Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Edmonton PC leadership debate draws hundreds with Jason Kenney vowing to unite the right

The gloves came off at Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership debate Sunday, with three candidates telling former Conservative MP Jason Kenney his plan to unite with the right-leaning Wildrose is cynical and a shortsighted folly.

About 650 people attended the debate where candidates Stephen Khan, Jason Kenney, Byron Nelson and Richard Starke sold their vision for the Tories.

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“Folks, this is a hostile takeover of our Progressive Conservative party,” candidate Stephen Khan told those attending the debate at a southside Edmonton hall, to a smattering of cheers and boos.

PC legislature member Richard Starke referred to Kenney as “the career politician” and said political parties have to be about principles and not simply “a quest for power.”

“The career politician is focused on the next election, but I am focused on what happens after that,” Starke said, the MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster.

Kenney is the only one of the four candidates running on a platform to dissolve the party and seek a merger with the fellow right-centre Wildrose party.

Kenney said vote splitting is harming the conservative movement and allowing Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP to come up the middle to victory to implement policies that are hurting families, killing jobs and stifling initiative.

Kenney told the crowd Alberta “is the beating heart of free enterprise in Canada and we cannot afford to have that beating heart stilled by an ideological socialist government.”

The Wildrose party began more than a decade ago as a splinter group of provincial Tories disaffected with a party they believed had become fiscally wasteful, was governed from the top down and didn’t respect private land rights.

While Kenney said he believes all conservatives share core values of limited government and free enterprise, the other candidates say the social conservatism of the Wildrose makes it a poor fit for their big-tent party.

“I can’t stand by and allow our conservative family to be torn apart by the contrived and hollow promise of unity,” Khan said.

“(It’s) an undertaking that will not only result in four more years of NDP rule but will surely be the end of the party that (former PC premier) Peter Lougheed built.”

Candidate Byron Nelson, a Calgary lawyer, agreed, saying a merger is “an unrealistic, unworkable plan that will only lead to the destruction of the party and the re-election of the NDP.”

Party members will convene March 18 in Calgary to select a new leader in a delegated convention.

The idea has exposed divisions in the Wildrose. Leader Brian Jean is taking a wait-and-see approach, while finance critic Derek Fildebrandt is openly pushing for a merger.

The PC party was ousted from its 44-year-long rule to third party status by Rachel Notley’s NDP party in the May 2015 provincial election. The late Jim Prentice stepped down after losing the election, and Calgary-Hays MLA Ric McIver became interim leader.

with files from

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Smoking kills 14 Quebecers a day: Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health

This week marks tobacco-free week in Quebec and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

According to the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, there are 1.4 million smokers in the province.

In 2016, over 5,000 people died of lung cancer, directly related to smoking. That works out to 14 people a day.

READ MORE: Quebec’s new tobacco laws come into full effect Saturday

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    The organization says, one out of every two Quebecers will die because of smoking and that’s something it wants to help change.

    “If we can convince two people, [to stop smoking], we’ll save one life,” medical oncologist, Dr. Martin Champagne, said.”I’m sure with this campaign we will convince a lot of people to try to stop smoking.”

    To help convince Quebecers to stop smoking, the organization has introduced new televised commercials.

    READ MORE: Smoking costs global economy $1 trillion a year, will kill 8 million a year by 2030: study

    Mario Bujold, the organization’s executive director said the aim is to help people realize the impact of smoking.

    “There’s a very high risk of being affected by smoking or of having a disease or a health problem caused by smoking,” Bujold said. “We have to remember that because for many people, they see smoking as something normal.”

    READ MORE: Your guide to New Year’s resolutions: How to quit smoking for good

    According to a survey conducted by the organization, half of all Quebecers know at least one person who has suffered a major illness because of tobacco use.

    “It is a lethal disease, it is a serious disease and we know that stopping smoking decreases your risk,” Champagne said. “So it is never too late to stop smoking.”

    The organization is also encouraging smokers who want to quit, to visit its website, call 1-866 JARRETE (527-6383) or drop into their offices for support.

    Help is both free and confidential.

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Bomb scare forces Eurowings flight bound for Germany to land in Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY – A Germany-bound Eurowings passenger flight from Oman landed in Kuwait on Sunday over a bomb threat but no explosives were found on board, authorities said.

