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Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigns, will not seek re-election

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TORONTO —
Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, is stepping down amid the ongoing scandal of accepting gifts from WE Charity and rumours of a growing rift with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Morneau, who has held the post for five years, announced his resignation Monday evening in a press conference from Ottawa. He will give up both his cabinet role and his seat as member of Parliament for Toronto Centre.

He announced he will make a bid to become secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Morneau said he told Trudeau he wasn’t going to run in the next federal election and that he only ever intended to serve in two governments. He said now is the “right time for a new finance minister” to manage a “long and uncertain” recovery as Canada rebuilds from the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.

Morneau denied he was asked to quit or was otherwise forced out. Instead, he said that he had come to the conclusion he was no longer the “most appropriate person” for the job of finance minister because he wasn’t going to be there for the long haul.

He also dismissed speculation of strife between he and the prime minister leading to his decision to quit. He said his relationship with Trudeau was built on “vigorous discussion and debate” but that always led to better policy. Serving as finance minister was “the work of a lifetime for me,” said Morneau.

He said his relationship with Trudeau was built on “vigorous discussion and debate” but that it always led to better policy. Serving as finance minister was “the work of a lifetime for me,” said Morneau.

In a statement, Trudeau said Morneau “worked relentlessly to support all Canadians and create a resilient, fair economy that benefits everyone.”

He said Canada would “vigorously support” his bid to lead the OECD.

“I want to thank Bill for everything he has done to improve the quality of life of Canadians and make our country a better and fairer place to live. I have counted on his leadership, advice, and close friendship over the years and I look forward to that continuing well into the future. Bill, you have my deepest gratitude and I know you will continue making great contributions to our country and for Canadians in the years to come.”

Canadian business leaders also thanked Morneau and his “commitment to sound public policy over the past five years in extremely challenging circumstances,” and expressed support for his OECD bid, in a statement by Goldy Hyder, president and chief executive of the Business Council of Canada.

But opposition parties wasted no time taking aim at Trudeau.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau was “scapegoating” his hand-picked finance minister.

“At a time when Canadians are worried about their health and their finances, Justin Trudeau’s government is so consumed by scandal that Trudeau has amputated his right hand to try and save himself,” he tweeted.

“In the middle of a financial crisis, Justin Trudeau has lost his Finance Minister,” tweeted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “Every time he gets caught breaking ethics laws, he makes someone else take the heat. That’s not leadership.”

Reports have swirled for weeks that Trudeau and Morneau were at odds over the charity scandal, environmental initiatives, and pandemic relief spending. Morneau has been in the crosshairs of opposition parties since the WE Charity scandal broke last month.

Last Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying the prime minister had “full confidence” in Morneau.

WE Charity, which was granted a contract worth up to $43.5 million to deliver a now-cancelled $912-million student grant program, partly paid for two trips for Morneau’s family members to Kenya and Ecuador, including one trip he took part in himself.

Morneau said he made an “error” and intended to cover the cost of the trips. He then cut a cheque for $41,000.

Canada’s ethics commissioner is now investigating both Morneau and Trudeau for not recusing themselves from decision-making around the contract, given their family connections to WE Charity.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said it was “absolutely clear” Trudeau needed to change the focus ahead of the ethics commissioner’s report. He noted that Trudeau had done “a very good job” of reassuring Canadians during the pandemic, but got sidetracked by the WE scandal.

“This has really damaged the prime minister. They’re trying to find a way to put a Band-Aid on it, so they’re using the dog days of August. But the fact that a finance minister in the biggest economic crisis in a century has to walk the plank … we’re in uncharted territory here,” said Angus.

“It’s about the prime minister’s judgment, it’s about the people he surrounds himself with.”

Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, told CTV News Channel that the resignation is a case of Morneau “falling on his sword for the sake of the party and for the government.”

She said it’s possible a deal has been struck in which Morneau can take on a role with the government down the road. But his removal won’t be enough for a “reset” for the government. The next step — finding a replacement — will be crucial, she says.

Speculation will now begin about who will take Morneau’s place, but there has been plenty of talk that former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who has been seen as a highly coveted potential politician, has had the ear of Trudeau about the best course for economic recovery.

