Category Archives: Political Changes

Quebec offers plan to Assist newspapers while Ottawa does nothing

16 Dec 17
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The francophone newspaper Le Droit was founded in Ottawa in 1913 to agitate against Ontario government laws to restrict French schooling in the state. Former federal cabinet minister Martin Cauchon remembered these origins while describing, in a language in 2015, why he’d only bought Le Droit and five regional Quebec newspapers, in a time when other newspaper publishers were fighting.

In Quebec, all francophone media are tools of language preservation. From that standpoint alone, it isn’t surprising to find the Quebec government in recent days announce two distinct measures to take care of the crisis in print journalism — although the national government has been doing nothing.

On Dec. 4, Marie Montpetit, Quebec’s rookie Culture and Communications Minister, said the state is spending24.4-million more than five years to assist community schools endure and construct their electronic platforms. Another $12-million will go toward enhancing recycling from the newspapers.

On Thursday, Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, said Investissement Québec is making a $10-million loan to Mr. Cauchon’s Groupe Capitales Médias (GCM), as its share in a $26-million investment from the company in the digital side of its publishing. Rival Quebecor Inc. promptly attacked the deal as “flagrant favouritism,” with president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau tweeting darkly about “the Liberal connection.”

Ms. Montpetit, as the minister responsible for “the protection and promotion of the French language,” acted in part to avoid an erosion of francophone cultural distance.

When national Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who holds a similar speech obligation, introduced her Creative Canada coverage in Montreal on Dec. 8, she had to offer Quebec news publishers was a “bravo” to people making perceptible attempts to go electronic. This was only 11 days after a mass closing of dozens of Canadian newspapers that put 291 people from work.

Ms. Joly received a short list of things to do about the crisis in June in the Liberal-dominated Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The committee recommended a five-year tax credit for capital and labor investments in electronic publishing; an expansion of the Canada Media Fund to include daily papers; and a ban on advertisements on the CBC’s websites. Ms. Joly and her cabinet colleagues would have none of it.

When grilled in the House of Commons on Dec. 6 about why the mass closings hadn’t prodded the government into action, Ms. Joly said she was “working with the business.” The extent and shape of the work stays secret, with no cash or new policy to show for it.

Ms. Joly obtained a harsh reception in her native state for allowing Netflix play tax-free in our yard with no firm commitment to first francophone manufacturing from Quebec. She is now making a similar error in a unique cultural sector, overlooking a very real danger to the francophone milieu when pitching roses from afar to anyone making an attempt online.

She seems not to notice, or to wish to notice, that some of her policies make the situation worse. In her Montreal address, her musings about the danger to newsgathering drifted to a reminder that she is giving an additional $675-million into the CBC. However, as many witnesses told the standing committee, a stronger CBC digital news operation tightens the screws on social media publishers whose sources are decreasing.

Ms. Anglade explained that her portion of the current statements was an investment in Quebec companies, not newsrooms. She was worried about GCM’s 400 workers, she said, and had concluded that the six Quebec centers served by the newspapers (Le Droit is also based in Gatineau) could be worse off if they failed.

She brushed away Mr. Péladeau’s criticism by stating that the exact resources are available to Quebecor or anybody else. “Why not? If they present us with jobs to do with the electronic shift, we’ll consider them on their merits,” she said. Mr. Cauchon said that any suggestion his personal politics could influence or gain his newsrooms — many of which supported the ruling Liberals during the last provincial election — was an “insult” to his journalists.

It is funny to line up that comment with Mr. Cauchon’s elegaic 2015 reference to Le Droit’s roots, as a newspaper made to transmit the views of its initial publishers, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. But times change, and so does journalism. In exactly the same speech, Mr. Cauchon talked of a wall: “Politics is on one side and press is on the other.” There is no reason politicians, such as the Heritage minister, can not do something to maintain Canadian newsgathering powerful, without compromising themselves or people who print.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

PMO Affirms staffer being probed over unspecified allegations

14 Dec 17
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An official in Justin Trudeau’s office has been investigated over unspecified allegations, the Prime Minister’s Office and the official confirmed late Wednesday.

