Legalizing pot comes with a plan to crack down on Canadians who try to drive high. Police forces say they'll need more money to cover the costs of new equipment and training.
Ontario budget 2017: Health-care spending up as budget hits balance
The Ontario government is celebrating getting the books back to balance with significant investments in health care, including a youth pharmacare program, as detailed in the spring budget unveiled Thursday in Toronto. The governing Liberals have ...
Memorial Cup to tour 10 wards in 10 days
Pearson airport border officers charged after cocaine seized
Pair are accused of facilitating the importation of 30 kilograms of cocaine to Toronto from Colombia and Jamaica. Cocaine RCMP seized at Toronto Pearson International Airport. (RCMP). By Alanna RizzaStaff Reporter. Thu., April 27, 2017. Two Canada ...
Two Canadian border agents charged with drug smuggling
2 Pearson border services officers among 5 arrested in RCMP drug probe
They are accused of importing cocaine through Toronto's Pearson International Airport
Ontario Budget 2017: Free prescription drugs for anyone under 25, a first of its kind, Liberals say - CBC.ca
Ontario Budget 2017: Free prescription drugs for anyone under 25, a first of its kind, Liberals say
All Ontario children and adults younger than 25 will have their full prescription drug costs covered by a new provincial pharmacare program, regardless of family income or whether they already have private insurance. The province announced the expanded ...
Ontario's first balanced budget in decade promises billions in health care
Ontario Liberals unveil balanced budget that features free youth pharmacare plan
Andrew Coyne: Ontario promises a balanced budget, but it still doesn't matter a whit
Oil and gas drilling activity continues to recover in Alberta and across the country, with the number of wells drilled this year now expected to outpace last year's total by 64 per cent.
Severe thunderstorm watch upgraded to warning
Temperatures are rising across northern Ontario, and so is the risk of thunderstorms. Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for most of our region, including; Greater Sudbury, Kirkland Lake - New Liskeard - Temagami, Manitoulin ...
The Ontario government is celebrating getting the books back to balance with significant investments in health care, including a youth pharmacare program, as detailed in the spring budget unveiled Thursday in Toronto.
Senate ethics committee poised to make final decision on Don Meredith
Committee members met behind closed doors Thursday and plan to finish their report on how to punish senator for sex scandal by next week. Sen. Don Meredith has since apologized publicly for what he called a moral failing but has rejected near-universal ...
Senate ethics committee to finalize report detailing Don Meredith's fate
Kevin O'Leary met with Andrew Scheer before backing Maxime Bernier
Kevin O'Leary praised Maxime Bernier on Wednesday as the candidate who best "mirrors" his policies, but CBC News has learned the reality TV star also held talks with another Conservative leadership candidate the night before. O'Leary had an extensive ...
Kevin O'Leary says he tried to convince Maxime Bernier to quit Conservative race
Kevin O'Leary says he tried to convince Bernier to quit Conservative race
Although Kevin O'Leary praised Maxime Bernier on Wednesday as the candidate who best "mirrors" his policies, CBC News has learned the reality TV star also held talks with another Conservative leadership candidate the night before.
'Life has no meaning': Mother of missing UBC student makes tearful plea for answers
The mother of a missing UBC student from Ecuador made a tearful plea to her son and the public for any information on his whereabouts at an RCMP news conference Thursday morning. Louis Gonick, 21, was reported missing by friends on April 17 and has ...
Mom of missing Ecuadorian student appeals for help in BC
UBC international student Louis Gonick was dropped off in Stanley Park before disappearing
Mom of UBC student missing in Vancouver issues emotional plea for help
But O'Leary says he was the ultimately the one to leave because Bernier had the better argument — the seats needed in Quebec for a parliamentary majority could only be delivered by a Quebec-based leader.
O'Leary says while he's now gone from the race, he doesn't intend to be forgotten.
Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier looks on as former opponent Kevin O'Leary addresses a news conference in Toronto on April 26, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Instead, the reality TV star and businessman said his campaign team and Bernier's are merging in order together deliver Bernier the leadership and then the federal election in 2019.
O'Leary insists that his decision to drop out of the race wasn't motivated by the concern that losing it would tarnish his personal brand.
He told The Canadian Press he'll prove that by campaigning for the Conservatives from now until the next election to fulfil his original promise to unseat the Trudeau Liberals.
Who is Toronto's now-infamous 'Crane Girl'?
The 23-year-old woman who appears to have spent hours suspended on a crane high above a downtown Toronto construction site early Wednesday is being described by a close friend as a “very adventurous girl.” Marisa Lazo, who has since been dubbed ...
'Rooftopping' gone wrong? Toronto woman charged with mischief after crane rescue
'Woman-on-a-crane' suspect faces six mischief charges for endangering lives, halting construction in Toronto
Crane climber released on bail
A transport truck driver's jury-rigged solution to a damaged trailer didn't make it past an alert OPP officer patrolling Highway 401 near Mallorytown late Tuesday.The truck driver had struck a loading dock in Montreal, severely damaging the trailer, ripping part of the siding off the box and dislodging the I-beams that support the floor.
