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Malcolm

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Canada...the same country where they can arrest for simply fishing without a license... but muslims can illegally walk across the border, and the idiots in charge open up their arms in welcome. Truly beyond stupid.

Edited by Jaydee

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John Ivison: Backed into a corner, Liberals seek compromise on parliamentary reform

 
‎Yesterday, ‎April ‎3, ‎2017, ‏‎4:44:11 PM | John Ivison

The opposition members were just settling in for the fifth day of their filibuster when they discovered that the committee examining the Liberal government’s suggested changes to the standing orders had been suspended before they’d even popped a throat lozenge.

The Liberals came in like lions last month, thrusting a “discussion paper” of reforms to parliament under the noses of the opposition and imposing a deadline on the study of the proposed changes.

But it looks like the whole kerfuffle will go out like a lamb, with yet another government climb-down. The opposition claimed the changes to the standing orders are a power grab, an attempt to alter the rules to their own advantage using their parliamentary majority.

Conservative MP Scott Reid noted there is more than a hint of irony in the fact that the Liberals are attempting to get rid of omnibus bills by introducing what might legitimately be dubbed an omnibus document of parliamentary reform.

The opposition parties have, consequently, invoked a filibuster at the procedure committee in order to defend their right to filibuster.

 

It is the united front presented by the Conservatives and the NDP that has apparently prompted a government re-think. Bardish Chagger, the House Leader, called a meeting of her colleagues from the other side of the aisle Monday, to search for a compromise.

Chagger has backed herself into a corner — she can’t be seen to cave in to opposition demands for unanimity, since a number of the changes in the “discussion document” were also in the Liberal election platform. “It would give them a veto over our election promises,” said one senior Liberal.

However, Chagger was appointed to reduce the temperature in the House after the Motion 6 debacle last year, when the Liberals were accused of trying to commandeer House procedure.

The Liberals complain the Conservatives are intent on obstructing their agenda. That’s a battle as old as parliament itself — opposition parties trying to use procedural rules to slow the progress of legislation versus governments attempting to change the rules to speed the passage of their business.

But the Conservatives and NDP have made their point, and would appear obstructionist if they turned down a reasonable offer of accommodation by the government.

Reid has suggested a motion that may offer everyone a face-saving compromise, calling for each of the recommendations agreed upon from the discussion paper to be reported separately to the House. This would allow the opposition to vote against the proposals it finds most offensive, while letting slide those it secretly supports.

The government has narrowed the list of issues that it considers crucial — reforming question period to institute a Prime Minister’s Questions once a week; ensuring governments are forced to justify proroguing the House; ending the use of omnibus legislation; and, reform of the Estimates process to give MPs a better sense of what it is on which they are voting.

What’s not to like in any of those if you are an opposition MP? Each one of those changes would make the life of the opposition much easier, so why not support them? Justin Trudeau would be on his feet more in one Prime Minister’s Questions session than he would in a month of regular question periods.

If the Liberals were able to enact these modest changes, they would probably consider it a victory of sorts.

The opposition’s biggest complaint is the proposal to limit the length of interventions at committee. The fear among opposition MPs is that the Liberals will ram through changes that reduce one of the few weapons at their disposal — the ability to slow legislation passing through committee.

The Liberals have a point when they say they could have used their majority to bulldoze any opposition without any discussion.

But changing the rules of the House is a delicate business. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Parliament is a living entity and its conventions evolve over time. At Confederation, there were few rules to curtail debate. Closure was introduced in 1903 and time allocation was implemented in 1969.

The rules of parliament were agreed unanimously in 1867 and consensus has most often accompanied major changes.

There have been exceptions. In 1991, Brian Mulroney tabled a motion with 64 changes to the standing orders and used his majority to ram it through.

The Liberals take some glee in pointing out that in 2015, a private member’s motion by their tormentor Reid, on changing the standing orders so that future elections of the Speaker would be held using a preferential ballot, was passed despite opposition from 97 MPs.

But governments tamper with the smooth running of democracy at their peril.

Arcane procedural points become hills to die on and mild-mannered parliamentarians turn into blue-woad dubbed William Wallace figures. It seems the Liberals have been persuaded by the opposition argument that, while they might be able to take away their Friday sittings, they will never be able to take away their freedom.

• Email: jivison@postmedia.com | Twitter: IvisonJ

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Liberals to tone down July 01, 2018 celebrations ...... :D 

Liberals want to move up pot legalization to avoid Canada Day celebrations

Legalization target of July 1, 2018 will be changed to 'on or before July 1, 2018'

By David Cochrane, CBC NewsPosted: Apr 08, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 08, 2017 5:00 AM ET

 

With long-awaited marijuana legislation set to be announced next week, the federal government is having second thoughts about legalizing cannabis on Canada Day.

The Trudeau government still plans to go ahead with its plan to make weed legal for recreational use. But a senior government source says the initial target of July 1, 2018 as the implementation date will be changed to "on or before July 1, 2018."

The change reflects some internal concerns over legalizing a recreational drug on the country's birthday. Bill Blair, the Liberal government's point man on pot, told the Canadian Press he wanted the focus of Canada Day to be Canada — not cannabis. 

"I'm probably out on a limb on this one but ... I don't believe July 1 should be an implementation date for anything; it is a day of celebration for the anniversary and founding of our country," Blair told CP.

"I don't think that's an appropriate date. That's my opinion."

By next summer

But what isn't changing is the federal government's desire to fully deliver on its marijuana legalization promise by next summer — despite suggestions that the timeline may be too ambitious.

The federal government believes its timeline to have a nation-wide system for the distribution and sale of marijuana is achievable — even though much of the heavy lifting will have to be done by the provinces.

"We campaigned on this," said the senior government official. "We told them it was going to happen."

Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, told the Canadian Press he doesn't think Canada Day 2018 is an appropriate date for legalising marijuana. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

It appears that Ottawa is counting on the potential profits from marijuana sales to speed things along at the provincial level. Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014 and, with a population smaller than Quebec and Ontario, that state is doing more than $1 billion US in legal sales a year.

The hope is that at least a few of the provinces will move quickly to finalize their system for retail sales and that will have a pace-car effect for the slower moving jurisdictions.

Bill details coming next week

The marijuana legislation is set to be unveiled next week. But CBC News reported many of the details last month. It will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

The federal government will be in charge of making sure the country's marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.

But the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set the price.

While Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, the provinces will have the option of setting a higher age limit if they wish.

As for Canadians who want to grow their own marijuana, they will be limited to four plants per household.

Legalizing marijuana was one of the more controversial promises Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made as he campaigned to become prime minister.

In their platform the Liberals said it was necessary to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana" in order to keep drugs "out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals."

The Liberals had promised to introduce legislation by the Spring of 2017. Announcing the legislation next week will allow the party to hit that deadline.

With files from The Canadian Press
 

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More from our "More Open" government.

Parliamentary Budget Officer raises concerns over ‘restrictions’ in Liberal bill, says wasn’t consulted

 
‎Today, ‎April ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎2 hours ago | Marie-Danielle Smith

OTTAWA — The Parliamentary Budget Officer is raising major concerns with the budget implementation bill the Liberal government introduced yesterday in the House of Commons.

