Only $87M In Rail Spill Fund

An industry-financed rail compensation fund intended to save taxpayers the cost of cleanup from a catastrophic oil spill totals just $87 million in its fifth year. Claims from the fatal 2013 Lac-Mégantic wreck were almost $1.5 billion: "The Fund was set up to ensure polluters pay and not Canadian taxpayers."

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Uneasy With VW Settlement

Federal regulators should be more transparent with investigations of environmental scofflaws, say MPs. The Commons environment committee expressed unease over a settlement with Volkswagen at a fraction what the automaker paid to U.S. regulators: "This works out to about $55,000 per vehicle in the United States versus $1,500 per vehicle in Canada."

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A Sunday Poem: “Bananas”

Guest poet Dahlia Kurtz is host of “Good Mornings with Dahlia Kurtz” on SiriusXM Canada: “Green bananas are the same as yellow ones…”

Review: Eat Like Our Ancestors

What did the 19th century smell like? What was it like to stroll ankle-deep in horse effluent and live by the 25-watt glow of an oily lamp on winter evenings? Many Canadian historians and documentary filmmakers recall the facts and figures of the past without ever providing a true tactile sense of how our ancestors got by – with one brilliant exception: we can still gain a taste of what they ate. Collecting Culinaria is a tribute to an extraordinary trove of historic cookbooks collected by Linda Distad, a University of Alberta librarian who died in 2012. Distad had a mania for heritage recipes; her collection ran to more than 3,000 titles, including the first English-language cookbook published in Canada, The Cook Not Mad, circa 1830.

Must Do Your Bit On Climate

The Supreme Court judge who upheld the federal carbon tax yesterday said all Canadians must do their part to lower carbon emissions, but did not detail his own efforts to fight climate change. “It’s not everybody for instance who can use a bicycle,” said Chief Justice Richard Wagner, who is provided a car with chauffeur: "You have to try your best."

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First Exec Shamed Since 1891

MPs yesterday in a 176-150 vote censured the president of the Public Health Agency, Iain Stewart, and summoned him to the bar of the House to be formally cited for contempt. It is the first public shaming of a federal executive on the floor of the Commons in 130 years: "We settle this by democracy."

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Plan Pre-Election Racism Blitz

Heritage Minister Steven Gulbeault’s department plans a pre-election advertising blitz on racism to “deal with pressing, urgent or emergency-driven marketing that may arise.” The "social cohesion" campaign targeting white voters is set for launch in September: 'It is targeted to non-racialized Canadians, middle aged adults and non-racialized Canadian adults.'

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Question Police ‘Malfeasance’

Police unions should not “protect officers from consequences of malfeasance,” the chair of the Commons public safety committee said yesterday. The committee in a report recommended RCMP officers cited for racial profiling be publicly named: "I would stand by that comment."

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MPs Ban Phone Voting, 6-5

MPs yesterday banned telephone voting in an expected pandemic election, a measure sought by cabinet. The House affairs committee by a 6-5 vote prohibited returning officers from collecting votes by phone under an obscure provision of the Canada Elections Act: "This is pretty significant."

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Faces Censure For Contempt; Hid Files On RCMP Lab Raid

Iain Stewart, president of the Public Health Agency, faces censure for contempt of Parliament over the hiring of Chinese scientists at a federal lab. The Agency defied MPs in refusing to disclose documents concerning an RCMP raid that led to the researchers’ firing January 20. “People do sneak through,” a cabinet appointee said yesterday.

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C.R.A. Forgot To Pay Its Bills

Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier in a report to Parliament said her own agency defaulted on more than $200,000 in credit charges. The costs were run up on government-issue credit cards used by employees: "We note the increased pressure to spend budgets at fiscal year-end."

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MPs Proclaim ‘French Nation’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday joined a Commons majority in passing a Bloc motion declaring Québec a French nation, 281-2. Trudeau did not speak on the motion. Thirty-four MPs abstained: "There will be consequences."

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MPs Would Ban Wage Fixing

Parliament should amend the Competition Act to criminally prosecute wage fixing by grocers, the Commons industry committee said yesterday. The report followed suspicions of collusion between supermarket chains in rolling back a $2 an hour employees' pandemic bonus: "I took care to ask our lawyers before making that call."

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House Kills Dental Program

The Commons yesterday by a 285-36 vote rejected a national dental care program. Free dentistry for low income households would cost about $1.6 billion a year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office: "This is a problem we can fix and we must fix."

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Had $18,902 Exec Washroom

The Public Health Agency faulted for failing to prepare for the pandemic spent almost $19,000 on an executive washroom for exclusive use by its president, records show. Kristina Namiesniowski abruptly resigned last September 18 only days ahead of an internal audit of Agency mismanagement: "The Agency lacked everything."

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