Canadian Conservative Leader to Leave Politics for Wilson Center

(Bloomberg) — Canadian interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose is leaving politics to join the Washington-based Wilson Center as her party prepares to choose her successor.

The announcement is set to be made Tuesday ahead of the party’s leadership convention later this month.

Ambrose, 48, will serve as a visiting fellow at the non-partisan think tank’s Canada Institute, focusing on bilateral trade with the U.S. while based in Washington, according to a Wilson Center statement obtained by Bloomberg. Ambrose will lead the institute’s “efforts to convene U.S. and Canadian officials to explore the benefits of an integrated and competitive North American economy that is focused on job creation and prosperity,” the statement said.

The appointment comes as President Donald Trump’s administration prepares to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Mexico.

“I’m proud to join the Canada Institute in order to promote policies that increase North American competitiveness and to continue my work advocating for greater trade liberalization between the United States and Canada,” Ambrose is quoted as saying in the statement.

She has served as interim leader since late 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority. The Conservatives governed from 2006 to 2015 under Stephen Harper, who stepped down after his defeat. A wide field of candidates is running to serve as permanent leader of the party, which remains Canada’s official opposition in the House of Commons. The winner will be revealed May 27.

Ambrose was first elected in 2004 and served in several cabinet portfolios, including as minister of environment, labor and health. The Alberta politician “will be a source of insightful ideas and a champion of North American competitiveness during the renegotiation of Nafta this fall,” Canada Institute Director Laura Dawson said in the statement.

Ambrose’s office declined to comment. She’s scheduled to give her final public a speech as official opposition leader in Ottawa Tuesday morning.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

Go to Source

New, stronger regulator for Canada energy projects: panel advice

CALGARY, Alberta Canada should reverse the approval process for major energy projects, putting them through federal review before a final decision by new regulatory bodies, an official panel recommended on Monday.

Currently, major energy projects in Canada must be approved by the National Energy Board (NEB) regulator before the federal government makes a final decision. Critics say the process is too politicized.

The Liberal government is looking to reform the way major projects such as pipelines are assessed and approved on the grounds that Canadians have lost faith in the current system.

Environmental and aboriginal groups are mounting high-profile protests against proposed pipelines by TransCanada Corp and Kinder Morgan Inc.

The Liberal government appointed the panel that is looking into overhauling the relevant regulatory processes and the NEB. Its recommendations are not binding.

The panel said the NEB should be replaced by a new body, the Canadian Energy Transmission Commission, with full authority to approve or deny major projects. The commission’s board would have to be based near Ottawa, Canada’s capital, instead of the NEB’s current base of Calgary, the heart of Canada’s energy sector, according to the report.

The government should also create another body, the Canadian Energy Information Agency, responsible for data and analysis, according to the panel. It and the commission would conduct a two-year review of a major energy project if the initial federal assessment, a one-year process, deemed it to be in the national interest, the panel wrote.

The NEB’s current time limit for decisions is 15 months. In response to the report, the regulator said it welcomes any changes that would improve it and will work hard to implement them.

When asked whether all of the panel’s 26 recommendations will be implemented, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters the government will have tough decisions to make.

The government will decide in the fall, he said.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said it recognizes there will be significant changes to come for how its members are regulated.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said the current regulatory regime is sufficient, and that the longer timeline proposed is concerning.

Last October, sources said Canada’s government might curb the NEB’s power, including stripping it of sole oversight of new projects.

Last month, a separate panel appointed to look into environmental assessments said Canada needs a single federal authority to determine the impact of major projects such oil pipelines and mines.

(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta, and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Leslie Adler)

Go to Source

‘We haven’t fully dodged this bullet’: Cyberattack havoc could grow as work week begins

An unprecedented “ransomware” cyberattack that has already hit tens of thousands of victims in 150 countries could wreak even more havoc Monday as people return to their desks and power up their computers at the start of the work week.

Officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update their operating systems immediately to ensure they aren’t vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the malicious software, dubbed WannaCry. The cyberattack paralyzed computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide.

Researchers discovered at least two variants of the rapidly replicating worm Sunday and one did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed them to interrupt its spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet.

Ryan Kalember, senior vice-president at Proofpoint Inc., said the version with no kill switch was able to spread but it contained a flaw that wouldn’t allow it to take over a computer and demand ransom to unlock files. However, he said it’s only a matter of time before such a version exists.

“I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational,” Kalember said. “We haven’t fully dodged this bullet at all until
we’re patched against the vulnerability itself.”

The 200,000 victims included more than 100,000 organizations, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press. He said it was too early to say who was behind the onslaught and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money. So far, he said, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware.


The British hospital system was among the first to be hit by the global ‘ransomware’ cyberattack on Friday. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Account addresses hard-coded into the malicious WannaCry software code appear to show the attackers had received just under $32,500 US in anonymous bitcoin currency as of 7 a.m. on Sunday.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Britain’s National Health Service, Russia’s Interior Ministry and companies including Spain’s Telefonica, FedEx Corp. in the U.S. and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

Canada affected, expert says

Matthew Tait, a cybersecurity expert and founder of U.K.-based Capital Alpha Security, told CBC News Network that “a number of” organizations and individuals in Canada have been affected, but that many of them haven’t been forthcoming with that information.

‘This is a global attack. This has affected all countries and Canada is no exception there’
– Matthew Tait, cybersecurity expert

“This is a global attack,” Tait said. “This has affected all countries and Canada is no exception there.”

Lakeridge Health, a hospital in Oshawa, Ont., said it appeared the ransomware threatened its computer system, but a spokesman said the facility’s system was able to deflect the attack.

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment said the federal government is “well placed to defend against these global attacks. ‎There is no indication that any information, personal or otherwise, was compromised” in Government of Canada systems. 

A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government doesn’t comment on specific threats, but that the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre is focused on protecting vital systems outside the government, including hospitals. 

British researcher slowed attack

Had it not been for a young British cybersecurity researcher’s accidental discovery of a so-called “kill switch,” the malicious software likely would have spread much farther and faster.

The 22-year-old researcher known as “MalwareTech,” who wanted to remain anonymous, said he spotted a hidden web address in the “WannaCry” code and made it official by registering its domain name. That move, which cost just $10.69, redirected the attacks to the server of Kryptos Logic, the security company where he works. The server operates as a “sinkhole” to collect information about malware — and in Friday’s case kept the malware from escaping.

Security officials urged organizations to protect themselves by installing security fixes right away, running antivirus software and backing up data elsewhere.

“Just patch their systems as soon as possible,” MalwareTech said. “It won’t be too late as long as they’re not infected. It should just be a case of making sure installing updates is enabled, installing the updates, and reboot.”

Self-replicates like a virus

The ransomware appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes. The NSA tools were stolen by hackers and dumped on the internet.

Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many groups failed to take it seriously. Microsoft had “patched,” or fixed it, in updates of recent versions of Windows since March, but many users did not apply the software fix.

Worse, the malware was able to create so much chaos because it was designed to self-replicate like a virus, spreading quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

Microsoft was quick to change its policy, announcing free security patches to fix this vulnerability in the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses. Before Friday’s attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001’s Windows XP, available only to those who paid extra for extended technical support.

‘The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.’
– Brad Smith, Microsoft

The attack is the latest example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem, Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said in a blog post.

“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” Smith wrote. “We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday night ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to convene an “emergency meeting” to assess the threat posed by the global attack, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Senior U.S. security officials held another in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the FBI and the National Security Agency were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyberattack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Pay or lose files

“The problem is the larger organizations are still running on old, no-longer-supported operating systems,” said Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs “So they no longer get the security updates they should.”

Short of paying, options for those already infected are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.

