Canada briefs – October 16

The Harper government has quietly nixed recommendations to expand and modernize Canada’s access-to-information and privacy laws.

Information, privacy laws fine as is

OTTAWA — The Harper government has quietly nixed recommendations to expand and modernize Canada’s access-to-information and privacy laws.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has rejected recommendations for reform of the 26-year-old laws by a House of Commons committee.

Among other things, the committee had wanted to give the information commission more power to force government to disclose information in a timely manner.

It also wanted the privacy law expanded to cover new technologies such as surveillance-camera feeds and DNA samples collected from crime suspects.

And it wanted to beef up provisions governing the disclosure of personal information by the Canadian government to foreign states.

But in responses tabled quietly last week, Nicholson rejects the recommendations, maintaining that the privacy and information acts are strong pieces of legislation that should only be changed after careful consideration.

NDP calls for prisoner abuse inquiry

OTTAWA — The NDP says there should be a public inquiry into Canada’s policy of handing over prisoners to Afghan jails, if the Conservative government continues to stonewall the issue.

A public hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission was shut down Wednesday for at least six months to let lawyers argue appeals over the scope of the agency’s power and what it can investigate.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has repeatedly said the commission has a mandate limited to what military police knew — or should have known — about the possible torture of Taliban prisoners.

A spokesman for MacKay said that position is backed by a recent Federal Court ruling that clearly lays out what the commission can and cannot pursue.

“The commission is limited to considering the conduct of members of the military police in the performance of their policing duties or functions,” Dan Dugas said.

“It has no jurisdiction to inquire into the conduct of the military at large, much less the conduct of persons who are not members of the military.”

NDP defence critic Jack Harris says a formal inquiry may be the only way to go.

“The truth needs to be brought out and if the government is doing its best and succeeds in preventing the truth from coming out before the Military Police Complaints Commission, then we will obviously want to have a full public inquiry,” Harris said.

Liberals file complaint over Tory cheques

OTTAWA — The Liberals are complaining to the federal ethics commissioner over government use of taxpayer cheques bearing the Conservative party logo or Tory MPs’ signatures.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is being asked to investigate 48 separate examples of promotional government cheques that Tory MPs used to tout stimulus spending for partisan gain.

The Liberals claim to have dug up 181 examples of partisan cheque presentations going back to 2007 on which Conservative emblems overshadow the Government of Canada logo.

The Liberals and other critics say it’s a breach of government rules under the Federal Identity Program.

To underscore their point, the Liberals held a news conference Wednesday beneath a backdrop image of Prime Minister Stephen Harper made from a collage of photographs of the cheque presentations.

The bulk of those placards bear the MP’s name and signature. The Liberals say five cheques presented by Tory MPs Gerald Keddy and Colin Mayes are adorned with the Tory logo.

Keddy’s office called it an oversight, but a second photo soon surfaced of the parliamentary secretary presenting another stimulus cheque bearing the Tory logo.

It’s not so clear in Mayes’s case. A photo on the British Columbia MP’s website shows him presenting an over-sized cheque with his name and the Tory logo beneath the Economic Action Plan heading.

Harper has acknowledged that party logos should not appear on cheques.

But his officials insist there’s nothing wrong with Tory MPs presenting government cheques on which their own name, or Tory sloganeering, is the most prominent feature.

A look at Conservative MP websites reveals dozens of cheque presentations on which the MP’s name and signature appears in bold letters, while the government of Canada logo is tiny.

It gives the false impression the Tories are paying for the projects out of their own pockets, Liberal MP David McGuinty said.

“If the prime minister wants to have the Conservative party donate money to the people of Canada, we support him. He should do so,” he said.

“If he puts another cheque out with a $100,000 tag attached with the Conservative party logo on it, great. Let the Conservative Party of Canada pay for it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda (Contributed photo).
Alberta’s government reaffirms $100-million commitment for the first phase of Red Deer hospital’s expansion

Alberta Infrastructure did not provide a timeline for the money’s distribution

Guy Pelletier, RDC’s board of governors chair, said the post secondary is still on the path to becoming a polytechnic institution. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RDC is confident it is still on a polytechnic path

Maintaining spectrum of programs is key

NDP leader Rachel Notley is calling on the UCP to make a public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at Olymel. (Facebook screenshot)
Notley calls for Olymel inquiry as plant reopens

Union also asks for further consideration to delay opening

Britanney Povey, Jeffery Kraft's cousin, was among many friends and family who turned up outside the Red Deer courthouse on Thursday to call for a long sentence for Tyler John Campbell, who killed Kraft in December 2019.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
UPDATE: Judge rejects seven-year sentence for killer of Ponoka man

Tyler John Campbell pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December 2019 shooting

(Contributed image).
Deadline extended for arts scholarship applications for Red Deer-area students

Red Deer Arts Council will accept applications until March 15

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, holds a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Canada’s chief medical adviser says her department is constantly receiving and reviewing any data on vaccines and COVID-19 variants and will be quickly ready to authorize needed boosters when they’re ready. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Health Canada says vaccine boosters will be approved more easily

OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won’t require new clinical trial data… Continue reading

Unifor national president Jerry Dias speaks during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Dias says Air Canada is pledging passenger refunds as negotiations over federal aid for airlines drag on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Unifor’s Dias says Air Canada holding to refund pledge as aid negotiations drag on

OTTAWA — Unifor president Jerry Dias says Air Canada continues to promise… Continue reading

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: social worker reveals details about former soldier’s family life

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — An inquiry in Nova Scotia is hearing testimony… Continue reading

Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Nova Scotia eases COVID-19 restrictions; cases creep up in Ontario

Nova Scotia is easing public-health restrictions in and around Halifax, while new… Continue reading

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna stands near a bus as she waits to start an announcement at a public transit garage in Ottawa, Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals tap $2.5B of promised transit dollars for zero-emission buses

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions… Continue reading

Canada’s Eliot Grondin looks on after competing in a men’s snowboard cross heat at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Grondin continued his strong season with his first career World Cup snowboard cross victory on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian Eliot Grondin captures gold at World Cup snowboard cross event

BAKURIANI, Georgia — Canada’s Eliot Grondin continued his strong season with his… Continue reading

Most Read