OTTAWA - The federal government is sidestepping a UN panel's request to explain how Canadian mining and resource companies deal with human rights complaints.
Tuesday was the Canadian government's first opportunity to address the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, which is conducting the first review in 10 years of Canada's compliance to a major international treaty.
The committee, comprised of 18 experts, heard repeated concerns about Canada's extractives industry, the treatment of aboriginals and anti-terrorism measures from two dozen groups, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International.
In the annals of climate change you can record another notable event. The Fraser River is running hotter and lower in the first week of July than it usually does in the dead of August.
The water temperature is currently about 19 C, the level at which salmon start to show physiological stress, and the flow has dropped to extreme lows.
“These flows are definitely lower than anything we’ve experienced and I’d say the temperatures right now are warmer than anything [on record for July],” said Mike Lapointe, chief biologist for the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC).
“I just looked this morning and went ‘Gee, it looks like the temperature at Hope is right around 19’ and I think it was as high as 19.5 a few days ago. That’s ridiculously high for this time of year,” he said.
Usually, the river is still swollen with snow melt and is typically about three degrees cooler. But with the snow pack long gone, and a record hot, dry June melting into an unusually warm July, Fraser River salmon are facing tough conditions.
Three-quarters of Australians believe domestic violence is as much or more of a threat than terrorism, new polling shows.
Australian of the Year Rosie Batty said the results show governments need to reassess their priorities and allocate more funding to preventing and responding to domestic violence.
The Essential Research poll of 1000 people across the nation, conducted for gender equality organisation Fair Agenda, found 74 per cent of Australians believe domestic violence is as much or more of a threat than terrorism.
Forty-eight per cent of those surveyed said they consider domestic violence more of a threat than terrorism while 18 per cent said it was less of a threat. Twenty-six per cent of respondents said the threat of domestic violence was "about the same" as the threat of terrorism.
The Treaty 8 First Nations have received notice from BC Hydro that work on the Site C dam could start as early as July 6 — despite court proceedings still being underway.
Treaty 8 First Nations have applied for judicial review of the federal government’s decision to grant an environmental assessment certificate, arguing the Site C dam infringes on their treaty rights. The joint review panel’s report on Site C found the dam will result in significant and irreversible adverse impacts on people in the Treaty 8 communities.
The federal appeal begins the week of July 20, 2015. But Treaty 8 First Nations say that BC Hydro has ignored requests to put construction on hold until the outcomes of the court proceedings are known. BC Hydro did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
“The provocative activities that the B.C. government is recklessly trying to advance are irreversible, and will leave an irreparable and permanent scar on the land,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “These deliberate actions will also indefinitely scar B.C.’s relationships with First Nations.”
It's the most expensive weapon ever built in human history. But after decades of internationally-funded research and development at an estimated cost of a trillion dollars, a leaked report from a mock combat test reveals that the F-35 is terrible at air-to-air combat.
HALIFAX - A report commissioned by the Nova Scotia government says awareness of the province among some global business people is "virtually non-existent."
It says many business people found that their interactions with global business partners almost always necessitated an explanation of where Nova Scotia is and why they were doing business in the province.
Quoting an interviewee, the report says: "I think the overwhelming phrase is 'Where is it?' and 'What are they doing up there other than fishing?' "
The RCMP investigated the Conservative government’s appointment of Arthur Porter to Canada’s intelligence oversight agency after allegations surfaced the physician was involved in a kickback scheme in Montreal, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Dr. Porter made high-profile friends in the Conservative Party after he arrived in Canada from the United States in 2004 to run the McGill University Health Centre. He eventually got the attention of the Prime Minister’s Office, which invited him to sit on the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) in 2008.
Dr. Porter died this week in Panama, where he was fighting extradition on charges of fraud and bribery laid in 2013. According to Quebec’s anti-corruption unit, Dr. Porter received $22.5-million from the health centre’s awarding of a $1.3-billion hospital contract to engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
The federal government hasn't provided hundreds of low-income families their full government benefits since at least 2007, an internal review has found.
A staff member at Employment and Social Development Canada recently identified a "system anomaly" that has been withholding employment insurance money from about 800 needy families in each of the last eight years.
The money was supposed to be paid as a family supplement to top up EI claimants whose household income, including spousal income, is no higher than $25,921.
OTTAWA - The federal government's marquee, multibillion-dollar infrastructure fund has been handing out money at a slow pace, newly released figures show, prompting complaints that the government is playing politics with the cash.
About 92 per cent of the $10-billion provincial-territorial stream of the New Building Canada Fund remains unspent, with about $782 million allocated through the start of this fiscal year, according to figures tabled in Parliament last month.
Infrastructure Canada, the department responsible for overseeing the cash, says that it may take some time to get the money out the door, especially given that the commitment is for a 10-year period.
"A federal infrastructure fund aimed at fixing up arenas and community centres was spent disproportionately in ridings represented by Conservative MPs, a Globe and Mail analysis shows, as the governing Tories prepare to roll out a nearly identical fund in the months before the fall election.