TEC Ransomware Evolves

The cyberextortion attack exploited a known and highly dangerous security hole in Microsoft Windows. (Michel Euler/Associated Press)

British cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley doesn’t want to blame the NSA for the attack, though he said they have a duty to citizens who “are living an online life.”

“Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance,” Cluley said. “It’s a handy thing to have, but it’s a dangerous thing to have. Because they can be used against you. And that’s what’s happening right now.”

Go to Source

Trade, Valeant, inflation: What to watch for in the Canadian business world this week

Lobbying on lumber

Brace for another round of arm-twisting on softwood lumber. The Union of Quebec Municipalities will be in Washington, D.C., throughout the week to convince U.S. politicians about the importance of softwood lumber trade.

Trudeau and the Space Needle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Seattle on Wednesday and Thursday for the Microsoft CEO Summit, where he will promote Canada as an investor-friendly environment, particularly for the technology sector.

Valeant in Vegas

Joseph Papa, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, speaks Wednesday at a health-care conference hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Las Vegas. The appearance is Papa’s latest effort to rebuild investor confidence in the drugmaker.

Beer talk

Molson Coors holds its annual general meeting Wednesday in Montreal. Investors will be looking to see what’s next for the brewer after its blockbuster acquisition of Miller assets.

Feeling deflated

Groceries bills have been falling, but the cost of getting to the supermarket has been rising as gas prices creep up. On Friday, we’ll find out if that trend continued last month when Statistics Canada releases the inflation reading for April.

Report Typo/Error

Canada the model for what not to do with carbon pricing

Canada is being touted as a potential “international beacon” of greenhouse gas (“carbon”) pricing, as several provinces, and the Canadian federal government, have implemented it in several forms.

In a recent op-ed in The Hill, Josha Macnab and Charles Komanoff waxed rhapsodic over Canada’s climate policies, exhorting governments there to plunge ahead with even more carbon pricing, while blithely dismissing potential negative economic impacts as trivial issues that can be resolved with “smart design.” Unfortunately what they fail to explain is why we should believe future carbon pricing initiatives will be “smart” when it has been anything but that up until to now.

Canada has pretty much proven that governments have no intention of getting carbon pricing right. To make pricing efficient and economically benign requires three conditions to be met that have been consistently violated in Canada. The first key is that carbon pricing must replace regulations, not simply be imposed on top. This has never happened, ever.

Another condition is that revenue neutrality should be achieved by cutting other distortionary taxes, such as personal or corporate income taxes. This also hasn’t happened (at least, not-consistently, even in the best example — British Columbia). Lastly, the revenues should not be used to subsidize emission reduction options that the private sector has rejected, because this undermines the whole logic of letting the market respond to the carbon price. This, unfortunately, has definitely happened.

As a recent bulletin from the Fraser Institute shows, none of the jurisdictions that have enacted carbon taxes in Canada come anywhere close to meeting these three conditions.

Consider Ontario’s cap-and-trade system. Needless to say, not one climate regulation is being repealed alongside its introduction, nor are any taxes being reduced. Instead, according to the Ontario auditor general, out of the $8 billion to be collected in four years, $1.32 billion will be earmarked to subsidize residential and business electricity bills. The rest will be spent on government pet projects — transit, subsidies to renewable energy, dubious efficiency programs, etc. Ontario is zero for three in its policy design.

Or consider Alberta. Alberta’s new carbon tax is $30 per tonne. Once again, no regulations are being repealed. The tax is expected to generate almost $3.9 billion from 2017 to 2020. Some of that will be used to subsidize Alberta’s emitters, and a small portion will be given to low-income Albertans, ostensibly to ease the pain of higher power bills. The rest will be spent on government’s pet projects. Again, zero for three.

