Hello and welcome to rabble radio. It’s Friday, December 17, 2021. I’m the host and the editor of rabble, Chelsea Nash. Thanks so much for listening!

Rabble breaks down the news of the day from a progressive lens. It’s a good place to catch up and catch on to what’s happening in Canadian politics, activism, environment, and so much more. Listen to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We catch you up on the news of the week and take you further into the stories that matter to you.

This week on rabble radio we’re reflecting back on our year, highlighting 2021’s most newsworthy stories – and let me just say, there were plenty of stories to choose from! 2021 presented a plethora of newsworthy moments for us here at rabble to dive into – from environmental news to Indigenous justice, to politics, rabble was there keeping you up-to-date on all the current news as it happened this year.

To begin, let’s start on the Pacific side of Canada – all the way at Fairy Creek, British Columbia. This old-growth forest in the southern portion of Vancouver Island has made headlines in the past year, being the site of ongoing protests against old-growth logging.

In November, friend of the rabble family Libby Davies interviewed climate activist and land defender Rita Wong. In a clip, Rita discusses her role at Fairy Creek and why the site has had such an impact on activists in B.C..

Keeping the conversation on environmental justice and Indigenous rights, this year rabble correspondent Brent Patterson kept us all up to date on the latest news in his coverage of Wet’suwet’en territory.

The protests concerning the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline through 190 kilometres of the unceded lands of Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory have been ongoing, ever since Wetʼsuwetʼen hereditary chiefs opposed the project back in 2010. But it wasn’t until last year, 2020, when action really started amping up.

On our December 10th show, Brent sat down with sisters Eve Saint and Jocey Alec, Indigenous land defenders who were both criminally charged in the past two years protecting their traditional territory from the pipelines. Here’s a clip from that interview of Eve Saint detailing the day she had been arrested.

That was Brent Patterson in conversation with Eve Saint. You can listen to the full interview with Eve and her sister Jocey Alec in our December 10th episode – it’s an incredibly powerful listen and we so appreciate the two sisters taking the time to speak with us. Thank you also to Brent Patterson for keeping such a detailed eye throughout the year with his coverage of Wet’suwet’en. You can be sure we’ll be following this story into the new year.

Switching gears now from environmental news to the world of the Internet – this year saw Facebook become engulfed in controversy and ultimately rebranded.

In October, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was to be rebranded as “Meta” – however, critics believed that the re-naming was a just distraction from the controversies the social media conglomerate had found itself in. Canadians began to wonder – what will the government do to implement regulations for social media giants like Facebook?

To break down this question and all-things regarding policy and Facebook, our national politics reporter Stephen Wentzell sat down with Dr. Michael Geist back in October. Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He’s also the author of the 2015 book Law, Privacy, and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era. Here’s a piece of that interview.

This year also saw a snap election, of course; the result being Trudeau being re-elected for a third term as prime minister, with his second minority government. Though the Liberals were no doubt hoping to win a majority government when Trudeau called the election back in August, the results were for the most part unchanged from the 2019 Canadian federal election. Having said that, there was much news to be made out of the election and the actions Trudeau has made since then.

Keeping rabble informed and up-to-date on everything going on at Parliament Hill was very own our senior politics reporter Karl Nerenberg. On the site, Karl brought us stories every week detailing how decisions made at Parliament would affect Canadians.

In October, Karl joined me on the podcast to discuss Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle and suggest why, at 39 members, the cabinet is as big as it is. Take a listen.

That was Karl Nerenberg from our October 29 episode when we discussed Trudeau’s 2021 cabinet.

This month, on our Off the Hill political panel, we delved into Justin Trudeau’s government once again, this time dissecting the speech from the throne. To break it down, hosts Libby Davies and Robin Browne prompted our panelists Karl Nerenberg, poet and scholar El Jones, MP Leah Gazan, and Indigenous activist and writer Clayton Thomas-Muller. Our esteemed guests discussed what was said during the speech, what was notably not mentioned in the speech, and what it all meant for activists.

Our panelists were in agreement that while pretty words about Indigenous reconciliation, solving climate change, and keeping Canadians safe and healthy through the pandemic were said, the speech was devoid of real substance. MP Leah Gazan speaks in a clip from the panel.