Canadians are shouting “don't bogart that joint!”
But it was all laughs at a comedy club in Los Angeles Wednesday night, where impersonators gathered to battle it out with their most "tremendous" embodiments of the U.S. president.
Each outfitted with spray tans, elaborate blonde wigs and ill-fitting suits, the wannabes took the mic at the Laugh Factory for two minutes each, spouting off Trump-esque policy statements and cracking jokes, reports International Business Times.
That's a lot of Trump, even for a comedy show. (Photo: Reuters/Screengrab)
Las Vegas impersonator John Di Domenico impressed the judges — a panel that included "Saturday Night Live" alum Darrell Hammond — most, and took home the top prize, which includes a role hosting an online fake news comedy show.
"I won, I won. I just keep winning. That's what I do, I win. That's all I do," joked Di Domenico to Reuters about his victory.
The key to nailing a good Trump impersonation is more than just the voice, he explained.
"With him, there's the throat placement, the nasal placement, the very unusual pronunciation and vocal production that he has, and then so much of it is attitude. 'I'm tremendous, I'm fantastic, I'm incredible.'"
Check out the spot-on impersonations in the video above.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's “sunny ways” are falling flat with a growing number of voters, according to a new poll.
GRAY, Sask. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending his proposed carbon tax after a visit to a farm in the community of Gray, south of Regina.
Trudeau then held a news conference at the local rink, where he said putting a price on carbon pollution is a way to reward people who are innovating and reducing their carbon output.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chats with Rod Lewis and Lewis's son at their Lewis Land Limited farm near Gray, Sask. on April 27, 2017. (Photo: Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)
Producer Todd Lewis, who showed Trudeau around his family's century-old farm, says carbon pricing has hurt agriculture in other parts of the country.
Lewis says farmers know that if they burn fuel, they burn money, so they're always looking for ways to be more efficient and innovative.
He says low-carbon agriculture was born in Saskatchewan and farmers deserve recognition for the work they've done.
But Lewis says he hosted the prime minister because it's important to have the conversation, or as he puts it, "if you're not at the dinner table, you're probably on the menu, and today we're at the dinner table."
Trump to give NAFTA talks a 'good, strong shot' after Trudeau warns of withdrawal risks
One day after his White House floated a trial balloon about drafting an executive order to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. President Donald Trump now says he's fully committed to reworking the deal. At an event in the Oval ...
Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Loonie weaken with drop in oil, offset by NAFTA deal hopes
Mexico is suddenly a lot less worried about Trump, the 'bluffer' across the poker table
One day after his White House floated a trial balloon about drafting an executive order to withdraw from NAFTA, U.S. President Donald Trump now says he's fully committed to reworking the deal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he reminded Trump they were both elected on platforms of helping, not hurting.
The Holy Father knows this. It's why he is willing to risk his personal safety by visiting a country under a state of emergency following the Palm Sunday terrorist attacks as a "messenger of peace."
The highlight of Pope Francis' trip to Egypt will be a symbolic meeting with Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, whom some consider the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought. Pope Francis will also meet with Coptic Orthodox leader, Pope Tawadros II, during a time of fear for most Christians -- on the heels of the church bombings that killed 44 people.
Egypt has the largest population of Christians in the Middle East -- approximately 9 million -- and this is the reason Daesh has increased attacks in recent months.
A youth sits next to a cross made of flowers at an April 10, 2017 candle-light vigil in solidarity with Egyptian Christians after attacks targeting two churches in Gaza City. (Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Radical Islam is growing in Egypt through groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. They do not want a pluralist and democratic Egypt. They want total control, with their end goal being to eradicate anyone who does not think like them -- Christians and Muslims alike. They even tried to establish an Islamist regime with the election of President Mohamed Morsi in 2012.
To counter this, the Egyptian Army, under the leadership of General (now president) Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, took control to prevent a potential civil war. As Egyptian leaders like president al-Sisi, Pope Tawadros and Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb try to move the country forward, resistance to a more modern Egypt is strong and could plunge the country into a civil war.
This country with the largest Muslim population in the Middle East would send a strong signal if it succeeds.
Egypt is fragile. Right next door, Libya is fighting a civil war, and Syria is not too far away from following the same path of internal destruction. If war breaks out in Egypt, it will spread to surrounding countries such as Israel, and then to the entire region and beyond. Egypt is crucial to create stability in the Middle East.
The Pope's trip to Egypt needs all the support it can get -- in order to illustrate that pluralism, openness, democratic values, respect for all its citizens and human rights are possible. This country with the largest Muslim population in the Middle East would send a strong signal if it succeeds. The Christians who have experienced institutionalized discrimination and many direct attacks over the years would feel like real citizens with equal rights.