The Prime Minister’s Office hasn’t identified the official or the nature of the allegations, but many media outlets have reported that the accusations included “improper behaviour”

The staffer, Claude-Eric Gagne, the PMO’s deputy director of operations, has issued a statement he is on leave due to an “independent investigation regarding allegations” which have come to the PMO’s interest.

“I’m taking this situation seriously and I have offered my full and total co-operation to the investigator who gave me the chance to expose my version of the facts to those allegations that I challenge the veracity,” Gagne said in an emailed statement.

“I expect that the process will succeed whenever possible.”

Gagne says he will not comment any further to prevent undermining the procedure he’s agreed to take part in.

Trudeau’s manager of communications, Kate Purchase, says any allegation brought to the PMO is taken extremely seriously.

“In this situation, an investigation was immediately triggered with the aid of an independent investigator and the person in question went on leave, pending the outcome.”

Purchase said the PMO wouldn’t comment further to safeguard the integrity of the procedure.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Two Conservative senators’ business venture linked to China

14 Dec 17
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Two Conservative senators – one with close ties to Beijing – set up a private consulting business this year with partners who are involved in attracting investment from China to Newfoundland and Labrador, corporate records show.

Senator Victor Oh, who recently said he has not conducted any “personal business” in Canada or China since his appointment to the Red Chamber in 2013, formed a St. John’s-based company in April with Senator David Wells.

Mr. Wells would not say whether Signal Hill Management is pursuing business deals with China-based entities.

The two senators’ business partners in Signal Hill Management are Frank Xiaofeng Huang, who once worked for Beijing’s state-owned China Development Bank, and Jack Jun Tan. Little is known about Mr. Tan.

In February, 2017, Mr. Wells helped found the China-Newfoundland and Labrador Business Association (CNLBA), along Mr. Huang and Mr. Tan, according to corporate filings.

Mr. Oh is an unpaid “honorary patron” of this new group, his office said.

Mr. Oh, a Toronto businessman appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper, is a frequent traveller to China and prominent at banquets and events in Canada where Chinese diplomats and Communist Party officials are invited guests. He has accepted trips paid for by the governments of Jilin, Hainan and Hubei provinces, as well as business groups and Chinese airlines.

Mr. Oh and two other senators are being investigated by the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer over an all-expenses-paid trip to China in April.

In a Dec. 1 e-mail to fellow senators defending his travel record to China, Mr. Oh wrote that “I have never conducted any personal business in China or here in Canada since my appointment to the Red Chamber in 2013.”

The Globe and Mail has reported that since 2006, Canadian MPs and senators have taken 36 trips to China sponsored by arms of the Chinese government or business groups seeking closer ties and trade with the world’s second-biggest economy.

Mr. Oh walked past a Globe reporter on Wednesday and refused to answer any questions about his business activities in Newfoundland. Late Wednesday evening, Mr. Oh’s assistant e-mailed The Globe to say the senator resigned his directorship in Signal Hill Management but did not specify what date this took place.

The Senate ethics office would not say when the two senators disclosed their directorships in Signal Hill Management. Senate rules require senators to update their disclosure statements within 30 day of any material change.

“We cannot comment further on the matter at this time, as we are bound by confidentiality under the [Conflict of Interest] Code,” the Senate ethics office said in an e-mail to The Globe.

Senate rules do not bar senators from operating businesses outside their parliamentary duties provided they declare the activities to the ethics office.

Mr. Wells is the former deputy CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which manages oil and gas offshore reserves on behalf of Ottawa and the province.

Mr. Wells also would not say whether another company, LH Signal Hill Corp., is doing business with China. Mr. Wells is listed as a director of this company along with Mr. Huang and Mr. Tan.