Those were our top stories on rabble radio this year. Now let’s take a look at the top stories of the week on rabble.ca in a segment we call “in case you missed it.”

In case you missed it:

This week at rabble, the Omicron variant appears to be taking hold around the globe. Have we actually learned anything from the last two years? Are our governments capable of providing support for society’s most vulnerable to the virus? Are we making any progress on improving indoor air quality in communal spaces like schools? Are travel restrictions making any sort of difference? 

As Nora Loreto, author of the newly released book Spin Doctors: How Media and Politicians Misdiagnosed the COVID-19 Pandemic says, “it feels like Groundhog Day.” You know, the Bill Murray kind. Here we go again. 

I reviewed Nora’s book this week on the site. It’s an insightful, compelling and — you’ve been warned — depressing read about the government and media failure that in many ways paved the way for COVID-19 to wreak the havoc it has. Nora takes readers through the first 18 months of this pandemic: from January 2020 through the end of June 2021. As we well know by now, the pandemic didn’t end then, and we are still grappling with many of the same challenges we faced one year ago. However, as Nora proves, at this point, we ought to know better. 

That’s why in Karl Nrenberg’s analysis of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s fall economic update, he wonders why there isn’t more money being dedicated to improving indoor air quality for Canadians. There is indeed a section of the update most overlooked on Clean and Healthy Indoor Air. 

The finance minister’s update includes a Small Business Refundable Tax Credit of up to $10,000 per location and $50,000 per business organization, which businesses can receive for “eligible air quality improvement expenses.”

There is, in addition, $100 million for provinces and territories for “improvements to ventilation” in schools, and an additional $70 million to the $100 million the government announced a year ago “to support ventilation projects in public and community buildings such as hospitals, libraries and community centres.”

It’s something, but it’s not much, considering the degree to which stopping the spread of this virus entails getting it out of the air we breathe.

Speaking of lessons unlearned, over in Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney infamously declared the pandemic “over” last summer, the government is restricting COVID-19 restrictions for the holiday season, David Climenhaga reports. Groundhog Day, indeed. 

Also this week on rabble.ca: 

In case you missed it, 34 people’s names were commemorated at this month’s Toronto monthly Homeless Memorial on December 14. Of those 34 names, 19 people died inside city shelters in the month of October, writes street nurse Cathy Crowe. In response, the Shelter Housing Justice Network demands that Toronto City Council must immediately strike a task force charged with taking all reasonable steps to reduce such deaths but also take measures to ensure safe shelter, an expansion of housing allowances, harm reduction measures and to stop encampment evictions. 

In case you missed it, Stephen Wentzell spoke to activists about the federal government’s new bill to remove some mandatory minimum sentences from the Criminal Code. Toronto journalist, activist and author Desmond Cole panned the bill as “deeply cynical” and an “incomplete policy” as he calls for all mandatory minimum sentences to be dropped — including those for crimes involving gangs — and for life sentences to end. 

“I just think the government needs to spare us all of the rhetoric about race, when the sentences that they are keeping up will also continue to disproportionately put Black and Indigenous people in jail,” Cole said.

Justice Minister David Lametti said the government “will continue to address the social determinants of crime” and marked the bill as an important step.

And with that, that is our show this week – and for this year. Rabble radio is taking a few weeks off for the holiday season, although the writers and contributors at rabble.ca will continue to bring you the up-to-date news throughout the month, so look out for that. As for rabble radio, you can tune into our next episode on January 14, 2021.

If you liked what you heard on this week’s show, please consider subscribing wherever you listen to your podcasts. Rate, review, share it with your friends — it only takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble but it means so much. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. And if you have feedback for the show, I’d love to hear it – get in touch anytime at [email protected]

I’m your host, Chelsea Nash. On behalf of everyone here at rabble, we want to thank you for tuning in and supporting our show – and we also want to wish you a safe and happy new year!

Thanks to our podcast producer Breanne Doyle. Thanks to Karl Nerenberg for the music, and all the journalists and writers who contributed to this year’s content on rabble radio, Off the Hill and rabble.ca.

Photo by Erwan Hesry at Unsplash

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