Welcome to The Feed. Your bi-weekly resource to Canadian politics and policies broken down into itty bitty (super witty) bite-sized knowledge by Apathy is Boring. Pun intended.
WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
These past few Sundays have been busy, first watching the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV (feat. J. Lo and Shakira dazzling at the halftime show), then watching Hollywood’s biggest night of the year (hello history-making Parasite). We’re also watching what we watch: big changes could be coming to Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications sector. A federally appointed review panel recently delivered a major report packed with 97 recommendations, following a year-and-a-half-long review. Some changes are simple (rename the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act), while others are not (make online streaming giants like Netflix invest in Canadian programming, like domestic broadcasters already do). Which recommendations will go ahead? Stay tuned. Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says a bill to reform broadcast and telecom rules is coming soon.
Entertainment aside, let’s look at a slew of oil patch news. The Trans Mountain pipeline, the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Teck Resources’ proposed Frontier oilsands mine have all made recent headlines. Missed what’s up? We got you. Trans Mountain pipeline, aka TMX, is an expansion project of an existing pipeline that carries oil between Alberta’s oil sands and Burnaby, B.C. Rewind… this is the pipeline the Liberal gov bought in 2018 from American owners, Kinder Morgan, to ensure it got built. We’re hearing about TMX again for two reasons. First, a Federal Court of Appeal decision rejected a challenge to the expansion by four Indigenous groups. Second, the cost of the expansion has ballooned, from an estimate of $7.4 billion up to at least $12.6 billion. Listen to CBC’s West of Centre (*new podcast alert*) to hear why public support for this project is faltering.
Now to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a $6.6 billion pipeline that is being constructed to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a massive new export plant. It’s back in the spotlight because of escalating tensions in northern B.C., as RCMP enforce an injunction order against Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs and supporters. They’re protesting the pipeline route through the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Meanwhile, solidarity protests across the country have blocked train tracks, highways, and ports. This complicated story requires further reading. Get up to speed on the long-running battle between Wet’suwet’en chiefs and Coastal GasLink, find out what we mean when we say Indigenous land is “unceded", and learn about new documents that reveal industry and government pushing to abolish Indigenous land rights. Listen to this Canadaland podcast, which features a discussion of the ongoing difficulties of reporting on this story for reporters on the ground.
Wide Wishes: What do Canada’s big-city mayors want from the Liberal government? More funding for transit, housing and climate issues. When do they want it? Now! Led last week by Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, a group of mayors met with PM Trudeau and federal cabinet ministers to share their wishes ahead of the coming 2020 federal budget. Cue Dreamer?
Ongoing Outbreak: Two planes carrying Canadians out of the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak have landed back in Canada. The most recent flight out of the Chinese province of Hubei landed early Tuesday morning with 185 passengers on board. That joins the first plane that returned last week carrying 174 Canadians. All of the passengers are staying at an Ontario military base, under quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll hit a grim milestone, with the number of deaths exceeding the fatalities from the SARS outbreak in 2002.
Senator Suspension: The Senate’s ethics committee has recommended an Ontario senator be suspended without pay — again. Lynn Beyak was temporarily suspended last year after publishing racist letters towards Indigenous Peoples on her website, but her suspension ended when Parliament was dissolved for the election. In a brighter update from the upper chamber, two provincial civil servants are filling Senate seats for New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.
Conservative Candidates: Quick update on the race to become Conservative Party of Canada leader. Candidates recently made their pitch to party faithful in Halifax. The five in the ring, so far? Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole, Marilyn Gladu, Rudy Husny and Rick Peterson.
What Else We’re Nibbling on
Let’s see who’s weighing in on what this week. Journalist Justin Ling says we need to forget marching in pride parades and ask candidates running to be the Conservative Party leader about real LGBTQ issues. A B.C. doctor tells us why small changes to the language around addiction are enormously important. A political science professor reflects on a wild week in U.S. politics, featuring an impeachment acquittal and sooo much more. And if you’re disappointed by the Oscars, a writer notes you’re not alone. Same goes for the Super Bowl spectacle... forget watching it, I’d rather darn socks, writes a television critic.