Those filings show that Signal Hill Management, LH Signal Hill and CNLBA are located at the same address as Mr. Huang’s home in a suburb of St. John’s – as is Sino-Can Consulting Ltd., which lists Mr. Huang as a director.

Mr. Huang works full time as the business manager for Kvaerner, a Norwegian engineering and construction firm with offices in St. John’s. Before he joined Kvaerner, he worked as loan officer at China Development Bank and at Beijing-based CRC Pinnacle, a consulting firm whose clients included state-owned China Mobile and China Telecom. He did not respond to phone calls or e-mails.

Mr. Huang’s direct supervisor at Kvaerner, Bill Fanning, said he was unaware of Mr. Huang’s business ties with the two Conservative senators. He recalled that he met Mr. Wells and Mr. Oh two years ago when “they were talking to the local Chinese community about opportunities to collaborate.”

The Senate ethics watchdog is investigating an all-expenses-paid trip to China by Mr. Oh and Conservative senators Don Plett and Leo Housakos and their spouses to determine whether it should have been declared as a gift or sponsored travel.

Chinese media have reported that Senator Victor Oh and his Senate colleagues travelled to China in April, 2017, at the invitation of a Beijing-based wealth management firm that recently opened up an office in Vancouver.

The two-week trip to Beijing and Fujian province was not disclosed to the Senate ethics office as either sponsored travel or a gift. Mr. Housakos gave conflicting accounts of who paid for the trip.

But Mr. Oh later told The Globe and the Senate ethics office that he did not believe the senators had to declare the trip because his “family” picked up the tab for airline tickets, hotels, meals and transportation. The purpose of the trip, he said, was to visit his ancestral home in Fujian province.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Liberals retain two safe seats, Conservatives keep another in federal byelections

12 Dec 17
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The federal Liberals held on to a pair of safe seats and the Conservatives hung onto a safe seat of their own in three of four federal byelections held Monday night.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Liberals easily retained Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, the safest Liberal seat in the country.

Liberal Churence Rogers took 69.2 per cent of the vote — 46 percentage points ahead of his nearest competitor, Conservative Mike Windsor, who did manage to double his share of the vote from the 2015 general election.

Roger will replace popular Liberal predecessor, Judy Foote, who retired from cabinet and federal politics due to family health concerns.

In Toronto’s Scarborough-Agincourt riding, Liberal Jean Yip was leading with 49.6 per cent of the vote with 155 of 197 polls reporting.

The riding was left vacant by the death of her husband, Arnold Chan.

With 110 of 138 polls reporting in the safe Tory riding of Battlefords-Lloydminster in Saskatchewan, Conservative Rosemarie Falk enjoyed a strong lead with 69 per cent of the vote — more than 55 points ahead of any of her competitors.

The B-C contest in South Surrey-White Rock is the only one of the four byelections where the seat could change hands.

With 75 of 199 polls reporting, that contest was still too close to call.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

New Liberal MP Gordie Hogg plays down federal implications of by-election win

12 Dec 17
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Even as Gordie Hogg prepares to go to Ottawa as South Surrey-White Rock’s new Liberal MP, he is warning his party against drawing assumptions from his milestone by-election win about its prospects of holding or bolstering its B.C. ranks in the next federal election in 2019.

“No doubt it’s a positive statement,” Mr. Hogg said of his win by about 1,600 votes over Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay, a national revenue minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper. “What that means in terms of the future? I don’t know the answer to that.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Hogg was crediting his personal profile, campaign team, shifting demographics and two campaign visits by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for tipping things the Liberal way in an area of the Lower Mainland that has not elected Liberals in decades. The South Surrey-White Rock area has tended to send conservative-minded politicians to Ottawa, most recently former Conservative MP Dianne Watts.

Among the four federal by-elections across Canada held Monday, the South Surrey-White Rock race was a notable wild card because it was close in 2015 when Ms. Watts won by about 1,500 votes over the Liberal candidate.

