Crown acknowledges that sentence of N.B. Mountie killer should be reduced
Crown prosecutors have formally acknowledged that the sentence for a New Brunswick man who fatally shot three Mounties must be amended so he can apply for parole after serving 25 years.
Justin Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years after he pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder after targeting RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B., on the night of June 4, 2014.
Bourque’s lawyer applied in December to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal to have the precedent-setting sentence reduced after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law that made it possible for judges to extend parole ineligibility periods beyond 25 years for people convicted of multiple murders.
The Supreme Court’s decision involved the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six men in a Quebec City mosque in 2017. He was originally sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 40 years, but the high court lowered the parole eligibility to 25 years.
A written submission from Crown attorney Patrick McGuinty on Jan. 20 to the Appeal Court said Bourque’s sentence must be similarly amended.
“In particular, the Crown recognizes Bissonnette has binding and direct implications for Mr. Bourque’s appeal,” McGuinty said.
“In light of Bissonnette, the Crown acknowledges that Mr. Bourque’s sentence appeal must be allowed, and his sentence be amended to a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility to apply for parole for 25 years.”
Bourque’s case was on the Appeal Court docket Wednesday but no oral hearing was held and no decision released.
Angela Gevaudan, whose husband, Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, was among those killed in the shootings, said in a written victim impact statement that her physical and emotional health have suffered lasting damage.
She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder within months of the shooting and has suffered physical illnesses ever since, including chronic inflammation in different parts of her body, she said.
In addition, she said, her difficulty sleeping has returned since the court decision last year that led to the potential earlier release of Bourque.
“I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe,” she said. She said she had hoped to make progress, but the potential of being notified of parole hearings for her husband’s killer — and the awareness he may now be released — “made our worst nightmares a reality.”
She said that while she doesn’t believe in vengeance, she thought the original sentence made sense considering all the lives lost and altered. She noted her husband was 45 years old when he died, and that Bourque — who was 24 at the time of the killings — would not be much older when he can apply for parole if his sentence is reduced.
In a telephone interview Wednesday from her home in Ontario, Gevaudan said she believes Parliament needs to make legal changes that can withstand constitutional challenges to allow for longer sentences in cases of multiple murders.
“Now that we know so much more about trauma and its lasting impact on a victim of violence, I think our justice system isn’t reflecting a balanced approach in dealing with violent crimes,” she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2023.
— With files from Michael Tutton in Halifax
Canada's economy rebounded in January in surprise 'double-barrelled blast of strength' – CBC News
Canada’s economy showed a rebound in January, with real gross domestic product growing by 0.5 per cent for the month, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The figures came after a contraction of 0.1 per cent in December.
January’s report was better than economists had been expecting. In a note, Andrew Grantham of CIBC Economics said the January figure was above the 0.4 per cent consensus expectation of economists’ forecasts.
Statistics Canada said the main drivers of growth for the month were also the largest contributors to the December decline.
“In January, the wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sectors all rebounded from declines recorded in the previous month,” the federal agency said.
After remaining relatively flat in the second half of 2022, the accommodation and food services sector was also among the top contributors to growth in January.
Advance figures for February released at the same time by Statistics Canada indicate that the economy continued to expand that month, although the 0.3 per cent increase is less than what was seen in January.
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Douglas Porter, the chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said today’s “double-barrelled blast of strength is well above even the most optimistic views.” He said the January and February figures have BMO projecting first-quarter growth of 2.5 per cent.
Grantham said the strong growth in January, plus the surprise further advance in February, leaves overall GDP tracking at almost three per cent for the first quarter of the year, which is above the 0.5 per cent expected by the Bank of Canada.
Forecasters said the good start to 2023 economically could impact the central bank’s path on interest rates. Earlier this month, the Bank of Canada left its key interest rate target unchanged at 4.5 per cent. It was the first time the central bank kept its key policy rate on hold since it began raising it last year in an effort to cool rising prices.
“Suffice it to say that if the strength seen in the opening months of the year persists, the [Bank of Canada] is going to find itself in a tough spot,” Porter said.
Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It
Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.
Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.
What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?
According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.
Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.
Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan
The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:
- Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
- Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
- Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
- Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.
Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.
What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?
Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:
- Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
- Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
- Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
- Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.
A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy
The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:
- Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
- Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
- Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
- Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
- Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.
The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.
Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.
Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.
Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?
If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?
Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.
Average debt by age group in Canada
First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.
These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.
Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:
Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.
The total debt measured includes:
- Mortgage debt
- Lines of credit
- Credit card debt
- Student loans
- Vehicle loans
- Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)
Median debt by age group in Canada
Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.
When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.
In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.
For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.
For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:
Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?
Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.
In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”
Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.
Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.
- Pent-up demand and travel
Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”
It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.
- Increased interest rates
To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.
Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.
Creating a plan to manage your debt
Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.
A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.
Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.
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