Hometown Vax Plant ‘Risky’

The Department of Public Works yesterday for the first time acknowledged it “took a risk” in subsidizing a vaccine factory in Minister Jean-Yves Duclos' riding. Taxpayers lost $150 million: "There was a lot of risk at the time."

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Faces Censure After 9 Weeks

Commons Speaker Greg Fergus faces censure only nine weeks on the job. Fergus admitted to participating in a Liberal Party function in breach of a rule that he remain impartial while holding the $287,400-a year speakership: "Boy did we have fun; we had a lot of fun together through the Ottawa South Liberal Association, through Liberal Party politics."

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MP Is Face Of China Inquiry

Independent MP Han Dong (Don Valley North, Ont.) says allegations have made him “the face of Chinese foreign interference” in federal elections, according to the Commission on Foreign Interference. Dong yesterday was granted standing at the China inquiry: "He is also uniquely situated to provide first-hand information about relevant events."

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Resigned To Energy Inflation

Canadians are resigned to ever-rising energy costs, says in-house research by the Department of Natural Resources. Expenses for fuel averaged $4,500 a year at pre-inflation prices: "By 2030 do you expect your energy costs will be larger, smaller or the same proportion of your household budget?"

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Arctic Climate Targets Tough

A climate program to phase out diesel generators in Arctic Canada is nowhere near reaching targets despite millions in subsidies, documents show. The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations blamed the pandemic and inflation: "Is it a realistic target to start with?"

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Public Wary Of Big Database

Canadians are wary of a federal proposal to build the biggest electronic database of personal information in the nation’s history. In-house Canada Revenue Agency research shows fewer than half of tax filers surveyed trust the Agency to keep the data secure: "Negatives that came to mind most often for participants had to do with data security."

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A.G. Studies Foreign Censors

Attorney General Arif Virani says he is studying "international best practices" in censoring legal content on the internet. Virani gave no examples to follow when questioned by reporters: "We are looking at international best practices."

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Air Complaints Now 60,800

A federal backlog of air passenger complaints is now over 60,000, a new record, despite millions in extra funding for the Canadian Transportation Agency. Wait times were “unacceptable,” said the Agency assigned to help passengers whose travels were disrupted by poor service: "It is taking steps to eliminate the backlog."

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Tree Plan Must Be “Nimble”

A federal program to plant two billion trees must be “nimble,” says Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s department. The plan unveiled in the 2019 election has planted 110 million trees to date at an undisclosed cost: "Ensure the program meets its goals."

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277 Vets Find Home In 4 Yrs

A federal aid program for homeless veterans provided shelter for 277 people in four years, a fraction of the need, records show. The Department of Veterans Affairs insisted the program prioritizes ex-soldiers, sailors and air crew: "There are more than 2,600 veterans who experience homelessness annually."

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A Poem: “Different Species”

Poet Shai Ben-Shalom writes: “Politicians are not cats. They do not eat kibbles from a bowl, do not catch flies on the window glass, do not sharpen their claws on furniture…”

Review: The 329

When 167 members of the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army perished at sea in the 1914 sinking of the Empress Of Ireland, mass public observances were held. A prominent memorial was built in Toronto. The Royal family donated $132,000 to a victims’ fund. Canadian newspapers for 40 years afterward marked the anniversary date with annual features.

When 329 people, mostly Canadians, perished at sea in the 1985 Air India bombing, there was no fund, no mass public mourning. The only memorial was in County Cork, Ireland, near the spot where Flight 182 took whole families to their death. Few Canadians recall the year this mass murder occurred.

The victims were modest people of ordinary means and little public profile. Would it have been different if 329 bankers died, or 329 tennis players? Of course. Would it have been different if 329 white Christians died? Remembering Air India answers this last, jarring question.

Tax Research Kept Top Secret

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will not release federal research justifying cabinet claims a GST holiday for builders will lower rents. Freeland called it confidential: "The Department of Finance doesn’t have very much respect for elected officials."

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Senators Rejected Paid Tweets

Senators yesterday rejected a proposal to bill taxpayers up to $54,000 a year for sponsored Twitter and LinkedIn posts. A committee balked not at the expense but a condition banning partisan posts: "You may have to change how you use social media if you take the money."

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Gov’t “Happy To Help” CBC

Cabinet is happy to help the CBC defend itself from the Conservative Party, Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said yesterday.  “It is something I hold very dear,” St-Onge testified at the Commons heritage committee: "I am really looking forward to talking more to Canadians about the future of the CBC."

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