Williams says it’s “tricky” to appoint a cabinet minister who hasn’t been elected to Parliament, but it has happened before.

Political analyst Michael Geoghegan called the announcement a “bombshell” and said there are two main ways Trudeau might fill Morneau’s position.

“If Trudeau is going to look at a Mark Carney, he’s got a riding Mark can run in, and at the same time, he can as prime minister, appoint him directly as minister of finance,” Geoghegan told CTV News Channel.

“The other more conventional scenario that has been discussed is taking a cabinet member like Chrystia Freeland and putting her in as finance minister. Certainly this is a significant shake-up to the Trudeau government.”

Sources told CTV News, however, that Mark Carney will not be taking over as finance minister.

Morneau, who grew up in Toronto and holds a masters of economics degree and an MBA, led human resources firm Morneau Shepell, founded by his family, between 1990 and 2015. He is married to Nancy McCain, whose family owns McCain Foods.

He was the first political rookie to take on the crucial finance minister role since 1919.

This is not the first time Morneau has come under fire for ethics issues. In 2017 he faced criticism and questioning over using an ethics loophole to not put his assets in a blind trust after becoming a minister, which the then-ethics commissioner cleared him on; as well as for not disclosing a family villa in France.

Conservative strategist Jamie Ellerton told CTV News Channel that the PM “savaged his finance minister over the past couple of weeks” with “constant leaks” aimed at destroying his credibility and reputation that forced him to resign.

He said there is “political blood in the water” and that opposition parties will be even more focused on hammering the Liberals over the WE Charity scandal.

With files from Rachel Aiello in Ottawa

Source:- CTV News

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Canada's top doctors reveal flip side to public praise: 'I've had death threats' – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The top health officials co-ordinating Canada’s COVID-19 response say the majority of public reaction to their work has been positive — but they’ve also received some abusive feedback that ranges from “well-thought-out insults” to “death threats.”

“I’ve got a lot of positive responses, but there are many people who don’t like what I do, or don’t like the way I say it or don’t like my shoes and feel quite able to send me nasty notes, to leave phone calls, to harass my office staff,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s top doctor, speaking Tuesday.

“I’ve had to have security in my house, I’ve had death threats,” she added.

Her comment made headlines after she revealed the death threats she’d been facing — and it prompted reporters to quiz other health officials about how they’ve been treated by the public.

While the other public health officers did not report death threats, they said they had been on the receiving end of some abuse.

Dr. Heather Morrison, who serves as the top doctor in P.E.I., said she’s received a small amount of feedback that’s been frightening.

“Overwhelmingly, it’s been so wonderful,” Morrison told CTV News in an interview.

However, she conceded that “there have been threats, at times.”

“It makes me concerned for my family, and my children, and my staff,” Morrison said.

While some doctors, such as Henry and Morrison, reported outright threats, others said that while they hadn’t faced any threats, there had been a heaping of criticism levelled towards them.

“Dr. Hinshaw has received a wide range of correspondence from Albertans,” said a spokesperson for Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“While this includes strong personal and professional criticisms, she has not received death threats or hate mail to date.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s top doctor, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said in her Wednesday press conference that it’s “unfortunate” people feel public servants “deserve to be the target of such harassment.”

“In the Public Health Division we’ve had our share of emails that aren’t necessarily in agreement with some of the things that we have done, but you know, we have to accept that as part of the job I guess,” she added.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said in her own Wednesday press conference that she has also been on the receiving end of insults — but no threats.

“I haven’t had any threats. I’ve had some very-well-thought-out insults sent my way, but for the most part, no, no threats,” she said.

RESEARCH POINTS TO WOMEN FACING MORE CRITICISM ONLINE

At least one study indicates that the numbers reflect what these doctors are describing — and may point to a gender divide in the negative feedback they face.

Erin Kelly is the CEO of Advanced Symbolics Inc., which uses Artificial Intelligence for human behaviour research. She studied the feedback these public health officer face using a randomized, controlled sample of 270,000 Canadians taken from Twitter.

Kelly said the randomized, controlled sample she studied was taken from Twitter between October 1, 2019 to September 22, 2020. She said her results had a margin of error of +/- 1 per cent, with a 95-per-cent confidence interval 19 times out of 20.