That narrow 2015 win meant an all-out fight this year when Ms. Watts precipitated a by-election by quitting the seat to seek the leadership of the BC Liberals. Mr. Hogg was a cabinet minister in governments of the BC Liberals, who have no connections with their federal namesake.

Mr. Trudeau and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, each visited the riding twice for campaign events. With the NDP coming in a distant third in 2015, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh did not visit to make the case for the NDP candidate.

While Mr. Hogg was wary about grand forecasts, the Liberals and Conservatives seized on the outcome of the by-election, with its turnout of about 38 per cent, to speculate on its significance.

Braeden Caley, senior federal Liberal communications director, said in a statement that B.C. is now represented by 18 Liberal MPs – out of 42 seats – as a result of the work of party volunteers, “and that hard work to keep earning the support of British Columbians and all Canadians will continue in earnest on the road to the next election in 2019.”

Cory Hann, communications director for the Tories, said in his own statement that the party knew it was facing a tough fight in South Surrey-White Rock given the 2015 results.

“The Conservative Party was the only party to make gains nationwide, and like any good hockey team, Conservatives know that going down a goal in the first period just means we have to work even harder going forward.”

On Tuesday, Ms. Findlay declined an interview.

Mr. Hogg, 71, said his local profile likely helped clinch the seat. In addition to his work in provincial politics, he is also known for being a councillor in White Rock as well as serving as mayor of the seaside community. “One of the things for this riding that was quite meaningful for me was a number of people who were supporting me as opposed to political parties,” he said.

Political scientist Hamish Telford said Mr. Hogg was making a valid point.

“But I think it also has something to do with Trudeau just being much better known than Andrew Scheer and still, evidently, well liked,” said Mr. Telford, an academic at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Mr. Telford said it does not appear that scandals around, for example, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s management of his personal assets, hurt. “Voters seemed to have been tuning out the scandals. It’s all inside Ottawa.”

He said it’s clear, from the by-election, that there’s a lesson for Mr. Scheer. “If he didn’t know it already, he has his work cut out for him. Certainly back in 2015, the Conservatives underestimated Justin Trudeau. They still love to mock him and there still might be some underestimating him as a leader and as a campaigner.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Bill Morneau insists Trudeau government has no plans for a Netflix tax

11 Dec 17
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Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the federal government still has no intention of imposing a Netflix tax because it would result in a financial hit for middle-class Canadians.

Morneau’s remarks about the online streaming giant come a couple of days after Heritage Minister Melanie Joly insisted she never agreed to exempt Netflix from any sales tax as part of a deal that has been a political nightmare in her home province of Quebec.

Pressed about the issue on Friday, Joly said anyone with concerns about the lack of federal taxes on online streaming services should talk to Morneau because he’s in charge of taxation.

Joly unveiled a cultural policy in September that secured a $500-million pledge by Netflix to set up a Canadian office and fund original homegrown content — but the plan did not include taxes on the company’s service.

The ensuing weeks have seen the provincial government in Quebec vow to tax foreign online businesses, including Netflix, if Ottawa didn’t do so.

The issue has sparked outrage from artists and producers in Quebec’s cultural industry who have described it as an unfair subsidy.

Morneau insisted Sunday that Ottawa has no intention of changing its promise not to tax Netflix.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has repeatedly and categorically ruled out a Netflix tax.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said Sunday that he plans to raise the issue with Morneau when federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers meet for two days of talks in Ottawa.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Somalia veterans’ malaria drug case is too old to proceed, National Attorney argues

09 Dec 17
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Veterans of the Somalia mission who say they had been permanently damaged by the anti-malarial medication they had been forced to take during that installation have waited too long to proceed with a class-action lawsuit launched almost 18 years ago, the federal government says

Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards advised the Ontario Superior Court on Friday that the lawyers for Ronald Smith, a former member of this now-disbanded Airborne Regiment who’s the lead plaintiff in the case, have provided no reasonable excuse for the amount of time it has taken to move the situation forward.

