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FIRST READING: Our Olympic boycott literally keeps a single diplomat home


Canada to deny China our Minister of Sport to teach them a lesson about abusing human rights

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First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Sundays), sign up here.

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Last week, Canada officially joined the United States in imposing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. In an announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the move was necessary due to the “repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government.” The Globe and Mail’s Steven Chase decided to check up on just how many diplomats were likely to be affected by the boycott. The answer? One. The Department of Canadian Heritage told Chase that with rare exceptions, Canada only ever sends one diplomat to the Olympic Games, and it’s usually the Minister of Sport . So, the sum of Canada’s efforts to protest the Uyghur Genocide at the 2022 Winter Olympics is to deny China a visit from the incumbent Minister of Sport, Pascale St-Onge.

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For the time ever, a Canadian has claimed the title as Time’s Person of the Year. Billionnaire Elon Musk has Canadian citizenship through his Canadian mother Maye. As a teenager the future CEO of Tesla and SpaceX regularly spent summers at a family farm in Saskatchewan.
For the time ever, a Canadian has claimed the title as Time’s Person of the Year. Billionnaire Elon Musk has Canadian citizenship through his Canadian mother Maye. As a teenager the future CEO of Tesla and SpaceX regularly spent summers at a family farm in Saskatchewan. Photo by Handout

IN OTHER NEWS

A Shakespearean struggle for power is beginning to take shape in Alberta . The mortal enemy of Premier Jason Kenney – former Wildrose Leader Brian Jean – easily secured the nomination for Kenney’s United Conservative Party in the riding of Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche. This means that, following a byelection on Feb. 14, Jean will likely be in caucus with the man he has personally vowed to topple from his throne as premier. Thus far, Albertans seem to be on Jean’s side: A Leger poll earlier this month found that Jean was their favourite pick for UCP leader.

Brian Jean (right) pictured with Jason Kenney in 2017 just after Kenney beat him for leadership of the United Conservative Party.
Brian Jean (right) pictured with Jason Kenney in 2017 just after Kenney beat him for leadership of the United Conservative Party. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Canada and the United States are currently on the brink of trade war over the issue of U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan to give $12,500 tax credits to owners of U.S.-made electric vehicles – a policy that Canada claims would decimate the Ontario auto sector. Meanwhile, Canada has a different plan to boost EV ownership: They’re simply going to force car manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles . Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that he would soon be rolling out a “ sales mandate ” under which carmakers will have to ensure that in just eight years, 50 per cent of their car sales will need to be electric. What Guilbeault hasn’t appeared to consider, however, is what happens if Canadians simply don’t feel like buying that many electric cars. As of press time, zero-emission vehicles formed just 3.5 per cent of the Canadian auto fleet, and the top-selling vehicle in Canada is the extremely non-electric Ford F-series truck.

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It does everything except save gas.
It does everything except save gas. Photo by Ford

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has openly stated his intention not to intervene with Bill 21 , the Quebec law banning public employment to anyone wearing religious garb, most notably hijabs. The bill would almost certainly be defeated in a Charter challenge, but is immunized against such actions by Quebec’s invocation of the Notwithstanding Clause, the Constitutional measure that allows provinces to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so long as they announce it publicly every few years . Trudeau said Monday he wouldn’t be making it a major issue in order to deny Quebec Premier François Legault the “excuse of a fight between Ottawa and Quebec.”

During the 2019 election, Trudeau pledged to fight climate change by planting two billion trees – a promise his government then repeated in the 2020 throne speech. The Canadian Press checked up on on the pledge, and discovered that only 8.5 million trees have been planted thus far – roughly 0.4 per cent of the total trees promised.

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After the tails of Canada’s brand-new Cyclone helicopters started cracking, the RCAF is fixing them with “non-standard” repairs , said RCAF commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger . The precise nature of these repairs was not mentioned, although we can likely rule out that it involved bubble gum.

Last month, the grounds of the B.C. Parliament Buildings was where David Suzuki said that “pipelines would be blown up” if the government didn’t voluntarily dismantle them first. And now, this month the exact same area was used by anti-vaccine mandate protesters to hang B.C. cabinet ministers in effigy . B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called the spectacle “incredible disturbing” and “also pathetic” (Farnworth also had words for Suzuki last month, calling him “not helpful”).

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

During an interview with a German broadcaster , Canadian International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound appeared to question the basic details of China’s actions against its Uyghur minority in the province of Xinjiang . Since around 2017, the People’s Republic of China has been sending millions of Uyghurs to “re-education” camps in a bid to strip them of their Islamic faith and otherwise assimilate them into mainstream Chinese society. Pound was asked what would happen to an athlete if they were to tweet that China was guilty of genocide against the Uyghurs. “I don’t know enough of the facts about this … you know enough about your own media to know that sometimes what is asserted as a fact is not necessarily so,” he said. “I think it would be helpful if there was an independent review of what was going on.”

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For reasons partially related to the above, National Post columnist Kelly McParland has pledged to spend an entire year not consuming a single product manufactured in China . It’s … not going well . McParland has utterly failed to find replacement lightbulbs without Chinese links, he is learning to do without a replacement printer, and he had to convince a local artisan to make him some automotive roof racks. “It takes persistence, pig-headedness and a willingness to pay more than the lowest conceivable price to avoid offering financial support to what many believe is the world’s most dangerous regime,” he wrote.

The Miss Universe pageant happened over the weekend in Eilat, Israel. Guess which country was represented by this contestant, Tamara Jemuovic?
The Miss Universe pageant happened over the weekend in Eilat, Israel. Guess which country was represented by this contestant, Tamara Jemuovic? Photo by Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images

CULTURE WARS

The University of Toronto has been offering an undergraduate porn studies class for some time now , and Professor Patrick Keilty recently posted the class’ surprisingly lengthy reading list to Twitter. Selections include the essays “Crackers and Wackers” and “The Dick Pic: Harassment, Curation, and Desire,” as well as screenings of the 1970s pornographic film Deep Throat and El Satario, a 1907 Argentinian film believed to be one of the world’s oldest blue movies.

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One of the only stills from El Satario that we can publish without getting into trouble.
One of the only stills from El Satario that we can publish without getting into trouble. Photo by Public Domain

It was two years ago that, spurred on by the success of the documentary film Blackfish, Canada criminalized the captivity of dolphins and whales . S-203 – a rare bill that originated in the Senate – prescribed fines of up to $200,000 for anyone who “owns, has the custody of or controls a cetacean that is kept in captivity.” The law is loaded with exceptions, such as a provision under which existing whale-owners were grandfathered in. Nevertheless, last week Bill S-203 yielded its most notable charge when Niagara Regional Police charged Marineland with violating a clause of the act mandating that captive whales cannot be “used for performance for entertainment purposes.” While Marineland is still allowed to keep cetaceans in captivity, the police allege that they broke the law by having those cetaceans do tricks .

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