Fed Spending In Liberal Seats

Liberal ridings in Ontario and Atlantic Canada received the largest share of military spending outside the Ottawa region last year, according to Department of National Defence economists. Access To Information data show 15 of the top 20 ridings voted Liberal: “This is not to be construed as an economic analysis.”

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Reject CFL Players’ Appeal

The Department of Labour has rejected an appeal from CFL players for workplace health and safety protection under the Canada Labour Code, according to Access To Information records. Players sought the “minimum rights and protections that apply in every workplace across Canada.”

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Measures Target Asian Steel

Cabinet for the second time in two years is enacting new regulations targeting unfair trade by Asian steelmakers. Canada has run a trade deficit in steel since 1996: “We cannot compete with the government of the People’s Republic of China.”

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No GST For Drug Dealer

A drug gang member who pleaded guilty to trafficking is not personally responsible for GST on cocaine sales, the Federal Court of Appeal has ruled. Judges cited a Québec law that narrowly defines commercial partnerships for tax purposes: “Tax laws should not be interpreted in the name of vague public policy.”

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A Sunday Poem: “Slogans”

 

Andrew Scheer vows to deliver
what recent prime ministers could not:

Build the Trans-Mountain pipeline,
fix Canada-United States relationship,
take politics out of military procurement,
balance the budget
and go very, very tough on China.

These may be unattainable
but
I crave empty promises.

They give me something to cheer for
once every four years.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

Review: Wait Till Father Gets Home

If the government can’t effectively regulate short line railways, it can’t regulate the subtleties of parenting. Still they try. For twenty years advocates have sought repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code that sanctions “reasonable” spanking to correct youngsters’ behaviour. It was written in 1892 by a Catholic justice minister with nine children, and survived numerous court challenges and parliamentary hearings.

Québec author Marie-Aimée Cliche examines the practice: “Once it was accepted that the aim of parenting was to bring children up in the way they should, without spoiling or terrorizing them, what was the appropriate method to achieve this objective?”

Abuse or Punishment? is a lively investigation of spanking rooted in Biblical law and family culture. Cliche examines corporal punishment in Old Québec dating from the 19th century, but the research would interest any parent anywhere. This, from the first-ever Canadian parenting guide published in 1851: “Have you ever seen the little boy who can never be satisfied, who asks for bread and jam but throws it on the floor after a single bite?”

“This little one will drown his parents with sadness if they are unable to correct his bad  behaviour,” concluded the guide; “One should strike children only rarely, when other means of correction have proven ineffective.”

The modern debate dates from 1994 when police in London, Ont. charged a man for assaulting his five-year-old daughter in a parking lot. It had been a long hot day; the Peterson family was on a road trip from Warrenton, Ill. Little Rachel Peterson pushed her two-year old brother out of the car, then slammed the door on his fingers. Father David Peterson spanked her six times when a passerby called police; he was arrested, fingerprinted, strip-searched and spent the night in a London jail.

Peterson was acquitted at trial under section 43; the judge found him a “responsible, reasonable and caring parent”. The verdict prompted a Regina social worker to challenge the Criminal Code sanction, unsuccessfully. Justices ruled in 1994 that ordinary spanking was not, in fact, child abuse.

The judgment upheld conventional wisdom, Cliche notes; in 1864 Québec judges concluded spanking of six-year-olds was permitted so long as punishment did not involve “arbitrariness, whim, anger or ill-humour”, and was proportionate to the “nature of the offence”. Then and now, Rachel Peterson probably had it coming.

Abuse or Punishment? is fresh and beautifully researched. If use of physical force in parenting is technically legal, Cliche observes it has always provoked unease. She cites Canadians’ reaction to the Gagnon Trial of 1920, the most notorious case of child abuse of the era, when a Québec farm couple were convicted in the torture killing of a stepdaughter who was daily beaten, burned with a fireplace poker, tied to a table leg and forced to eat excrement and cleaning powder. Cliche notes that long afterward, “Madame Gagnon” was an everyday reference for parental abuse and second-guessing of corporal punishment. The case inspired four novels, a 1951 film and a popular Québec stage play so powerful the actress who played the abusive stepmother was personally accosted after performances.

Then, and now, parenting is an inexact science by fallible humans who mainly do their best. Abuse recounts a 1945 guide from Courrier de Radio Parents that remains as valid as the day it was published: “Draw the child’s attention to what is being asked,” the guide advised; “Only ask of what is strictly necessary, what is important, and forget the rest”; “Warn them ten or fifteen minutes in advance that you are going to ask them to do something”; “Think hard before giving an order; give it in clear, precise manner, display firmness, do not make conditions or concessions”; “Resort to authority or force only when children…have deliberately and knowingly refused to obey.”

By Holly Doan

Abuse Or Punishment? Violence toward Children in Quebec Families, 1850-1969; by Marie-Aimée Cliche; translated by W. Donald Wilson; Wilfrid Laurier University Press; 408 pages; ISBN 9781-7711-20630; $36.74

Fake News Probe Collapses

The federal Commissioner of Elections yesterday collapsed a first-ever fake news investigation. The office confirmed foreign “individuals” planted a false story to discredit New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, but could not find out who was responsible or why: “Individuals outside Canada played a key role.”

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No Aid For Press Competitors

A federal panel yesterday confirmed start-ups and small, family-run newspapers are excluded from a $595 million media subsidy program, as reported by Blacklock’s July 12. Corporate publishers demanded their own subsidies be paid in time for the general election: “There’s always self-interest.”

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Board Upholds Twitter Firing

A federal labour board has upheld the firing of a Muslim call centre employee at the Canada Revenue Agency over Tweets celebrating deaths of Allied troops in Afghanistan. The board called the social media posts disturbing: “We want revenge. NATO must pay the price.”

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On-Air Contest Broke Rules

A national panel yesterday cited a radio station for breaching ethics guidelines for on-air contests. Listeners were urged to contact the station for a chance to win a sun holiday after the draw was already made: “I’m excited!”

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Claim Denied Over Cannabis

Life insurers may deny claims by policyholders who conceal marijuana use, says the British Columbia Supreme Court. Underwriters testified people who smoke even a fraction of the amount allowed by Parliament are uninsurable: “All insurance is based on risk.”

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Cite Atlantic Labour Shortage

A federal agency predicts severe labour shortages in Atlantic Canada though local jobless rates are double or triple the national average. Researchers blamed the departure of young people to other provinces, and wage rates ten percent below the rest of the country: “Further research is needed.”

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Board Probes Railway Deaths

The Transportation Safety Board yesterday said it’s investigating a statistical spike in rail crossing accidents in winter months. The Board counted 151 casualties in the last three years including 61 motorists killed at level crossings: “These tragedies can be prevented.”

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