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Canada, China had better relationship at time of Trudeau Foundation pledge: Rosenberg

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The level of caution Canadian institutions must now take when dealing with China was not top of mind when the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation accepted a pledge from a Chinese billionaire, says the former head of the charitable organization.

Morris Rosenberg was president and CEO of the Trudeau Foundation from 2014 to 2018, which is when the charity was given $200,000 by Zhang Bin, a political adviser to the Chinese government, and Niu Gensheng, a Chinese businessman and philanthropist.

The charity set up to honour the legacy of the former prime minister announced Wednesday it is returning the donation after the Globe and Mail alleged it was linked to a Chinese government plot to influence Justin Trudeau after he became Liberal leader.

“As an independent, non-partisan charity, ethics and integrity are among our core values and we cannot keep any donation that may have been sponsored by a foreign government and would not knowingly do so,” Pascale Fournier, the current president and CEO of the Trudeau Foundation, said in a written statement.

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Citing an unnamed national security source, the newspaper reported Zhang was instructed by Beijing to donate $1 million in honour of the elder Trudeau in 2014, two years before the $200,000 donation to the Trudeau Foundation was made.

The Canadian Press could not immediately reach Zhang regarding the allegations in the Globe and Mail, which said Tuesday he did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Niu also could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rosenberg, who said talks about the donation were already underway when he assumed his role, recalls that at the time Canada had a more positive, hopeful and trusting relationship with China.

He said the situation has changed since then and Canadian institutions need to question China’s motivations for entering into such relationships.

“It’s a different environment today,” Rosenberg said in an interview.

“I think more caution is being exercised by all Canadian institutions,” he said. “But that wasn’t the situation back in 2016.”

The former senior public servant was tasked with authoring a recently released independent report on how a federal panel monitored foreign interference in the 2021 election.

He concluded the panel created by the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol, which did not feel any foreign interference in the 2021 or 2019 elections reached the threshold to alert Canadians, worked well overall.

But he made several recommendations on better informing Canadians about what the panel would consider cause for concern and urged further study on whether to lower the bar on when to tell the public about potential threats.

The Conservatives have been bringing up Rosenberg’s previous role at the Trudeau Foundation in arguing for a public inquiry, saying the $200,000 donation raises “serious questions” about his being “hand-picked” by the Liberal government to write the report.

In response, Rosenberg pointed to his long career as a public servant for both Conservative and Liberal governments, which included a three-year stint as deputy minister for foreign affairs under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

The $200,000 donation, which was part of a $1-million pledge that also included money for the Université de Montréal, came under scrutiny soon after it was made in 2016.

That was in part because weeks before the donation became public, Zhang had attended a fundraising event at a private residence in Toronto. The political controversy over the so-called cash-for-access events eventually led the Liberal party to bring in new transparency rules for fundraising.

Rosenberg said in the interview he was unaware that Trudeau would attend the 2016 fundraiser with Zhang.

“There was no co-ordination. This was a coincidence,” he said.

Rosenberg also said he does not have a personal relationship with Zhang or Niu and thinks he met them “once, briefly” at a ceremony at the Université de Montréal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2023.

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Twenty-six organizations call for MSI for migrant workers in Nova Scotia

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Halifax, NS (March 21, 2022) – Today, as the spring session of the Nova Scotia legislature opens, twenty-six organizations have published an open letter calling for healthcare access for Kerian Burnett and all migrant workers in Nova Scotia. Today is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The signatories to the letter include the Antigonish Coalition to End Poverty, Central Kings Community Health Board, CUPE NS, King’s Students’ Union, National Farmers Union – Nova Scotia, No one is illegal – Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Health Coalition and Western Kings Community Health Board.

In some provinces, migrant workers have access to public healthcare on arrival. In Nova Scotia, migrant workers must have a one-year work permit to be eligible for public healthcare coverage (MSI). This means that Caribbean and Mexican workers who come to Nova Scotia under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) are not eligible, because their contracts are a maximum of 8 months of each calendar year.

“Nova Scotia’s MSI eligibility criteria shuts out this racialized workforce. This is a blatant example of systemic discrimination, which can and must be immediately redressed,” said Stacey Gomez, Manager of the Migrant Workers Program with No one is illegal – Nova Scotia.

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Migrant workers in the SAWP only have access to private health insurance, which is tied to their employment.

“Private health insurance from employers and restrictions on eligibility for MSI prevents migrant workers from accessing the care they need leaving them vulnerable and falling through the cracks of our public healthcare system. The NSHC signs onto this letter and supports the call for all migrant workers, especially seasonal agricultural workers, to be eligible for MSI immediately upon arrival in Nova Scotia. Access to free, universal, public healthcare is the right of every human being, regardless of immigration status. We must do better,” said Alexandra Rose,  Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition.

Ms. Burnett, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after arriving in Nova Scotia as a migrant worker,  now has a Temporary Resident Permit until January 10, 2024. However, she still does not have medical coverage in Nova Scotia. She was advised by her doctor to remain in Canada to undergo life-saving treatments and for follow-up care. Ms. Burnett is currently hospitalized.

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Media contact:

 

No one is illegal – Nova Scotia

Telephone: (902) 329-9595

Email: outreach@migrantjusticens.ca

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Canada's inflation rate cools more than expected – Financial Post

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OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation cooled in February as it posted its largest deceleration since April 2020.