Pope Francis. (Photo: Jeffrey Bruno/Aleteia)
Courage and integrity are needed to move Egypt in the right direction. Pope Francis, the Grand Imam and Pope Tawadros II are willing to put their lives at risk in order to counter the destructive forces around them. Hopefully these religious men will inspire political leaders to do the same for the good of society.
One great Egyptian president working for the common good was Anwar El-Sadat, who was killed in 1981 by his guard for signing a peace agreement with Israel. Before he was murdered, he said: "Peace is much more precious than a piece of land... let there be no more wars." The pay-off was the stability that followed.
In the current climate, Egypt could implode as society is once again divided. Let's hope that the Pope's visit will inspire people in Egypt and in the Middle East to understand that peace is the only path forward.
(Hétu is the Canadian National Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.)
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President Donald Trump says he didn't announce the cancellation of NAFTA this week because he likes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Two Canada Border Services officers are among five people arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for breach of trust and drug importation offences.
And in a possible sign of how things change, numbers released by Abacus Data Thursday convey that Canadians now look at China more favourably in some key areas than they do their neighbour to the south.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive to take part in a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
A whopping 80 per cent of respondents told the firm that they disagreed with the notion that “Canada should try to be more like the United States.” Only 20 per cent agreed.
In light of Trump’s more combative approach to foreign affairs, the firm asked if Canadians could get behind their country joining the U.S. in an armed conflict against Syria, North Korea, Russia or China. In each hypothetical case, nearly half or more preferred Canada remain neutral or outright oppose military action while pushing for diplomatic answers.
Hypothetical conflicts with Syria or North Korea were more popular, however. Twenty per cent of respondents would want Canada to join a military mission to remove Bashar Assad from power, with 32 per cent preferring the country express support but not participate.Twenty per cent would also like Canada to join a U.S.-led effort in North Korea, with 26 per cent calling only for public support.
The idea of war with China is decidedly unpopular with respondents, with only one-in-10 supporting that scenario. A comparison of China and the U.S. in the eyes of Canadians offers clues why.
When asked which country was doing more to “try to maintain peace and avoid conflict,” 61 per cent of respondents chose China. Fifty-seven per cent said China was “showing a better example of what world leadership should look like,” and 54 per cent said the nation was “more stable and predictable” than the U.S.
But Conservative voters were more likely to break in support of America. Fifty per cent of Tory supporters, for instance, said they see the U.S. as doing more to maintain peace, compared to 39 per cent of Liberal voters.
On the flip side, 84 per cent of respondents said the U.S. was more committed than China to freedom of speech and 61 per cent said Canada’s closest ally was doing more for the poor. Fifty-seven per cent also said the U.S. was “doing more to address climate change and environmental issues.”
In the poll summary, Abacus’ Bruce Anderson and David Coletto write that the impressions reflect not only the strides China has made but the way Canadians see the U.S. now that Trump is in the White House.
“That so few believe Canada should be more like America is an illustration that for many Canadians, Trump’s America is not, for the moment anyway, a ‘shining city on a hill,’” they said in the release.
The online survey was conducted between April 21 and 24 among a random sample of 1,500 adults, chosen from a representative panel of 500,000 Canadians. Abacus Data says a similar poll would have a margin of error of 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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A young woman who scaled a tall construction crane in the middle of the night and was stranded there for hours is an “adventure-seeking person,” a friend said Thursday.
Eastern Health is warning the public after 15 people overdosed in the last two weeks.
Former Quebec cabinet minister Sam Hamad is leaving politics.
"I like both of these gentlemen very much," Trump said Thursday, recapping this week's roller-coaster of drama involving the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"I respect their countries very much. The relationship is very special. And I said, I will hold on the termination; let's see if we can make it a fair deal."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says President Donald Trump was thinking about pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement before the duo spoke by phone. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
He also hinted at a more subtantive reason for not announcing a pullout of NAFTA: economic disruption.
The mere rumour of it happening this week, floated by the White House, shaved almost two per cent off the Mexican peso and a third of a cent off the loonie, while businessmen and lawmakers were up in arms.
Just the agriculture industry by itself produced enough scared quotes to fill a newscast. Pork producers called the idea of cancelling NAFTA financially devastating. Corn producers called it disastrous. The head of the U.S. grains lobby said he was shocked and distressed.
Trump conceded that renegotiating NAFTA is simpler: "And so I decided (to do that) rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big shock to the system." He emphasized, however, that he retains the right to cancel NAFTA if he can't get a deal.
And that, according to numerous trade-watchers, is what this week was really about: leverage. It's a view shared by some within the Canadian government – that Trump wants to flex some muscle entering the negotiations, and the threat to pull out is his strongest lever.
"I respect their countries very much. The relationship is very special."
