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Feds to public: focus on our long-term plan

Feds to public: focus on our long-term plan

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government will update the country’s economic and fiscal progress Tuesday, hoping to encourage Canadians to focus on the potential of its long-term plan — and overlook the sting of multi-year, multibillion-dollar deficits. The Liberals won last year’s election on a platform promising to help lift the slow-growth economy with billions worth of borrowing to fund more ambitious infrastructure and child-benefit programs for the long haul. But a few months into their mandate, the Liberals pointed to weaker-than-expected economic conditions as they tripled their anticipated budgetary deficits for the next two years — nearly $30 billion each. They predicted more than $110 billion in total shortfalls over the next five years. Facing political pressure to show results from the early investments, Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to reiterate his argument Tuesday that Canadians should be fixating on the government’s long-term goals. It remains to be seen whether the trajectory revealed Tuesday will push the books even deeper into the red, as some of Canada’s big banks have predicted. Over the course of 2016, the Liberals gradually started to roll out their measures during an economic downturn that saw experts downgrade their growth outlooks. Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has noted the economic benefits of the Liberals’ first investments, such as richer child-benefit cheques, have yet to show up in the numbers. Poloz has acknowledged, however, that it’s still early and that he expects to see positive impacts in the second half of 2016. On Monday, Morneau said during question period that the public would see positive results from the enhanced child benefits and the Liberals’ tax-bracket changes, which lower tax rates for middle earners and raise them for the well-heeled. “What we’re going to do tomorrow is talk about our long-term plans to make a real difference for middle-class Canadians for the future,” said Morneau, who will deliver the fall statement in the House of Commons. “We’re going to have a plan for the long term to improve the situation for our economy.” In the House of Commons, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose attacked the Liberals’ approach, challenging them to build...

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Liberals to support NDP child welfare motion

Liberals to support NDP child welfare motion

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals will vote to support an NDP motion Tuesday that calls for an immediate $155-million cash injection for First Nations child welfare services, says Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. The decision — governments don’t typically support opposition motions — followed political pressure brought to bear on the government by Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former chairman of the Truth and Reconcilation Commission. “We are all on the same page in terms of, we want the kinds of changes that really will be the real reform,” Bennett said Monday outside the House of Commons. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Sinclair called it impossible to overstate the importance of the federal government complying with an order from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to properly fund child welfare services on reserve. The tribunal’s original decision, delivered in January, concluded the government was discriminating against First Nations children in the way it delivers those services. Two subsequent compliance orders from the tribunal went unheeded, critics say. “Canada’s discriminatory policies have led to greater failed and failing interventions into the lives of indigenous families than the residential schools and serious changes must be undertaken,” Sinclair said. “Immediate action is required,” he said. “I encourage members of the House to support the motion proposed by member of Parliament Charlie Angus.” Bennett also said Monday the government is willing to sit down with the parties in the case through a facilitated process with The Canadian Human Rights Commission. “The reason we want to sit down with the Canadian Human Rights Commission is to be able to stop talking past one another.” In September, the commission urged the parties to resolve their dispute without further legal action. Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations child advocate who, along with the Assembly of First Nations, spent nine years fighting the government on the issue, said she welcomes the government’s openness to mediation. “We have always been willing to try whatever route would make a difference in terms of the level of children,” Blackstock told a news conference. “We will see them there and we will welcome that opportunity.” MPs will vote on...

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Sapers leery of pepper spraying prisoners