The Airbus A330 from Salalah heading to Cologne, Eurowings flight 117, landed Sunday morning in Kuwait City after the captain received word of the threat, said Mansour al-Hashemi, a spokesman for Kuwait’s civil aviation authority.

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Security officials found no signs of explosives on the aircraft, al-Hashemi said. He declined to discuss how the threat was made against the aircraft.

READ MORE: Disruptive passenger spouting slurs diverts United Airlines plane New Zealand

Eurowings said there were 287 passengers and 10 crew members on board the plane, which was being flown by SunExpress on its behalf.

Eurowings said the flight was a charter for tour company FTI.

The plane was diverted to Kuwait “for security reasons and in consultation with the relevant authorities,” Eurowings said in an emailed statement, without elaborating.

The airline added that the flight would take off at 1 a.m. Monday to head to Cologne as legal restrictions on maximum crew working time barred it from leaving Kuwait sooner. Passengers would be put up a hotel in the meantime, it said.

READ MORE: EL AL Flight LY030 to Tel Aviv diverted back to Toronto after issuing mayday call

Eurowings is a subsidiary of German air carrier Lufthansa. It began offering direct flights from Cologne to Salalah in October.

Tal Muscal, a spokesman for Lufthansa, confirmed the flight was diverted and that no explosives were found on the plane.

“I do know there is nothing on board,” he said.

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Talks back on, media blackout in place as NSTU, province head back to table

The ongoing labour dispute between members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) and the provincial government is showing no signs of letting up.

The contractual impasse has now gone on for well over a year and is starting to frustrate some Nova Scotians.

“In my opinion, I think they should have just striked right from the start and really forced the government to make a decision,” parent Lisa Lanigan said.

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The NSTU and the province met over four days this week looking to strike a deal but that didn’t happen yet.

READ: Nova Scotia teachers’ 16 contract demands and what the province says they cost

Talks off, then back on again

Saturday night, Education Minister Karen Casey said the union had rejected a proposal from the government and the two sides had reached and impasse.

“We are disappointed with the outcome,” Casey said in a statement late Saturday evening.

“We tabled an offer that attempted to deal with the classroom conditions raised. We offered solutions on wages and retirement bonus. Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected by the union.”

No details about what offer was tabled by the province has been released at this time, but less than 24 hours later after talks broke down, both sides agreed to head back to the table.

So far, the only comment the NSTU has made is that their negotiating team will meet with government’s team and a conciliation officer Monday.

READ MORE: Talks between Nova Scotia Teachers Union, government will resume

WATCH: Nova Scotia teachers’ salaries rank 6th among provinces: Stats Can

Media blackout in place

While they are in negotiations, the NSTU and the government have both agreed to a media blackout and will not be discussing their negotiations in public.

Parents and students however, are speaking out, especially when it comes to how work-to-rule is impacting children.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia teachers work-to-rule: What does it mean for you?

“We’re being deprived of a lot of things, especially Grade 12’s not having their graduation and we don’t even get a year book like to see all the memories we made from that year,” said Gr. 11 student Emily Fisher.

“It’s really unfortunate because we have so many things that are literally being ripped away from us. I feel like students are kind of being used as pawns in this situation.”

“The thought of no graduations, there’s no team spirit in the schools. I just think it’s awful and I think the students are suffering and it makes me sick,” Lanigan added.

WATCH: NS students produce video to shed light on work-to-rule impact

Public support swaying for some

The longer the labour dispute continues, the more people say their support for one side is beginning to sway.

“I feel like from the get-go students were really being supportive of teachers and now I feel like with nothing being resolved, students are kind of backing away from that a little bit because of how many things we’re being deprived of,” said Fisher.

READ: Minister questions NS teachers’ training trips during work-to-rule

“My support has always been for the teachers,” Bernice Deveaux said.

“I feel that they give 100% each and every day. They want to help out the children, they have the children’s best interest at heart.”

“It started more with the teachers but as it drags on, it’s starting to go the other way because it’s hard on the kids and it’s all about the kids and it’s affecting them,” said Paul Gillespie.