— Donald Trump on Canada and Mexico
That lever was brandished this week when stories started appearing in the Washington Post, Politico, CNN, and the New York Times that sources within the White House were really, seriously, considering a draft executive order to cancel NAFTA.
"I think the draft EO was a negotiating ploy. True to Trump's style. The only surprise was the quick reversal," said Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute, a top U.S. NAFTA expert.
But that threat from Trump understated the complexity of cancelling NAFTA.
The withdrawal process is complex. Even if he'd declared a withdrawal under Article 2205 in an executive order, that wouldn't automatically cancel the deal. It would allow him to start trying to exit NAFTA, six months later.
'It was a negotiating tactic'
At that point his administration, businesses, Congress and the courts would start tussling over what tariffs would stay or go.
"It was a negotiating tactic... to gain some kind of leverage," said Patrick Leblond, a non-resident fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and University of Ottawa professor.
Trudeau said the president appeared to be considering it.
Speaking in Saskatchewan, Trudeau told reporters that he reminded Trump they were both elected on a similar platform of helping people find and keep jobs. The prime minister said he pointed out that a lot of jobs and industries were developed under NAFTA – if the deal were cancelled, it would create too much disruption.
Trudeau says the two agreed instead they could sit down and work on ways to make the deal better, a renegotiation process similar to what's been done in the past.
Reworking the agreement had been one of Trump's key campaign promises, but it's up against a clock.
The U.S. Congress has yet to authorize negotiations and there might be less than a year to get a deal before the Mexican election.
Nova Scotia’s latest budget has all the makings of an election document, including tax cuts, increased spending and a host of new programs aimed at every key voting demographic.
To your surprise, the MP reads statements from a constituent that are nothing but a tirade of violent, racist misogyny, while directing a vile mix of intimidation and libel at individual people. I hope you would be rightly shocked and appalled that such awful hate propaganda was being delivered by a government representative.
Recently in Toronto, a board of review began hearings to determine if hate propaganda like what I just described should be delivered to unwitting people's homes by way of a Crown corporation.
Last year the minister responsible for Canada Post, Judy Foote, issued what is known as a prohibitory order under the Canada Post Act to stop delivery of a disgusting hate rag known as Your Ward News by Canada Post carriers.
A lone copy of Your Ward News has manifested on Ryerson bulletin board, unsurprisingly stapled in a fashion that makes it difficult to read. pic.twitter.com/anr8Kzph4B— Mathew Iantorno (@mattiantorno) March 20, 2017
It is still being distributed either by private companies or volunteers instead of by Canada Post.
Your Ward News is dangerous hate propaganda that, up until last year, was being delivered to the homes of people in Toronto and communities as far away as Niagara Falls. It used racist slurs on every page; included images meant to demean or intimidate women; its publisher has called for the legalization of rape; and, in a particularly disturbing piece of Photoshop work, Your Ward News has depicted opponents in Nazi gas chambers. Think of it as the National Enquirer for skinheads, and you have the right idea.
We live in a free society, people are able to hold whatever disgusting, indefensible opinions they see fit. Defenders of Your Ward News say this is a free-speech issue, and their rights are being denied. They are completely wrong on both counts.
First, it isn't a free-speech issue. Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be. Targeting any group with this sort of malicious hatred is dangerous because it can and does lead to violence in the real world. The reason you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre is that people can and will get hurt. Willfully cultivating hatred against specific groups has the same effect, and is not protected, either.
Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be.
Second, no one's free speech is being denied by Minister Foote's decision. The publishers are free to post their malignant beliefs online, or print up copies of their filth and hand them out themselves -- as they continue to do. The minister's decision simply means that Canada Post will not be doing the distribution for them.
Canada Post is a Crown corporation and belongs to all the people of this country. In any healthy democracy there are going to be debates over what government should and should not support. This is not one of those instances.
Liberal MP Judy Foote. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
There can be no debate over forcing government to provide logistical support for hate propaganda to be dropped into the homes of unsuspecting families. It is wrong, dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue.
As a country we would not accept an MP delivering remarks that target groups and individuals with unmitigated hate. We should not accept it coming from another government representative -- a Crown corporation -- either.
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A woman charged after scaling a downtown Toronto crane, forcing a rescue that made headlines across the country, was granted bail at a court appearance today.
OTTAWA — Canada's science minister says universities aren't doing the heavy lifting to appoint more female research chairs, so she wants to force their hands.
On her way to give a speech Wednesday to Canada's university presidents in Montreal, Kirsty Duncan was handed the latest statistics on the number of men and women among applicants for new Canada Research Chair positions.
Science Minister Kirsty Duncan speaks in Ottawa on Dec 15, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
"They're dismal," Duncan said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "There were two times more men nominated than women."
The Canada Research Chairs program was implemented 17 years ago to create 2,000 research positions at universities across the country to push for excellence in engineering, natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. Canada spends $265 million a year on the program.
