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Ethics committee to decide whether to dig deeper into SNC-Lavalin report

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Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould

OTTAWA — Six Liberal MPs will be the ones to decide whether the federal ethics watchdog will speak publicly about his scathing report on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handled the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Conservatives and New Democrats pushed for the emergency meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee to be held Wednesday in Ottawa, where MPs will debate whether to dig deeper into the scandal by inviting ethics commissioner Mario Dion to testify.

“Now we have facts,” said NDP MP Charlie Angus. “We should be able to ask the man who found those facts to explain them.”

The Liberals hold a majority on the 10-member committee. Voting in favour of the motion to invite Dion to appear would mean keeping the SNC-Lavalin controversy in the headlines as MPs gear up for the Oct. 21 election.

None of the six Liberals on the committee had agreed to comment by late Tuesday afternoon.

The report, released last week, concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end criminal proceedings on corruption charges against the Montreal engineering giant.

Trudeau, who has defended himself by insisting he was acting in the best interests of Canadians, is now suggesting voters want to move on.

“Voters speak to me about jobs,” Trudeau said Tuesday in Trois-Rivieres, Que., when asked whether he is hearing about SNC-Lavalin at his meet-and-greet events. “Yes, people have concerns, but mostly, they speak of the work that we are accomplishing together.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent said he hopes his Liberal colleagues, at the very least, support inviting Dion to debrief the committee on his report.

Mary Dawson, the previous ethics commissioner, spent two hours answering questions about her December 2017 report that found Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he and his family when on vacation to a private island in the Bahamas owned by the Aga Khan.

Kent said if the Liberals are concerned about the timing, they could have supported his efforts to investigate the scandal earlier this year.

At the time, Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said it would be “premature” to begin such a probe before the justice committee wrapped up its study.

Erskine-Smith had also pointed out that Dion had begun investigating and that he reports directly to the ethics committee.

The committee should ensure he has what he needs to do his job, rather than do it for him, he argued at an April meeting.

Kent said he wants to ask Dion whether it is time the ethics commissioner’s office had stronger investigative powers.

In his report, Dion noted the confidentiality rules that govern cabinet documents and discussions prevented him from accessing everything he needed.

The Prime Minister’s Office had partially waived those obligations to allow Wilson-Raybould to testify before the justice committee earlier this year, but Ian Shugart, the clerk of the Privy Council, declined to expand the waiver for Dion.

Kent also said he wants to know whether Dion thinks his reports should have more teeth.

During her January 2018 testimony on the Aga Khan report, Dawson had said the negative publicity would be enough of a consequence.

Trudeau’s response to Dion’s report has been to take “full responsibility” for what occurred, all the while saying he disagrees with some of Dion’s findings. He has also pointedly refused to apologize for what he characterizes as trying to protect Canadians against job losses.

“We have a prime minister without shame, so naming and shaming is obviously less than effective,” Kent said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who last week urged the six Liberal MPs on the committee “to do what’s right,” repeated his call for the RCMP to investigate the matter.

“What I’m looking to get out of this is the truth,” Scheer said during a pre-campaign event in Toronto.

“We’re looking to get the truth for Canadians, so they can understand the lengths that Justin Trudeau went to get a special deal for SNC-Lavalin.”

— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Alberta

Could an antiviral used to treat cat coronavirus hold key to treat COVID-19?

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U of A researchers study an antiviral used to treat cat coronavirus; can it be a treatment for COVID-19?

(Left to right) University of Alberta scientists Dr. Joanne Lemieux, with the Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, founding director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and Dr. John Vederas with the Department of Chemistry are combining their labs’ efforts to test this viral inhibitor against the new coronavirus.

Scientists across Canada are racing on developing and implementing countermeasures to rapidly detect, manage, reduce the transmission, treat and to one day cure the COVID-19 virus. Since the start of March, the Canadian government has funded 96 different scientific projects totalling $52.6 million dollars in funding.