It would not be possible now, Ms. Richards told Justice Robbie Gordon, for the authorities to call witnesses who may provide accurate testimony around how mefloquine was doled out to the troops who participate in the Somalia mission of the early 1990s. That means, she said, there can’t be a fair trial. Justice Gordon has been asked to determine whether the case can be certified as a class action a lot of years after the initial documents were filed in the court.

Ms. Richards said the judge has to balance the possible unfairness of this delay, which both she and Wayne Stickland, the attorney for Mr. Smith, concur was surplus, and the right of Mr. Smith and the other specialists to receive justice for the harms they say they’ve suffered.

Mr. Stickland told the court that his office has been contacted by hundreds of Somalia specialists who state mefloquine left them with long-term emotional issues. Whether this case is thrown out, he said, another plaintiff will immediately step ahead to launch an identical lawsuit.

But Ms. Richards stated that could run against the principle that defendants are entitled to a finality of justice. “We say nobody could deliver a subsequent class actions,” if Mr. Smith’s case isn’t allowed to move, she told the court. “Once it has been dismissed for flaws, it has been dismissed.”

That seemed to concern Justice Gordon, who requested both sides to return after Christmas to present their arguments about whether this class action is the end of the line for Somalia veterans who wish to sue for the damages which they blame on mefloquine.

According to Mr. Smith’s statement of claim, the medication he was obligated to take in Somalia as part of a badly implemented clinical trial left him with a plethora of residual mental-health difficulties, including depression, aggressive behavior, poor concentration, social isolation and suicidal ideas. He states his Charter rights were breached and is alleging negligence and battery.

His lawsuit, which premiered in 2000, sat almost dormant before being taken over and restarted last year by Mr. Stickland.

In explaining the delay to Justice Gordon, Mr. Stickland said there was a lengthy debate between attorneys about who was best positioned to represent Mr. Smith in court.

Additionally, he said, the situation was hampered by Mr. Smith’s own psychological condition, a lack of scientific proof in the first years to link mefloquine into the kinds of symptoms suffered by the veterans, and a lack of expert witnesses.

That evidence has become more solid and he’s procured an expert witness, Mr. Stickland said.

However, Ms. Richards said none of these explanations are reasonable. Concerning the scientific evidence, she said “a plaintiff does not get to sit back until they receive the best possible evidence to proceed.”

And even when Mr. Smith’s mental state improved in 2010, the prior attorneys for Mr. Smith did nothing to move the situation forward, she said.

Regardless of the amount of vets who say mefloquine caused severe difficulties, Ms. Richards said, “the conclusion so far is that there’s not any conclusive scientific evidence” to connect mefloquine into the permanent psychiatric ailments they’ve described.

A couple of the soldiers on the Somalia mission were charged in the beating death of a Somali teenager, and lots of others complained of alarming dreams, depression and hallucinations.

Health Canada upgraded the warning labels for the medication in 2016 to highlight that certain side effects may persist for months or years after the medication is stopped, and some can be irreversible in some patients.

The Canadian army conducted a review of the medical literature this year and concluded there’s not any evidence that the drug causes long-term issues. However, it now says choice drugs are the preferred choices for soldiers who deploy to countries where malaria is a risk.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Senate not in rush to pass airline passenger-rights bill despite Liberal frustration

08 Dec 17
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The Liberal government is expressing frustration with the Senate for flaws in pushing through legislation which would give airline passengers rights, but senators say they will not be hurried into rubber-stamping the invoice.

The Trudeau government’s Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, sets out, among other things, national standards for the treatment of air passengers in Canada.

It’ll be up to the Canadian Transport Authority to write regulations outlining the details after the bill passes in the Senate and receives royal assent.

According to the invoice, airlines will not be permitted to bump passengers from a flight against their own will and would need to give compensation for overbooking, damaged or lost luggage, and for delays and cancellations which are inside the air carrier’s control.