The bill would make the PBO an official officer of parliament, which Jean-Denis Fréchette said Wednesday is a good thing — it currently falls under the authority of the Library of Parliament — but, he says, the bill also introduces new “restrictions.” 

Although the government says it is open to amendments, Fréchette confirmed in an interview with the National Post he wasn’t consulted on the legislation. He was surprised there was no communication with his office, he said, even though the proposed law directly affects it.

Fréchette described areas of significant uncertainty. The requirement of approval from House of Commons and Senate speakers for an annual “work plan,” for one thing, raises big questions.

“I’m curious to know why.” he said. “It is an unknown. It is something that we have to ask questions about. Is it a way to control the agenda of the work that we will do? I don’t know.”

Unexpected events can happen, and the PBO may want to initiate a study on major government spending. For example, Fréchette hypothesized, if Canada were to launch a military engagement somewhere in the world, would the PBO need to amend its work plan and conduct a study on the cost of a mission? Or would its work be restricted based on the speakers’ approval?

The bill would require the PBO to cost political parties’ election platforms if requested, something the office had suggested in its own proposal for draft legislation released last summer. But Fréchette isn’t so keen. 

“The costing of platforms is not something that I am a proponent of. I’ve been vocal before. I don’t think it’s the greatest idea in the world because it could create some problems in terms of the neutrality and the nonpartisanship,” he said.

The way the Liberals propose to legislate this is “top-heavy” and “overly  complicated,” Fréchette said — “it’s just one problem after (another), the whole section.”

Finally, access to information provisions are a “disappointment,” Fréchette said. Two big changes come with the bill: the PBO can access “information,” writ large, rather than just “data”; and it can seek such information from Crown corporations, not just departments.

But it is unclear, Fréchette said, whether there is any remedy for the PBO to be able to complain should departments or Crown corporations prove unwilling to provide necessary information. “I think the legislators should have thought of some mechanism there that would give me some leverage,” he said. “It’s pretty weak for me, for the moment.”

There’s another potential fly in the ointment, but Fréchette couldn’t immediately identify what the implications might be.

The legislations say the PBO “shall, if requested to do so by a member of the Senate or of the House of Commons, estimate the financial cost of any proposal that the member is considering making before the Senate or the House of Commons or a committee of either or both Houses.”

A government official said, “it’s our intent to ensure that all MPs and all Senators can ask the PBO to help them answer questions on costing or finances of the government or economic matters related to Canada — and this could include a motion, a PMB or any other way the member feels they could have the PBO get to the heart of the matter.”

The legislation also seems to suggest that an MP, Senator or parliamentary committee could also ask the PBO to cost out amendments to bills. The new provisions could, in theory, add significant workload to the office.

Mark Kennedy, director of communications for Government House Leader Bardish Chagger, said legislation is intended to provide “greater independence” to the PBO and to “strengthen” the office. 

“We are open to amendments on how to further improve the proposed legislation so that it accomplishes the goal of an independent PBO,” Kennedy said.

Email: mdsmith@postmedia.com | Twitter: mariedanielles 

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The Pot is now boiling:

 
April 13, 2017 10:28 am
Updated: April 13, 2017 1:54 pm

Federal legislation on legalizing marijuana unveiled

By Kristy Kirkup The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Adults 18 and older will be able to legally buy and cultivate small amounts of marijuana for personal use, while selling the drug to a minor will become a serious new criminal offence under the federal Liberal government’s proposed new legal-pot regime.

READ MORE: Pot legalization in Canada: Here’s what you need to know about proposed law

A suite of legislation introduced Thursday would, once passed, establish a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of pot, and make it against the law to sell cannabis to youth or use a young person to commit a cannabis-related crime.

New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars.

“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a news conference.

“Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world … we simply have to do better.”

The new law would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.

They would also be permitted to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home.

The government says it intends to bring other products, including pot-infused edibles, into the legalized sphere once federal regulations for production and sale are developed and brought into force.

Marijuana law until this point has been ‘an abject failure’: Goodale

“The current system of prohibition is failing our kids,” said Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and the government’s point man on the legalized-marijuana file.

The plan is to have a legalized-pot system in place by the end of June 2018, he added.

“We have a responsibility to act as expeditiously as we can … we can’t drag our feet; we aspire to get this done as quickly as possible.”

WATCH: Liberals table marijuana bills in move to legalize pot

15226358_848x480_920530499924.jpg?w=670&quality=70&strip=all

Under the proposed Cannabis Act, it would remain illegal to import cannabis and cannabis products, and to export them without a valid permit. Permits may be issued for certain purposes, such as medical cannabis and industrial hemp.

It would also be against the law to sell cannabis in a package or with a label that could be construed as appealing to young people, to include testimonials or endorsements, or to depict a person, character or animal.

The government also aims to establish “significant penalties” for those who engage young Canadians in “cannabis-related offences” and a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, along with a “robust” public awareness campaign.

The RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency plan to work together, along with local police, to uphold laws governing illegal cross-border movement of cannabis.

Goodale made a point of noting the existing laws remain in effect until the new legislation is formally proclaimed the law of the land.

“As the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected,” he said.

“This must be an orderly transition; it is not a free for all.”

VIDEO: Challenges cities face with marijuana legalization

2017-03-30T23-21-34.8Z--1280x720.jpg?w=670&quality=70&strip=all

Provinces, territories and municipalities would be able to tailor rules for their own jurisdictions, enforcing them through mechanisms such as ticketing.

They will also be permitted to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules, establish provincial zoning rules for cannabis businesses and change provincial traffic safety laws as they deem necessary.

Philpott says criminalizing cannabis has not deterred use among young people, noting products like alcohol and tobacco are legally available with restrictions.

Once passed, the Liberal bills introduced today would make Canada the first member of the G7 to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the country.

— With files from Jim Bronskill

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Interesting change to existing laws buried in the new bill. Awaiting for the outcry about the Libs and civil rights.......  Just imagine if the Cons had done this.  :)

New impaired driving laws mean you could be asked for a breath sample without reason

jill slattery By Jill Slattery Online Producer  Global News

WATCH: A day after the federal government unveils its plans to legalize marijuana, one of the biggest constitutional concerns is over the changes to impaired driving laws. Aaron McArthur reports.

Canadian lawyers are already gearing up and getting ready for July 1, 2018,  the date the proposed Cannabis Act legislation is set to become law. But what has some of them concerned has nothing to do with marijuana.

Tucked inside the Cannabis Act framework were changes to impaired driving laws that would allow police officers to demand breath samples from any driver without first requiring a reasonable suspicion that they’re under the influence.

Drivers going through a road-side stop today are usually greeted by a police officer at their window, asking if they’ve been drinking. During that conversation, officers catch a whiff of your breath, glance around your vehicle and assess your behaviour. If they suspect you may be impaired, they’ll ask you to take a breathalyzer test.

Next year, all that procedure could disappear — and some lawyers say it’s an obstruction of constitutional rights.

