  3. Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charrette wrote a memo on Feb. 14th advising to invoke the Emergencies Act, which included the following words:

PCO notes that the disturbance and the public unrest is being felt across the country and beyond the Canadian borders, which may provide further momentum to the movement and lead to irremediable harms — including to social coercion, national unity and Canada’s international reputation,

In PCO’s view, this fits with the statutory parameters defining threats to the security of Canada, though this conclusion may be vulnerable to challenge.

  1. Trudeau claimed in testimony that the government had in its possession a legal argument that justified its invocation despite the apparent conflict with the basic definitions laid out in the act. The government has refused to make this argument public, citing attorney client privilege.

The head of the commission, Paul Rouleau, will release his report in early February, 2023.

Linkfest…

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