The bill passed in the Commons and has been delivered to the Senate five months ago, but it has yet to move past the second-reading stage of disagreement in the Red Chamber. This week, Senator Terry Mercer, deputy leader of the Senate Liberals, revived debate on the bill and said he would resume his part of the discussion later this week or next.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he expects senators will send the bill to committee before Parliament takes its winter break at the end of next week.

“The Senate is obviously master of its destiny. At exactly the exact same time, I’m really hoping they can deal with this absolutely as soon as possible,” Mr. Garneau said in an interview. “Canadians have certainly suggested their high degree of interest in getting something as soon as possible.”

Mr. Garneau said the bill failed “extensive” research in the Commons, once the transportation committee held hearings for a week until Parliament returned in September. “I hope the Senate will take that into account and not always think, ‘Oh, we must start over at point zero.'”

However, some senators say the 74-page piece of legislation, which many are calling an omnibus bill, is much more complex than it seems.

The bill raises foreign ownership limits for drivers, requires railways to set up video and voice recorders in locomotives and overhauls the grain transportation system. Unions have lobbied heavily against installing video recorders.

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk, who chairs the Senate’s transport committee, said he doubts the bill will get through committee before winter break. The Senate is scheduled to sit until Dec. 22, but Mr. Tkachuk said he expects to be gone by next week, when the House rises.

“I don’t have any intention of holding up the bill. But at exactly the exact same time, I have no any intention of rushing the bill through,” he said. “There is a whole lot of people who I know of who have called me and composed letters and e-mails, that would like to come before the committee. I am not going to tell them they can not come.”

Mr. Tkachuk added, “There is something about the Liberals that is really strange. They need an independent Senate till they do not want one.”

For his part, Mr. Mercer said it had been a part of his job as a Nova Scotia senator to attend the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion.

He said he hopes to talk to the bill shortly and denied that he is holding it up. “The Senate needs to do its due diligence. It should do what we always do, call witnesses, hear testimony and determine if we could agree with this. And if we can not agree with it, then let us fix it and send it back to the House of Commons.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

First Nations Require control over cannabis sales

07 Dec 17
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First Nations leaders say they must be given the right to govern the sale and distribution of legalized marijuana within their communities and to set the laws that will oversee its use by their people.

Chiefs attending an annual conference of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on Wednesday expressed wide-ranging views on the federal Liberal government’s plan for legalizing cannabis by next July 1.

Some told the assembly they have not had enough time or money to prepare for the change and urged the AFN to ask for a delay in the implementation of Bill C-45, which would make marijuana legal in Canada for the first time in 94 years. Others said they embraced the legalization of the drug and are looking forward to sharing in the wealth that will be generated by the cannabis industry.

But there was widespread agreement that it is the First Nations, and not the federal or provincial governments, that will determine the rules around the use and sale of marijuana on reserves.

The AFN has struck a committee led by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Quebec Regional Chief Ghislain Picard to ensure that First Nations have the support they need to adapt to legalization of marijuana and to document concerns around the health, social, and economic issues.

“Above all we do need to look at this from a jurisdictional lens,” Mr. Day said. “Our people are going to say, ‘Listen, we have aboriginal treaty rights, we have economic rights as First Nations people. Who is Canada to say we can’t have a dispensary in our community?'”

Even though the federal government is letting the provinces decide such things as the age at which someone may legally possess cannabis, Mr. Day said the First Nations may not feel bound to adhere to the provincial rules.

For instance, a province may set the age at 18, he said, “but what if a [First Nations] community says we want it to be 23 or 24 because the studies show that the development of a young person’s brain isn’t complete until they are in their 20s?”

The communities that most oppose marijuana legalization tend to be the smaller and more isolated reserves in the northern part of the country where the people will be consumers of the drug but have little chance of cashing in on the potential financial windfall of the cannabis business.