As of December 2016, there were 1,612 filled positions, among which 30 per cent were women. That fits with the fact between 2000 and 2015, 31 per cent of applicants for the jobs were from women.
Duncan said the latest figures show nothing has changed, a status quo she can't accept, since she made it known when she was sworn in to the Liberal cabinet that improving the gender balance would be a priority.
'The bar isn't moving'
"The bar isn't moving and that can't continue," she said, noting that she even ad-libbed part of her speech because of it: "I let them know I was very disappointed with the results."
In 2009, universities set targets to try and increase the number of research chairs who are women, visible minorities, indigenous people and people with disabilities. In 2012, universities had to start reporting their progress to meet these targets annually.
Duncan said if the voluntary program isn't working, she is open to forcing the issue — but would not say how that would work.
Last fall, Duncan implemented new equity rules for the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program. That program was launched in 2008 to provide grants of up to $10 million for universities to attract big-name talent in science and technology for seven-year terms. Only one of the 28 current CERC positions is held by a woman.
"We cannot afford to leave half our talent on the sidelines."
In October, when the latest round of applications began, Duncan said universities had to include detailed equity plans and recruitment strategies in their applications. Duncan would not say if that is the path she will take for the Canada Research Chairs program as well.
Canada lags behind other nations when it comes to women in science, she said; only 36 per cent of PhDs in science in Canada are earned by women, compared with 49 per cent in the U.K. and 46 per cent in the United States.
In 1987, just 20 per cent of the people working in science, technology, engineering and math fields were female, a number that has grown to just 22 per cent today.
"I believe (that) in a globalized competitive economy, we cannot afford to leave half our talent on the sidelines," she said.
Ottawa also reinstated the University and College Academic Staff System survey through Statistics Canada last year to generate data on gender, age, rank and salary for university staff. Preliminary data on the number of teaching staff and salaries was released this week but the full release is expected this fall.
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More than 95,000 people took part in the first immigration lottery to win a spot to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada. With only 10,000 spots available, that put the odds at roughly one in 10.
NDP Leader John Horgan smiles while addressing supporters during a campaign rally in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday April 23, 2017. A provincial election will be held on May 9. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
An NDP government will invest $175 million in child care in the first year of government, which will grow in the second year and third year to $280 million and $400 million per year, respectively. This initial $175-million investment will immediately reduce infant and toddler fees to $10 a day, and will eliminate fees for families earning less than $40,000 annually. This will provide immediate relief for families paying some of the highest fees in the country -- not two, three or five years from now, but immediately.
With the NDP's plan, two parents making a combined family income of $90,000 per year can expect to save $5,808 annually. That's money that they can put towards saving for their children's university education, renovating their home or even saving up for their first home.
Christy Clark falsely claims that the status-quo approach is working for parents and that we just need to build some new spaces. That is not true. Here's why: demand for child care is not going down. B.C.'s population is growing. The Vancouver area is expected to grow by 2 million people by in 25 years. The pressures on our child-care system will only grow, and therefore Christy Clark's proposal will not create enough spaces. As a result, Christy Clark's plan will only result in more spots, costing parents $1,430 per month. That is not what parents want. Parents want spots they can afford, and the only way they will get that is with the NDP's sensible $10-a-day plan.
Christy Clark wrongly asserts that the NDP's $10-a-day child-care plan will lead to long wait lists like in Quebec. But, unlike Quebec, the B.C. NDP will streamline the process for matching kids with publicly funded child-care spots. One of the reasons Quebec's model suffered from such long wait lists was due to its complex and inefficient system of decentralized wait lists. With a coordinated approach, the NDP's plan will sidestep that problem.
Under Christy Clark life has become unaffordable.
Christy Clark claims that a universal $10-a-day child-care plan will help those who don't need it -- the rich can afford their own. The rich can also to pay for their own health care, but we in Canada are proud of our universal health-care system. Claiming that universal child care should not be implemented because it might help some people who can afford to pay for child care overlooks one of the key goals of a public system: equality. A universal, publicly funded system is the only way to ensure that all children can get the education and care they need, regardless of how many 0's their parents may have on their paycheques.
The NDP's proposal for a public $10-a-day child care was created by experts from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. and the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. It is supported by economists, businesses, community groups and families.
Under Christy Clark life has become unaffordable. On May 9, a John Horgan B.C. NDP government will change that by implementing a universal $10-a-day child-care system.
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(Photo: Kierferpix via Getty Images)
Earlier this week at Rideau Hall we had the pleasure of presenting the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers to 46 outstanding individuals from who are giving their time, talent and resources to others. Since my installation as governor general, I'm very pleased to have been able to recognize more than 1,500 generous and compassionate volunteers from across Canada.
