Feds Hunt For Child Labour

The Department of Public Works yesterday said it will launch a top-to-bottom review of current contracts to ensure no federal goods are made by children or slave labour. A private Liberal bill to ban all imports of forced labour goods lapsed in the last Parliament: "Ethics cost money."

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Mistaken Raid Costs $195K

Environment Canada has paid $195,000 to settle out of court with a family-run business over a mistaken raid by RCMP and wildlife officers. Lawyers argued the department owed a “duty of care” to protect the public from overzealous federal agents: 'It was based on speculation, innuendo and half-truths."

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CBSA Admits 27,405 Searches

The Canada Border Services Agency yesterday said in a two-year period it searched more than 27,000 travelers’ cellphones and iPads, the highest figure disclosed to date. MPs have sought greater privacy protection from random searches of personal data: "It’s basically your life history and all your records."

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Can’t Fire For Cannabis Odor

A Halifax tradesman fired after a supervisor smelled marijuana from his vehicle has won his job back. A Nova Scotia tribunal ruled employers must meet a minimum standard of proof before dismissing cannabis users: 'There was a distinct ‘skunky’ smell."

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Delay Key Pesticide Review

The Department of Health has again postponed final environmental risk assessments on three common pesticides after years of study. Regulators had promised a final verdict three weeks ago: "This decision has been delayed."

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Alberta Man Wins E.I. Claim

An Alberta manager denied Employment Insurance benefits after he was fired in a desk-pounding confrontation with his boss has won a Federal Court appeal. Under the law, workers fired for “misconduct” cannot claim jobless benefits: "The allegation of harassment needed to be considered."

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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…”