“Marijuana is just another drug that people will take advantage of,” said Ignace Gull, the Chief of Attawapiskat in northwestern Ontario. “It will affect the community because we don’t have the resources to deal with this. There is no funding to educate or make people aware of what cannabis is all about.”

But the chiefs in parts of the country that are closer to urban areas see advantages to legalization and want to be left to their own devices when it takes effect.

“They want in on the economic benefit to create jobs and earn revenue,” said Donald Maracle, Chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in southeastern Ontario.

And while there should be regulations that prohibit driving while under the influence and that stop children from getting their hands on the drug, Mr. Maracle said “there is a huge question about whether Ontario’s laws can even apply on reserve.”

Randall Phillips, the chief of Oneida Nation of the Thames, near London, Ont., said the legalization of marijuana is just another way for the federal government to profit from a product that otherwise has been sold on the black market. But the First Nations should also benefit, and on their own terms, Mr. Phillips said.

“We will decide who gets it. We will decide how it gets distributed. We will decide how it gets protected and we are going to look at all those things. But I don’t need a regulatory framework,” he said.

His community is applying to become one of the limited number of licensed growers of cannabis. It is also home to a marijuana dispensary and the people who run it do not believe they need a licence to operate it, Mr. Phillips said.

As for the First Nations who want legalization to be delayed, he said “there’s all sorts of ways they can stop it from coming in. We don’t have that luxury down south, so we have to think about it in a different way and with a different approach.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Canada Won’t move embassy to Jerusalem, National government says

06 Dec 17
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The Trudeau government says it won’t move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem amid reports U.S. President Donald Trump will relocate the American embassy into the sacred city and recognize it as the nation’s capital.

A government official told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday that Canada will continue to keep its embassy in Tel Aviv. The official also said Canada still doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, despite reports Mr. Trump will announce the U.S. does during a speech on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump told Arab leaders on Tuesday that he plans to follow through with his election-campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Mr. Trump defeated the pro-Israel, right-wing foundation that helped him win the presidency when he delayed the embassy move in June.

The transfer risks fuelling violence in the Middle East and breaks with decades of U.S. foreign policy that Jerusalem’s status must be determined in negotiation with the Palestinians, who wish to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

The global community, including Canada, doesn’t recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. Asked about Mr. Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stated Canada’s position on Jerusalem hasn’t changed.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only within an overall settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. This has been the policy of successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative,” press secretary Adam Austen said in a statement Tuesday.

“We’re strongly committed to the aim of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in security and peace with Israel.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s spokesperson Jake Enwright said “it is up to autonomous governments to make decisions about where they will find their overseas embassies.” In a tweet, NDP foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière stated Mr. Trump’s choice to name Jerusalem the capital is “dangerous, misguided, and will undermine efforts to get a peace process,” and urged Ms. Freeland to notify her U.S. counterparts of Canada’s concerns.

Jerusalem is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites, in addition to Israel’s democratically-elected parliament, independent supreme court and federal government. David Cape, seat of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the organization has called on Canada to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“Jerusalem was central to Jewish identity because it was established as the capital of the Jewish nation three million years back,” Mr. Cape said.

“We’ve always maintained that Canada should officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Former prime minister Joe Clark tried to maneuver the Canadian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1979, but abandoned his election pledge following an Arab uproar. In a brief statement at the time, Mr. Clark said the plan was viewed as “prejudicing” Middle East peace talks. Mr. Clark’s strategy to move the embassy endangered contracts with Canadian companies, including a multibillion-dollar project between Bell Canada in Saudi Arabia, also threatened to bring more extreme retaliatory steps against Canada, according to a Washington Post report from October, 1979.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who received telephone calls from Mr. Trump, joined a chorus of voices warning that unilateral steps on Jerusalem would derail the U.S.-led peace effort and lead to turmoil in the area. Before, Islamist militant groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah have sought to exploit Muslim sensitivities over Jerusalem in efforts to add fuel to anti-Israel and anti-U.S. sentiments.

– With a report from Reuters

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail