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Canada’s debt could hit $1,000,000,000,000

Yves Giroux said Canada’s debt will hit $900-billion and the $1 trillion figure isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

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Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer says it’s possible by the end the of the year the country will be $1-trillion in debt, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figure was revealed by PBO Yves Giroux in response to a question by Tory MP Pierre Poilievre.

“Is it possible or realistic that the government’s federal debt could reach $1 trillion dollars in this fiscal year?,” Poilievre asked Giroux.

His response: “Possible, yes. Realistic, yes. Certainly not unthinkable.”

StatsCanada said last year the debt stood at $768 billion.

Poilievre tweet

Giroux also said the $252 billion deficit figure he cited a few weeks ago will end up being significantly higher with the feds throwing billions of dollars at pandemic relief efforts.

“I think $252 billion is on the very optimistic side, as things stand now,” Giroux said.

“In all likelihood the deficit will be higher than $252 billion. If I had to bet on that number, I’d say it’s more likely to be worse than that than better than that.”

He said Canada’s debt will hit $900-billion and the $1 trillion figure isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Giroux said the historically low Bank of Canada interest rate of .25 percent is helping the situation.

“We anticipate that debt charges will not go up, which is surprising and counterintuitive,” Giroux said.

“Interest rates are so much lower than what we anticipated them to be just two or three months ago. It doesn’t cost that much to finance that growing debt.”

The PBO provides independent, authoritative and non-partisan financial and economic analysis.

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 set up gun advisory panel and start firearm examination unit

“In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

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The UCP is setting up yet another panel – this time to ask Albertans what they think about guns.

The province is also establishing a provincial firearms examination unit to speed up testing of guns that have been seized as evidence in criminal investigations.

While the Calgary Police Service (CPS) carries out this testing in its own facility and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is establishing a lab of its own, most police services in Alberta rely on the RCMP’s National Forensic Laboratory Services in Ottawa to fulfil this requirement with a straightforward test-firing procedure.

“In the fall of 2019, data indicated it was taking an average of eight months for the national RCMP laboratory to process a routine firearms testing request from Alberta. To prevent lengthy court delays from putting the prosecution of violent criminals at risk, Alberta is ending its reliance on the federal laboratory by establishing a provincial unit to perform tests on firearms used in crimes,” the government said in a release.

“Justice and Solicitor General is working on a plan with its partners at CPS, EPS, RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to establish a team and protocols for conducting firearms testing at the existing lab in Calgary and the forthcoming facility in Edmonton.”

“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use illegal firearms. The vast sums of money Ottawa will spend would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society,” said Premier Jason Kenney Wednesday.

“In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said: “While Ottawa spends hundreds of millions of dollars targeting law-abiding gun owners, our government is investing in a firearms examination unit to conduct criminal firearms testing so prosecutions are not put in jeopardy by lengthy delays.

“The measures we are taking today will show Ottawa that a responsible firearms policy targets criminals and illegal gun traffickers and not lawful gun use.”

The Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee will be chaired by Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, and will have representation from groups that speak for a wide range of lawful gun owners, including farmers and ranchers, hunters and trappers, and shooting sports enthusiasts, the government said in a release.

“The committee will give Albertans the opportunity to voice their concerns over the federal government’s firearms legislation and provide recommendations on how provincial policies can best target criminals while respecting law-abiding gun owners,” the release said.

Former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson is another member of the committee.

“Community safety is a vital concern for all Albertans. It is critically important to protect our communities from the crime and violence associated with the unlawful possession and use of firearms while at the same time protecting the lawful rights of hunters and responsible gun owners,” Hanson said.

The UCP government has set up numerous panels since they came to power asking Albertans for the thoughts on a variety of subjects.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has said he is considering appointing that province’s own firearms commissioner.

Last week, the Western Standard wrote how the RCMP are quietly adding more guns to the list of 1,500 banned by the federal government earlier this month.

The RCMP, which manages the FRT through the Canadian Firearms Program, confirmed the re-classification was taking place beyond the original list of 1,500, and so far no public notification has taken place.

In early May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday they are banning 1,500 different makes and models of what he called “military-style” and “assault-style” guns in Canada.

The ban came into effect immediately and was ordered by the cabinet without any bill or debate in Parliament.

The Liberals campaigned in the last election to ban assault rifles and introduce legislation allowing cities to ban handguns.

The federal government still has to work out the details of a buy-back program to compensate the owners of previous legal firearms.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP brings in new law aimed at vapers and smokers

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The UCP government is cracking down on smoking and vaping after consulting with more than 10,000 Albertans.

Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, follows a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act led by MLA Jeremy Nixon in response to the increase in vaping, smoking and tobacco use in Alberta. 

Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation.

Teen vaping rates (used in past 30 days) surged from eight per cent in 2014-15 to 22 per cent in 2016-17 and to 30 per cent in 2018-19 (Grades 10-12).

“The proposed act specifically addresses youth vaping, and would add enforceable restrictions on the possession, promotion, display, sale and use of these products, in alignment with tobacco laws. It would also include the expansion of smoke and vape-free areas, especially at places frequented by children and youth,” the government said in a release.

Albertans who smoke or vape also appear to be at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. The government didn’t provide any medical evidence to back up that statement.