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Canada must stay nimble in Donald Trump era: economic adviser

OTTAWA – The head of the Trudeau government’s influential council of economic advisers recommends Ottawa stay agile, just in case Donald Trump delivers on vows that could have severe implications for Canada.

Dominic Barton, the global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co., said in an interview that while it remains unclear what exactly the president-elect will do, he cautioned that Trump’s pledges on trade and taxation must be taken seriously in Canada.

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READ MORE: Trudeau’s greatest challenge in 2017? Engaging with US while protecting Canada, Baird says 

“If something does happen … then I think we’re going to have to be ready to go back to the table … you think about budgets or you think about tax cuts,” said Barton, who, as chair of the economic growth council, has the ear of Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

“I’m hoping — I’m praying, if you would — that there won’t be any of that type of thing happening. But we’ve just got to be ready.”

Barton added that could mean responding, if necessary, outside of Canada’s annual budgetary cycle.

His warning comes amid widespread uncertainty over how the Canadian economy might fare if Trump were to fulfil some of his promises, which include a major reduction of the U.S. corporate tax rate and the creation of a border tax.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau’s vacation: ‘Just don’t break the rules,’ journalist panel says

Even the growth council has been forced to reassess some of its forthcoming recommendations to the government following Trump’s victory, Barton said. The group of experts, chosen by Morneau’s office, is expected to release its next wave of proposals in the coming weeks.

Barton said the council discussed Trump at their December meeting and they will continue to watch developments in the U.S. as they make their own decisions.

“For sure, it’s something that we’re thinking about and we need to be agile, too,” Barton said.

READ MORE: Canada’s big banks say Donald Trump administration could boost business growth in U.S.

For example, Barton said the council is exploring possible recommendations that will involve deepening the trade relationship with the U.S. as well as other countries.

Over the longer term, he said they are also looking at ways to attract more private capital to Canada. In developing capital-related suggestions, he added that the council may wait a few months to see what actually happens in the U.S. under the new administration.

WATCH: Oil prices will be much more volatile in 2017

The federal government has dispatched senior officials to meet members of Trump’s inner circle and highlight the importance of the Canada-U.S.. relationship, including the close business ties that bring benefits to both sides of the border.

In recent days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered reassuring words when asked about the potential changes from Canada’s top trading partner, calling the recent discussions with Trump’s team “constructive” and “positive.”

Barton said it’s crucial for Canadian and American businesses that depend on each other to make sure everyone knows about the significance of the partnership.

“We just can’t assume that people understand what the facts are,” said Barton, who added that restricting trade could hurt many Americans who reap huge benefits by dealing with Canada.

READ MORE: Economists to share Trump ideas with Bill Morneau

Morneau has suggested his upcoming federal budget, expected as early as February, will be prudent as the government prepares for the possible impacts of any Trump measures.

The finance minister was asked Friday if he would lower Canada’s corporate tax rate if Trump lived up to his promise to do so in the United States. Morneau replied that Canada already had a low corporate rate that was “very competitive” globally.

Some economists believe that certain Trump’s proposals could create benefits for the Canadian economy.

The Conference Board of Canada’s Craig Alexander has said Trump’s vows to significantly increase infrastructure investments, combined with corporate and personal tax cuts, could boost growth in the U.S. and indirectly help Canada.

But Alexander has also pointed to the many risks for Canada, such as Trump’s protectionist promises.

READ MORE: Real estate trends 2017: Will Toronto prices catch up to Vancouver’s?

The National Bank recently published a research note that said Trump’s proposed 10 per cent border adjustment tax on imports to the U.S. could cause total Canadian goods exports to its neighbour to drop by about nine per cent.

A report by the Montreal Economic Institute has warned that border tariffs could have “very harmful” consequences for automakers in Canada and the U.S. because after 50 years of trade liberalization, the countries’ auto industries are fully integrated.

On Friday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on a conference call that a border tax on autos would not be applied to any one country and could impact Canada, according to a Bloomberg News report.

“When a company that’s in the U.S. moves to a place, whether it’s Canada or Mexico, or any other country seeking to put U.S. workers at a disadvantage,” said Spicer, then Trump “is going to do everything he can to deter that.”