Sapers leery of pepper spraying prisoners

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison watchdog is calling for tighter controls on the use of pepper spray in federal penitentiaries amid concerns correctional officers have taken to dousing inmates with the noxious repellent on a “routine” basis. Pepper spray was used in 60 per cent of the incidents in which Correctional Service Canada officers used force last year, correctional investigator Howard Sapers said in his annual report on the state of Canada’s prisons and prisoners, released Monday. That works out to more than 1,000 times — three times as often as five years ago. The increase was not the result of an increase in dangerous security incidents, said Sapers, who instead blamed the simple fact that pepper spray became standard equipment for correctional officers in September 2010. As a result, officers are abandoning other interventions, such as simply talking to inmates, in favour of their spray cans. “My review of use-of-force incidents at three maximum security institutions found that inflammatory agents have largely displaced verbal interventions and strategies to de-escalate conflict,” Sapers told a news conference. “As an inmate compliance tool, the use of chemical and inflammatory agents in federal prisons has become routine.” Yet the increased use of pepper spray has not been matched with an increase in oversight, Sapers said. The existing policy gives correctional officers a great deal of discretion in terms of when and how the chemicals are used, and reporting requirements have actually been scaled back. Previously, officers were required to file a report even when they simply threatened an inmate with chemicals like pepper spray, which is designed to temporarily blind, disorient and subdue a person. As of February, however, officers were only required to report actual use. Police officers across Canada are still bound by the previous requirement, Sapers noted. He also said there has not been any evidence to suggest the increased use of pepper spray has made federal penitentiaries safer, or reduced the number of security incidents. Sapers called for tighter controls over when pepper spray and other chemicals can be used, as well as stricter reporting requirements. Correctional Services Canada said it is reviewing its policies around...

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Freeland hails Canada-EU trade deal signing

Freeland hails Canada-EU trade deal signing

OTTAWA — With the U.S. presidential election looming, Canada’s new trade deal with Europe should be seen as a showcase for how strong trading relationships are better than “building walls,” International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, could set the tone for any future talks with a new administration in Washington, Freeland said as she hailed Sunday’s signing of the deal. “I am very concerned by the protectionist rhetoric we are hearing in the United States,” Freeland told an Ottawa news conference prior to tabling legislation to implement the agreement for review by Parliament. “The protectionist backlash we’re seeing in a lot of the world, including in Europe, is dangerous. In being able to get CETA signed … Canada has done something very powerful and very strong in the world to push back against that.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has warned that he would renegotiate or even tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — and impose hefty tariffs on goods imported from outside the United States. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton hasn’t gone that far, but has also been critical of NAFTA. Since coming into force in the mid-1990s, NAFTA has created a common trading market between the United States, Mexico and Canada. But on Monday, just days before next week’s U.S. election, Trump repeated what he’s been saying for months: the trade agreement has been a “disaster” for employment in America’s industrial heartland and should be torn up. Freeland said that kind of rhetoric has her worried for Canada’s exporters. “Now is not the time to be building walls,” she said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended CETA as a deal that will provide immediate benefits to Canadians and Europeans, even though the agreement could be scrapped at any time before final ratification. The timeline for enacting the deal had the Council of Canadians, a staunch opponent of CETA, questioning why the Liberal government wouldn’t wait to table an implementation bill. “Given the process could take another five years in Europe, what’s the rush here other than another photo op?” asked Maude Barlow,...

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Deal on transit funding 'not what we were promised': Councillor Gord Perks

Deal on transit funding 'not what we were promised': Councillor Gord Perks

Toronto city staff are bringing forward a deal for funding Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack heavy rail proposal and the new Metrolinx light rail that critics say amounts to capitulation to the provincial government — and will leave Toronto taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in capital and operating costs. “It’s certainly not what we were promised,” said Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks. “It’s much less at a much higher cost and there are two or three brand new costs being dumped on the city that have nothing to do with SmartTrack.” The report penned by City Manager Peter Wallace will be going to a special meeting of Toronto’s Executive Committee Nov. 1 – so that Toronto Council can consider it in time for a Nov. 30 deadline set by Metrolinx to nail down the funding agreements not only for SmartTrack service on its regional express rail line, but also funding and operating costs for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line currently under construction. The Toronto Transit Commission will, under the agreement, be responsible for operating costs that include ongoing maintenance of the light rail lines — something that councillors and the public had understood would be managed by Metrolinx. For the Eglinton line, that will amount to $80 million by itself. The Sheppard LRT will cost $38.1 million and the Finch West LRT will cost another 51.5 million. As well, the city will have to pay for about $2 billion to build six additional stations on existing GO lines, and as a part of the deal begin contributing $20 million a year to GO Transit’s growth fund, over three years. All that will mean the equivalent of a property tax increase of between 1 and 2 per cent, depending upon how the city finances the project using other measures such as development charges, special tax levies along the line and asset sales. TTC Chair Josh Colle said councillors will have to accept that building transit is costly. “Part of this is that if we want these things then citizens and councillors have to take these steps to pay...

