Howdy Passengers,

Jeremy here with your final Passage Daily for the foreseeable future. I’ll give my heartfelt goodbye at the end. But we’re here for the news, right, folks? We love the news, don’t we? 

Today we have: the federal Liberals’ unwillingness to bring clean drinking water to First Nations communities; the new chief of defence staff having to resign for the same reason as his predecessor; the cluelessness of Ontario’s top doctor; the Canadian Nationalist (read: Nazi) Party having personal information of every registered voter. 

Let’s get to it for one last time!

Auditor General Says Feds Are To Blame For Lack Of Progress On Clean Water For First Nations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in his 2015 election platform to eliminate all drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves by March 31 of this year. That’s not going to happen. 

A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled yesterday found that while 100 advisories have been lifted since 2015, 60 remain in place on 41 reserves, with no end in sight for those still looking to get clean water in their communities. 

From the CBC: The auditor’s review of the First Nations drinking water crisis found Indigenous Services Canada’s efforts to lift boil water advisories have been constrained by a funding policy that hasn’t been updated in 30 years, and by the lack of a regulatory regime that includes legal protections comparable with other communities in Canada. 

But what about COVID-19, you ask. Hogan found that Indigenous Services Canada was already behind schedule in March 2020. 

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he accepts the report’s findings and that the government will have those advisories eliminated. He just wouldn’t say when. 

There are three types of water advisories on reserves — ‘boil water,’ where the water must be boiled before it can be used for drinking, cooking or cleaning; ‘do not consume,’ in which the water can only be used for bathing; ‘do not use,’ which is self-explanatory.  

Most advisories fall into the first category. 

According to APTN, 15 per cent of First Nations homes depend on water delivered to them in trucks, while thousands rely on cisterns attached to their homes, which accumulate dirt over time. 

That’s because the government’s $1.74 billion dedicated to water infrastructure in First Nations communities doesn’t include enough funds for the pipelines needed to bring water from the treatment plants directly to people’s homes. 

Perry Mcleod, a water treatment plant operator in Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan, said he’s found dead mice, snakes and a car battery (!!!) in water cisterns he’s cleaned. 

“They’re always testing positive for E. coli and bacterias and whatever,” said Mcleod. “There’s a standing boil water on all the cisterns and we’re never going to lift it, until we get water trucked, or our water piped to every household.”

New Chief Of Defence Staff Joins His Predecessor Under Investigation For Sexual Impropriety

  • Canada’s top military commander has stepped down due to allegations over sexual misconduct. No, not Jonathan Vance — that’s old news. We’re talking about his successor, Art McDonald. 
  • According to CBC, the allegations against McDonald involve an incident with a female crew member about a decade ago aboard a warship participating in the military’s annual Arctic exercise. 
  • The investigation began a month ago, just as McDonald took over and gave a speech apologizing to victims of misconduct in the military. Afterwards he told reporters he may unintentionally have been part of the problem. Yikes. 

Why Didn’t Ontario’s Top Doc Go Public With Concerns Over Doug Ford’s Pandemic Handling?

  • An Ontario commission established to investigate the province’s handling of the pandemic had some tough questions for Chief Medical Officer David Williams, including why he didn’t publicly question the wisdom of Premier Doug Ford’s relaxing of lockdowns. 
  • From the Toronto Star: Williams said he did not go public with internal concerns about the level of cases that would trigger tougher public health restrictions on businesses and gatherings in the fall because his advice to cabinet is confidential, and because scientists getting into a public debate could leave citizens “confused.”
  • Perhaps the biggest revelation is that Williams didn’t consider the possibility of asymptomatic spread until months into the pandemic. 
  • At a news conference yesterday, Williams blamed the province’s science advisory panel for his errors in judgment. 

ICYMI: Neo-Nazi Party Whose Leader Was Arrested Had Addresses Of Every Canadian Voter

The far-right Canadian Nationalist Party, whose leader Travis Patron was arrested recently for promoting hatred against Jews, had the names and addresses of every Canadian registered with Elections Canada due to its official status. 

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) is calling on the federal government to change election laws to prevent extremist parties from accessing voter data, the Star reports

“That’s not something that makes me happy as person who advocates against these kind of hate groups. He could share (the list), he could sell it, who knows what he could do,” said CAHN co-founder Bernie Farber, who has deregistered himself as a voter to avoid appearing on the list. 

All a Canadian party needs to do to officially register and receive the list of voters is file the necessary paperwork, have at least 250 voter signatures and run one candidate in an election or byelection. 

According to Elections Canada, prohibiting specific types of parties from accessing voter lists is a political decision they can’t make. 

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc poured cold water on any hopes they would enact such restrictions. A spokesperson from his office said, “[…] We have no plans to amend the (law) to require the chief electoral officer to deregister a party on the basis of its views.”

DIG DEEPER: Leader Of Canadian Neo-Nazi Party Arrested For Promoting Hate

Now before signing off for the last time, I have some final words. 

Six months ago, when this newsletter adventure started, I was in rough shape. I was under quasi-lockdown in Medicine Hat, a few months after getting a “temporary” layoff at the local newspaper. Freelancing opportunities weren’t as abundant as I had hoped and I felt like a lost soul. I was increasingly thinking about pulling the plug on my journalism career, moving back to Toronto and going into communications. 

But then this opportunity came along at a publication I had admired since its inception for providing a platform for Canadian left-wing thought that is mostly shut out of the mainstream, one which I had already written for a couple of times. It’s no exaggeration that writing for Passage Daily was instrumental in getting my life back on track. Even at the outset when I was writing just once a week, it gave me some semblance of a routine I had lacked since my layoff. 

Eventually, it got to a point where I was writing the newsletter two to three times a week, and I moved to Calgary to work for another new media venture I greatly admire, the Sprawl, where I cover municipal politics. 

It’s been a great run here. I want to thank Davide, Geoff and Taylor for giving me the opportunity to write about whatever I wanted in my own mostly-unfiltered voice, often with colourful language that would be frowned upon elsewhere. And it’s been a pleasure working alongside Montreal’s finest — the legendary Robert Hiltz — as well as our other colleagues who came and went over the past six months. I’m proud to call y’all my friends and peers. 

Although this Passage Daily era has regrettably come to an end, this certainly won’t be the last time you read my work in Passage. You can also find my writing in the Sprawl, Jacobin and Progress Alberta’s the Progress Report, among other outlets. 

And if you’re so inclined, check out the two podcasts I co-host, Big Shiny Takes, the world’s first and only anti-free speech podcast, and the Forgotten Corner, a weekly interview-format show focused on Alberta politics.

I’m on Twitter @JeremyAppel1025 and my email is appel.jeremy@gmail.com. Feel free to reach out with comments, concerns, insults and freelance opportunities.

Taylor will be in touch soon to let you daily Passengers know what’s next.

Comradely,

Jer

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