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Trudeau’s plane damaged, now backup plane grounded in London, U.K.

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bad luck with planes continues.

He was forced to use a back-up aircraft Monday to ferry him to London for a NATO summit because the usual prime ministerial jet was damaged in a hangar accident last month.

But after he got to London, the Royal Canadian Air Force discovered a problem with one of the engines on the backup plane during a post-flight inspection.

The RCAF says that plane, a CC-150 Polaris, is being repaired but is temporarily “unserviceable.”

So, the RCAF has commandeered another CC-150 Polaris — which was in Italy with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who has been on a European tour of her own — to take Trudeau, his entourage and accompanying media back to Ottawa.

Another plane will have to be found to bring Payette home in time to read Thursday’s speech from the throne to open the new session of Parliament.

Pain with planes also dogged Trudeau during the election campaign earlier this fall.

On the first day of the campaign, the chartered Liberal plane was knocked out of service when the media bus scraped the underside of a wing.

The Liberals hastily arranged a replacement but were later criticized for the revelation that they were actually using two planes — one for Trudeau, his aides and media and another for cargo — while preaching the need to combat climate change by reducing fossil-fuel consumption.

As prime minister, Trudeau is normally transported in a Polaris CC-15001, an aircraft fitted out to carry VIPs. Once dubbed a “flying Taj Mahal,” it is now 32 years old and has been plagued with mechanical problems.

In October, it rolled into a wall while being towed into a hangar at 8 Wing Trenton, sustaining “significant structural damage to the nose and right engine cowling,” according to the RCAF.

During his first term, Trudeau experienced numerous problems with the aircraft. He arrival in India last year was delayed after a mechanical problem during a refuelling stop in Rome.

A problem with a flap in October 2016 required the aircraft to return to Ottawa 30 minutes taking off with Trudeau, who was en route to Belgium to sign the Canada-Europe free-trade deal.

Planes in the fleet available to transport the prime minister and the Governor General have an estimated retirement date of 2026. The government is studying whether it’s time to replace them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 4, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

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OTTAWA — The Conservatives are calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to deliver an “urgent” fall economic update, including a plan to get back to balance.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the finance critic, says he wants to see the Liberal government provide a fiscal update before the holidays that would include tax cuts for entrepreneurs, efforts to get rid of regulatory red tape and a plan to phase out the deficit over the next few years.

The Ottawa-area MP notes the country lost about 71,000 jobs last month, according to Statistics Canada, which was the biggest monthly drop since the financial crisis of a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the American unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in half a century.

The re-elected Liberals promised during the fall election campaign to reduce the deficit to $21 billion by the fourth year of their mandate, while the Conservatives had promised to deliver a $667-million surplus in 2024-25.

Poilievre says the Liberals have had plenty of time since the October election to prepare a fiscal update.

“The storm clouds of our economy have been gathering overhead for a long time, so if they are this ill-prepared for the trouble that is unfolding, it says something about their ability to govern,” Poilievre told a news conference in Ottawa on Sunday.

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class. The economy is resilient, he said in a statement.

“While we will always remain vigilant to any potential risks to our economy, Canada has a stable and resilient financial sector that supports a strong and growing economy — an economy that continues to grow as we work with partners right across the country to address immediate and long-term challenges, including in the resource sector,” Morneau said Sunday.

The New Democrats also want Morneau to adjust his plans by making sure the proposed tax cut is implemented in a way that all benefits go to those earning less than $90,000 per year.

The NDP says this would reduce the cost of the tax cut by $1.6 billion, which the party says it could divert to dental care.

“We believe that this is a constructive proposal that would make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Canadians — particularly the people who are in greatest need,” said a letter the NDP plans to send to Morneau Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2019.

The Canadian Press


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Rescue dogs come to Canada in search of forever families

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There were dozens of dogs in the back of the van travelling the 1,400 kilometres from Tennessee to the Greater Toronto Area — and one of them was a barker.

The trip last year was one of the bigger rescue missions that Save Our Scruff has embarked on, this one in collaboration with another agency in the same line of work. The charities are part of a growing grassroots effort to bring dogs to Canada from places as far flung as Mexico, El Salvador and Egypt, where overpopulation is a far bigger issue.