Ridings that elected Conservative members of Parliament in 2011 received, on average, 48 per cent more money from the $150-million Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund than ridings that elected opposition MPs, a Globe tally of more than 1,600 projects across Canada shows.
Under the program, on average, Conservative ridings received $561,332 and had six projects funded. Opposition ridings, on average, received $379,337 and had four projects."
A plan to erect a 10-storey statue in a national park on one of Canada’s most scenic shorelines has prompted outrage and sparked a growing political row as the country heads towards a general election this fall.
The statue of Mother Canada – a cloaked female figure with her arms outstretched towards the Atlantic Ocean – is intended to honour the country’s soldiers who died overseas.
But growing anger over the plan has made it a new focus of opposition to the increasingly unpopular government of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
The proposed monument is an awkwardly remodelled, vastly upscaled version of an earlier statue, known as Canada Bereft, which adorns the memorial to the country’s first world war dead near Vimy, France.
The design has been widely lambasted both for its design and its proposed location in Cape Breton Highlands national park. In an editorial this week, the Globe and Mail newspaper described it as “offensively tasteless” and a “hubristically arrogant act of arrogant unoriginality”.
“The bigger-is-better approach to art is best left to Stalinist tyrants, theme park entrepreneurs and insecure municipalities hoping to waylay bored drive-by tourists,” the paper wrote.
The project is the brainchild of Toronto businessman Tony Trigiani, who was inspired after a chance visit to a Canadian war cemetery in Italy and set up the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation to realise the plan.
As the Greek debt drama plays itself out one 60-euro withdrawal at a time, some economic observers are saying the world is paying attention to the wrong crisis.
That's because in the space of three weeks, China’s Shanghai Composite stock index has lost nearly 30 per cent of its value, wiping out some $2.3 trillion U.S. in wealth. As Bloomberg News put it, that’s a loss of $1 billion for every minute of trading. Regulators have halted trading in more than 700 listed companies, and at least two dozen IPOs have been cancelled.
And some economists fear the country’s response to the downturn could be worse than the stock market crash itself.
LISTUGUJ, QC, July 6 2015 /CNW/ - The Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat (MMS), representing the three Mi'gmaq communities of the Gaspe region in Quebec, filed legal proceedings today in a New Brunswick Court to halt construction of the tar sands export project at the Belledune Port being developed by Chaleur Terminals Inc., a subsidiary of Secure Energy Services Inc. (TSX – SES). The Project seeks to run 2 trains of 125 cars each (175,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil mixed with toxic, explosive agents) every day through Mi'gmaq territory, all along the sacred Matapedia and Restigouche salmon rivers and the Baie des Chaleurs, in violation of Constitutionally protected Aboriginal Title, Aboriginal rights and Treaty rights.
"For millennia, our territory has fed us and formed our identity, but these privileges come with responsibilities," said Listuguj Chief Scott Martin, Chair of the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat (MMS). "That is especially true of our sacred duty to protect the salmon. We are determined to counter the dangerous threat this Project presents to our already under threat salmon populations, which would also be a threat against our families and communities. We have not given our consent to this risky project and the Government refuses to even consult us."
Canada's human rights record will be under the microscope at the United Nations this week in the first substantive review since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in 2006.
Several of the country’s most high-profile advocacy groups are in Geneva to participate in UN Human Rights Committee hearings over a three-day period. Among them is Canada Without Poverty, an Ottawa-based charity that leans on using human rights and international law to advocate for impoverished and homeless Canadians.
Subject to an on-going political-activity audit for the past three years, the group has been under continuous risk of losing its charitable status. CWP’s executive director Leilani Farha told The Huffington Post Canada the federal government has used the CRA to act “with a vengeance” against the organization and others similar to it.
For years, concerned members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) in Canada, like myself, have voiced concerns about the impacts caused by oil sand exploitation. The vast majority of our community resides downstream from large scale oil sands surface mining and has seen first hand the complex impacts this industry has.
Now, over 100 renowned scientists and academics have echoed our concerns about oil sands in a call for a moratorium on expansion, which is being taken seriously by the public and the media.
Moratoriums have been called for and debated for many years with little traction. Keepers of the Athabasca Watershed, a local NGO, documented these calls to action from First Nations to mayoral and union representatives calling for either a full halt or a progressive slow down in the oil sands.
his is a guest post by Gus Van Harten, professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and author of Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada's Lopsided Investment Deal with China. This post originally appeared on the Globe and Mail.
For years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government told Canadians that it could not act on climate change until China joined in. Yet, in 2014, the government quietly finalized a 31-year investment treaty that, in essence, gives Chinese oil companies an advance bailout against a range of steps that Canada may need to take on climate change.
Take, for example, the call by more than 100 scientists for limits on oilsands expansion until a serious Canadian plan on climate change is in place. What is a serious plan? The scientists said it would need “to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health and respect treaty rights.”
Now, consider Canada’s new Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China.
The deal gives Chinese companies powerful rights to frustrate even modest steps that reduce the value of their oilsands holdings. That is, if governments in Canada put new limits on the oilsands, they face major liabilities under the FIPA’s system of foreign investor protection. Worse, Canadians cannot know reliably how the FIPA is being used – and whether it is affecting government decisions – because the agreement makes special allowances for confidential settlements with Chinese investors.
