Gov’t Shelves 1985 Sales Plan

The Department of Public Works has quietly shelved a longstanding plan to sell the last federally-owned bridges, roads and dams nationwide. No buyers could be found after a thirty-five year search, wrote auditors: "There is currently no market demand."

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Gov’t Auctioned Secret Data

Canada’s foreign spy agency unwittingly auctioned federal secrets at a computer equipment sale. Access To Information records withheld four years disclosed the Communications Security Establishment only learned of the security breach when the buyer of discounted hard drives reported the fact: "Do you guys actually open up the computers and check?"

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MPs Give Up On Family Fees

The Commons ethics committee by a 6-4 vote yesterday blocked disclosure of contractors’ fees paid to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s brother and mother. MPs had sought the records since July 22 but gave up following a lengthy government filibuster: "We safeguard the privacy of Canadians regardless of what the context is."

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House Orders File Disclosure, MP Baylis Contracts Are Next

The Commons by a 176-152 vote yesterday ordered the health department to surrender by December 7 a trove of records on pandemic mismanagement. Liberal MPs balked at further disclosures regarding contracts awarded to a former caucus member’s company: "Frank Baylis is a significant issue."

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Pledge More Electric Rebates

The Department of Transport yesterday said it’s considering more subsidies to promote electric car sales though data on existing buyers are unknown. One MP said federal rebates on vehicles worth up to $55,000 including options appeared to benefit luxury car shoppers: "Taxpayers are essentially underwriting a luxury purchase."

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Lift Rule On Small Biz Loans

Cabinet after months of petitions yesterday said it will rewrite a small business aid program for operators who never opened a commercial account at their bank. The Department of Finance had claimed the technical exclusion was intended to prevent mob fronts from applying for interest-free loans: "It provides protection against abuse by organized crime."

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Seek Study On Internet Police

The Commons heritage committee proposes hearings on policing internet content ruled offensive. Parliament has already banned hate speech under 1970 amendments to the Criminal Code: "To hell with that, sir."

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History Revisions Underway

Parks Canada in internal memos proposes wholesale revisions to historic plaques deemed offensive or “colonialist”. The agency in Access To Information memos named three historic figures who “need to be reviewed” as great Canadians: "There is controversy."

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Never Enforced 2014 Tax Law

Cabinet will not explain why it's failed to enforce a 2014 law capping fees charged by tax advisors. Regulations were drafted by the Canada Revenue Agency last year but never finalized: "The bill passed the House of Commons unanimously, and then the lobbyists descended."

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MPs Question Hidden Files

MPs seek to question the Treasury Board over a deliberate slowdown in disclosure of public records. Cabinet allowed the closure of Access To Information offices for the first time since 1983 as a pandemic precaution, it said: "There are people whose actual job it is to produce information for Parliament who are sitting at home."

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Federal Holiday Not For All

A holiday bill to observe Indigenous reconciliation will not affect most workers or students. The cabinet bill would designate September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation only for federally-regulated employees: "It is always just words here."

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Sunday Poem: “Crystal Ball”

Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday: “In the year 2056, Chapters will announce a major expansion to its gift section…”

Review: Heroes

On Sunday, June 22, 1953 a liquor store clerk named Bill Beatty died in an accidental fall at his Toronto duplex. Beatty was a plain man who died an ordinary death, yet a Globe & Mail editor pushed his obituary up to Page 4: “As a result of injuries suffered a week ago in a fall from an upper duplex porch at his home, William James Beatty, 54, of 56 Macdonnell Ave., died yesterday afternoon in St. Joseph’s Hospital. Mr. Beatty, it is believed, suffered a dizzy spell from the heat and lost his balance. He never regained consciousness. A veteran of the First World War, he served overseas with the 75th Regiment.”

He was with the 75th. In a city that celebrated Old School Ties and the exclusivity of private clubs, the combat veterans of the Toronto Scottish Regiment were a privileged class of workers’ aristocracy honoured long after the war’s end.

MPs Demand Pandemic Files

The Commons votes Monday on whether to compel Health Minister Patricia Hajdu’s department to disclose records on early mismanagement of the pandemic, including mask shortages. MPs have sought the records since May 29: "The time for hiding stuff is over."

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Find Oddity In Election Law

MPs yesterday questioned a quirk in the Canada Elections Act that allows cabinet to cancel general election balloting in any local riding due to a pandemic. Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault told the House affairs committee the scenario was “extreme” but possible: "Have you consulted with the Prime Minister?"

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