Contrast that with Canada’s urban centres, where we’re “winning the war on dog overpopulation,” according to one Toronto city official.

Volunteers with the two groups in Tennessee stacked the crates in the back of the cube van and began the long drive home. Before that, they spent two days working on the farm where the dogs had been living.

Aside from the lone yappy passenger, the pups didn’t make too much fuss during the trip home, said Jenna Bye, executive director of Save Our Scruff. Because it was cool outside, the dogs were comfortable and less prone to complaining. In the summertime, it takes more planning and effort to keep the dogs from overheating.

But arranging such treks is far from a walk in the dog park.

“We just had over 100 dogs in care at the end of the summer,” said Bye. “That’s 100 dogs that have to be picked up, from generally the airport; that’s 100 dogs that have to go to the vet; 100 supply packages that we have to create and deliver.”

In their five years, Save Our Scruff has adopted out 1,700 dogs and counting, and Bye estimates that more than half are from outside of Canada. Twenty more dogs are currently listed on their website as available for adoption.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m running a logistics company,” she said.

Larger organizations such as the Humane Society International have been at it for far longer — Save Our Scruff took in its first dogs in 2014 — but Bye said she’s seen the number of independent groups like hers climb over the past few years.

The underlying reason for the popularity of such rescues is multi-pronged, beginning with a smaller supply of stray dogs in Canada, said Mary Lou Leiher, a program manager with Toronto Animal Services.

“I think it was about 2005 when it struck me that we were winning the war on dog overpopulation,” she said, noting that more dogs are being spayed, neutered and microchipped, so stray dogs can’t multiply and lost dogs are more often returned home.

This reduction in supply of homeless dogs has coupled with an increased demand for pups, Leiher said.

“Dog ownership is trending,” she noted. 

Good numbers on dog populations are hard to find — comparatively few people register their dogs with their cities and pay the accompanying fee, Leiher said, so while those figures are steadily climbing in cities such as Toronto, they only represent a fraction of the actual population. 

Nor does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is tasked with regulating the importation of animals into Canada, track the number of dogs brought into the country, it said.

But research conducted by Kynetic on behalf of the Canadian Animal Health Institute suggests that in 2018, there were 8.2 million pet dogs in Canada — up from 7.6 million two years earlier. And for the first time since the industry association began conducting the research, the number of dogs was nearly on par with cats.

Leiher said she’s seen the number of rescue agencies bringing dogs from far afield climb in recent years.

In fact, she said, Toronto Animal Services has partnered with some of those organizations, transferring dogs over to them to be adopted out instead of keeping them in city kennels.

Last year, 273 dogs were adopted out and 221 were transferred to another dog rescue.

The independent agencies present some benefits over traditional shelters, Leiher said — they can be cared for by individuals in their homes, and the charities are generally very good at marketing.

At Save Our Scruff, each dog has an online profile that reads something like a dating profile — equal parts enticing and informative.

For instance, meet Nutri: a two-year-old rat terrier mix from Mexico who’s looking for his happily ever after. 

“Do you like fairy tales? Nutri is ready to be your prince charming,” it reads. “When he doesn’t have the zoomies, you can find him dozing like sleeping beauty.”

But social media is what really grabs potential adopters’ attention, Bye said. If people follow their Instagram or Facebook pages, the images of adorable dogs in need of homes are delivered straight to them — they don’t need to seek the information out.

It also works for attracting volunteers, she said, noting her organization is 98 per cent volunteer-run.

For instance, Bye said many of the dogs are flown in with vacationers signing up as “flight parents” ahead of their trips to certain countries.

Save Our Scruff — with its partners abroad — will arrange the rest: the dog’s transportation to the airport in its home country and from the airport in Toronto, along with a foster family for the animal to stay with in Canada.

“That’s where the dogs thrive,” said Bye. “It sets them up for a life that they can expect long-term, and gives them a chance to show us the kind of dogs that they’re going to be long-term.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2019.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

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