Health Canada has strikingly revised its position on the health risks of asbestos exposure, bringing the federal government more in line with other developed countries.
The recent changes to the department’s website are significant, with the page about asbestos replacing information that was dated from 2012.
Among the shifts, the site no longer says one form of asbestos – chrysotile, the type that Canada mined and exported for years that is still most commonly used – is “less potent” and does less damage than other types. The World Health Organization and other medical bodies have long said all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic.
In addition, Health Canada no longer says the danger comes when asbestos is inhaled in “significant quantities” (the WHO says there is no safe threshold); and it now clearly says that “breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases.”
The last line represents “a landmark shift” by the government, “an important fact that was not previously acknowledged on the website,” said Linda Reinstein, an asbestos widow and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The changes are “promising, but it is just the first of many steps required to protect the public from asbestos.”
Free expression is democracy. Without it, political choice is a farce. You can have all the elections you want and they will mean nothing without the secure right to express, share information and advocate for your views. But the boundaries of these rights of citizenship are always vulnerable, and right now, political, technological and commercial forces are converging into a chilling anti-freedom force.
Canada's federal government has been no friend of the right to know since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power. It was a shock back in 2008 when Linda Keen, then president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, was fired for publicly disclosing safety concerns and refusing to restart the Chalk River nuclear reactor. This doesn't surprise us now because being terminated for speaking out has become routine in Canada's civil service.
Remember Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, whose credibility was attacked by the government in 2009 for exposing the fact that the Canadian military was turning over Afghan detainees to torture? Then there's Sylvie Therrien, who got the axe in 2013 for revealing that Employment Insurance investigators had to meet a quota of savings by denying EI applicants their benefits.
The public service has got the message loud and clear. Everyone knows they will keep quiet or pay with their jobs.
Strict new voting rules make it so hard for some Canadians to cast a ballot that the public may lose faith in the legitimacy of the upcoming federal election, a lawyer for two advocacy groups argued Thursday.
Tens of thousands of eligible voters could be turned away at the polls, according to the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students. So the two groups have asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to grant an interim injunction against one aspect of the Fair Elections Act, allowing voters to use the voter information cards they receive in the mail as valid ID at the polls.
MULTIMEDIA Everything you need to know about the Fair Elections Act The groups say the cards, which are no longer accepted as ID in the name of preventing fraud, would allow many people who might have trouble presenting other acceptable ID – including students, aboriginals, elderly people living in care homes and the homeless – to vote this fall.
Lawyers for the government, which passed the Fair Elections Act last year, will make their arguments on Friday.
A former Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister will run for the federal Conservatives this fall despite stating publicly just a few years ago that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had "no integrity."
Kevin O'Brien, a longtime Progressive Conservative MHA who was shuffled out of Premier Paul Davis' cabinet in March, has reportedly been green-lit as the federal Tory candidate for the new riding of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame. O'Brien will take on veteran Liberal MP Scott Simms.
The news was broken online Thursday by CBC journalist David Cochrane, who tweeted that O'Brien will resign as the MHA for the riding of Gander.
How to encourage Canadians to boost their savings is shaping up as a key issue for the fall election, as the left-leaning Broadbent Institute takes aim at the Conservatives’ expansion of tax-free savings accounts.
The institute is releasing an in-depth report Monday by Simon Fraser University professor Rhys Kesselman that argues new data prove the increase will benefit high-income Canadians more than previously understood.
Study bolsters arguments against more tar sands exploitation
FRISCO —A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will add fuel to controversy over development of tar sands oil.
The analyis shows that gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.
The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows some variability in the increase of greenhouse gas, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods.
OTTAWA - Three elections. Three cheats. One party leader.
We’re talking about the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader, the incumbent prime minister now actively seeking re-election, Stephen Harper.
For three elections in a row, a judge determined that a Conservative or the party itself cheated. And there could be more.
In 2006, top party officials along with the party itself were accused of cheating in a complicated scheme to skirt spending limits on the national campaign. This was the so-called in-and-out scandal.
The charges against party officials were dropped but the party itself pleaded guilty to exceeding election spending limits and submitting fraudulent election records. A fine of more than $230,000 was paid.
In 2008, it was a Conservative MP, Dean Del Mastro, who would play the role of Conservative cheater. Del Mastro was convicted last November on three counts of violating Canada’s election laws, also having to do with spending limits. This week, a judge sentenced him to a month behind bars, another four months of house arrest, and a $10,000 fine.
Del Mastro is appealing and on Friday was released from jail on $5,000 bail until that appeal is heard.
In 2011, it was a Conservative campaign worker, Michael Sona, who was convicted of cheating in the Ontario riding of Guelph. His crime involved robocalls in an effort to prevent people from voting.
Also alleged to have cheated in 2011: The campaign of former Conservative MP Peter Penashue, where there are yet more charges of campaign overspending and attempts to hide those infractions after the fact. The trial of Penashue’s campaign manager continues in August.
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