“They want to be able to have police officers make any kind of arbitrary mandatory breath demand on any motorist, regardless of the circumstances,” criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon told Global News.

“The law as it is proposed is going to be in direction violation of citizen’s constitutional rights that are guaranteed under the charter. More specifically, in my view, it is going to contravene people’s rights to be free from arbitrary detention as well as unlawful search and seizure.”

The government says today’s laws allow many impaired drivers to escape detection at check stops. The changes make it plausible that police could demand a breath sample from every driver going through a road block.

READ MORE: Three B.C. cities make top 10 drunk driving list

The changes, they say, would also cut back on litigation surrounding the question of whether or not the officer has “reasonable suspicion” to demand a breath sample.

But Leamon says it would do just the opposite. When the law goes into effect on July 1, 2018, Leamon says, “I would expect a constitutional challenge the following day.”

Legal challenges around impaired driving laws are no stranger to B.C., where the province recently won a Supreme Court battle defending its own provincial rules where a driver can be handed an immediate roadside suspension for blowing a breath sample of 0.005mg/100mL or above.

“I don’t want to see the federal government going down the same road, especially when citizen’s civil liberties hang in the balance,” Leamon said.

The government says its impaired driving law changes will “reform the entire impaired driving regime in the Criminal Code” and “be amongst the strongest in the world.”

Some of the other proposed changes for both drug and alcohol impaired drivers include:

  • Repeal and replace all transportation offences with a modern, simplified and coherent structure
  • Authorize mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside where police have already made a lawful stop under provincial law or at common law
  • Increase certain minimum fines and certain maximum penalties — including a maximum penalty for dangerous driving of life imprisonment, up from 14 years
  • Facilitate investigation and proof of blood alcohol concentration
  • Eliminate and restrict defences that encourage risk-taking behaviour and make it harder to enforce laws against drinking and driving
  • Clarify Crown disclosure requirements
  • Permit an earlier enrolment in a provincial ignition interlock program

The legislation also includes a specific section from drug-impaired driving to coincide with the legalization of marijuana. It would give police officers the right to demand an oral fluid sample from drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. It would also create three new offences for having specified levels of a drug in the blood within two hours of driving.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s justice minister, says she is confident the laws will stand up in court.

With files from Aaron McArthur

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Interesting, we bring our Fighter Jets home, relatively safe missions, and now send helicopters over in a much less safe role.

Edmonton-based Royal Canadian Air Force squadron deployed to Iraq

       By Slav Kornik      
Web Producer  Global News    


A tactical helicopter squadron based in Edmonton departed for northern Iraq on Monday.

Sixty members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (CAF) 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based at the 3rd Canadian Division Support Base in Edmonton, are assuming duties to fight ISIS as part of Operation IMPACT.

READ MORE: Canadian troops in Iraq mount pressure on ISIS around Syrian border
 
Squadron members will fly and maintain up to four CH-146 Griffon helicopters, which provide tactical transport for Canadian troops and material near Erbil, Iraq.

“We provide air power that integrates with and supports our CAF and coalition partners. The tactical helicopter detachment is a crucial component of this commitment,” Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, said.

“430 Squadron has done a tremendous job over the past few months, maintaining a level of excellence that I know 408 Squadron will continue.”

READ MORE: Canadian special forces taking more active role in Iraq as Liberals extend ISIS mission

The CH-146 Griffon helicopters have an array of self-defence systems.
 
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus 
 

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Andrew Coyne: All in all, the Liberals got it right on pot legalization

 
‎Yesterday, ‎April ‎17, ‎2017, ‏‎6:34:14 PM | Andrew Coyne

Perhaps the federal Liberals were hoping to be congratulated for moving forward with legislation to permit the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. It was, after all, the fulfillment of a signature election promise, and these days that’s news.

If so, they were destined to be disappointed. Those opposed to legalization before were just as opposed to it after, while those in favour, which would include most of the press corps, found the Liberal approach, with its emphasis on how heavily regulated the legal marijuana market would continue to be, unspeakably square.

They were only doing it, some complained, because they had to — because they couldn’t afford to break yet another campaign promise — not because they actually believed in it. It was “the most grudging piece of legislation since the Paul Martin Liberals legalized same-sex marriage,” wrote one. Some saw the timing of the press conference, on the afternoon just before a long weekend, as betraying a certain lack of enthusiasm.

One had the distinct feeling that some of my colleagues would only have been satisfied had the assembled ministers put on a Bob Marley record, sparked up a nation-sized spliff, and confessed they were already “lit af” by virtue of a mid-morning bong session. If the Liberals really believed that marijuana was so dangerous, asked one, why on earth were they making it easier to obtain? Surely they had imposed so many restrictions that the bulk of the trade would continue to be in the black market.

Others complained that the rules on advertising were too restrictive, or that it was folly to try to regulate the growing of marijuana plants at home. As if that were not enough, there were all those “unanswered questions,” like how it would be taxed, or who would distribute it, and so on. Hadn’t they just punted all the hard questions to the provinces?

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldGlum-looking Liberal ministers announce that marijuana will be legalized, Thursday April 13, 2017.

With respect, I think my colleagues are demanding of the government “a foolish consistency.” No doubt the Liberals’ back-handed approach to legalization is heavily influenced by political calculations: it would not be surprising to find internal polling showed they were vulnerable on the issue, especially once you move beyond the top-line “should pot be legalized” question to the realities of implementation.

But there is also sound reason in principle to proceed with caution. For goodness sake: we are only the second country on earth, and the only large one, to do this. Legalization is probably, on balance, the best approach, but if we are honest we will acknowledge only probably, and only on balance. There are potential downsides as well as upsides, some of which we have anticipated, others of which we may have not. A little humility is in order.

My own position on these sorts of “vice” issues is what one might call libertarian-calvinist: you should be allowed to do them, but you shouldn’t want to. The policy equivalent is not far off what the government has attempted here, a kind of paternalistic liberalism. It is rooted not in the belief that marijuana is harmless, or that society should be unconcerned at the harm it might do, but in the observation that much worse harm arises from prohibiting it: in creating a lucrative business for organized crime, but also in bringing otherwise law-abiding people into contact with criminals, in some cases saddling them with criminal records.

There is no contradiction, then, in legalizing it, while continuing to discourage its use, in the full knowledge that we may be more successful in the former effort than the latter — that by alleviating the first sort of harm we may make the second worse. There is some evidence in polling data — and also from experience, after the lifting of Prohibition in alcohol — that usage will increase if marijuana is legalized. We can’t know for certain until we try, but we should begin by admitting to ourselves that we are not just legalizing marijuana, but at least to some extent, normalizing it.

Whether we normalize it on the model of alcohol, as a pleasurable activity that some people abuse, or of tobacco, as something inherently unsafe, will depend on the particulars of the regulations: what sort of advertising is allowed, or how widely it is distributed, and through which channels. Likewise, how successful we are at taking the business away from organized crime will depend on the particular taxation model: you want to set the price just low enough to make it worthwhile for existing users to switch to legal sources, without setting it so low as to cause a major expansion in consumption.