Like so much in our lives and society, giving is constantly evolving. We've noticed that ways in which Canadians give are changing, and in order to build an even stronger culture of giving in this country, we need a clearer picture of the trends and the multiple ways in which giving is happening, from coast to coast to coast. The question for me is how we can do better?
We need better insight into how the values that lead to giving are being learned and shared-particularly by young people.
And we need a stronger set of tools and evidence-based approaches to encourage giving behaviour.
We want to explore the why and the how of giving.
Ultimately, we may in fact require a new definition of what it means to "give."
That's why today I will be hosting a conference on giving at Rideau Hall. We want to explore the why and the how of giving.
This one-day national conference will focus on three major themes: the state of nation on giving, how and why millennials are giving, and how the application of behavioural sciences can encourage giving behaviour. We want to increase connectivity among sectors and explore the development of a national approach to encourage giving behaviour.
We've invited as panelists and participants non-profit sector leaders, fund development professionals, representatives of corporate and government charitable initiatives and members of academia focused on giving behaviour. Together, they will share their views on current trends in giving and how this behaviour can best be encouraged.
Canadians will be able to follow the conference online at www.gg.ca/commongood and submit their questions to our panellists.
Let's all think about why and how Canadians can be encouraged to give their time, talent or treasure for the common good, and then find ways to put our ideas into action.
And let's challenge ourselves to become an even more caring nation.
Happy National Volunteer Week everyone!
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The president made the announcement at the end of a dramatic day following an evening phone chat Wednesday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by another call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Trump sounded satisfied that his peers had agreed to negotiate swiftly. This has been a top concern of Trump's administration, which has expressed frustration over the pace.
Donald Trump said it was his privilege to update NAFTA through renegotiation. (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Trump's key campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA is up against the clock: U.S. Congress has yet to sign off on negotiations, and there might be less than a year to get a deal before the Mexican election.
"Both conversations were pleasant and productive,'' said a late-night statement from the White House.
"President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries.''
Trump said it was his privilege to update NAFTA through renegotiation. He called it an honour to deal with both Pena Nieto and Trudeau, and said the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.
White House had been telling media otherwise all day
That statement will send waves of relief rippling through Ottawa and Mexico City.
Throughout the day, the White House had been telling U.S. media it was mulling a notice of withdrawal from NAFTA. It was seen as a dose of shock treatment for Congress, Canada, and Mexico to get cracking under the threat the deal might be cancelled.
Markets appeared jolted by the sudden drama. The Canadian dollar lost more than a third of a cent Wednesday and the Mexican peso got hit harder: it was down more than 1.5 per cent on the day.
Various media said Trump was considering detonating the trade equivalent of a nuclear option — an executive order to withdraw from the trade agreement, which would instill fear in members of Congress, industry and Canadian and Mexican trade negotiators.
Donald called it an honour to deal with both Enrique Pena Nieto and Justin Trudeau. (Photo: Getty Images)
The administration had been complaining that American lawmakers were dragging their feet. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have not only delayed confirmation of Trump's trade nominee but also withheld approval of the formal notice to kick off negotiations.
Trump wants movement.
The White House let it be known earlier in the day, through the Washington Post, Politico, and CNN, that Trump was considering an executive order threatening withdrawal, and the New York Times reported late Wednesday that he was actually leaning toward issuing that order.
Such a move would have been dramatic, but not necessarily fatal to NAFTA.
''I suspect many in the press would freak (about a withdrawal announcement). I would.''
— Jon Johnson, Canada-U.S. agreement negotiator
A veteran of Canada-U.S. free trade said there are multiple layers between an announcement and an actual withdrawal. He asked: Even if Trump announced a possible withdrawal, would he actually he follow through? And if he followed through, would Congress undo tariffs, and other things in NAFTA's implementing legislation?
One thing's certain, he said: the move would scare people.
''It would be a nothing. But it would be inflammatory,'' said Jon Johnson, a negotiator in the original Canada-U.S. trade agreement, a government adviser on NAFTA and now a C.D. Howe Institute analyst.
''I suspect many in the press would freak. I would.''
The sudden NAFTA drama caused the Canadian dollar to lose more than a third of a cent Wednesday and the Mexican peso got hit even harder. (Photo: Getty Images)
He pointed out that NAFTA does not have an automatic-exit clause.
Its only reference to withdrawal is a single 34-word sentence, Article 2205, which says: A party may withdraw after providing six months' written notice, which means that any president declaring a pullout would simply be allowed to do it six months later.
What a withdrawal threat could do is frighten multiple actors, he said.
There were certainly jitters in Congress. Pro-NAFTA senators urged Trump to be careful. The Republican majority whip, Sen. John Cornyn, warned: ''I think we'd better be careful about unintended consequences.'' Sen. John McCain told CNN, of a NAFTA withdrawal: "It will devastate the economy in my state ... I hope he doesn't do that.''
Possible negotiation tactic
One trade expert said he viewed this as a negotiating tactic — a threat to Congress.
