Tuesday October 24

News In Brief

Canadian CurrencyGOVERNMENT BOOSTING CHILD-POVERTY SPENDING: The Trudeau government is dedicating about a third of the windfall it’s expecting from Canada’s surprisingly strong economy towards investments, tax relief and new spending on social programs to support children and the working poor. Finance Minister Bill Morneau released a fall economic statement Tuesday that promises $14.9 billion in fresh spending over the next five years — on top of what it had outlined in its March budget. The new measures take advantage of this year’s unexpectedly robust economic performance, which is projected to provide an additional $46.6 billion for its bottom line over the same five-year period.

LIBERALS SPEND ON MORE THAN MIDDLE CLASS: The big announcements in Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fiscal update were all about the middle class, but buried towards the end of the 74-page document was a list of about $9.6 billion in government spending on a much wider swath of programs. The spending, officials say, was not provided for in the 2017 budget, but the money has either been spent or set aside for the future with little or no fanfare. The provisions include $1.4 billion over six years for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard to maintain its fleet. The spending also includes $4 million to permanently destroy the criminal records of Canadians who engaged in consensual gay sex — once illegal but now allowed.


QUEBEC JUSTICE MINISTER CLARIFIES BILL 62: Veil-wearing women in Quebec will not have to show their face when they board a bus or take the subway unless their fare requires a card with photo ID, the province’s justice minister said Tuesday. And once that interaction with the driver or the employee in the ticket booth finished, the woman will be allowed to cover her face for the rest of the journey, Stephanie Vallee told a news conference as she sought to clarify how Bill 62 will be implemented on a practical basis.

PM TOUTS BYELECTION WIN: A triumphant Justin Trudeau contends the Liberals’ stunning byelection victory in Quebec’s nationalist heartland is a vote of confidence in his government’s economic agenda. The prime minister says Monday’s upset in Lac-Saint-Jean demonstrates that voters are satisfied with the Liberal recipe for economic growth: putting more money in the pockets of middle-class Canadians and making massive investments in infrastructure. Liberal candidate Richard Hebert snatched the riding away from the Conservatives, winning 38.6 per cent of the vote, some 14 points ahead of his Conservative rival.

JUDGE ACQUITS ONTARIO LIBERALS IN BRIBERY CASE: Two Ontario Liberals were acquitted of Election Act bribery charges Tuesday in a case the party and one of the defendants called politically motivated from the start. Judge Howard Borenstein concluded no reasonable jury could find them guilty, granting a directed verdict application from the defence that called for the charges to be dismissed before the defence called any witnesses. Pat Sorbara, who was Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s deputy chief of staff and Liberal campaign director, and local Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed were accused of offering would-be candidate Andrew Olivier a job or appointment to step aside for Wynne’s preferred candidate in a 2015 byelection in Sudbury, Ont.

EXPERTS SAY RETAIL TECH MAY ELIMINATE HUMAN JOBS: Retailers are racing to adopt new technologies, like the self-scanner Walmart has rolled out in 22 Canadian stores, to stay competitive in a challenging industry. But experts say the trend toward automation threatens more jobs in a sector that is already slashing head counts. Walmart expanded technology that allows shoppers to choose to carry a scanner that tallies up their purchases to 20 stores in B.C., Alberta and Ontario on Monday. Shoppers at those stores only need to stop by a self-checkout kiosk or visit a cashier to pay their bill.

AUDITOR CALLS B.C. GRIZZLY MANAGEMENT INADEQUATE: British Columbia’s auditor general says the biggest threat to the province’s grizzly bear population is not hunting but loss of habitat. Carol Bellringer says in a report that expansion of communities and in industries such as oil and gas and forestry makes it more difficult for grizzlies to find food, raise their young and results in increased human-bear conflicts. She makes 10 recommendations, including reviewing legislation to clarify the management and protection roles of the forests and environment ministries to reduce overlapping responsibilities.

TRIAL BEGINS FOR MAN ACCUSED IN LETTER BOMBINGS: A letter bomb that exploded inside a Winnipeg law firm left a lawyer bleeding severely and with a shell of a right hand, a police officer testified Tuesday. “It was like an empty glove. The skin was still there but the bones and the flesh of the hand were gone,” Const. Paul Barker told the opening day of the trial of Guido Amsel. Amsel faces five counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and several explosives-related charges stemming from three bombs that were sent in the mail in July 2015. Amsel has pleaded not guilty.

IDITAROD ENGULFED IN DOG-DOPING SCANDAL: The world’s most famous sled dog race has become engulfed in a doping scandal involving a four-time champion’s team of huskies, giving animal rights activists new ammunition in their campaign to end the gruelling, 1,000-mile Iditarod. The governing board of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race disclosed Monday that four dogs belonging to Dallas Seavey tested positive for a banned substance, the opioid painkiller Tramadol, after his second-place finish last March. It was the first time since the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race instituted drug testing in 1994 that a test came back positive.