The uncertainty surrounding these and other issues of implementation argues strongly for leaving much of the details to the provinces — not only to reflect differences of customs and values, but in classic “laboratories of democracy” terms, to allow each to learn from the others’ experiments. In the broad strokes, then, I think the Liberals got it right, even if in certain specific respects — the maximum 14-year penalty for selling pot to minors, or the opportunistic expansion of current law on driving while impaired to permit the police, not only to test for marijuana, but to order breathalyzer tests for alcohol without probable cause — they went too far. Whether either survives committee or court scrutiny may be doubted.

The good news is we are not starting from scratch here. Long experience with alcohol and tobacco has taught us both the futility of prohibition and the necessity of regulation, and if we have not been wholly successful either at taking them away from organized crime or keeping them away from children, we have been tolerably so. If that strikes some as hypocritical, well, there is something to be said for hypocrisy in such matters.

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Playing to the crowd or just careless?

 

Harjit Sajjan the soldier wouldn’t have claimed credit for being ‘architect’ of operation, top NATO officer says

 
‎Today, ‎April ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎11 minutes ago | Matthew Fisher

Defense minister Harjit Sajjan was not “the architect” of Canada’s biggest battle since the Korean War as he claimed in a speech in India last week, according to the chief of operations for NATO in southern Afghanistan during Operation Medusa in 2006.

Lt.-Col. Shane Schreiber (ret.) said, “Harj the soldier probably would not have said that. Harj the politician did, thinking that he could get away with it. When you are careless with words as a politician that can haunt you.”

Sajjan apologized Thursday to those who served with him in Afghanistan after his claim to have been the mastermind of Medusa was criticized “as a bald-faced lie” by an officer deeply familiar with the battle plan and other officers who knew about or were part of its genesis.

“What I should have said was that our military successes are the result of the leadership, service and sacrifice of the many dedicated women and men in the Canadian Forces,” Sajjan said in a statement. “I regret that I didn’t say this then, but I want to do so now.”

Schreiber, who served on Canada’s first combat tour in Kandahar only months after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., said Medusa had “many architects. He was not one of them.”

“Harj probably realized it was wrong to take total credit,” said Schreiber, who left the Canadian Forces in 2012 and now lives in northern Alberta.  “I would say that he lives in a different world now. Any good soldier would not try to steal another soldier’s honour. But it is different when you are a politician.”

Paraphrasing an old expression, he said: “Success has a million fathers. but failure is an orphan.”

Repeating what other soldiers on Medusa have said since word of Sajjan’s taking credit for designing the Medusa battle plan began causing intense controversy in military circles this week, Schreiber said that the minister had been a well liked and respected soldier.

“Harj did a great job on tribal tactics and what the enemy was up to,” he said. “He was one of a couple of officers who told us we had a bigger problem with the Taliban than we thought we had and helped define that problem.”

Sajjan was a liaison officer and a reservist major from the British Columbia Regiment at the time of Medusa. He worked in intelligence and was not directly involved in battle planning, Schreiber said. This work was done by Schreiber, an Australian colonel and a Canadian major. They worked on the staff of then Brig.-Gen. Dave Fraser, the Canadian who ran Regional Command South for the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF). Fraser’s battle plans were sent to a British general in Kabul for approval, Schreiber said.

Medusa was a particularly complex operation, Schreiber said. It involved a Dutch reconnaissance company and artillery, most of a U.S. battalion and U.S. Special Forces as well as Afghan and British forces and U.S. attack helicopters and fighter jets.

“The Canadian media always play up the Canadian part but it was a multi-national effort that really tested NATO because so many nations had unwritten caveats and refused to come and play a combat role,” Schreiber said. “A lot of time was spent figuring out who could come and play on the friendly side.

“Medusa was a huge team effort.”

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He may have been an honourable warrior back in the day, but now as a politician he's shown himself to be a egotistical liar and as such, at a minimum, his political 'word' can never again be relied upon. Isn't that enough of a sin to ask for his resignation?

 

 

 

 

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Quote of the day.....

"People across Canada voted to impoverish future generations in October 2015.  No one should be surprised.  Socialism and its derivative Communism is the folly of the young because they have yet to become full fledged taxpayers and as such don't pay for the consequences of their naivety."

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Andrew Coyne: Fridays off? Here’s how to really reform Parliament, starting with limiting PM’s power

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎1, ‎2017, ‏‎3 hours ago | Andrew Coyne

So the package of Parliamentary reforms the Liberals were preparing to ram through over opposition objections will no longer include measures to automatically curtail debate on government bills or limit speeches in committee or shutter Parliament on Fridays. Instead, House Leader Bardish Chagger informs us, the government will simply invoke “time allocation” — curtailing debate, not automatically and across the board, but one bill at a time — more often.

Well of course. When your notion of Parliamentary reform is “things that will make life even easier for the government in a system that has no equal in the democratic world for executive control of the legislature” — when the problem you think needs fixing is not the inability of the people’s elected representatives to hold the government to account in any meaningful way, but the government’s inability to speed through whatever legislation it likes — then of course that must inevitably be the result.

Only let us have none of this nonsense about the government having no alternative now but to use time allocation, or that it “needs” to, or that it “regrets” it in any sense but that a permanent system of “legislative programming,” as originally proposed, would have spared it the bother. It is doing so not because it has to, but because it wants to, which was the point from the start.

What would a package of reforms look like that was genuinely intended to make the government more accountable to Parliament? It would start, reasonably enough, by reducing the powers of the government over Parliament. Rather than allow government to decide when debate had gone on long enough, for example, it would assign that power to the Speaker — as the Speaker, in the best of the government’s current proposals, would be empowered to divide omnibus bills into separate parts, to be voted on separately. (Perhaps it will be applied to the current such exercise, the budget bill.)

Rather than give the government sole power to decide when to prorogue the House, it would make such decisions subject to a vote of the Commons, with a supermajority required to ensure bipartisan support. (The current proposal is merely that the government should be required to declare its reasons.) A similar constraint might be imposed on its power to dissolve the House. We might also place limits on the confidence convention, under which the government can designate any bill it likes as a confidence measure — the gun at the head by which governments ultimately ensure compliance.

I say government, but of course I mean the prime minister, whose control over any government is near absolute. So a genuine reform plan would also reduce some of his personal prerogatives, beginning with the number and range of offices that are his sole purview to appoint, to be doled out as rewards for obedience: notably, it would halve the size of the cabinet, and with it the number of parliamentary secretaries assigned to each minister.

It would likewise seek to reduce the powers of party leaders over ordinary MPs: by restoring the convention that leaders are elected by caucus, and removable by them; by eliminating the power of the leader (or “designate”) to veto the nominations of party candidates, in favour perhaps of a vote of the caucus or riding association presidents. MPs thus liberated, it would be possible to have more genuinely free votes — on everything. (There would still be confidence votes, of course, but MPs are capable of deciding for themselves whether a matter is worth the fall of the government; MPs who go back on a platform promise can likewise answer to their constituents, not the party whip.)

