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QAnon has no place in Saskatchewan politics: Moe – CBC.ca

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The leader of Saskatchewan’s incumbent political party says QAnon conspiracies have no place in Saskatchewan politics.

On Sunday, Scott Moe, leader of the Saskatchewan Party, took a firm stance against the conspiracy group after one of his candidates resigned after he interacted with supporters of the group online.

“These are not policies or directions that the Saskatchewan Party government supports, or will in any way, embrace,” said Moe at a press conference on Sunday.

QAnon is a fringe belief propagated online that, in part, claims “deep-state” traitors are plotting against U.S. president Donald Trump.

Its supporters also make more wild claims, including alleging a number of high-profile, and generally liberal, figures are Satan-worshipping pedophiles who are running  the world and operating a child sex-trafficking ring that can only be stopped by Trump.

Moe stressed any other candidates found to be engaging with the group will not be welcome in his party. However, he said it is not re-vetting any candidates.

“We’re just reestablishing with all of our candidates the expectations that are on them,” he said. “As a Saskatchewan Party candidate vying to represent the people in one of the 61 constituencies across the province, there is a certain amount of responsibility that you bear.” 

Moe added: “We have expectations. When we learn those expectations are not being met, this is a party that takes very swift and appropriate action and I think that is the expectation that all political parties should have, and do have, on themselves throughout the province.” 

The Sask. Party leader would not go into specifics as to why QAnon has no place in the party, but condemned the group firmly. 

“It doesn’t belong. I’m not going to get into the details of what QAnon is and QAnon isn’t, it doesn’t have any place in the Saskatchewan Party,” he said. “We should not be, in any way, sharing or promoting these views in the province.” 

Ryan Meili, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, issued a statement on Sunday indicating the opposition party feels Scott Moe is “letting down the people of Saskatoon Eastview” by not taking issue with remarks about selling SaskTel made by Daryl Cooper, who resigned after interacting with supporters of QAnon online. 

“Condemning a fringe conspiracist group is one thing, but Scott Moe has yet to distance himself from his former candidate’s views on selling SaskTel, which is a much more present threat to Saskatchewan people’s prosperity and well-being.”

In a recent interview with CBC Saskatoon, Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said it’s dangerous when QAnon’s baseless conspiracy theories are accepted by people in power, or running for office, as it fuels the group further. 

“Dangerous information coming from more official sources is even worse, because it encourages them when they see they have made those inroads into mainstream discourse and mainstream politics,” he said.

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Alberni Valley News

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Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


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Misogyny in politics is not an all or nothing problem: Ioannoni – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

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Just because some women feel they haven’t faced misogyny in politics doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist, says Niagara Falls city Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni.

The veteran politician said she’s “very glad” four former female councillors who wrote an Oct. 20 letter to council saying they were not treated any different because of their gender by their male counterparts feel that way.

“I am very glad that that was the experiences for these four women. We would never want any other woman to face the issues that many of us in politics feel we’re facing today,” said Ioannoni.

“I don’t have any right to talk about or criticize their opinion or what they believe their lived experiences would be. I thought they would have had the same courtesy for those of us who participated in that article and shown the same kind of respect, maybe a little bit of compassion.”

Former councillors Shirley Fisher, Joyce Morocco, Paisley Janvary-Pool and Selina Volpatti signed a letter sent to Niagara Falls city council about their experiences sitting around the table over the years.

The women said they “did not feel unsafe, disrespected or alienated by gender” by their male counterparts during the several decades they spent in politics.

The letter was in response to recent comments made in a local newspaper by the two current female city councillors in Niagara Falls — Ioannoni and Lori Lococo. The seven other members, including the mayor, are male.

Ioannoni and Lococo were quoted in a Sept. 3 story in Niagara This Week titled “#HerSay: Cracking the ‘old boys club’ at Niagara Falls council.” It was part of a series on gender and politics in Niagara.

In the story, Ioannoni commented on her 23 years on council and her numerous run-ins with male councillors and mayors.

“Misogyny is alive and well in Niagara politics,” she is quoted, adding “it’s hard being on an old boys’ club council in Niagara Falls.”

Lococo, elected in 2018, said in the story “some lines have been crossed regarding respect and decorum because I’m a woman.”

At the Oct. 6 meeting, council approved a motion by Coun. Victor Pietrangelo for an “outside opinion” on whether council’s code of conduct was violated.

Ioannoni said the series opened a discussion that was “long overdue,” adding several women were quoted about their experiences in politics.

Ioannoni said she has received “many” letters of support from the community since being quoted in the story, and against council’s decision to look into whether comments broke the code of conduct.

Lococo said it’s important for everyone to “share their experiences and we should value them and learn from them.”

“I think that cultures, timing, situations can change, so I can only comment on my experiences,” she said.

Volpatti said she wrote the letter, adding the initiative was driven by the women, not any outside pressure, with Morocco adding the women felt it was important to share their lived experiences in politics.

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“We had a lot of arguments while I was on council … with all of them, but they were never personalized, they were always about the issue,” said Volpatti.

Morocco said accusations about misogyny doesn’t just call into question a councillor’s political integrity, but also their personal and professional standing.

“I know it is in a lot of areas that women are experiencing inappropriate behaviour by men, and I’m not going to discredit that at all. But in this situation, c’mon, let’s look at the writing on the wall,” she said, pointing to Ioannoni’s involvement in seven of nine integrity commissioner investigations since 2015, costing taxpayers $273,741.

“Now, all of a sudden after how many years has this seasoned, female councillor been there with those men and now it’s OK to start saying, ‘Oh, I’ve been mistreated horribly?’”

Janvary-Pool said she was asked if she would read and sign the letter, adding “I certainly felt the same way.”

“We all worked together. We worked for the good of the city,” she said of her experience as a councillor.

“If (Ioannoni) is in trouble, it’s her own making. That’s her own interpretation, that’s not the rest of us. We never had any problems.”

Fisher said she received a phone call from Morocco, and also had a discussion about the issue with Janvary-Pool.

“When I was on council, we didn’t have this type of issue that they’re having, so-called, now,” said Fisher.

“I had no difficulties with anyone on council — man or woman. The years I was there, there’s always someone you don’t agree with, but that does not mean we get into any kind of a (personal) issue. We just moved on and did our work.”

— With files from John Law

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Campbell River Mirror

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Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


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