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Man in life-threatening condition after accident at Scarborough mechanic shop

Man in life-threatening condition after accident at Scarborough mechanic shop

A man was badly hurt in an accident at a Scarborough mechanic shop Monday, Oct. 31. The incident occurred in the garage, on Lawrence Avenue near Midland Avenue, at 12:06 p.m. Toronto Paramedic Services spokesperson Kim McKinnon said the victim, a man in his 60s, suffered a “traumatic injury” and was taken “in life-threatening condition to the trauma centre.” The victim was conscious and breathing when taken to hospital, police said. Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said the Ministry of Labour has been advised of the incident, which is classified as a personal injury collision but may be reclassified as an industrial accident. Police continue to investigate. Source...

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Loonie, crude contracts fall; TSX up

Loonie, crude contracts fall; TSX up

TORONTO — Canada’s dollar and the price of crude have fallen this morning but North American stock markets are modestly higher. At the Toronto Stock Exchange, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 27.05 points at 14,812.34 after nearly two hours of trading. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 6.7 points to 18,167.89 and the S&P 500 advanced 3.7 points to 2,130.11. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.42 points to 5,196.52. The Canadian dollar was at 74.47 cents US, down 0.25 cents U.S. from Friday’s close. The December crude contract was down $1.18 at $47.52 per barrel and December natural gas was down four cents at US$3.07 per mmBTU. The December gold contract fell $2.80 to US$1,274.00 an ounce and December copper contracts were up one cent at US$2.20 per pound. By The Canadian Press Source...

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Construction worker critical after wall collapse in Toronto Beach neighbourhood

Construction worker critical after wall collapse in Toronto Beach neighbourhood

A construction worker suffered life-threatening injuries in an industrial accident in the Beach Monday, Oct. 31. Toronto police said a wall fell on the worker during the building of a garage on Pine Crescent near MacLean Avenue at 8:29 a.m. The worker, a man in his 40s, was initially trapped. He was freed at 8:45 a.m. and was taken to a trauma centre via an emergency run. Toronto Paramedic Services spokesperson Kim McKinnon said the victim was treated for a “life-threatening traumatic injury suffered at a construction site.” There were 11 fire trucks dispatched to the scene. Toronto Fire Services Capt. Mike Westwood said the Ministry Of Labour has been notified of the incident. Source...

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Dozen Canadian women off to help defeat Trump

Dozen Canadian women off to help defeat Trump

KISSIMMEE, United States — A dozen Canadian women are heading to Florida on a mission unrelated to sun, surf and sand — they intend to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump. They’re bunking in a pair of houses that will serve as temporary campaign dorms for the travelling Canucks, as they knock on doors and make calls in what’s arguably the most important region of the most important swing state in the U.S. election. ”We didn’t come here to have a holiday — we’re here to work,” said Cheryl Conley-Strange. ”It’s a lot of work.” She knows from experience. The Winnipeg woman has worked every federal Liberal campaign since 1979, when she was a poll captain for future foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy. She’d intended to retire from organizational work after the federal election, satisfied with the state of her party. But she figured she had one more campaign in her. Conley-Strange chatted with Manitoba friends about helping political allies in the U.S.: ”I started saying to them, ‘Hey, why don’t we go down to the States and help (the Democrats)?’… To be neighbourly — to help people who feel the same way we do (about issues).” She suggested staying at her family’s winter home in central Florida. So many people took her up on the idea that they wound up getting a second place in the same Kissimmee neighbourhood. She’d bought in that location a few years ago — she liked the proximity to Disneyworld. It also happened to be on rich electoral soil. She only realized recently that Central Florida is considered the swing region of the biggest swing state. it’s sandwiched between Florida’s solidly Republican north and solidly Democratic south. And it has tens of thousands of new available votes. An influx of Puerto Ricans is having a ripple-effect on the politics in this area, and therefore on the country. These new residents are eligible to vote immediately, as Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. They tend to be more liberal than the state’s Cuban voters. And their ranks are growing to rival the Cubans. A group that works to register Latino voters has three...

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