A more powerful Parliament, whose debates were less scripted, whose votes were not foregone conclusions, would presumably be of greater interest to the public

A sincere effort to reform question period would have no need to set aside particular days when the prime minister would answer all questions: it would simply insist that he, and all ministers, answer questions when put to them, rather than fob them off on some junior, as is the current practice. It would ban the reading of either questions or answers. It would empower the Speaker to rule not only that a question is out of order, but also an answer.

A more powerful Parliament, whose debates were less scripted, whose votes were not foregone conclusions, would presumably be of greater interest to the public. So would a Parliament that was not so determined to make its deliberations as dull, obscure and unpleasant as it can. So in place of the current fixed television cameras, with their Soviet-era restrictions, let more cameras into the House, with greater latitude to roam, to capture reactions and otherwise present a more accurate picture of the proceedings. Take out the desks, with their schoolboyish associations, in favour of the more deliberative tone encouraged by British-style benches. Move the two sides of the House closer together: it’s harder to blow raspberries at someone when they’re in your face.

And of course, the reform without which all other reforms fail: make the House more representative. So long as we are governed by 39 per cent majorities, so long as we preserve the current system of institutionalized minority rule, whichever party is the beneficiary of the game of chance our elections have become — bet everything on the split votes, winner take all — will have little interest in co-operating with or otherwise attending to the interests of the others. But then, they will have even less interest in reforming the system that put them there: not even if they were elected on an explicit promise to do so.

And that’s the catch. Having won power, no party is likely to agree to changes that would reduce either its power or its chances of winning it. Which is why in place of real reform we get proposals for electronic voting and Fridays off.

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1 hour ago, Malcolm said:

I say government, but of course I mean the prime minister, whose control over any government is near absolute.

By this Coyne should point out is Gerald Butts.

Unelected, unaccountable.

  • Like 1

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On 4/29/2017 at 0:01 PM, DEFCON said:

He may have been an honourable warrior back in the day, but now as a politician he's shown himself to be a egotistical liar and as such, at a minimum, his political 'word' can never again be relied upon. Isn't that enough of a sin to ask for his resignation?

 

 

 

 

Scheduling conflict.... hmmmm

The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017 2:16PM EDT

OTTAWA -- Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is pulling out of an annual fundraising event originally set up for veterans of Afghanistan, an event whose main beneficiaries include military personnel returning from combat.

Sajjan was supposed to speak at the 8th annual "To the 'Stan and Back" event tonight, but organizer Cheri Elliott says she was told a scheduling conflict had arisen and the defence minister would not be able to attend.

The cancellation comes with Sajjan, a former soldier, under sustained fire for having exaggerated his role in Operation Medusa, a key battle involving the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan in 2006.

It also comes amid bickering between the Liberals and the Opposition Conservatives, who had planned to use their so-called opposition day Thursday to go after the defence minister.

The Liberals now say they are postponing the opposition day until next week because they need more time this week for legislation to implement the federal budget.

A watchdog group that tracks military imposters says many veterans are still upset with Sajjan despite his apology Monday, but that interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose went to far in accusing him of "stolen valour."

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If you have the money, you can have their ear. Guess this eliminates the need to be a "Registered Lobbyist". ? https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/h_00000.html

John Ivison: Money talks — and the Liberals are listening. Cash-for-access is back

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎3, ‎2017, ‏‎2 hours ago | John Ivison

Cash-for-access is back. Justin Trudeau is set to resume the high-priced fundraising events that proved so controversial for the Liberals when it emerged the party was raising millions of dollars through elite fundraisers attended by the prime minister in private homes.

The Liberals put the events on hold until they had taken steps to bring in new guidelines to make the events more transparent and accessible.

However, “An evening with Justin Trudeau” at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts Thursday will be followed by an event at the Vancouver Hotel on May 18. Tickets for the Montreal event top out at $250, while attendees can “enjoy appetisers, drinks and conversation with fellow Liberals” for the bargain price of $500.

Braeden Caley, the Liberal Party’s director of communications, said all events will now be publicly accessible, posted at least three days in advance. Within 45 days, a list of guests will be made available on the party’s website. “We challenge other parties to match the same standards — this is the expectation Canadians have for federal parties,” he said.

The expected influx of cash from events featuring the prime minister and other cabinet ministers could not be more timely for the Liberals.

In politics, money matters. Michael Ignatieff, under whose leadership the Liberal Party was cash-strapped, recalled in his political memoir Fire and Ashes the effect of Conservative attack ads.

“I couldn’t watch the SuperBowl without being told I’m just visiting … The effect of their attack was immediate. Our poll numbers began to slide,” he wrote.

Perhaps it was memories of those unhappy days that prompted the increasingly desperate sounding emails coming from the Liberal Party last week.

Christina Topp, the party’s senior director of fundraising, sent an email to supporters last Saturday, urging them to donate.

“Any moment now, we could find out that the Conservatives outraised us in Q1 (January to March of 2017),” she wrote.

On Tuesday, Elections Canada revealed that not only had the Conservatives raised more money from donors in the first three months of this year, they nearly doubled the Liberal effort.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickCash-for-access fundraising is back, just in the public eye.

The Tories raised $5.3 million from 42,473 donors — an average of $125 per donation.

That number does not include the $4 million raised by Conservative leadership candidates in the first three months of this year.

The equivalent numbers for the Liberals were $2.8 million from 31,812 donors, for an average of $88.10 per person.

The NDP lagged far behind, raising just $908,892 from 13,404 donors — an average of $67.80.

The Liberals haven’t raised this little in a quarter since before Justin Trudeau became leader in April 2013. The fourth quarter is traditionally a stronger time to raise money but even that doesn’t explain the drop in donations from Q4 of 2016, when the Liberals raised twice as much as they did in Q1 of 2017.

The most immediate explanation was the temporary hiatus of major fundraising events.

But there also seems to be an element of disenchantment among the party’s base.

Only 18 bills have passed though Parliament since the Liberals took power — a dribble compared to the Harper government’s legislative productivity.

The Grits have become bogged down in procedural fights in the House that donors don’t care about.

If you’re a Liberal there’s been nothing much to get excited about — the government has reversed itself on key promises like electoral reform and there has been slow progress on marijuana legislation. A cynic might suggest the new bill was introduced in its current embryonic form just to keep the base from mutiny.

It remains to be seen if the very public Liberal fundraising events will have the same appeal to well-heeled donors that the cozy private affairs had

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have plenty of reasons to be cheerful. There was a fear that donations to the federal party would dry up as money poured into the leadership race. This was the case with the provincial Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, which saw its donation levels halved during the race that elected Patrick Brown as leader. But that hasn’t happened.

The CPC blew past estimates of new members thanks to the leadership race — the party said 259,010 were eligible to vote by the March 28 cut-off date.

It suggests whoever becomes leader is going to have a healthy war-chest going into the next election. Stephen Harper built a coalition that was able to win election victories but his most enduring legacy could yet prove to be the ability of the Conservative Party to survive defeats.

It remains to be seen if the very public Liberal fundraising events will have the same appeal to well-heeled donors that the cozy private affairs had. The governing party had best hope so because its options to match the Tories are limited.