[embedded content]

Then there’s Quebec, which has a cap-and-trade system that has brought in $330 million, but is expected to bring in $2.5 billion by 2020 (probably more, as it will have to match the escalating national price floor established by the federal government). Where does the revenue go? Free permits are given out to emitters, while the remaining revenue is to be spent on “programs to fight climate change.”

Finally, consider the much-vaunted BC carbon tax. A recent study by the Fraser Institute verifies that in this tax’s early years, it was truly revenue neutral. Personal and corporate taxes were reduced and additional tax reductions were introduced to ensure full recycling of the proceeds. But by 2014-15, only five years into the tax system, revenue neutrality was gone and the government had taken to creative bookkeeping to disguise that fact.

Subsequent to the Fraser study, the BC government has restored revenue neutrality in the overall economic sense. But a closer look at the details shows that, rather than cutting other tax rates, the government has tinkered with boutique measures targeting specific subgroups of the population through special interest tax deductions, like a children’s fitness credit, industrial property tax credits and a school property tax reduction for farmland.

Needless to say, the carbon tax was simply layered on top of other regulations, rather than replacing them.

Canada’s experience with carbon taxes does indeed serve as a beacon to the world, mostly casting light on the bait-and-switch tactics of carbon price-peddlers. While there are valid arguments for efficient and economically-benign carbon taxes, governments have shown no interest in establishing or maintaining them.

Rather, hunger for new revenues and the inevitable central planning conceit of politicians distorts carbon pricing into just another political tax-and-spend program, this time, under the undeserved halo of saving the planet.

Kenneth Green is senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute, a Canadian libertarian think tank. Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Ontario and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

Go to Source

Home Capital’s problems contained -Bank of Canada’s Poloz

May 14 Home Capital Group’s problems are
contained but the sharp gains in Canadian home prices and their
possible impact on the financial system are a primary concern
for the Bank of Canada, Governor Stephen Poloz said in an
interview with the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Poloz said the central bank saw no signs that Home Capital’s
deterioration had triggered contagion, according to an interview
with the newspaper on the sidelines of the Group of Seven
meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Italy.

“We’d be looking for signs that there are problems with the
(financial) system as opposed to preoccupying ourselves with
individual institutions,” Poloz said.

“The question would be: What caused this? Is it something
unique to the institution itself, or is it something in the
system? … I think this situation (Home Capital) is pretty clear
on that; it’s idiosyncratic.”

Home Capital, Canada’s biggest non-bank lender, faced a
sharp withdrawal of deposits after a regulator said it made
misleading statements to investors about its mortgage
underwriting business. The company has said the accusations are
without merit.

In the interview, Poloz said the Office of the
Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Canada Deposit
Insurance Corp were closely monitoring Home Capital while the
Bank of Canada monitored the overall health of the financial

He declined to say whether the Bank of Canada offered
emergency liquidity assistance – a collateralized loan of last
resort – to Home Capital or whether it might do so if Home
Capital’s private-sector funding proves insufficient to
stabilize the company.

The governor gave no hint that Home Capital might still
request such assistance, noting that “the private sector was
able to create a solution for this firm, so that’s good – the
system in action.”

Poloz also reiterated in the interview the central bank’s
view that recent house price increases were not sustainable, and
echoed previous statements that some speculation appeared to be
at play in the market. He added that did not mean a major price
correction was in store.

“Often, when you have a truly unsustainable housing market,
you will see very rapid price increases (and) very rapid credit
growth,” Poloz said. “But we don’t see that in the credit side,
so I do think a significant amount of this that is fundamental,
but layered on top, is a speculative element.”
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Go to Source

Canadian firms face challenge over Western Sahara imports

A South African court decision, allowing the seizure of a cargo ship with 50,000 tonnes of phosphate, could open the door to renewed challenges of Canadian imports from a disputed territory in the deserts of North Africa.

Two Canadian companies, Potash Corp. and Agrium Inc., last year accounted for nearly half of all exports of phosphate from Western Sahara, a territory claimed by Morocco since 1975. Those shipments could face new scrutiny and more intense legal challenges as a result of the South African court decision.