''I think he is bluffing,'' Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Mark Warner said earlier Wednesday.
''I think by threatening a nuclear option he is hoping to get Congress to speed up . . . (and) stop getting in way. If there is an executive order, it's probably more likely to be weaker than his rhetoric.''
The White House had expressed frustration at lawmakers' failure to share its sense of urgency on NAFTA.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has acknowledged that it gets harder if talks linger too much into next year. (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The clock is ticking, in part because of the Mexican election. The Mexican government says it can't conclude a NAFTA deal after the first quarter of next year, with an election in 15 months and the populist left on the move there.
Trump's point man on the negotiation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, has acknowledged that it gets harder if talks linger too much into next year. Which means the next few months might be the only window to renegotiate NAFTA — a key Trump campaign promise.
By law, the U.S. Congress must be involved at multiple steps: in approving a formal notice to renegotiate, in developing the negotiating positions, and then in voting to ratify a deal.
''It's been frustratingly slow,'' Ross said earlier this month, of Congress. ''They've been very, very slow on completing the hearings and voting on our new U.S. trade representative Bob Lighthizer. That's been not helpful.''
A botched rollout of the Canada Council for the Arts's new online grant application process is causing confusion and headaches for artists and arts organizations across the country.
"Today, the race just got real," candidate Erin O'Toole declared on stage. "Elvis has left the building."
Erin O'Toole says the race "just got real." (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Less than two hours before the Toronto event was to start, the businessman and and television personality, accompanied by Bernier, held a news conference at the Fairmont Royal York to explain his decision to pull out of the contest and throw his support behind the Quebec MP.
“It would seem foolish, even selfish, to win the leadership knowing that I didn’t have a clear path or high probability [of winning a majority government],” O’Leary said. He called Bernier the “candidate that best mirrors my policies.”
Over the weekend, O’Leary adviser Mike Coates and Bernier adviser Kory Teneycke had a number of conversations. Their candidates spoke on the phone Monday, and on Tuesday, O’Leary flew from New York to Toronto for an 11 p.m. rendezvous with Bernier.
Bernier’s camp said the meeting was held at a private residence. O’Leary’s camp said the two met at the Royal York. Regardless, the two huddled until 1 a.m. when they notified the rest of their teams that they had come to an agreement on the messaging of the impending announcement.
O’Leary informed the Conservative party mid-afternoon Wednesday, after the news had already broken online.
Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, left, looks on as Kevin O'Leary address a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Coates told HuffPost Canada that O’Leary’s internal polling numbers showed he had the support of only 12 per cent in Quebec. O’Leary was convinced he could win the Tory leadership but he had started to worry that he couldn’t win a general election.
Despite having a French tutor who travelled with him, O’Leary, a unilingual anglophone, had not yet grasped the language. Wednesday’s debate was held in both official languages. But perhaps, Coates suggested, O’Leary’s biggest learning curve was the political arena. “You don’t really know what’s it’s going to be like,” he said. “Now, he knows.”
Despite both candidates’ launching aggressive attacks against each other — each suggested the other was guilty of voter fraud by improperly paying for memberships — the two were all smiles Wednesday, saying their dispute had been “amicable.”
O’Leary wanted to be a “disrupter” in the campaign and viewed Bernier the only candidate who would could also embody that role, Coates said.
Two blocks from the Royal York, at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts, where Conservatives gathered for the debate, news of O’Leary’s withdrawal was all the buzz.
London, Ont., resident Shelley Clair sat facing Bernier’s promotional booth. An O’Leary supporter, she told HuffPost Canada she was disappointed he’d dropped out but now she was interested in learning more about Bernier because of the endorsement.
Warrington Ellacott, a new party member from Orangeville, Ont., thought O’Leary’s exit presented an opportunity for the other candidates. He hoped to see O’Leary’s pro-business message adopted by other candidates.
Both Andrew Saxton, a former North Vancouver MP and banker, and Vancouver venture capitalist Rick Peterson tried to assume O’Leary’s business-focus mantle by trumpeting their private sector experience. Even O’Toole, a former veterans minister, said he could also go after members who were looking for an outsider with business experience.
“If they liked his private-sector, sort of hard-edged business guy, I worked on Bay Street in these towers here. I haven’t been in politics for a decade-plus like some in this race,” he said.
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O’Leary’s exit provides a new opportunity to court the 35,000 members his camp signed up. But a number of the Tories’ 259,000 members also registered through the party’s website and the opposing campaigns don’t know where their loyalties lie or where their second, third and fourth ballot support will land.
The Conservatives are electing their new leader through a weighted-ranked ballot system that gives every riding the same influence regardless of how many members it has. Ballots started arriving in the mail this week. A new leader will be selected on May 27.
All the remaining candidates said on Wednesday that they had no plans to leave the contest.
“We don’t know who is going to win. It’s a wide open race,” Saxton said. “Obviously, with Kevin gone, it stirs things up.”
