Faces Censure For Contempt; Hid Files On RCMP Lab Raid

Iain Stewart, president of the Public Health Agency, faces censure for contempt of Parliament over the hiring of Chinese scientists at a federal lab. The Agency defied MPs in refusing to disclose documents concerning an RCMP raid that led to the researchers’ firing January 20. “People do sneak through,” a cabinet appointee said yesterday.

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C.R.A. Forgot To Pay Its Bills

Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier in a report to Parliament said her own agency defaulted on more than $200,000 in credit charges. The costs were run up on government-issue credit cards used by employees: “We note the increased pressure to spend budgets at fiscal year-end.”

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MPs Would Ban Wage Fixing

Parliament should amend the Competition Act to criminally prosecute wage fixing by grocers, the Commons industry committee said yesterday. The report followed suspicions of collusion between supermarket chains in rolling back a $2 an hour employees’ pandemic bonus: “I took care to ask our lawyers before making that call.”

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House Kills Dental Program

The Commons yesterday by a 285-36 vote rejected a national dental care program. Free dentistry for low income households would cost about $1.6 billion a year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office: “This is a problem we can fix and we must fix.”

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Had $18,902 Exec Washroom

The Public Health Agency faulted for failing to prepare for the pandemic spent almost $19,000 on an executive washroom for exclusive use by its president, records show. Kristina Namiesniowski abruptly resigned last September 18 only days ahead of an internal audit of Agency mismanagement: “The Agency lacked everything.”

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MPs Reject Lib Judges’ Probe

The Commons justice committee yesterday dismissed an investigation of Liberal Party vetting of federal judicial appointments. Opposition MPs had asked that Attorney General David Lametti appear for questioning on the use of Party lists in hiring judges: “It undermines the credibility of those people who have been appointed to the bench.”

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Must Speak French: Cabinet

Private sector employers for the first time face requirements to speak French under a cabinet bill yesterday introduced in the Commons. Airports, banks, grain mills, interprovincial trucking companies, radio stations, railways, marine shippers and other federally-regulated companies must embrace bilingualism in provinces with a “strong francophone presence,” though the term was not defined: “It is up to us to protect French.”

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Bankruptcy Rewrite Gets Lost

Exasperated supporters of a bankruptcy law rewrite to benefit pensioners yesterday said the Commons industry committee has spent too much time examining the bill. Parliament is scheduled to adjourn a week from today for a three-month recess: “We’re just going on and on and time is running out.”

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Denies Nepotism, Technically

A former Liberal MP censured for nepotism argued she broke no rules since her sister was adopted. MP Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Ont.) yesterday was cited for breach of ethics rules that forbid hiring of family members: “Canadians deserve better.”

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MPs To Pass C-10 On Protest

Cabinet last night had the Commons rush debate on Bill C-10 until 12:42 am in a scramble to pass Canada’s first legislation to regulate legal internet content. Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault mistakenly claimed regulators cannot cancel programming, though the CRTC has repeatedly suspended radio licenses: “You can’t do that.”

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Records ‘Put Security At Risk’

Cabinet cannot release uncensored accounts of an RCMP raid on a federal lab without “putting Canada’s national security at risk,” Health Minister Patricia Hajdu said last night. Members of the Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations noted cabinet to date has defied three separate orders to release records: “Do you think we should be cooperating with the military of states that are committing genocide?”

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1 In 10 Harassed On The Job

More than a tenth of federal employees say they’re harassed at work, typically by supervisors. The findings of the latest Public Service Employee Survey were based on questionnaires with 188,786 staff nationwide: “After my workday I feel emotionally drained.”

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House Finance Chair Retiring

Liberal MP Wayne Easter (Malpeque, P.E.I.), the only union president to chair the Commons finance committee, yesterday announced he’ll retire at the completion of his term. “It’s been my honour,” Easter, 71, told MPs: “You must never, ever forget where you came from.”

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Turnout Highest Over Age 55

Canadians over 55 continue to vote at high rates not seen in the general population for more than a half century, according to Elections Canada data. Voters in the Maritimes and two Prairie provinces also go to polls in greater numbers: “Turnout generally increased with age.”

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