The Liberals could reintroduce the per-vote subsidy the Harper government killed, but that would throw a lifeline to an NDP that is in big trouble. The New Democrats pulled in less than half the amount of donations, from fewer than half the number of donors, than they did two years ago. In the recent Markham-Thornhill byelection, the party won just 3.5 per cent of the vote.

Reviving the per-vote subsidy would also breathe new life into the Bloc Québécois, which is on life support because of its inability to raise funds.

The Liberals overtook the Conservatives in donor numbers last year, claiming the mantle of the grassroots party of Canadian politics.

But unless the revamped public fundraisers are a success, those bragging rights will prove to be temporary.

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Trudeau Liberals have only passed 17 government bills since coming into power

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎7, ‎2017, ‏‎43 minutes ago | Marie-Danielle Smith

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have only passed 17 government bills since coming into office — a weak legislative showing compared to previous majority governments, including Stephen Harper’s.

Still, says Government House Leader Bardish Chagger, the Liberals have “an ambitious legislative agenda.”

Chagger’s emailed statement on her legislative ambitions focused on current debates around Senate amendments to a labour bill, debate around a budget implementation bill and future talks on marijuana legalization. “We will have more to say about specific bills in the weeks ahead,” she said on Friday.

Here’s a summary of Liberal lawmaking with six sitting weeks remaining on the House of Commons calendar (a number that could change at the government’s behest). 

We’re omitting private member’s bills, which don’t originate from government ministers. Two of these have passed: the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act and the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. More are on the docket, including an act to make the national anthem gender-neutral.

What’s in the House

At the nascent second-reading stage are 19 government bills, all but one of which (Bill S-2, on motor vehicle safety) also need to make their way through the upper chamber.

One of those is the budget implementation bill, C-44, which was being debated last week and will likely take precedent over others. Another is the bill that proposes to legalize marijuana.

Two bills are being studied in committee: one that makes changes to Statistics Canada and one that facilitates pre-clearance for goods and people across the Canada-United States border.

A law that would force corporations to explain themselves if they don’t have enough diversity on their boards of directors, among other things, is the only government bill at report stage, having completed committee study but awaiting third reading. None is imminently about to pass.

What’s back from the Senate

Four different bills have been amended by the Senate and are to be looked at by the House of Commons. If the House rejects amendments, the bills have to go back to the Senate before they can become law.

Almost a year ago, last June, the Senate sent Bill C-7, which changes RCMP union rules, back to the House. But the matter hasn’t come back up yet.

On Friday, the Liberals indicated they’ll reject amendments brought forward on one of their first law projects, Bill C-4, which reverses Conservative labour laws. Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said a Senate change that requires secret ballots rather than signed union cards would be bad for labour relations.

The Senate passed two more amended bills last week that the House will need to consider: Bill C-6, which repeals Tory citizenship laws; and Bill C-37, which amends controlled drugs and substances law to, according to Health Canada, “better equip” officials to “reduce the harms associated with drug use.”

What’s in the Senate

Seven government bills are making their way through the Senate.

One, Bill C-22 — the act that establishes a national security oversight committee — just got there and sits at second reading.

Five more are in committee, including the Liberals’ transgender rights bill (C-16) and the bill implementing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union (C-30).

Bill S-3, which is supposed to deal with sex-based inequities in registration under the Indian Act, has stalled for months after the Senate’s aboriginal affairs committee expressed its discontent.

Finally, Bill S-5, the government’s plain-packaging legislation for tobacco, just finished its committee report in the Senate.

National Post

Email: mdsmith@postmedia.com | Twitter: mariedanielles

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Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Becomes Law in Canada

New law would provide immunity from simple possession charges for those who call 911 in the case of an overdose

OTTAWA, May 4, 2017 /CNW/ - Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Many of these deaths are preventable if medical attention is received quickly, but evidence shows that witnesses to an overdose often do not call 911 for fear of police involvement. This is why the Government of Canada has taken action to encourage and protect people who are witnessing an overdose so they can seek help, and ultimately, save lives.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice, announced today that the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received Royal Assent and became law. The Act provides an exemption from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance as well as from charges concerning a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence or parole violations related to simple possession for people who call 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.

The Act was originally introduced as a Private Member's Bill by MP Ron McKinnon, the original Bill sponsor and Member of Parliament for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. The Government of Canada recognizes the dedication of first responders as key players on the front line in addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past year, the federal government has been building a new approach to drug policy by working collaboratively with communities, provinces, territories and key stakeholders, including addiction experts, the medical community, first responders, Indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations, as well as Canadians with lived experience.

The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based response to Canada's opioid crisis. For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit Canada.ca/opioids.

Quick Facts

  • In December 2016, the Government of Canada announced the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which reinstates harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada's drug policy.
  • The new strategy is supported by Bill C-37, which proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Customs Act to better equip both health and law enforcement officials to reduce the harms associated with drug use in Canada.
  • The Bill would streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites in Canada and allow border officers to open international mail of any weight, should they have reasonable grounds to suspect the item may contain prohibited, controlled or regulated goods.
  • Other proposed amendments would make it a crime to possess or transport anything intended to be used to produce a controlled substances (such as pill presses), allow for temporary scheduling of new psychoactive substances and support faster and safer disposal of seized chemicals and other dangerous substances.
  • The passing of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act complements the Government's new drug strategy, as well as ongoing federal action on opioids and the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis signed at the Opioid Summit in Ottawa last November.

Quotes
"During an overdose, a call to 911 can often be the difference between life and death. We hope that this new law, and the legal protection it offers, will help encourage those who experience or witness an overdose to make that important call, and save a life."
The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

"Protecting the lives of Canadians is our most important priority. This law ensures that you can call for help when someone is having a drug overdose and stay to provide them support until emergency responders arrive with guaranteed immunity from charges for simple possession of illegal drugs as well as certain related charges."
Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Associated Links
Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act
Backgrounder - The New Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy 
Opioid Action Plan
Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis

About the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

The growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids (powerful pain relieving drugs, including fentanyl) is a national public health crisis. Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a priority for the Government of Canada.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act is part of the Government’s comprehensive approach to addressing the crisis. It will help encourage Canadians to save a life during an overdose situation.

On this page

About the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose.

The act became law on May 4, 2017. It complements the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, our comprehensive public health approach to substance use. Harm reduction is a key part of the strategy alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

The act also supports the Federal Action on Opioids and the Joint Statement of Action to address the opioid crisis and prevent further overdose deaths.

We hope the act will help to reduce fear of police attending overdose events and encourage people to help save a life.

Legal protection granted by the act

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for people who experience or witness an overdose and call 9-1-1 for help.

The act can protect you if you are in breach of the following conditions under section 4 (1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act:

  • parole
  • pre-trial release
  • probation orders
  • simple possession
  • conditional sentences

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies to anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. The act protects those who either stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives.

The act does not provide legal protection against more serious offences, such as:

  • outstanding warrants
  • production and trafficking of controlled substances
  • all other crimes not outlined within the act

Save a life

Drug overdoses often happen with others around. Staying at the scene is important to save the life of the person experiencing an overdose.