“His people are up for grabs,” O’Toole noted. He said he is actively courting O’Leary supporters, hoping to land former Ontario Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris’ endorsement.
Maxime Bernier speaks during the Conservative leadership debate in Toronto on April 26, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
“This is fabulous for myself,” Kellie Leitch declared after the debate. She said she was the only Conservative alternative to O’Leary. “He and Maxime Bernier share some ideas, whether that be legalized marijuana or otherwise.”
While the final debate included the usual flashpoints over Leitch’s call for screening immigrants and challenger Michael Chong’s desire to adopt a carbon tax, Wednesday’s face-off included several barbs directed at Bernier.
Former Commons speaker Andrew Scheer told the audience that the race was now between him and Bernier and that attention needed to be given to the MP’s more radical position.
“Conservatives win when we take the very best of what we agree on, that we take the policies that we know enjoy the most support in mainstream Canada and we run on those types of things, and I’m worried that, with Maxime, it’s more a personal ideology that he is advocating that doesn’t enjoy broad-base support in the general public,” he later told reporters.
“...I don’t want to spend any more time in opposition than I have to,” Scheer said.
Michael Chong accused Maxime Bernier of having "extreme" positions. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Bernier’s position on ending supply management, for example, would mean billions of dollars spent buying back farmers’ quotas — an expense that would be imposed on Canadians either as a consumption tax on milk, dairy and poultry products, or as a cost added to the national debt, Scheer said.
“So there is no immediate benefit to consumers and we have just sold out a huge section of our Conservative movement and rural Canada.”
Bernier’s support for free trade with China is also concerning, Scheer said, noting a particular impact on the Canadian manufacturing sector.
“There are some policies that he has advocated for that a lot of members, I don’t know if they have been informed about the full breadth of the impact.”
In a note to party members, Scheer referred to a Mainstreet Research poll that suggested he had 16.7 per cent of support, behind O’Leary’s 26.3 per cent. Bernier was third with 14.2 per cent and O’Toole followed with 7.8 per cent.
Contenders court O’Leary supporters
“To Kevin O’Leary’s supporters across the country, who are no doubt confused and disappointed, you are welcome in my campaign. I’m a genuine conservative who will bring a new optimistic tone to our party to defeat Trudeau,” Scheer wrote.
Chong countered that, according to a Nanos survey, he was the most appealing leader to Canadian voters with O’Leary now out of the contest, and the only one who can win in 2019.
“Kevin O’Leary made the right decision by dropping out of the leadership race,” Chong said. O’Leary couldn’t speak French and couldn’t win in Quebec, he said.
“Conservative party members also need to take a hard look at some the extreme policies that are being proposed by some of the other candidates.
“We have a candidate that is proposing to eliminate for the first time in 40 years the federal government’s role in the delivery of public health care — Canadians’ most cherished social program — and the most important priority for Canadians,” Chong said, referring to Bernier.
Bernier’s ‘extreme’ policies in spotlight
Some of Bernier’s other “extreme” policies include proposing to pay for income taxes by cutting more than one-third of all federal program spending, Chong said. The deepest cuts, levied in the 1990s by former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin in an effort to bring Canada’s finances in order, slashed program spending by only 10 per cent, Chong noted. Bernier’s cuts would be three to four times higher, he said. “It would wreck our social and health care services.”
On stage, Chong said Bernier could not win, arguing that such policies would hand the next election to the Liberal party of Canada.
The Quebec candidate seemed content to sit back and let the 12 others on the stage compete for airtime. When challenged, Bernier spoke of his desire to champion ideas of freedom, small government and personal responsibility. He defended his healthcare plan by saying reforms are needed since Canada has the worst wait times in the OECD countries.
He also noted that it was “a little bit bizarre” that Tory candidates were all jumping to defend supply management, a system that was brought in by former Liberal prime minister Pierre Eliott Trudeau.
In an email to members, Bernier said he had the best team, had raised the most money and sold the most memberships. He boasted that he could win in 40 seats in Quebec and claimed the broadest support across Canada.
Bernier wasn’t the only Conservative smiling ear to ear Wednesday.
Several party members breathed sighs of relief with O’Leary out of the race.
“I’m just pleased because I know Mr. O’Leary was very much against pro-life issues. So, for myself, I’m happy about it. That’s all I can say,” Denis Gracias, a Roman Catholic visual artist, told HuffPost.
Toronto resident Elizabeth Carswell, a Chris Alexander supporter, had only two words to mark O’Leary’s parting: “Thank you.”
With files from Zi-Ann Lum
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Clinics that prescribe legal medical marijuana have become a specialty business across Canada — a phenomenon that has raised a few ethical concerns.
So, presumably, ends one of the strangest careers in the history of Canadian politics. And so, perhaps, begins the Conservative Party's Maxime Bernier era.
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