Review: The Day Of Raining Metal

The city of Lens, in the most uninteresting part of France, is about the size of Moose Jaw. Lens has auto parts stores and townhouses. The city sits in “the bottom of a shallow saucer encircled by hills on three sides,” explains Capturing Hill 70. As homely as it is, Lens more than a hundred years ago was much worse, “ringed by slag heaps, coalfields and nearly a dozen industrial, red-brick suburbs that had been pulverized by shelling,” writes historian Mark Humphries of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Lens lays claim to an indelible part of Canadiana. Here in August 1917 Canadian soldiers fought for the first time under a Canadian general with Canadians in charge of nearly all the fighting formations. “A landmark battle”, says Capturing Hill 70. It was heroic and pointless, extraordinary and tragic. If the whole maddening story of the First World War could be summarized in 288 pages, this is it.

MP Linked To $423K Contract

Former Québec Liberal MP Frank Baylis’ company successfully applied for a six-figure contract with the Department of Industry while Baylis served on the Commons industry committee, records show. Baylis did not comment: "This is incomprehensible."

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We’ll Cut Spending Later: PM

Cabinet will “absolutely” cut spending once the pandemic runs its course, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday. Revised figures on the federal deficit, currently estimated near $400 billion, will be detailed next month: "Canadians are asking what the path is for our deficit."

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Billions More For Covid Aid

Cabinet yesterday introduced a bill approving more than $39 billion in promised new pandemic relief programs. Aid includes $2,000 a month for jobless self-employed who lose comparable benefits with the October 3 expiry of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit: "The urgency of this cannot be understated."

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Seek Citation For Contempt

Opposition MPs yesterday sought a citation of contempt of Parliament by federal staff over censorship of We Charity records. The Prime Minister’s Office and others redacted parts of 5,600 documents in breach of a committee order: "The government does not have the final say."

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C.R.A. Cited For Hiding Files

The Canada Revenue Agency censored Access To Information records that were already public, according to the Federal Court of Appeal. Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier had pledged to “raise the bar" on openness: "These types of abuses and excesses happen every day."

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Agency Calls In The Auditors

Internal auditors have been called to review mismanagement at Dr. Theresa Tam’s Public Health Agency, officials said yesterday. It follows disclosures the position of Chief Health Surveillance Officer specifically assigned to watch for pandemic outbreaks was “eliminated” three years ago: 'Surveillance is to improve the health of Canadians.'

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Committees Back By Oct. 19

MPs yesterday voted to resume committee investigations of We Charity, federal contracting and China subterfuge. Hearings are delayed for up to a month: "Canadians deserve answers to tough questions."

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Feds To Tax ‘Extreme Wealth’

Cabinet in its Throne Speech yesterday said it will introduce new taxes on “extreme wealth” but did not elaborate. Parliament previously raised the top income tax bracket to 33 percent on Canadians earning $217,000 a year or more: "The government will identify ways to tax."

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Lib Appointee Pans Speech

A Liberal Senate appointee yesterday panned cabinet’s “green” Throne Speech as one hundred percent recycled. Senator Rosa Galvez (Que.), former chair of the Senate energy committee, said cabinet has lost its climate change credentials: "The government has turned its back."

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CRA Hijinx Not Harassment

A breezy Canada Revenue Agency manager who superimposed his photo on a picture of Clark Gable and referred to women tax assessors as “chicks” did not discriminate per se, a labour board has ruled. An adjudicator rated the conduct as harmless: "Some words may not be offensive in and of themselves but have fallen out of favour for a variety of reasons."

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Insurance Lobby Is Targeted

The Commissioner of Lobbying is reviewing an MP’s formal complaint the Department of Finance had secret meetings, phone calls and emails with the insurance lobby on pharmacare. The undisclosed contacts appeared to breach the Lobbying Act, the Commissioner was told: "These revelations lead one to question whether the Liberal government is captive to pressure from the insurance lobby."

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China Smog Kills Recruitment

The air is so filthy in Beijing that Canada now has trouble staffing its embassy, the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. China had won praise from Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna for its climate change program: "I was in China on a trade mission and saw the rapid shift toward clean energy."

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“The Graph, It’s Going Up…”

Pandemic infection rates have more than doubled since August 14 and are accelerating at a worrisome pace, the Public Health Agency said yesterday. “If you look at the graph, it’s going up,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer.

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Highly Costly Admits CMHC

CMHC is embarking on what it calls a “highly costly” program to encourage retirees to rent empty bedrooms to immigrants and students. The agency yesterday would not detail actual expenses to date: "Frankly nobody gave us a mandate."

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