AG Defends Ties To Lobbyist

Auditor General Karen Hogan yesterday defended her ties to a Liberal lobbyist. Hogan awarded sole-sourced contracts to a lobbying firm and fed them confidential copies of her audits months before they were available to MPs and senators: "We try to have varied points of view."

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Small Business Debts $135B

Small business owners who survived pandemic lockdowns borrowed an estimated $135 billion, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said yesterday. Covid debts for storekeepers, restaurateurs, contractors and others averaged $169,992: "Economic damage we’ve seen so far is a tiny, tiny portion of what we’ll be seeing in the days ahead."

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Bookie Law Called Job Maker

A bill to legalize bookmaking would create 2,000 jobs, Unifor yesterday told the Commons justice committee. Betting on single sporting events in Canada has been illegal since 1892: "If we’re not going to spend it in Canada, we are going to spend it abroad."

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MPs Seek Count On Fugitives

The Commons public accounts committee yesterday said the public is owed regular updates on the number of foreign fugitives in Canada. The recommendation followed evidence federal agents lost track of as many as 2,800 criminals due to be deported: "Criminal cases are very important."

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Lib Lobbyist Gets Personal OK: ‘I Vouch For Elly Here’

Public Works Minister Anita Anand’s chief of staff personally vouched for a Liberal lobbyist seeking a federal contract for his son, internal emails show. The exchange was never reported to the Commissioner of Lobbying though federal law restricts undisclosed favour-seeking under threat of six months’ jail: "I vouch for Elly here."

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Fuel Tax Break Survives Vote

A bill to grant farmers a quarter-billion carbon tax break last night survived a Commons vote by 177-145. Cabinet opposed the private bill: "“I have numerous invoices that show that the carbon tax was $10,000 to $20,000."

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Holidayers Must Repay $1000

Sun holidayers who claimed $1,000 pandemic benefits will have to pay the money back. Cabinet yesterday served notice it will introduce a bill retroactively voiding claims by returning travelers under quarantine: "“A lot of mistakes were made."

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House Kills Pharmacare Bill

The Commons by a 295-32 vote yesterday rejected a New Democrat bill on pharmacare. Cabinet in a Throne Speech last September 23 said it was “exactly the right moment” for more publicly-funded drug insurance: "We had our doubts when they said that."

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Claimed Amazon’s Canadian

The Department of Public Works justified a sole-sourced contract to Amazon Canada on claims the company is Canadian. It’s not. Staff confusion detailed in internal emails was prompted by ridicule from a Conservative MP: "Could the Minister advise the House when Jeff Bezos took out Canadian citizenship?"

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Gov’t Shamed By Korean Gift

Federal agencies were so embarrassed by pandemic mask rationing they downplayed donations from South Korea, internal emails show. Seoul diplomats donated 35,000 masks to aged Canadian combat veterans of the Korean War but were asked to keep it quiet: "We don't want to have unnecessary controversy."

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C.R.A. Waits Are 25 Minutes

Waiting times at Canada Revenue Agency call centres now average almost half an hour, the worst ever, the Commons human resources committee was told yesterday. Some callers can wait hours to speak to a live agent: "It is absolutely true there are some people waiting a very long time."

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CBC Radio Important To 28%

Canadians listen to commercial AM and FM stations over CBC Radio by more than two to one, says federal research. A CRTC survey found fewer than a third of Canadians rate the CBC as important: "I think they are irrelevant."

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Shortage Contradicted Claims

Internal emails disclose federal agencies shipped expired medical supplies to provinces within days of the pandemic’s outbreak, but fretted it "undermines our messaging about being able to get what we need." Political aides feared angry premiers would pressure cabinet over failures to stockpile goods: "I don't think we can hold them back with the shortage."

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Confused By MPs’ Questions

A $216,000-a year federal corporate ethics ombudsman last night said two years after her appointment her office has yet to answer any complaint or conduct any investigation. Ombudsman Sheri Meyerhoffer in testimony before a Commons subcommittee appeared confused by questions: "Did you not hear the question?"

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MPs Wary Of Match Fixing

MPs are wary of match fixing under a bill to repeal an 1892 ban on bookmaking. At least one Canadian sports league is on record against legalizing single event sports betting: "I can’t sit here today and tell you it won’t happen. I just can’t."

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