Hard Questions For Diplomat

MPs yesterday voted to summon Canada’s ambassador to China for unprecedented questioning in nationally televised hearings. Conservatives have depicted Ambassador Dominic Barton as an apologist for the Chinese regime while Canadians are jailed without charge in the People’s Republic: "I have no problem with tough questions."

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“Buy Canadian” For $20M

The Department of Agriculture yesterday said it will spend up to $20 million on a Buy Canadian food campaign. The initiative comes eight years after the biggest beef recall in Canadian history: 'It's to instill pride and confidence in the country’s food system.'

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City Apartments 99% Full

CMHC says apartment vacancies in Victoria are below one percent for some units, the lowest rate of any major city in the country. The rental shortage coincides with near full employment: "It’s getting to that really, really tight point."

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Bleak For English In Québec

Less than a third of English-speaking Québecers are confident their young people will stay in the province, says Department of Canadian Heritage research. Statistics Canada has forecast Québec will shrink to twenty percent of Canada’s population within a generation: "Five years from now access to provincial services in English will become worse.'

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MPs Launch China Hearings

MPs today open proceedings of an unprecedented special committee on Chinese human rights abuses. The Commons last December 10 voted for hearings to “examine all aspects of the Canada-China relationship”.

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Union Sues For Defamation

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers in a rare lawsuit accuses B’nai Brith of defamation. “A union may now sue to defend its reputation,” ruled an Ontario Superior Court judge: "This is a case in which the defamation action appears to have merit."

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“The Costs Are Reasonable”

The labour department in an Access To Information memo described as “good value for money” a program to subsidize temporary work experience for 686 university graduates at a cost of nearly $10 million. The ongoing program pays fifty percent wage subsidies to private companies to hire graduates for as little as ninety days: "Small businesses don't have the money to train graduates who are not job-ready."

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Prison For Gov’t Loan Fraud

A court has upheld federal prison terms for conspirators convicted of defrauding a Department of Industry loan program for small business. “Banks and the taxpayer were all victims,” wrote the Ontario Court of Appeal.

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Sunday Poem: “Succession”

Poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday: “A recent poll in the United Kingdom asked people who is best suited to reign after Queen Elizabeth II…”

Book Review: An Immigrant’s Tale

Canada is not the kind of country that wakes up in the morning to the sound of trumpets and drums. No MP ever gave a speech entitled “Canadian Exceptionalism”, and if somebody tried, a voice in the back of the room would say: “In fairness, Belgium makes pretty good chocolates.”

Yet we enjoy an extraordinariness most dramatically illustrated in the immigrant experience, and none more unusual than the story documented in Reflections On Malcolm Forsyth. The composer in his dying days devoted his last breaths to a national tribute.

Senator Boosts China Friends

The head of the largest legislative group in the Senate has accepted a January 30 invitation to speak at a China-endorsed club praised for promoting “friendship” with the People’s Republic. Liberal appointee Senator Yuen Pau Woo of Vancouver yesterday would not say if he was paid for his appearance: 'He is widely recognized as a leading thinker.'

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Weather Upgrades Too Slow

Environment Canada will take years, even decades to modernize obsolete weather stations nationwide though Parliament voted $384 million for the job, say auditors. Expenses include replacing all radar stations used as a main source of daily forecasts: "They are essential."

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Bank Grant An ‘Investment’

The finance department in Access To Information files obtained by an MP says it considers millions spent on a Chinese bank as an “investment” regardless of whether taxpayers see any profit. "These types of accounting maneuvers stink of financial cheating,” said Conservative MP Tom Kmiec (Calgary Shepard).

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Business Case For Moon Shot

The Canadian Space Agency yesterday said it will spend $300,000 on consultants to justify a “business case” to go to the moon. The spending comes a year after cabinet committed billions to joining a U.S. program to build a permanent platform in lunar orbit by 2026, the Lunar Gateway project: 'It's maximizing benefits for Canadians.'

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Lost $1.4M In Bank Transfers

The Receiver General last year lost more than $1.4 million by wiring tax refunds and benefit cheques to the wrong bank accounts. Losses followed a failed 2012 campaign by the Department of Public Works to require that all Canadians submit personal bank data to accept federal payments: "I don't trust it."

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