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @geoffreyyork

  • Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc
  • Agrium Inc
  • Updated May 12 4:00 PM EDT. Delayed by at least 15 minutes.

Go to Source

‘You spend massive amounts of money and you get a one bedroom place without any windows’ – Canadian renter on Dublin’s housing crisis

Stock Photo: PA
Stock Photo: PA

The “power imbalance” between landlords and tenants, coupled with the “intrusive” requirements for securing a property mark Dublin as one of the worst places to rent, according to a Canadian native new to the city.

Spencer Hepburn and his girlfriend moved to Dublin last November for work, having travelled from Montreal and San Francisco.

The couple managed to secure temporary accommodation in a sublet apartment “grabbed from a friend on extended holiday.” They began to search for more permanent accommodation on arrival and received “quite a shock” when they realised the lengths tenants were forced to go to when securing rental accommodation.

Mr Hepburn told “Something I noticed right away is if the ad had been up for more than 24 hours, 24-48 hours generally, if you tried to call them afterwards the viewing would be entirely booked and they wouldn’t see anyone else- which I found quite strange right off the bat.

“Something else that I’d never seen previously, either in Montreal or San Francisco, was having a crowd of sometimes ten, sometimes up to twenty people standing outside an apartment waiting for the single agent to come by to walk you through and have person after person after person.”

He continued: “In the places we went to, about 80 per cent of the people we were with said ‘yeah sure, I’ll take it’.

“It was beyond bizarre to me that the market functions this way.”

Mr Hepburn was also shocked by the amount of documentation he was being asked to supply and said having to hand over bank statements, proof of annual income and references from employers felt “intrusive.”

He said: “In Montreal, where I’d been living previously, generally it was the case of putting down a couple of months rent, maybe a letter of reference from work if it was an expensive place.

“We were asked to give statements with our annual income and all that sort of thing. I found it very intrusive and I think that sort of ability of the landlord to basically make it a contest based on criteria that aren’t very clear isn’t fair.”

He continued: “The power imbalance between the landlord and the renter here is so hugely in favour of the landlord, in terms of they have their pick of nine to ten different tenants. I don’t know what criteria they choose on but I can imagine there’s a huge potential for abuse there, where they can say “I like this person because they’re from my home county” or “I don’t like this person because I don’t like the name or whatever.

“It really was more like a variety show where you’re hoping to get chosen from a group of people and you have to prove your credentials.”

Mr Hepburn and his girlfriend consider themselves lucky that they were able to secure a small apartment in the city centre, having been turned away from the first five places they tried.

“I guess we got lucky because we did end up with a one bedroom place downtown but compared to what we were paying in other cities in Canada and the United States, it is not very much for the amount that we’re paying. I would say it is comparable to San Francisco, where it’s another situation where you end up spending massive amounts of money and you get a one bedroom place without any windows.

“It is comparable to San Francisco and San Francisco is known as the worst in North America at the moment.”

Mr Hepburn holds the opinion that the Government should convert the 183,000 vacant homes dotted around the country into viable housing, but also believes the solution to Dublin’s rental “crisis” lies in public transport.

“The beauty of living in Montreal is that because the public transport system is so good, the number of neighbourhoods you can live in and then still work downtown with a reasonable commute is actually quite high.

“It’s a huge area and you can either take a very reliable bus system or the metro. So it expands the range of living.

“The number one thing that I would say that Dublin could do to improve its living situation would be to improve public transit and make it more feasible for people who work downtown to live outside the city and commute in.”

Online Editors

Go to Source

Celine Cooper: Missing out on infrastructure bank a loss for Montreal

Bank towers on Toronto’s Bay St.: Toronto might have seemed like an obvious choice for the new Canada Infrastructure Bank, but it’s a shortsighted one, Celine Cooper says.

Talk about a missed opportunity.

