Brad Trost disqualified, then reinstated, as Conservative nomination candidate

First published at True North on July 21, 2021.

Former Conservative member of parliament and leadership candidate Brad Trost has been approved to run as a nomination candidate in Saskatchewan after an earlier disqualification by the Conservative party’s candidate selection committee.

Trost, a prominent social conservative who served as a Saskatoon MP from 2004 to 2019, is seeking the nomination in Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, a seat currently held by longtime Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski, who is not seeking reelection.

Trost’s application to seek the nomination was initially rejected by the National Candidate Selection Committee (NSCS), though this decision was appealed to the party’s elected National Council. On Sunday, the National Council voted to reverse the NSCS decision, effectively approving Trost as a candidate, True North has learned.

Trost declined to comment on the situation.

“I’m a candidate in good standing,” Trost said. “There were some minor issues but they got resolved rather quickly.”

True North was not able to verify the reason for Trost’s initial disqualification.

A Conservative Party of Canada spokesperson confirmed that all candidates who submitted applications – including Trost – have been approved by the party’s National Council.

The other candidates vying for the nomination in the relatively safe Conservative seat are Moose Jaw mayor Fraser Tolmie and Kathryn Pollack.

A date has not yet been set for the nomination, which will allow the riding’s Conservative members to vote on who will represent them in the next general election, widely rumoured to be coming this summer.

Trost ran for the Conservative party’s leadership in 2017, coming in fourth place with over 14% of the points. Trost’s support was ultimately what pushed Andrew Scheer to his narrow victory on the 13th ballot.

Months later, the party fined Trost’s campaign $50,000, alleging it leaked the membership list to a Canadian firearms group. The Conservatives eventually backtracked on their accusation, citing “insufficient evidence” after Trost filed for judicial review in an Ontario court.

After the leadership race, Trost was defeated in a nomination by Corey Tochor, who went on to win the 2019 general election.

Chrystia Freeland’s office ran up $5k AV bill for two Zoom meetings

First published at True North on July 7, 2021.

Two virtual meetings attended by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland wound up costing taxpayers more than $5,000 in audio-visual expenses.

Documents released in response to an access to information request for information pertaining to Freeland’s remote appearance on a January panel at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda included a $5,099.13 invoice for “minister’s media events” on Jan. 26.

The breakdown of the invoice from Toronto AV firm Bespoke Audio Visual is redacted, but it shows the total billable amount, as well as the date and venue, which is the finance minister’s regional office in downtown Toronto.

Freeland’s public itinerary, as well as a version circulated internally in the Access to Information documents, shows only two events that day – the World Economic Forum panel and a virtual roundtable for the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.

The World Economic Forum panel, which was on Stakeholder Capitalism, was conducted by Zoom. A Jan. 21 email from someone in Freeland’s office said she would be “using a laptop, nothing fancy, but will have a webcam/microphone for better quality.”

The email also said Freeland would likely have “no support staff with her. In other words, simple is best!”

Despite this initial plan, Freeland instead used her Toronto office and rented audio-visual equipment for the World Economic Forum panel and the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce roundtable, sitting in a room adorned with several Canadian flags.

Freeland attended Question Period virtually on Jan. 26 in between the two meetings, though it appears she did so through a simple computer set-up with a headset.

While the dollar value might not rank high as far as government expenses are concerned, it seems like an unnecessary cost, Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Franco Terrazzano told True North.

“Why are a few Zoom meetings costing us more than $5,000?” Terrazzano asked. “I don’t know too many Canadians that spend thousands of dollars for a couple of Zoom meetings. Freeland is our finance minister so she knows how broke the feds are. We need to see better leadership from her on saving money.”

The Department of Finance did not respond to a request for comment.

Feds have spent $2 million on gun buyback program that doesn’t yet exist

First published at True North on July 20, 2021.

The federal government has not purchased a single firearm under its promised gun buyback program, but has still managed to rack up more than $2 million in salaries and administrative costs.

This revelation comes from documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) showing the government has spent $2,017,334 to facilitate a buyback plan that has not bought anything.

CTF’s report confirms the costs have been incurred by the Firearms Buyback Secretariat, an office the Liberal government established to “provide advice and direction for the design, implementation, and management of the federal gun buyback.” There are eleven bureaucrats staffing the office, which was set up after Trudeau implemented an order-in-council on May 1, 2020 banning more than 1,500 variants of lawfully owned firearms.