She said they found, overall, discussion about Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Bonnie Henry was “well in excess of 80 per cent positive, so overall Canadians feel they’re doing a good job.”

“However, we have seen for some of them like Bonnie Henry, feelings about her have been on the decline since about April, and especially since July, that contestations questioning her competence have been increasing,” Kelly said.

She added that roughly a quarter of the discussions about Tam were what she would “classify as racist.”

“But the bigger picture that we see is a gender bias in how public health officials are being perceived,” Kelley said.

She explained that where there are negative comments directed at public health officials, “it comes overwhelmingly from men.”

She said that when this was compared to the comments Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams faces, “the comments from men were overwhelmingly positive.”

“So it’s not as though they’re always negative about public health officials generally, it seems to be splitting along gender lines,” Kelly said.

When asked about this gender difference, Alberta’s top doctor said it would be “difficult” to compare what she’s experienced with the feelings among her colleagues.

“It’s not something I’ve discussed with my male colleagues across the country so that might be something of interest to find out if they’re experiencing some similar frustrations,” Hinshaw said.

“I think it is quite understandable that people do feel angry, it’s just really important that, if people are feeling angry, that they frame their concerns in a respectful way…whether people in leadership are women or men.”

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Coronavirus: Canada adds 1,329 cases, 5 deaths Thursday – Global News

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Canada added 1,329 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and five deaths.

That brings the national total to 148,941 cases and 9,249 deaths, with two deaths added from earlier in the week.

Read more:
Ontario reports 409 new coronavirus cases with most in Toronto-area, Ottawa

Ontario reported 409 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its case total to 48,496 and count back into the 400s after 335 cases were reported Wednesday.

Currently there are 88 people in hospital with the virus in the province, with 27 of them in intensive care and 11 on a ventilator.

Quebec, meanwhile, reported 582 new cases on Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 69,670. Hospitalizations increased by six to 184, with 31 in intensive care.

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One additional death was announced that occurred between Sept. 17 and 22. The province has the most deaths in the country at 5,810.

Out west, British Columbia reported 148 new cases on Thursday, with 61 currently in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care. The province has seen 8,543 cases total.

Two new deaths were reported as well.

Alberta announced 158 new cases, with 58 people currently in hospital, 14 in intensive care. There are 1,462 active cases total.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Alberta has 1.02% positivity rate; 4% of schools have active cases

The province also announced one new death — a man in his 80s from Calgary.

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Manitoba reported 37 new cases of COVID-19. The province currently has 449 active cases, with 11 in hospital and six in intensive care.

The province also confirmed the death of a woman in her 90s in a long-term care home in Winnipeg, which was first reported on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan added five new cases to its tally of 1,835 total cases on Thursday, and currently has 130 active cases with eight people hospitalized. No new deaths were reported.






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In the Maritimes, New Brunswick reported one new case of an individual from Fredericton but who is currently in Ontario.

Nova Scotia added no new cases to its sole active case. The province currently has one person in ICU and has had 1,087 cases total.

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No cases were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI or any of the territories.

There have been 32,091,257 cases reported worldwide and 980,299 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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CP Holiday Train won't roll across Canada this year due to pandemic – CBC.ca

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Since 1999, the annual Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train has pulled into communities across Canada and the United States to raise money for local food banks.

But like so many events deemed unworkable amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the festive train won’t be leaving its station this holiday season.

Keith Creel, the railway’s president and CEO, said CP will instead donate to food banks across the railway network this year and host virtual concerts in lieu of the annual event.

“COVID-19 has created many challenges for communities across our network and has only increased the need at local food banks and food shelves,” he said in a release.

“It is our honour to continue to donate to communities across our network this year, even if the train itself will not run.”

Over its 21 years of operation, the holiday train has raised $17.8 million while collecting 4.8 million pounds of food for local food banks.

Calgary Food Bank president and CEO James McAra said that support would be especially needed amidst rising demand during the pandemic.

“The need for food bank services has risen substantially over the course of this year and heading into the high-demand winter months. We hope CP’s concert will prompt the train’s supporters to give as generously as they’re able,” McAra said in a release.

Details about the virtual concerts will be released at a later date. CP said it plans to resume the holiday train in 2021.

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