Witnesses should:

  • call for emergency help
  • be prepared by carrying naloxone to use if you suspect an opioid overdose
  • provide first aid, including rescue breathing (CPR), if necessary, until emergency help arrives
  • stay calm and reassure the person that help is on the way

Tell others about the new Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

For more information

 

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Seems that refugees are no longer the "Flavour of the Year".

Liberals’ refugee system overhaul postponed indefinitely despite increase in asylum seekers

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎15, ‎2017, ‏‎8:00:13 PM | Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A Liberal election promise to overhaul the way asylum claims are handled has been postponed indefinitely despite that increased numbers of people seeking refuge that have put the system at risk, The Canadian Press has learned.

One of the options on the table, multiple sources have told The Canadian Press, is rejigging the historic Immigration and Refugee Board and handing some of its authority to the Immigration Department.

But those advocating for action before backlogs threaten the integrity of the system say they are up against a government that seems to have lost interest in spending more money or political capital to help asylum seekers.

The starting point is the designated country-of-origin system, which determines how quickly asylum claims are heard based on where they are from — a system that should, in theory, weed out unfounded claims faster.

Internal evaluations have shown that hasn’t quite worked and the system has drawn the ire of refugee advocates for creating a two-tier approach that includes unworkable timelines for hearing cases and their appeals.

The Liberals had been on the cusp of doing away with it, going even farther than their original promise to use an expert panel to determine which countries belonged on that list.

 

But a planned January roll-out was postponed after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the subsequent Liberal cabinet shuffle that brought a new immigration minister.

Then in March, as the issue of illegal border crossers dominated headlines and question period, plans to repeal the country-of-origin scheme were scrapped again, sources said.

They haven’t been rescheduled, even as the IRB itself has joined those saying the system needs to go.

“It would simplify our life from a case management point of view,” chairman Mario Dion said in an interview with The Canadian Press in March.

When the Liberals came to power and moved to fulfil a promise to resettle 25,000 Syrians, the government believed it had broad public support for refugees, said immigration lawyer and refugee advocate Lorne Waldman. Things have changed.

“The concern at the centre is that support has dissipated significantly because of a series of factors, the most important one being the emergence of Donald Trump,” he said.

“And I think the concern is amplified by the Conservative leadership race, where you have many of the candidates taking a very anti-immigrant posturing in their campaign.”

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said the overhaul to the country-of-origins policy was simply rescheduled by the department.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan pressed the government Monday on the delays, saying a growing backlog puts the integrity of the asylum system at risk.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the government continues to consult stakeholders and the IRB.

Claims have been rising steadily since the fall of 2015, though new numbers released Monday show they were down slightly in April of this year. Just over 3,000 people filed asylum applications in April, compared with 3,440 in March. So far this year, 12,040 claims have been filed, more than were lodged each of 2013 and 2014.

The issue shot to attention when hundreds of people began illegally crossing into Canada from the United States earlier this year.

“Our system is geared to deal with those fluctuations,” Hussen said Monday.

But if backlogs build, the government will find itself in the same situation that led to the country-of-origins policy in the first place — long waits for decisions that lure people with weaker claims to come to Canada, because they can work and access health care while they wait for a decision.

The IRB is aware of the problem and has instituted reforms, including allowing claims from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and as of June 1, Afghanistan, Burundi, Egypt, and Yemen to be decided without a hearing.

Those countries were selected because claims from there have high acceptance rates, there is a high volume of them and most are generally not complex.

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Auditor general questions Canada's plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Michael Ferguson says efforts to collect key information for his evaluation were blocked by Finance Canada

By Kathleen Harris, CBC NewsPosted: May 16, 2017 10:02 AM ET Last Updated: May 16, 2017 12:00 PM ET

 
 
Media placeholder
Play Media
 
 

Canada has claimed a leadership role in the fight against climate change on the world stage, but the federal spending watchdog is poking holes in the government's own plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies at home.

In a series of spring audits released today that gauged the government's efforts to reduce the risks of fraud and corruption and measured mental health supports for Mounties, Auditor General Michael Ferguson said while Canada has recognized that inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels undercut efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the government has not yet implemented its plan to end subsidies by 2025 to meet its 2009 G20 commitment.

Ferguson will comment on his report in a press conference at 11:30 a.m. ET. CBCnews.ca will carry his remarks live.

Finance Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada have not defined what that commitment means in the Canadian context, or demonstrated whether tax reforms are actually working, the audit concludes.

"We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be," Ferguson said in remarks prepared in advance of his news conference later Tuesday morning.

"We asked Finance Canada to provide us with its analyses of the social, economic and environmental aspects of these subsidies. The department did not give us that information."

Clearly frustrated with blocked efforts to gather information critical to complete his audit, Ferguson sent a special message to members of the House of Commons.

"Our right to freely access information is fundamental to our work, and a cornerstone that protects our independence," Ferguson wrote.

A statement from Environmental Defence said Canadians should be "alarmed" that the federal government is withholding important information from the auditor, which leaves the public in the dark about the degree to which the government is subsidizing oil and gas companies.

The organization said other G20 countries are being more transparent about subsidies.

"The U.S. and China have even opened their books to each other," the statement read. "The secrecy of Canada's Finance Department is extremely concerning, and undermines our democracy."

'We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be,' said Auditor General Michael Ferguson, who tabled his annual spring report Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In his prepared remarks, Ferguson said a "clear theme" running through his audits is the government not putting its plans into action.

"Government departments must make sure that they implement their programs in the way that they were designed and communicated to Canadians," he said. "Programs will not produce their intended results if departments do not put into practice what they said they were going to deliver."

While issues raised in the audits are "concerning," Ferguson said they can be fixed to achieve better results.

Other highlights of the audits:

  • The RCMP is not providing adequate mental health supports for its members. After announcing a mental health strategy, the national police force did not implement key programs, make services a priority or commit the necessary resources to support them.
  • Some supply-managed goods are entering Canada without proper duties being paid. The audit estimated that in 2015, the Canada Border Services Agency should have assessed $168 million in customs duties on imports of quota-controlled goods that exceeded volume limits, including dairy products, chicken, turkey and eggs.
  • The government is not doing enough to limit risks of corruption involving border immigration officials.
  • Transport Canada is not "actively engaged" in addressing infrastructure needs at remote northern airports that impact efficiency and safety, including runway lighting and navigational aids.
  • Changes to the temporary foreign workers program have not done enough to ensure Canadians aren't being squeezed out of jobs by international labourers, especially in the fish processing sector.
  • The government may be spending more to collect customs fees on parcels valued at less than $200 than it actually retrieves in revenues. Right now the threshold for customs duties is set at $20 for parcels imported into Canada by mail or courier.

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Beginning to love the New Non Alliance Parliament.  