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Statistics Canada said Tuesday its consumer price index in February was up 5.2 per cent compared with a year earlier.

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Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the annual rate to fall to 5.4 per cent.

The reading compared with an annual inflation rate of 5.9 per cent in January and was the lowest annual inflation rate since January 2022 when it was 5.1 per cent.

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Statistics Canada noted that the decline was due to a steep monthly increase in prices in February 2022 when the global economy was significantly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the overall cooling, grocery prices remained elevated and outpaced overall inflation.

Prices for food purchased from stores in February were up 10.6 per cent compared with a year ago, the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases.

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Which food items went up in price in Canada – CTV News

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Inflation for goods in Canada is cooling but prices for food remain high, Statistics Canada’s latest report shows.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February was at 5.2 per cent year-over-year, a decrease from January’s 5.9 per cent year-over-year increase.

“This was the largest deceleration in the headline CPI since April 2020,” the StatCan report reads.

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Energy reflected the cooling as prices fell 0.6 per cent year-over-year. Gasoline prices are leading the drop, StatCan says, with a 4.7 per cent difference year-over-year — “the first yearly decline since January 2021.”

“Inflation is cooling more than what was typically expected,” David George-Cosh, BNN Bloomberg reporter, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. “But when you drill down into some of the details, it’s unlikely to really convince Canadians that the worst is really behind us.”

Despite the overall signs inflation is decreasing, Canadians are not seeing this reflected at grocery stores, where food prices rose 10.6 per cent year-over-year in February. This is a slight decrease from January, which saw a 11.4 per cent year-over-year increase.

FOOD PRICES REMAIN HIGH

February marks the seventh consecutive month of double-digit food inflation, StatCan says.

This pressure is largely due to supply constraints from extreme weather in some regions and higher costs of animal feed, energy and packaging materials.

Pasta products continue to increase in price, with a 23.1 per cent year-over-year difference in February. This is an upward trend from January, which had a year-over-year increase of 21.1 per cent.

Fruit juice had the largest increase in price from January to February 2023, data from StatCan shows. In January, the product had a year-over-year difference of 5.2 per cent; this rose to 15.7 per cent year-over-year in February.

According to StatCan, the quick rise in the cost of fruit juice is led by the increased price of orange juice specifically.

“The supply of oranges has been impacted by citrus greening disease and climate-related events, such as Hurricane Ian,” the CPI report reads.

William Huggins, lecturer of corporate finance and business economics, explained supply chains are under pressure from many areas.

“We’ve had, for instance, problems with avian flu…There are problems with African swine fever in China, we’ve had trouble getting enough employees to come back post pandemic with their steel supply chains,” Huggins told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. “We’ve seen this not just in Canada, but also in the United States as well. So rather than people thinking it’s very much a homegrown problem, it’s much more of a North American logistic problem.”

Oranges on their own have not increased quite as dramatically between January and February of this year. According to the data, in January oranges had a year-over-year increase of 14.1 per cent, which rose to 15.1 per cent year-over-year in February.

Similarly, apples rose in price year-over-year to 16.6 per cent in February, a 4.5 per cent increase from January.

Some areas did see prices slowing, StatCan said.

Meat products decreased to 6.2 per cent year-over-year, though this is a smaller decrease than in January.

But Canadians aren’t seeing decreases in all types of meat.

Fresh or frozen poultry remained high, as StatCan pegged the year-over-year increase at 10.7 per cent in February, a slight increase from January.

Fish, seafood and other marine products increased by 1 per cent from January’s year-over-year marker to 7.4 per cent year-over-year in February.

Fresh or frozen beef saw a reduction in February, with a year-over-year increase of 2.4 per cent compared to January’s 3.7 per cent difference.

Buyers of some types of produce are seeing a cooling effect as well, including the costs of lettuce and tomatoes.

Lettuce in January rose to 32.8 per cent year-over-year, but dropped the next month to 20.2 per cent compared to February 2022.

Tomatoes in January had a 21.9 per cent year-over-year increase, which dropped to 7.1 per cent year-over-year in February.

STUDY SHOWS MISTAKES ON RECEIPTS

Many Canadians are now acutely aware of how much food items cost, so they can ensure they are not paying more, but a new study shows two-thirds (67 per cent) of people have seen a mistake on their grocery receipts in the last year.

Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab polled 5,525 respondents.

According to the survey, 78.5 per cent of those who noted a mistake reported the most common error was that the price at the cash register was not the same price displayed on the shelf. About one-third of respondents said the daily discount was not applied and a total of 31.4 per cent claimed the cashier scanned an item too many times.

A majority of people said they check receipts for mistakes as they exit the store, before getting home. However, the survey notes not all Canadians have the habit of checking for mistakes; only half said they always check, while 3.3 per cent never do.

“As for frequency of mistakes, 79.2 per cent of respondents claim that they find at least no mistakes on their receipts, at least 10 per cent of the time,” the press release reads. “A total of 15.2 per cent will find at least one mistake on their receipt, 25 per cent of the time.”  

Food inflation tracker

 

 

 

 

Note: data for some specific grocery items are available only nationally, and are not available by province. Can’t see the interactive above? Click here.

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