One of the funded studies by a group of University of Alberta scientists is getting extra attention from the general public. It is a study of an antiviral that is used to treat cats with a deadly feline coronavirus called, Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

Dr. Joanne Lemieux, with the U of A’s  Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, founding director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and Dr. John Vederas with the Department of Chemistry are combining their labs’ efforts to test this viral inhibitor against the new coronavirus that is causing the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The trio’s labs are working 7-days a week come to some conclusions and to get results as fast as they can.

Read an extended story on this subject from the University of Alberta Folio’s by Gillian Rutherford.

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Link to read about the current 96 different scientific projects that received $52.6 million from the Canadian government since March 2020.

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COVID-19

The Federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau

The Government of Canada is taking strong and quick action to protect our economy, and the health, safety, and jobs of all Canadians during the global COVID-19 outbreak.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy and help Canadians affected by the impacts of this challenging period.

These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy. Combined, this $82 billion in support represents more than 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP. This wide-ranging support will help ensure Canadians can pay for rent and groceries, and help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty.

This plan builds on coordinated action taken since the beginning of this outbreak, including the more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund, which provided funding to provinces and territories to strengthen critical health care systems. It represents over $500 billion in credit and liquidity support for people and businesses through cooperation between financial Crown corporations, the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), and commercial lenders to ensure businesses can continue to operate.

The actions announced today are part of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19. As a first step, this plan aims to stabilize our economy through targeted measures to address immediate challenges faced by workers and businesses alike. It will help ensure that workers have the money they need while they are sick or in isolation, or due to loss of work or a significant reduction in work income, and help support people and businesses experiencing financial hardship because of the outbreak.

Canadians should not make health decisions based on their financial needs. As the situation continues to evolve, further measures will be announced to support Canadians, stimulate the economy, and protect peoples’ jobs and livelihoods..

Support for workers

Canadians should not have to worry about paying their rent or mortgage or buying groceries because of the COVID-19 crisis. To support workers and their families, the Government of Canada is taking action to:

  • Provide additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This measure would deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.
  • Introduce an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This measure could provide up to $10 billion to Canadians, and includes:
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
  • Introduce an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • Provide additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit. This measure would inject $5.5 billion in the economy.
  • Waive, for a minimum of six months, the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate, as announced on March 11.
  • Waive the requirement for a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
  • Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.  No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. This measure will result in households having more money available during this period.
  • Provide eligible small businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities.  This will help employers keep people on their payroll and help Canadians keep their jobs.
  • Provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans to borrowers who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the outbreak. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

In addition, to provide targeted support for vulnerable groups, the Government is investing to:

  • Reduce minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.
  • Implement a six-month, interest-free, moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.
  • Provide $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund, to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
  • Support women and children fleeing violence by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.
  • Provide an additional $157.5 million to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness through the Reaching Home program.

Support for businesses

In the face of an uncertain economic situation and tightening credit conditions, the Government is taking action to help affected businesses. To support Canadian businesses and help them retain their workers during this difficult time, the Government is announcing measures to:

  • Allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period.
  • Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses. As announced on March 13, a new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. The Government is ready to provide more capital through these financial Crown corporations.
  • Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses.
  • Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
  • Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
  • Launch an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). As announced on March 16, this will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary. The Government will enable these measures by raising CMHC’s legislative limits to guarantee securities and insure mortgages by $150 billion each.

The six largest financial institutions in Canada have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges, such as pay disruption due to COVID-19, childcare disruption due to school or daycare closures, or those suffering from COVID-19. As a first step, this support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor evolving economic conditions and seek greater relief measures should it be necessary.

In order to move forward with implementing these new measures needed to provide timely support for Canadians and to ensure the Government has every tool at its disposal to address potential challenges that may arise, the Government intends to introduce special legislation and seek the approval of Parliament.

The Government of Canada will continue to take further action as required to prioritize the health and safety of Canadians, stabilize the economy, and mitigate the economic impact of this pandemic.

World virus infections hit 200,000; Borders jammed in Europe

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april, 2020

fri17apr10:00 am9:00 pmFeaturedOur Best to You Spring Handmade Market10:00 am - 9:00 pm Westerner Park, Parkland & Prairie Pavilions, 4847A-19 Street Event Organized By: Signatures Shows Ltd

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