PARLIAMENTARY PUSHBACK

TRUDEAU’S LIBERALS LOSE POWER STRUGGLE CENTRED ON DESIRE TO CHANGE HOUSE RULES

  • Calgary Herald
  • 16 Jun 2017
  • JOHN IVISON Comment
getimage.aspx?regionKey=zH6wJMza5sKZ9BZMgUgX%2fw%3d%3dPATRICK DOYLE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Liberal minister Bardish Chagger’s proposed rule changes for the House of Commons have been greatly diminished.

The great parliamentary reform uprising is over, and the government’s forces have been routed. Bardish Chagger introduced a package of rule changes for the House of Commons three months ago, with a misplaced sense of imperiousness. The measures unveiled by the Government House Leader included an end to Friday sittings; the introduction of electronic voting; limits on politically motivated prorogation; the creation of a Prime Minister’s Question Period; and the use of U.K.-style time allocation as an alternative to filibustering.

The changes were presented as a “discussion document,” but the imposition of a deadline on the study of the proposals suggested the intention was to ram them through.

What Chagger did not anticipate — but should have — was the wave of uncivil disobedience that followed, powered by the perception that she was attempting to alter the rules to her government’s advantage.

The opposition parties gave warning last year they would not accept unilateral changes to House procedure when they resisted Motion 6, the catalyst to the War of Trudeau’s Elbow.

With the standing orders power-grab, the Liberals succeeded in giving strange bedfellows a sense of common cause. The Conservatives and NDP used every parliamentary trick in the book to filibuster a government agenda the newly emboldened Senate had already reduced to a crawl.

The government was forced to climb down in April, removing the most egregious of the changes, while insisting that those contained in its election platform remained sacrosanct — namely, an end to politically motivated prorogations; limitations on omnibus bills; an attempt to make sure the estimates are a reflection of the budget; a ban on parliamentary secretaries voting on committees; and a Prime Minister’s Question Period.

The opposition, sensing the government had overextended itself, continued to pound away, threatening 30 hours of votes in the dying days of the parliamentary session unless they got satisfaction.

Late Thursday, they did — the agreed amendments to the standing orders were released, and they are as thin as mist.

Notably, the promised Prime Minister’s Question Period is nowhere to be found.

Mark Kennedy, director of communications to the government House leader, said in the U.K. the practise is merely a convention and the same will now apply here.

“Prime Minister’s Question Period is here to stay under this government,” he said.

We’ll see. Justin Trudeau did not look like he was having fun Wednesday, when he was pummelled for the entire Question Period on topics ranging from the big issues of the day — Chinese takeovers, rising debt levels — to more arcane subjects like potential illegal activity at Shared Services Canada and autism funding.

Perhaps the more flexible application of this policy, evident in the concession to omit it from the standing orders, will soon be reflected in the frequency of the Prime Minister’s attendance on Wednesdays.

Regardless, the amendments don’t come close to fulfilling Chagger’s mandate from the prime minister of “making Parliament relevant again.”

“We want to ensure the prime minister and the members of Cabinet are held to greater account in the House of Commons, not less,” she told the House procedures committee Thursday.

But the other parties did not believe her claims of political benevolence.

And why should they? The Liberals have proven their capacity for petty partisanship time and again — from appointing a provincial Liberal to the post of Official Languages Commissioner to the “signs of decline” in transparency across Canada’s democratic institutions, noted in the latest report from Suzanne Legault, the Information Commissioner.

It’s too bad. As one of the more sensible members on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee noted, if the standing orders are not updated, they ossify.

“They are a living document,” said Liberal Arnold Chan.

But the Liberals have learned the hard way that the rules governing this most precious of institutions can only be amended by consensus, not by parliamentary cosh.

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The headline on this article should read. "Damn the Provinces, Full Speed Ahead!"

Feds stick with July 2018 deadline to legalize pot despite provincial worries
Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, June 18, 2017 12:42PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 19, 2017 6:36PM EDT

OTTAWA -- The Trudeau government is sticking with its deadline to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018, despite provincial fears that there's not enough time to address the legal, social and health challenges of ending Canada's pot prohibition.

The federal Liberals delivered that message Monday after Manitoba's finance minister said he felt rushed by Ottawa's tight timeline and asked for an extension.

In making his argument, Cameron Friesen said the provinces are bearing the bulk of the work involved, as well as the "very real" costs needed to create a regulated cannabis market.

The federal government introduced legislation in April, with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.

With the countdown underway, Friesen insisted there were still many unanswered questions on issues like public safety, enforcement and finding legal supplies of marijuana.

"We have one year on the clock to put all this in place," Friesen said before a meeting in Ottawa with his federal and provincial counterparts to discuss, among other issues, how best to tax Canada's forthcoming legal pot industry.

"This is a very significant shift in how we'll operate, and we need to have that adequate time to develop the tools that we will need as a province to be able to implement this the correct way."

Friesen said he had already raised the idea of an extension with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and would push the issue again. Later in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself essentially snuffed out the idea.

"We gave everybody lots of time," Trudeau said in Ottawa. "We've been working for a long time with all the provinces, with the municipalities... It's time for us to move forward on this."

Morneau acknowledged after the meeting that several of the provinces said there's still much work to be done.

For provinces that aren't ready in time for the "fixed date," Morneau said, Ottawa will oversee a mail-order sales program. Consumers would be able to buy pot through a federally licensed producer and receive home delivery.

The legalization date, however, appears to be non-negotiable.

"We need to get a firm date out there," he said. "We accept that there's much work to be done, but we've started down that path... We believe that it's entirely possible."

Morneau said the ministers agreed to the principle that pot taxation should stay low to ensure the regulated market squeezes out the illegal activity.

The challenge will be identifying the sweet spot -- where pot prices are high enough to cover government costs, but cheap enough to beat out the black market.

Morneau added that they have yet to determine how tax revenues would be shared between provinces and the federal government.

Provincial ministers have said they intend to push the feds to ensure they receive a share of pot-related tax revenue that fairly reflects the added costs provinces will have to assume on the road to legalization.

After the meeting, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said his province would be "ready" by July 2018.

Prior to the meeting, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa insisted he had yet to consider how much pot-related revenue his province could bring in because he's been more concerned about ensuring legalization is handled properly.

"We're going to be asking for fairness and flexibility, so that when there are some possible revenues that come from this that it's properly shared," Sousa said.

His Quebec counterpart, Carlos Leitao, said the provinces should receive most of the tax revenue from legalized pot because they will "have to shoulder most of the costs of putting in place regulations."

The federal government has vowed to work with provinces on implementation and to commit more resources to needs such as public security, policing and educational campaigns. It has also argued that marijuana prohibition is very expensive and that legalization could significantly cut down on costs.

Ottawa has not shared details about how much tax revenue could be generated by a recreational pot market, nor has it publicly discussed its potential benefits for the wider economy.

But they have repeatedly said the primary goal is to get pot out of the hands of young Canadians and to cut off the criminal trade.

In addition to cannabis, the finance ministers also focused on how to improve information sharing between jurisdictions as a way to address tax avoidance, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.

They also spent time discussing the Canada-U.S. trade relationship and their respective experiences interacting with American officials, particularly anything related to upcoming NAFTA negotiations.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz also delivered a presentation for finance ministers Monday on the state of the economy.

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