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.

Gov’t Forgot The $9 Plug-Ins

Health Minister Patricia Hajdu’s department shipped 350 Baylis Medical ventilators to India that couldn’t plug into wall sockets. The department forgot to include $9 electrical adaptors, according to a briefing note: "The ventilators require a different electrical cord for use in India."

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No ‘Flagrant Appeals To Fear’

The Public Health Agency in a confidential memo warned legislators to avoid “flagrant appeals to fear” in enforcing pandemic control measures. Trying to frighten Canadians was counterproductive, “coercive” and “manipulative,” said the memo: "Some people tend to have low trust in institutions and authority figures."

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Vow Covid Won’t Close Polls

Elections Canada yesterday said it has not asked cabinet to postpone balloting for federal voters in pandemic hot spots. An obscure provision of the Canada Elections Act allows local votes to be delayed for weeks, even months in case of emergency: 'It is the last resort.'

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Won’t Chase ‘Almighty Buck’

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole yesterday said he would not chase “the almighty buck with China” if prime minister. The Party previously endorsed a 2012 investment pact with the People's Republic but opposed any direct free trade treaty: "It is time for Canada to get tough on China."

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CN Rail Again Fined $2.5M

Canadian National Railway Co. for the third time in four years has been levied a multi-million dollar fine for breach of environmental laws. Railway lawyers pleaded guilty in a British Columbia court to spraying herbicides in the Skeena River: "The company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry."

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Judge Lists Secret Loan Terms

Records in a Tax Court dispute disclose terms of confidential federal loans to corporations dubbed “contribution agreements.” A federal judge ruled terms in one case were so generous, about a third the cost of a commercial loan, it amounted to an outright subsidy by taxpayers: 'It was significantly lower than the market rate.'

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CRA Compensated Everyone

The Canada Revenue Agency awarded its employees $2,500 in compensation for payroll errors regardless of whether they were underpaid in the first place, according to labour board records. No explanation was given: "That didn't work."

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“Tricky” Vetting Candidates

New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh yesterday dropped two candidates for inappropriate tweets. The Party platform advocated federal measures to counter online hate: "We’re seeing a scary rise in anti-Semitism and we are unequivocally opposed."

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TV Typo Breached Nt’l Code

A garbled TV headline breached a news code on ethics, a national broadcast regulator said yesterday. Canadians expect accurate pandemic news, said the Broadcast Standards Council: "I’m just asking people, don’t gather in large groups."

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Rare VC Petition For Private

The Afghanistan Veterans Association of Canada yesterday petitioned Rideau Hall to award the Victoria Cross to a Nipissing, Ont. man, Jess Larochelle. Advocates noted there was precedent in reconsidering nominees for an award so rare no Canadian has won it in 77 years: "The guy had a broken back and single-handedly fought off forty Taliban."

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Anand Called Fed Contractor To ‘Speak About Your Needs’

Public Works Minister Anita Anand personally called a federal contractor in a cabinet colleague’s riding to “speak about your needs,” according to internal emails. Cabinet to date has not disclosed details of the sole-sourced $200,451,621 contract for Covid ventilators that were shipped for storage in an Ottawa warehouse: "I am reaching out to arrange a phone call."

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We Charity Junket Cost $20K

We Charity spent nearly $20,000 hosting the Prime Minister’s wife at an event in Britain a month before cabinet aides began negotiating terms of what became a $43.5 million federal grant to the charity, according to records. It was the costliest of eight We Charity appearances by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau: "She got Covid from attending the We Charity event."

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Fear Of Crowds Will Linger

Canadians share a lingering fear of crowds even after Covid runs its course, says in-house research by the heritage department. Most say they are uncomfortable or unsure it would be safe to attend indoor concerts and events once pandemic restrictions are lifted: 'It would make me anxious.'

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Accept Apology, Not Censure

New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh yesterday said a public apology, not censure, was sufficient for a Toronto candidate who posted anti-Israel tweets. Singh earlier pledged support for federal legislation to regulate hurtful comments on social media: "Why are you standing by this candidate?"

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