FEDS APPROVE TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is approving Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. — a $6.8-billion project that has sparked protests by climate change activists from coast to coast. Trudeau is also effectively killing the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline across northern British Columbia, but giving a green light to Enbridge’s lesser-known $7.5-billion Line 3 pipeline expansion from Alberta to Wisconsin. The Liberals had promised a decision on Kinder Morgan by Dec. 19 but decided to announce all the pipeline decisions at once ahead of a Dec. 9 meeting between Trudeau and the provincial and territorial premiers.
AUDITOR GENERAL MAKES EARNEST CALL FOR CHANGE: Tax disputes are taking too long to resolve, there’s no way to evaluate efforts to streamline cross-border traffic and trade and Canada is “squandering” the potential of its Aboriginal Peoples, the federal auditor general says in his annual fall report. Michael Ferguson is marking the midpoint of his 10-year mandate by acknowledging some recurring themes, lamenting the fact that despite five years of pointing out flaws in the bureaucracy, many still show up in his reports year after year. “In just five years, with some 100 performance audits and special examinations behind me since I began my mandate, the results of some audits seem to be — in the immortal words of Yogi Berra — ‘deja vu all over again,'” Ferguson writes.
PILOT WHO DIED IN CF-18 CRASH IDENTIFIED: A pilot killed when his CF-18 fighter jet crashed during a routine training exercise near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary is being remembered as a dedicated airman who served overseas and once helped escort Santa on a Christmas delivery mission. Capt. Thomas McQueen, 29, from the Hamilton area, had been with the military for a decade and was engaged to be married. McQueen’s single-seat fighter went down Monday morning on the Saskatchewan side of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. McQueen was flying with another plane in an air-to-ground attack simulation. An investigation is underway to determine what went wrong.
75 DEAD AFTER PLANE CARRYING BRAZILIAN SOCCER TEAM CRASHES: A chartered plane carrying a Brazilian first division soccer team crashed outside Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 76 people, Colombian officials said Tuesday. Six people initially survived, but one of them later died in a hospital. The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact Monday night because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said. The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for the first leg Wednesday of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
FOREIGN PROPERTY PURCHASES IN B.C. BACK TO AVERAGE: About three per cent of residential real estate transactions last month in Metro Vancouver involved foreign buyers, a decline of more than 10 percentage points since the B.C. government intervened with a new tax. The province says 140 properties worth $115 million involving foreign buyers were transferred in Metro Vancouver in October. Provincial government figures show that rate is up from the 1.8 per cent of foreign purchases in the Vancouver area in September, the month after the 15-per-cent tax was introduced. Finance Minister Mike de Jong says the government is scaling back the amount of money it expects to collect from the tax in this budget year based on the new figures.
TEEN GETS PROBATION FOR SHARING NUDE PHOTOS OF CLASSMATE: A 16-year-old Newfoundland boy who circulated nude pictures of a 15-year-old female schoolmate has been sentenced to 18 months’ probation for possession of child pornography. Judge Wayne Gorman says the boy asked for the photos, and then showed them to some students before sending them electronically to others. The judge said the girl’s victim impact statement “elegantly described” how it changed her life. Under the sentence released Friday in Corner Brook provincial court, the teen must also perform 25 hours of community service and submit a DNA sample.
NEW ELDERS COUNCIL TO ADVISE ON JUSTICE ISSUES: A new elders council that will offer advice to Ontario’s attorney general should help make the justice system more responsive to the aboriginal population, the provincial government said Tuesday. In announcing the council, Ontario’s Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer acknowledged the long-standing concern about the over-representation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system. A key issue for the new council, which includes 13 elders from across the province, is the application of the so-called Gladue principles in sentencing aboriginal offenders. Arising out of a Supreme Court of Canada decision in 1999, courts are supposed to consider the special circumstances native Canadians find themselves in and try to avoid incarcerating them where possible.
DOWNIE OFFERS SUPPORT FOR ABORIGINAL PROJECT: Gord Downie has formed a partnership with a prominent aboriginal leader to encourage corporate Canada to do more to promote dialogue and reconciliation with aboriginal people. The Legacy Room initiative, announced today in Halifax, is the brainchild of Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Morley Googoo, who represents Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Googoo says the plan is to encourage companies, particularly those in the hospitality sector, to designate special rooms where aboriginal issues can be discussed and reconciliation can become a reality. Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip, is scheduled to perform in Halifax tonight as part of his “Secret Path” solo project.
KEY TRUMP ADVISER TO VISIT ALBERTA IN JANUARY: A top adviser to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is visiting Alberta in January. Kellyanne Conway will speak at a private fundraising dinner hosted by the Alberta Prosperity Fund on Jan. 12 in Calgary, and also tour the oilsands. Barry McNamar, president of the Prosperity Fund, a conservative political action committee, confirmed the visit Tuesday. McNamar says they had a member assisting with the Trump campaign team and the idea of Conway visiting came together recently. “We got an offer from Ms. Conway that she would very much like to visit Alberta, learn more about the oilsands and Alberta’s agricultural and other export industries,” said McNamar.