Last week, the federal government announced that it had selected Toronto as the home for the newly created Canada Infrastructure Bank. The news came as a disappointment to Montreal’s business community, which had lobbied hard for this city to be chosen. 

I share in their disappointment, but I’m more puzzled by the lack of political leadership and long-term vision. This was a chance to bolster the position of Canada’s second-biggest city, and reposition it at the heart of an innovative Canadian endeavour. Beyond the business community, why weren’t our representatives from all three levels of government front and centre in a co-ordinated campaign to bring the bank to our city? 

The goal of the bank will be to leverage $35 billion in federal cash and loans to develop public-private partnerships that will be used to finance strategic infrastructure projects across the country in such areas as public transit, trade and energy-grid improvements. Legislation to create the bank has not yet been approved by Parliament.

I have nothing against Toronto, by the way. At first glance, that city is the obvious choice for an infrastructure bank. The Ontario capital is the heart of Canada’s financial sector. It’s also where the bulk of Canada’s public-private partnership firms are located. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is from a Toronto riding and has strong ties to Bay Street. 

But ambitious 21st-century projects in Canada will only succeed if they leverage the potential of the entire nation. Toronto may seem like an obvious choice in the short term, but what about the long term? Most of Canada’s population is concentrated in our cities; our collective future is directly tied to cities’ health and success. Selecting Montreal for the infrastructure bank would have helped to diversify and unlock Canada’s urban potential.  

It would also have helped to ensure that Montreal, Quebec’s only metropolis and the province’s economic engine, was fully invested in long-term pan-Canadian infrastructure projects, and would have gone a long way in building a network of leaders in Quebec and other parts of the country with professional and personal relationships. Instead, expect to hear more about the federal government choosing “la ville reine” over Montreal. (Robert Dutrisac of Le Devoir says that the decision reinforces the “financial hegemony” of Toronto over Montreal; Mario Dumont in the Journal de Montréal suggests that this will put wind in sovereignist sails.) 

The irony of Montreal — city of orange cones, decaying highway overpasses, sinkholes, potholes and flushgate — vying to house Canada’s new Infrastructure Bank isn’t lost on me. In the 1960s and ’70s, Montreal was transformed by mega urban development projects including the Place des Arts complex, Expo 67, the métro, the underground city, the Olympic Stadium and many of the corporate buildings downtown. The legacy of this era was hurried construction, poor quality infrastructure and massive debt. 

Today, Montreal is working to turn itself around. We are home to leading infrastructure and engineering expertise, and a vibrant university ecosystem. In fact, plans for the infrastructure bank were inspired by the approach developed by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, whose subsidiary CDPQ Infra is the spearhead for the future Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) electric train. 

In the 2015 election, Quebec sent 40 Liberal MPs to Ottawa. It also marked the first time there were MPs from Montreal in the caucus of the governing party since the Conservatives took office in 2006. So why were none of the Quebec MPs fighting, at least not publicly, for the CIB to come to Montreal? Where was Mayor Denis Coderre? (His counterpart in Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, was one of the loudest voices for Calgary’s campaign to attract the bank.) 

By selecting Toronto, the federal government has made a choice to stick with the status quo. It’s a missed opportunity not only for Montreal, but for Canada. 


Go to Source

The embarrassing, stone-deaf whiteness of Canadian media leaders

Sometimes, when you do something stunningly boneheaded, you can get away with it. More often, you do not.

So it doesn’t take a genius to know that, if you’re devoting an issue of your magazine to a celebration of Indigenous writers, you don’t take the opportunity to encourage more white people to write about those subjects.

I mean, as if we haven’t had enough of that!

Hal Niedzviecki paid the price. This week he resigned as the editor of The Writers’ Union of Canada’s magazine, Write, after he wrote a piece called “Winning the Appropriation Prize.” He said he didn’t believe in cultural appropriation, and that writers (he meant white writers) “should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities.”

