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Liberals backtrack on tax and spending bill; other coronavirus news

“The legislation will be tabled without clause 2,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Tuesday morning before the House of Commons was going to move into an extraordinary session.

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Faced with outrage from across the country, the federal Liberals changed their minds and won’t be proceeding with legislation that would give them sweeping powers to tax and spend for almost two years.

“The legislation will be tabled without clause 2,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Tuesday morning before the House of Commons was going to move into an extraordinary session.

It was reported last night an emergency bill was to be brought forward Tuesday that would give the Liberal government broad powers to tax and spend without Parliamentary approval until Dec. 31, 2021.

Only a handful of select MPs will be in the House of Commons to vote on the bill due to the coronavirus crisis.

“One section of the bill grants cabinet the power to change taxation levels through regulation, rather than through legislation approved by Parliament. It states that cabinet will have this power during the period “before 2022,” the Globe reported.

The bill contains other emergency fiscal action promised by Trudeau last week.

The Tory party and Canadians were less-than-pleased with the proposed bill and took to social media to protest.

“In a crisis, broad, all party agreement is essential, especially when the government has a minority in the House of Commons. And we are prepared to have Parliament sit as needed to transact the business of Parliament,” Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner tweeted.

“But we will not give the government unlimited power to raise taxes without a parliamentary vote. We will authorize whatever spending measures are justified to respond to the situation, but we will not sign a blank cheque.”

By 5 p.m. (MST) the bill had still not been introduced as the government and opposition negotiated behinds the scenes.

Tory leader Andrew Scheer said there were several aspects of the legislation that were “undemocratic.”
In other developments Tuesday:

• WestJat laid off more than 6,900 employees.

• Suncor slashing capital spending by $1.5 billion.

• Canada Post to reduce hours, install clear barriers.

• Bombardier work stoppage due to coronavirus means 12,400 Canadian workers will be laid off, about 70% of the company’s workforce.

WATCH: An Italian priest messes up a virtual delivery of a sermon with hilarious results.

Italian priest

• Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021.

• India announces 21-day lockdown.

WATCH: What’s it like to drive through a deserted London.

• Singapore has re-introduced locked down after reports of a second wave of coronavirus.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Alberta to create its own parole board

The Alberta Parole Board would determine parole or early release eligibility for those serving sentences in provincial correctional facilities

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The UCP government is making good on an election promise and creating the Alberta Parole Board.

The Alberta Parole Board would determine parole or early release eligibility for those serving sentences in provincial correctional facilities, which are sentences less than two years. Currently, Alberta contracts with the federal government to have the Parole Board of Canada make these determinations.

“Albertans expect, and deserve, a faster, fairer and more responsive justice system that holds criminals responsible. Our government’s platform committed that we would ensure repeat offenders, including parolees, are not able to re-victimize them. This is an important part of getting a fair deal for Alberta, and of getting more Alberta and less Ottawa,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, said: “Our government has heard loud and clear that Albertans want us to do everything we can to protect them, keep our communities safe and prevent people from being victimized. By creating an Alberta Parole Board, Alberta is taking control of a key component of the administration of justice in this province.

“It will help end the ‘revolving door’ justice system and will be more in touch with the current realities facing law-abiding Albertans who are frustrated with a justice system that does not make them feel secure and protected.”

The group representing Alberta municipalities praised the move.

“RMA has consistently expressed concerns regarding the impacts that repeat offenders have on police services and the justice system in rural Alberta. The creation of the Alberta Parole Board is intended to offer solutions to the current ‘catch and release’ system, contributing to increased safety for our rural communities through responsive oversight,” said Al Kemmere, president, Rural Municipalities of Alberta

The Alberta Parole Board would also supervise provincial parolees through community probation officers who will closely monitor offenders released on parole from provincial correctional facilities.

Provincial correctional centre caseworkers and probation officers who will continue to do much of the same work for the Alberta Parole Board that they already do for the federal parole board.

If passed, the government plans to have the Alberta Parole Board in place and operating starting Jan. 1, 2021. It’s expected to cost $600,000 a year to operate.

In February’s Throne Speech, the UCP promised Alberta will be cancelling its contracts with the federal government for the parole board and creating a provincial board.

During the election in March of 2019, Kenney claimed prisoners released by federal parole authorities were playing a role in the province’s rural crime problem.

Quebec and Ontario have their own parole boards, Alberta contracts with the arm’s length federal institution to provide the service.

Parole allows cons to serve the remainder of their sentences in the community under supervision.