The proposed new legislation says:

  • Minimum age for purchasing, possessing or using vaping products would align with tobacco products (18 years and older).
  • In convenience stores and gas stations, vaping displays, advertisements and promotion would need to align with tobacco restrictions.
  • Aligning places where vaping and tobacco products can not be used will reduce confusion for the public and law enforcement. New places where vaping and smoking will not be allowed include:
    • on hospital, school or child care properties
    • on playgrounds, sports or playing fields, skateboard or bicycle parks, public outdoor pools or splash pads, zoos and outdoor theatres
  • Restrictions on the locations of vaping product sales will align with tobacco restrictions, and include:
    • health facilities
    • public post-secondary institutions
    • stores where pharmacies are located
    • vending machines or temporary facilities
  • Alberta’s proposed legislation will establish the authority to consider restrictions on flavoured vape if it is not covered by potential federal legislation.

“This proposed legislation sends a strong message to youth, and anyone who thinks it is OK to supply them with vaping products – there will be fines for possession and consumption. Selling or giving these products to minors will have consequences. Reducing health harms by keeping vaping products out of the hands of youth is a priority for both me and this government, and it’s what Albertans asked us to do,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

But the moves were slammed by David Clement, the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center.

“Alberta’s regulations are a huge step backwards from the perspective of harm reduction. Simply put, regulating vaping on par with cigarettes shows that the government is incapable of regulating based on the risk of each product,” Clement told the Western Standard.

“We know, from credible health agencies like Public Health England, that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, which is why the rules around vaping should not be as strict as cigarettes. More importantly, regulating vaping like smoking discourages adult smokers from making the switch and quitting cigarettes, which is a net negative for public health.”

Addiction to tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and death in Alberta and yet the prevalence of smoking in Alberta is second highest in Canada.

Health costs for Alberta as a result of the use of tobacco products are estimated at $6 billion over the next four years.

In 2018-19, 15.6 per cent of Albertans aged 18 or older indicated they smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally.

“We thank the Alberta government and the Minister of Health for introducing legislation to help curb the youth vaping epidemic. Effective vaping legislation will be aligned with existing tobacco legislation to the greatest extent possible in order to provide maximum protection for youth. The Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act has contributed to achieving the lowest smoking rates among adults and youth on record in Alberta,” said “Les Hagen, executive director, Action on Smoking & Health.

In October, Nixon was tasked by Shandro with reviewing Alberta’s smoking and vaping laws.

“Thank you to everyone who participated in our consultations, wrote in, or completed our survey. Your insights and solutions were truly inspiring. Bill 19 reflects the feedback we received and ensures that we are taking the right steps to protect our youth from both the known and yet-to-be-known harms of vaping,” said Nixon

In February, the government put a 20 per cent tax on vaping products.

“This legislation is long overdue and serves as an additional deterrent to limit young people’s access to harmful vaping products. School boards across Alberta welcome additional restrictions that will keep our children safer and healthier at school and in their communities,” said Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards’ Association.

According to Budget 2020, the goal of the tax is to discourage usage, especially among youth who will hopefully see the increased cost as a deterrent from either picking up or maintaining their vaping habits.

Alberta will became the fourth province in Canada to tax vaping products, along with with Nova Scotia, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Officials have said every 10 per cent hike in the price of tobacco, researchers have noted an eight to 12 per cent decrease in use among youth.

The government expects the new tax will not only discourage youth vaping, but also net the province $4 million in 2020-21 and a total of $8 million by 2022-23.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Green party leader calls on white Canadian women to riot and loot

Jo-Ann Roberts is referring to massive riots sweeping the U.S. after the cell-phone videoed murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer.

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The interim head of the Green Party is calling on Canadian white woman to start rioting and looting saying the cause is “valid.”

Jo-Ann Roberts is referring to massive riots sweeping the U.S. after the cell-phone videoed murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer.

The slaying has spawn a week-long series of rioting across the U.S. that has seen police officer killed and wounded, billions of dollars in damage and thousands of arrests.

Canadian protests have been peaceful except for one in Montreal that led to looting. Black Lives Matter protesters also desecrated the Canadian War Memorial in Regina.

“Fellow white women, we need to step up. Stop calling the BLM protests “looting” and “rioting”,” Roberts tweeted Tuesday.

“Repeat after me: There is no comfortable way to fight oppression. What’s happening across the US and Canada is valid. right. and necessary. Get on board.”

Roberts tweet

Maxime Bernier, head of the People’s Party of Canada called Roberts “crazy.”

“The Green Party interim leader is a crazy radical leftist who supports violence. She says looting and rioting may not be “comfortable” but is right and necessary. Don’t expect the mainstream media to report this of course. Left-wing violence is so cool,” Bernier tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

@MaximeBernier tweet

Some Twitter users have already reported Roberts for trying to incite hatred.

Twitter user Shane Armstrong replied to Roberts: “Will it be valid, right and necessary when rioters march into your neighborhood and burn down your house, Jo-Ann? Stop equivocating those peacefully protesting and the hoards of opportunistic looters and violent thugs.”

Emaly Nicole responded: “Do you want violence in Canada? Officially never voting Green Party again.”

“I for one am open to start communicating with Canadians that support NON VIOLENCE, anti racism, environmentalism, support First Nations voices and diversity acceptance. Clearly it is not the Green Party.”

Roberts was named interim leader of the Greens after Elizabeth May stepped down in November. A new leader will be selected in October.

In the 2019 election, Roberts finished third in a Halifax riding.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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