Many people — including the writers published in his magazine – thought it was insensitive and inappropriate. The Writers’ Union, which exists to promote “the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers,” had to apologize for its editor’s defence of cultural appropriation.

You also don’t have to be a genius to know that trying to paint Niedzviecki as a victim of a politically correct “mobbing” was also a grievous mistake. Yet that’s exactly what some of Canada’s top editors and news managers — all of them white and working for mainstream publications — did on Twitter.

It took Scaachi Koul, the wise young writer at Buzzfeed, to decode the racist semaphore for those who just don’t get it.

“The conversation was so nakedly cruel, with no shred of possible empathy for people who are really struggling to get their work read, recognized, and appreciated not only by an audience, but by these exact editors who act as gatekeepers to said audience,” she wrote.

“Even more egregious is that this whole argument was rooted in appropriation of Indigenous voices and stories, people who we’ve taken so much from already. Physical space, safety, bodies, culture — we can’t even let them tell their own stories in an issue of a magazine dedicated to their narratives without undercutting them first.”

So who are these news managers and why do they see Niedzviecki’s forced resignation as PC culture gone wrong, or (if you can believe this) an example of how free speech is being eroded in Canada?

First, you need to know their ugly shower of tweets happened around midnight, when most savvy Toronto journalistic blue bloods are usually heavily sedated with scotch at the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt or somewhere.

Ken Whyte, formerly the president of Rogers Publishing, started it off, tweeting: “I will donate $500 to the founding of the appropriation prize if someone else wants to organize.” That was apparfently prompted by a tweet from Jon Kay, editor of The Walrus, who said “the mobbing of Hal Niedzviecki is what we get when we let identity-politics fundamentalists run riot. Sad and shameful.”

The fundraising quickly developed momentum. Whyte’s campaign was joined by Anne Marie Owens, editor in chief of the National Post, Alison Uncles, editor in chief of Maclean’s magazine, Steve Ladurantaye, the CBC’s manager of digital news, Steve Maich, head of digital content and publishing for Rogers Media, Maclean’s columnist Scott Feschuk, and Christie Blatchford of the National Post.

Within three hours, Whyte announced: “Yay AMO! We have a $2000 prize, 500 for drinks, 500 for a room and $200 for canapés! Keep it coming. Look out.” He urged them to push for $5,000.

Say what you want about the spectacle of the cream of Canadian journalism staying up half the night engaged in a (perhaps jocular) challenge about as credible as Donald Trump praising the role of women in business. Just locker room humour. You know, like saying you can grab someone’s pussy. A few walked back their support the next morning when the shit hit the fan, but the fact is, the whole thing was deeply offensive, and they deserve to be pilloried.

And it certainly raised larger questions, about the embarrassing, stone-deaf whiteness of the Canadian media.

If they’re serious about free expression, why don’t they encourage the people they say they want to see in stories to write their own stories?

Why don’t they choose to publish more Indigenous writers, or, better still, hire them?

Why is it that some of them talk about the importance of diversity, but don’t walk it?

Why do they seem to fear their white voices will be relegated to the sidelines if they allow marginalized minorities to speak for themselves?

Why don’t they stop waving the false flag of free expression when they’ve demonstrated they don’t know what it means?

Another journalist of colour, the Toronto Star’s Shree Paradkar, explained the betrayal behind their Twitter yukfest.

There’s a difference between allyship and appropriation, she wrote. “Fighting for the idea that we should all have the freedom to tell each other’s stories is a mere affectation, a call to action for a phoney cause, when it comes from the only group of people that gets to tell those stories. This is white people saying, allow us to tell other peoples’ stories because we’re not going to let the others tell them.”

If we’re going to raise money, let’s raise it to make Canadian journalism more representative of society.

It can’t afford to remain as white as the pages it’s printed on.

You know, because it’s 2017.

Image: Twitter/KenWhyte3

Like this article? Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.