Friday, October 18, 2019
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students


The federal leaders’ debate took place Oct. 7. (CBC)

UBC Journalism students fact check the 2019 English-language federal leaders’ debate

The debate took place on Oct. 7, and a group of first year Journalism students went fact hunting.

By The Thunderbird , in Feature story , on October 7, 2019 Tags: , ,

Students at UBC Graduate School of Journalism fact-checked the English-language federal leaders’ debate. The students verified these facts by using  journalistic and institutional sources.


Claim: Farmers of soybeans were negatively affected by the Canada’s detention of an executive with Chinese tech giant Huawei and subsequent trade issues. 

VERDICT: TRUE

In an interview with the Globe and Mail Ron Davidson, executive director at Soy Canada, stated that not a single vessel carrying a shipload of soybeans has been sold to China since December following Canada’s detention of the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ensuing trade issues. The article was published August 4, 2019.


Claim: Maxime Bernier said that only six per cent of Canadians want increased immigration. Is that true?

VERDICT: FALSE

The six per cent figure the PPC leader is quoting is from August 21, 2018, in research from the Angus Reid Institute. The report is about opinion trends about immigration over 40 years. The most recent statistic in the report shows that there is an increase of six per cent of the amount of Canadians wanting increased immigration, which has been construed as six per cent of the total population. While the six per cent figure is associated with opinions on immigration, the figure is not an actual reflection of the Canadian wider opinion.


Claim: Elizabeth May claimed the Assembly of First Nations said that climate change is their ‘number one’ priority.

VERDICT: TRUE

On Sept. 27, National Chief of the Assembly of the First Nations Perry Bellegarde said: “The climate crisis – the climate emergency – is our number one priority.” The Assembly also says that the climate crisis is “the number one crisis facing this generation.” This backs up May’s claim. 


Claim: Bernier said the 87 richest families have wealth equivalent to three provinces.

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

The left-of-centre Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) compared the net worth of Canada’s 87 richest families to the wealth of average families since 1999. It  found it to be equivalent to everyone living in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. But there has been no independent verification of its findings.


Claim: Trudeau said Liberals got 900,000 people out of poverty. 

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

Last February, Statistics Canada reported that the number of people living below the poverty line decreased by 826,000 between the years of 2015 and 2017.


Claim: Blanchet said 70 per cent in Quebec approve of Bill 21. 

VERDICT: FALSE

Only 64 per cent of people in Quebec support Bill 21, which include those over 45 years old (46 per cent of those 45 to 54, 44 per cent of 55 to 64, 45 per cent of 65 and over), males (45 per cent), earning $40k-$60k (43 per cent) or $80k-$100k (45 per cent), with some college or university education (46 per cent) or secondary school or less (44 per cent), from Québec (64 per cent), and voting BQ (87 per cent).


Claim: Trudeau said the Liberals have created one million more jobs. 

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

According to Canada.ca the Liberal government has created more than one million jobs during the Trudeau administration. It’s difficult to find the exact number of jobs that have been created during the administration, but the unemployment rate has been steadily dropping since January of 2015, decreasing to 5.7 per cent from 6.9 per cent for everyone over the age of 15, and decreasing to 5.0 per cent from 5.8 per cent for everyone over the age of 25.


Claim: Scheer said the Conservative Universal Tax Cut will put $800 in the hands of lower-income Canadians.

VERDICT: FALSE

Conservatives Universal Tax Cut will reduce the tax rate on income under $47,630 will be reduced from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent. A Canadian citizen will therefore save $440 each. A couple will save $850 per year. 


Claim: Bernier said Canada has more immigrants per capita than any other G20 country. 

VERDICT: FALSE

As per data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2015, Canada ranks fourth behind the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. 


Claim: Justin Trudeau said they will plant 2 billion trees to help the environment.

VERDICT: TRUE

Jeremy Kerr, professor of biology at the University of Ottawa, comments that it is a reasonable objective, and that this will contribute to the global requirement to reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.


Claim: Andrew Scheer said Quebec gets most of its energy from the United States.

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

Quebec gets petroleum energy from the United States. The majority of the gasoline consumed in Quebec is refined in the province. However, some gasoline is imported from the U.S East Coast and Europe, or transferred from the Maritimes.


Claim: Singh said Trudeau mocked an Indigenous activist

VERDICT: TRUE 

In March, Trudeau sarcastically replied to an Indigenous activist who was protesting unclean drinking water. Trudeau tweeted following the fundraiser saying “From time to time I’m in situations where people are expressing concerns or protesting a particular thing and I always try to be respectful and engage with them in a positive way, I didn’t do that last night. Last night I lacked respect towards them.”


Claim: Scheer said Quebec gets its oil and gas from U.S. “Quebec thinks pipelines are not socially acceptable”

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

This is a fact, but slightly outdated. Data from 2012 shows that Quebec had received only 8% of its oil supply from Canada, however that has jumped to 44% as of 2017. “While the province got most of its oil from overseas in 2012, the situation had flipped by 2017, with most of the supply now coming from North American producers. On top of that, Western Canada is now the Central Canadian province’s top source of crude.” 

Oil from the Portland-Montreal pipeline, which would supply Quebec has been low since 2016. Quebec is working on other ways to supply oil and gas.


Claim: Scheer said Trudeau fired Jody Wilson-Raybould from cabinet.

VERDICT: FALSE

Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled  in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to Veteran Affairs from the Justice and Attorney General portfolio. She submitted her resignation and then was removed from the caucus. 


Claim: Trudeau said National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations has said that no government has done more for Indigenous peoples than this government. 

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT…

Chief Perry Bellegarde has acknowledged over that past year that Trudeau’s federal government has “made progress” on First Nations rights but has “much work ahead.” (APTN National News)


Claim: Blanchet said Canada is the worst emitter of greenhouse gases in G20 countries.

VERDICT: TRUE

As per the Canadian Press, Canada does produce the highest greenhouse gas per capita than any other G20 country. It produces 716 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. 


Claim: Scheer said that 80 per cent of Canadian families pay higher taxes than before the Trudeau government 

VERDICT: TRUE, BUT… 

The Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank, reported in September 2017 that “81 per cent (of Canadians in the middle income group) are paying more in taxes as a result of the federal income tax changes.” 


Claim: May said Scheer opposes the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

VERDICT: TRUE 

In Maclean’s-Citytv National Leaders Debate 2019, the full transcript posted on the Macleans website lays out Scheer’s words for his opposition to the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He rejected the declaration due to the need for “free prior and informed consent and that means that we would have tremendous uncertainty.” 


Claim: Trudeau said the choice of governments involves “one that doesn’t believe in climate change,” suggesting the Conservatives do not believe in climate change. 

VERDICT: FALSE

An official party release from the Conservative Party says that: “Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives recognize the global environmental impact of climate,” which suggests they believe in climate change. 


Claim: Trudeau said Canada is on track to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 in comparison to 2005 emissions.

VERDICT: FALSE

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Canada is only projected to meet 19 per cent of its 2030 climate target in comparison to 2005 levels because all the policies put into place have not been fully implemented. 


Participating students: Mashal Butt, Kathryn Helmore, Camila Castaneda, Ayesha Ghaffar, Ibrahim Daair, Yasasvi Mehta, Stéphane Lavoie, Pratyush Dayal, Priya Bhat, Sadhana Bharanidharan, Akshay Kulkarni, Tanner McGrath, Sarah Sidhu, Candice Lipski, Jasmine Mani