Parole eligibility varies for each inmate.

Federal inmates who are not subject to a parole ineligibility period are normally eligible one-third of the way through their sentence.

During the campaign, the UCP said a new Alberta board would look after provincial inmates – those sentenced to less than two years – while the feds would still look after federal inmates.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Two debates set in Tory leadership race

The four candidates currently qualified for the final ballot are Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

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The Conservative Party of Canada has set dates for two debates in their leadership campaign.

The French debate will be on June 17 and the English debate will be on June 18, the party announced Monday.

Both debates will be livestreamed at conservative.ca starting at 7 p.m. (EST)

“These debates are an important part of our leadership election. They will allow our Conservative members the opportunity to inform their choice, and give all Canadians a preview of the next election,” the party said in an email to members.

And the party is asking members to send in their questions for candidates.

All you have to do is submit your 20-second question by June 10, 2020 here.

The Tory race will have mail-in voting this summer and conclude Aug. 21.

The four candidates currently qualified for the final ballot are Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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TMX expansion has finally started to lay pipe in B.C.

Trans Mountain said in June, a workforce of 30-50 people will be working in Kamloops and this will increase to approximately 600 people at peak construction in the late summer or early fall.

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Trans Mountain announced Monday work has started in Kamloops on a section of pipeline that is 7 km in length and will take approximately 7 months to complete.  

“The start of pipeline construction in Kamloops, British Columbia is another key milestone for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project – it is good news for workers in the region and an important step forward on the path to building this critical piece of infrastructure,” Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation, said in a statement.

“We know these are challenging times for many communities and we are pleased to be able to contribute safely to the economy in Kamloops.  Trans Mountain knows that getting to work is important, but it must go hand in hand with a strong and unwavering commitment to the safety of our workforce and communities.” 

Trans Mountain said in June, a workforce of 30-50 people will be working in Kamloops and this will increase to approximately 600 people at peak construction in the late summer or early fall.

“Trans Mountain has identified local hotel and service providers who have confirmed their ability to meet the COVID-19 measures we require including food service, extra cleaning requirements and a dedicated area for our workforce to get COVID-19 screening before they go to the worksite,” the company said in a statement.

“Trans Mountain will work with a small number of hotels to provide these services in June and will include additional properties as the workforce builds throughout the coming months.”

The company said construction spending in the Kamloops area is expected to be more than $450 million over the next two years with additional workforce spending of more than $40 million for goods and services at local businesses. 

After expansion, Trans Mountain’s annual contribution to the city of Kamloops in taxes will increase by $1.2 million to $2.8 million.

“We are pleased that Trans Mountain is getting this portion of the project underway in Kamloops. As we face the new realities of today, we are confident in the measures they have put in place to ensure the safety of our community, and we are excited about the economic activity for local businesses and workers the Project will bring over the next few years. This Project will help us with our economic recovery plan and provide much needed benefits to our city,” said Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Indigenous group is also pleased with the start on construction.

“As we keep our Member’s interests at the forefront, Trans Mountain’s commitment to provide direct benefits to our community has resulted in training, employment, and contract opportunities for Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc members as well as provided support for needed community infrastructure upgrades” said Chief Rosanne Casimir.

“During these unprecedented times, we are continuing to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our community members, and appreciate Trans Mountain’s openness and attention to communities.”

 The construction area begins at Black Pines – approximately 40 km north of Kamloops – and runs to the Coquihalla Summit.

It includes approximately 185 km of 36-inch pipeline and 18 valve assembly installations, as well as three pump stations.

Meanwhile, the RCMP is still investigating an arson fire that destroyed a $1-million piece of equipment helping building the TMX pipeline in B.C.

Western Standard sources said the May 19 fire, near Merritt destroyed a 3-Line cable puller, worth about $1-million.

The equipment was burned down to the frame.

RCMP have confirmed the fire and said the same piece of equipment was vandalized a day earlier and also had fuel stolen from it.

The feds bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in May, 2018, after Kinder Morgan, pulled out because of political and environmental opposition.

In February, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the latest attempt by four B.C. indigenous groups to quash the Government of Canada’s approval of the TMX clearing the way for the 1,150-km, 890,000 bbl/d line between Edmonton and Burnaby.

The cost to complete the project, from Alberta to the lower mainland, now stands at $12.6 billion.

Construction along the entire route should be complete in 2022.

The original Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953 and the expansion is essentially a twinning of this existing 1,150-kilometre route.

The system will go from approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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