The Liberals initially said a buyback plan to compensate gun owners for the prohibition would cost $200 million, though a Parliamentary Budget Office report earlier this year pegged the true cost at up to $756 million, not counting the administrative costs of running the actual program.

The Firearms Buyback Secretariat is expected to spend $4 million per year, which all goes to administration and operations.

The CTF has derided the program as a “boondoggle.”

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gun buyback has all the makings of a taxpayer boondoggle,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s federal director. “This is going to cost a lot of money, but police officers are making it clear that it won’t make Canadians safer.”

These ballooning costs are no surprise to those who followed the Liberal government’s failed long gun registry in the 1990s, which was supposed to cost $2 million and ended up costing $2 billion.

True North is looking at the effects of Trudeau’s order-in-council on lawful gun owners and the firearms industry in a new documentary series, Assaulted: Justin Trudeau’s War on Gun Owners, hosted and produced by Andrew Lawton.

Brett Kissel hits back at pro-lockdown trolls after Calgary Stampede concert

First published at True North on July 19, 2021.

Canadian country singer Brett Kissel had a stern message for trolls who attacked him for performing a sold out show at the Calgary Stampede.

“I’m going to do me. And I encourage YOU to do YOU,” the singer posted on Facebook.

Kissel headlined the Stampede’s Nashville North last Monday in his first show since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.

The outdoor concerts were criticized by those claiming Alberta reopened too much too quickly.

Kissel said he wasn’t going to let the trolls deflate what he called the “BEST show of my career to date,” however.

“If you want to stay home, wear two masks, and build your bunker – I accept your choice. I respect your choice,” he said. “If you want to come out, party your face off, making up for lost time, and get this world spinning again – then here’s my open invitation for you all to enjoy one of my concerts.”

Kissel applauded Alberta’s reopening in his statement, and said he had no interest in getting into a political debate, but had to lay his “boundary” for the critics.

“My social media channels are for joy, fun, family, and music ONLY,” he said. “So, if you want to come at me for my performance in front of thousands – I suggest you unfollow me, and complain to your other social media-troll-friends privately.”

Nashville North featured a star-studded line-up of Canadian country artists, including George Canyon, Aaron Pritchett, and Jess Moskaluke.

The Calgary Stampede wrapped up Sunday after a 10-day run.

Marc Emery running for People’s Party of Canada in London, Ont.

First published at True North on July 16, 2021.

The self-styled “prince of pot” is running for the People’s Party of Canada in London North Centre.

Political activist and cannabis entrepreneur Marc Emery is among 173 PPC candidates confirmed so far, according to a list released by the party Friday afternoon.

Emery has deep roots in London and is in the process of returning to the city, where his brother is opening a cannabis store.

Emery, who ran in the former London East as a Libertarian in 1980, said he’s come “full circle” with his latest candidacy.

“It was 30 years ago this summer I began my legalization of cannabis campaign in London, and now it comes full circle as I return to live and work in London once more, selling legal cannabis,” Emery said. “I know every street in the London North Centre riding, having walked every one of them in campaigns of the past.”

In an email to True North, PPC spokesperson Martin Masse welcomed Emery’s candidacy.

“Marc has been a vocal supporter of Mr. Bernier since the days of the CPC leadership campaign,” Masse said. “He spent most of his adult life fighting for more freedom and paid the price by spending many years in prison for a crime that doesn’t exist anymore. The PPC is a broad coalition of people from different backgrounds and perspectives united in the desire to restore common sense policies in this country, and we’re very happy to have Marc run as a candidate for the People’s Party.”

True North previously reported on Marc Emery’s return to politics when he was eyeing the nomination in neighbouring London––Fanshawe. 

In a January interview on The Andrew Lawton Show, Emery said the “COVID dictatorship” had, in part, motivated his candidacy.

“The bottom line is, I think the People’s party will become much more popular because they’re a clear alternative to the Conservatives, Liberals, Greens, NDP,” Emery said at the time. “Those four parties…have endorsed the same totalitarian authoritarian measures. They’ve all been part of the dictatorship.”

London North Centre is currently held by two-term Liberal member of parliament Peter Fragiskatos, though the Conservative Party of Canada held the seat from 2011 to 2015.

Fragiskatos is seeking re-election, with Conservative candidate Stephen Gallant and NDP candidate Dirka Prout also vying for the seat.