Like The Hub?
Join our community.
Join

Canada’s strange connection to the U.S. UFO hearings

News

The U.S. Congress heard last week that the American government possesses “non-human biologics,” presumably alien life forms recovered from fallen spaceships.

And the incredulity of the U.S. lawmakers was tempered by the fact that they were hearing from three apparently credible witnesses, including retired United States Air Force Major David Grusch, who was part of the Pentagon’s Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs) task force.

Among the claims made by Grusch at the congressional subcommittee investigating the issue were that the U.S. has been collecting UAPs for decades and that the program is beyond congressional oversight and funded by misappropriated funds. Although Grusch said he hadn’t personally seen any UAPs, he told lawmakers that his comments were based on interviews with dozens of witnesses.

Along with Grusch, other Americans with a “longstanding track record of legitimacy and service to this country,” have reported their own UFO/UAP sightings or signaled publicly that they’ve seen enough information so as to take them seriously. One of them was former President Barack Obama, who, when asked about the potential existence of UAPs and the U.S. government’s knowledge of them, noted that “there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are.”

A recent Pentagon report found little evidence of alien activity on Earth, but didn’t rule it out, either. More likely, the Pentagon believes, the reports are caused by optical illusions, drones, balloons or the lights from commercial airlines.

Lawmakers on the committee said it was an urgent issue to solve because, whether the sightings were alien activity or a rogue civilian drone, they could interfere with air travel and military activity.

But where does Canada fit into all this? Over the past few years, sightings of UFOs in Canadian airspace have become common.

According to Chris Rutkowski, with Ufology Research based out of Winnipeg, in Canada alone there were 768 UFO sightings in 2022, which is equivalent to two reported sightings per day. In an interview with the CBC, Rutkowski estimated that roughly 13 percent of sightings couldn’t be explained by natural phenomena.

To Canada’s former defence minister, Paul Hellyer, none of this would have come as a surprise.

Hellyer served as Canada’s minister of national defence under Lester B. Pearson from 1963 to 1967 and is widely recognized as the man who orchestrated the controversial unification of the Canadian Armed Forces. But, to some, he is better known as the first member of cabinet rank from a G8 country to publicly claim the existence of extraterrestrial life and UAPs.

While acting as defence minister, Hellyer mostly ignored reports of UAP sightings, stating in an interview with Vice in 2013 that he was “too busy unifying the Canadian Armed Forces to be able to worry about them.” However, as reports of UAP sightings began to pile up, Hellyer had trouble ignoring them comfortably.

After reading The Day After Roswell, a book claiming that the U.S. government covered up a UFO crash in 1947, his agnosticism dissolved into curiosity and partial belief. In the early 2000s, Hellyer was introduced to a United States Air Force general who encountered UAPs in his career. As Hellyer put it, the general greeted him by saying, “Every word of [The Day After Roswell] is true, and more.”

Hellyer claimed the general told him that there have been numerous occasions when U.S. government officials have been face-to-face with alien life forms. Shaken by the supposed lack of transparency from the U.S. government, Hellyer decided to go public with his newfound beliefs.

Until his death in 2021, Hellyer was adamant that aliens and UAPs existed and claimed so publicly since the early 2000s but no government, person, or respected organization on the planet had physical and publicly available proof of alien life, leaving most people skeptical of Hellyer’s argument.

He was seen as a conspiracy theorist; Maclean’s called him a “crazy person” in a 2015 article before he made his way around the country on the Disclosure Canada Tour to discuss “Earth’s cosmic Watergate.” After all, Hellyer said that there were up to 80 different alien species that have visited Earth, the proof for which was nonexistent.

The testimony given at the recent subcommittee hearing was reminiscent of the claims that Hellyer made, including that the U.S. government has been operating with utmost secrecy in relation to UAPs and that the U.S. government has been recovering large pieces of destroyed unearthly crafts for decades.

The Vancouver port strike may be a sign of a new era in Canadian politics

News

Economic damage from the strikes at the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert is piling up, but labour experts say the Liberals, and even the Conservatives, are less inclined to favour back-to-work legislation than ever before.

The strike action, and the political maneuvering it inspires, may be a sign of a new era in Canadian politics where all three major parties are now vying for organized labour votes and changing the landscape of the country’s politics in the process.

Since July 1, over 7,000 port workers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, have been picketing to demand higher wages, and to protest the growing presence of non-unionized contractors at the ports.

The Liberal government has not proposed back-to-work legislation to end the strikes paralyzing two of Canada’s largest ports, and Larry Savage, a professor of labour studies at Brock University, says the Liberals have good reason to avoid doing so.

“The Liberals in particular pride themselves as being the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and so it’s a bad look when that party is seen as potentially violating Charter rights,” says Savage. “The right to strike, since 2015, has been read as part of the Constitution and that’s relatively new given the trajectory of labour rights in Canada.” 

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the right to strike was constitutionally protected on freedom of association grounds. Savage says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause, which allows governments to override certain provisions in the Charter, during last year’s CUPE strike further constrains the federal government’s options. 

“Anytime you legislate someone back to work, the union is always going to be upset,” says Brian Dijkema. “I would say, most of the time, there’s good reason for the union to be upset. The reason we have collective bargaining is so the state does not need to be involved in the economic affairs of a corporation and its workers.” 

Dijkema, vice president of external affairs at the Cardus Institute, has previously talked about the potential for closer ties between conservative political parties and organized labour. He says the decision to support or oppose back-to-work legislation is a tough call for both the Conservatives and Liberals, even though the strike is impacting the whole country.

“They want to respect the rights of workers to associate and negotiate their own wages, but at some point, does it become a question of national, and maybe even international interest, when there’s a whole host of people downstream,” says Dijkema.

The last Conservative government led by Stephen Harper frequently ended labour disputes with back-to-work legislation, but times have changed since 2015. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has urged the Liberals to end the strike, but has stopped short of calling for back-to-work legislation.

Poilievre has also made attempts to appeal to organized labour, including promising to streamline natural resource projects and boost domestic manufacturing, as well as frequently visiting unionized job sites.

Negotiations between the ILWU and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association to end the strike are ongoing, and on July 11, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan, who retained his post in Wednesday’s cabinet shuffle, gave a federal mediator 24 hours to recommend a set of terms to end the strike. 

A tentative settlement was reached between the negotiators, only for the workers to reject the deal and resume the strike on July 18, without giving 72 hours notice, leading to O’Regan publicly declaring that the strike was illegal. ILWU’s leadership has recommended that the union’s members vote in favour of ratifying the latest proposed deal. 

“We’re pleased to see that the ILWU Canada Longshore Caucus will be recommending ratification of the Terms of Settlement proposed by federal mediators to their membership,” read a statement from O’Regan’s office when asked for comment. “Right now, our B.C. ports are operating, but we need long-term stability. That’s what we’re focused on.”

An estimated $800 million worth of goods pass through the Port of Vancouver and into the Canadian supply chain every day, and some estimates place weekly losses from the strike at $250 million. Premiers across Canada, including Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, have called on the federal government to implement back-to-work legislation. 

Howard Levitt, senior counsel at Levitt Sheikh, a Toronto law firm specializing in labour law, says the government has the authority to pass the legislation, but it would break with its approach towards organized labour. 

“It would be an absolute change of course, but one that they’ve been making noise about in this particular strike, and it’s one that has such a massive impact across the country, and in other industries in the economy generally, that they may not have a choice,” says Levitt. 

During 2014, the last full year in office of the previous Conservative government, the federal lobbying registry recorded just four communications between the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and parliamentarians. Under the current Liberal government, the registry has recorded 136 communications initiated by the CLC in the last six months. 

While the NDP have an agreement to support the Liberals in the House of Commons for specific issues, Savage says the NDP would vote against back-to-work legislation, possibly forcing the Liberal government to rely on the Conservatives to pass it.

“I think that Trudeau doesn’t want to be seen as in bed with the Conservatives to extinguish the workers’ right to strike, especially given the Liberal Party has worked so hard to kind of craft itself as a party of the middle class,” says Savage. 

The Conservatives, however, may no longer be willing hawks when it comes to forcibly ending labour disputes.

Like many other right-of-centre parties worldwide, the Conservatives have attempted to make inroads with organized labour in recent years, following the example of the Republicans in the United States and the United Kingdom’s Tories. Previous Conservative leader Erin O’Toole praised the presence of unions in the lives of working and middle-class Canadians, citing his own upbringing as an example. 

Some surveys conducted in the last 12 months have indicated that the Conservatives’ efforts are paying off, with a February Abacus poll indicating a plurality of unionized workers would vote for them.