Chinese Spy Hunt Is Ongoing

No one can provide “100 percent clarity” there are no Chinese agents on the federal payroll, says the nation’s spy chief. David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told MPs he could not discuss ongoing investigations: “We can never rest.”

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Didn’t Find Any Slave Goods

The Canada Border Services Agency has not successfully intercepted a single shipment of slave-made goods since cabinet announced a federal crackdown on Chinese imports, records show. Critics have called Canada an unwitting leader in importing forced labour products: “Our enforcement to this point has been terrible.”

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Propose Land Taxes, Controls

Cabinet today proposed new controls and taxes on real estate to take effect in 2025. Measures to be detailed in “consultation” documents this summer include a tax on undeveloped property: “The government will consider introducing a new tax.”

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MP Laments Public Disorder

Cabinet’s “safe supply” drug policy is prompting public disorder, a Liberal MP yesterday told the Commons health committee. MP Doctor Marcus Powlowski (Thunder Bay-Rainy River, Ont.), an emergency room physician, warned colleagues: “There is certainly the perception by a lot of Canadians that a lot of downtown cores are basically out of control.”

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“Apolitical” Simon Likes Bill

Rideau Hall yesterday had no comment after Governor General Mary Simon personally hosted a conference in support of a bill before Parliament, C-63 An Act To Enact The Online Harms Act. The guest list was limited to Attorney General Arif Virani and supporters of internet regulation: “We discussed this and our Online Harms Act.”

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$73M For Convoy Crackdown

Cabinet’s 2022 use of emergency powers against Freedom Convoy protestors cost the Department of Public Safety more than $73 million, new records show. Expenses were not finalized: “What was the cost burden for the government?”

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Teachers Against NDP Bill

The nation’s largest teachers unions yesterday opposed a New Democrat bill to outlaw corporal punishment of unruly children. Heidi Yetman, a mother of two sons and president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, said the bill would “put teachers at risk of being charged with assault.”

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Unions Opposing Postal Cuts

Postal unions yesterday asked MPs to beware of steep service cuts contemplated in Department of Public Works in-house research. The department commissioned surveys on closure of post offices and elimination of doorstep delivery: “You have got this tremendous amount of pressure on Canada Post.”

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I Warned PM, Says Spy Chief

Canada’s spy chief David Vigneault testified under oath he repeatedly warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and political aides that Chinese agents were targeting Conservative MPs. Vigneault’s testimony contradicted the Prime Minister: “It is indeed something I communicated.”

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Police Like Foreign Registry

A publicly accessible registry to name names of lobbyists acting for China “would be valuable,” says an RCMP briefing note. A federal review of a foreign agents’ registry has been underway for more than a year: “A foreign agent registry would be valuable.”

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China Spy Hunt Hurtful: Woo

Chinese Canadians face new “nativist and xenophobic” discrimination, claims Liberal-appointed Senator Yuen Pau Woo (B.C.). The Senator was granted standing at the China inquiry but did not participate in hearings that exposed illegal activities by Chinese Communist Party agents: “Do you have any ties with the Chinese regime?”

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Paid A Third Of Dairy Farms

A third of dairy farmers received direct subsidies under a 2017 trade pact, says a Department of Agriculture audit. Milk producers were promised federal aid after cabinet increased imports of tariff-free European cheese: “Supply management is the system the dairy sector has chosen for itself and the government respects and supports this choice.”

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Book Review: The Unfrozen

Ottawa has more statues than any city in the land. As public art and political statements they run the gamut: haunting, contrived, tiresome, outrageous and wonderful, like the exhausted figure of Harold Fisher, head bowed, that’s survived a hundred winters on Carling Avenue.

Fisher as mayor built one of Canada’s first municipal hospitals in 1924, an era when surgery meant charity wards for the poor and spas for the wealthy. Ratepayers placed Fisher and his free public hospital in a cornfield where land was cheap. Surrounding acres over time became one of the prettiest collections of pre-war bungalows in a neighbourhood still called Civic Hospital. Fisher’s inscription reads: “If you would see his monument, look around you.” Beautiful.

Tours Inside the Snow Globe is fresh and intriguing, an investigation of statuary written at the close of an era that saw street protestors decapitate John A. Macdonald. Only a sociologist could explain what happened. Luckly, author Tonya Davidson is one of those.

“Monuments are touchable and they are touched,” writes Davidson. “Monuments seem fixed but they move.” They “produce certain effects of belonging and to inspire disgust, nostalgia and dissent throughout their lives.”

The point is not to agree. Where you may see Mayor Fisher as a monument to good government, Associate Professor Davidson might see stolen First Nations lands. Let the argument begin! Tours Inside The Snow Globe makes the compelling argument that, left or right, statues matter.

“Monuments are deeply important, which is why they should stay or go, and they are also not enough, not everything, nor are they necessarily precious,” Davidson explains. But they are more than stone and metal: “The rituals performed at monuments are entirely driven by emotion. Monuments are effectively charged urban sites, secured and moved by nostalgia and other desires.”

“People seem to be much more attached to monuments than they are, for example, to reading books of history or visiting museums,” writes Davidson, a self-described monument scholar. “Monuments are about the present, and in the present they are alive, dynamic, fleshy even; they are sites of communion.””

An example: Officialdom’s reaction in 2022 when Freedom Convoy protestors decorated a statue of Terry Fox with a ball cap and Canadian flag upside down, the maritime symbol of distress. “Unacceptable,” said the mayor. “Defacement,” said the CBC. “Horrified,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters. “We saw that terrible picture of the Terry Fox statue desecrated and I have to tell you my kids were just shocked.”

Tours Inside The Snow Globe is part chronicle, part walking tour. It critically examines Canadiana from the Boer War Memorial financed by schoolchildren’s pennies to the 1911 Parliament Hill statue depicting Young Canada as a strikingly buxom woman in a toga that today is “featured in many contemporary selfies.”

“There’s the Monument to Fallen Diplomats in the western part of Ottawa that marks the spot where Turkish diplomat Atilla Altikat was murdered in 1982” – a shooting that remains unsolved –  “and the location on Sparks Street where Thomas D’Arcy McGee was assassinated,” writes Davidson. Contrived, outrageous or haunting, monuments “are often mobile in surprising and destabilizing ways.”

By Holly Doan

Tours Inside the Snow Globe: Ottawa Monuments and National Belonging, by Tonya Davidson; Wilfrid Laurier University Press; 330 pages; ISBN 9781-7711-26021; $38.30