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New taxes on banks and life insurers will generate $5.3 billion over five years: PBO

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OTTAWA — Proposed new federal taxes on some financial institutions could generate $5.3 billion over the next five years, the parliamentary budget officer estimated in two new reports issued Thursday.

The documents calculated the expected revenues from the Canada Recovery Dividend and a proposed permanent increase to corporate taxes on banks and life insurance groups.

The PBO said the dividend — a one-time 15 per cent windfall tax on banks and life insurers profits made during the pandemic — will generate $3 billion.

According to draft legislation published in August, the companies would pay the tax on an average of their Canadian-based taxable income above $1 billion for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.

The amount payable will be paid in equal instalments over the next five years.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is also proposing to hike the corporate tax rate on bank and insurance profits over $100 million.

The PBO report said increasing that rate from 15 per cent to 16 .5 per cent would generate $2.3 billion over the next five years.

Both measures were introduced in the federal budget published last April. However the initial dividend proposed was to apply the 15 per cent windfall tax only on 2021 Canadian-based income instead of the average income over 2020 and 2021.

Based on the original frameworks, the budget predicted the two measures would raise more than $6 billion.

Canadians have until Sept. 30 to comment on the draft legislation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2022.

 

Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press

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Canada has picked a new ambassador to China – CTV News

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tapped Jennifer May to be Canada’s new ambassador to China, filling a nearly year-long vacancy in the key diplomatic post.

The government announced May’s appointment on Friday, after sources told CTV News and other outlets on Thursday that May—who speaks Mandarin— had been selected to take on the position and that China had signed off on Canada’s pick.

“I am deeply honoured to take up this important post on behalf of Canada and Canadians,” May tweeted on Friday.

In taking on this new role, she’ll become Canada’s lead on stickhandling a fraught relationship with China and will be responsible for advancing business and economic ties between the two countries, as well as “standing up for democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law,” according to the release from Trudeau’s office.

May, who until August was Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, joined Canada’s foreign affairs department more than 30 years ago. Over her career, May has held a series of positions, including executive director of defence and security relations, director of Eastern Europe and Eurasia relations, and has she served in Bonn, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vienna, Bangkok and Berlin.

“A dedicated public servant, Ms. May’s many years of diverse experience on international missions, and her deep understanding of Asia, will serve to manage this important bilateral relationship and advance Canadian interests in China,” Trudeau said in the statement.

Canada has been without an ambassador to China since the end of 2021, when Dominic Barton moved out of the Beijing offices.

Canada has an embassy in Beijing, as well as consulates general in Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. 

Asked by CTV News a few months back what the holdup was when Canada hit the six-month mark without an ambassador, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office had pledged a representative would be named in “due course,” saying officials continued to engage with China at the “highest levels.”

At the time, former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said that the notable absence was an indication that the federal government “does not understand” the value of a strong diplomatic presence on the ground.

“Having an ambassador gives you intelligence… because here’s a person who can have access to high-level [information] that other people at the embassy can’t,” he said. “You are depriving yourself from all that useful information.”

Barton publicly announced his resignation on Dec. 6, 2021, just months after helping to secure the release of former diplomat and entrepreneur Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The two men were arbitrarily detained and held in a Chinese jail for more than 1,000 days. Their arrests are widely seen as retaliation for the Vancouver arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.

Those events launched what would become nearly three years of icy relations between Canada and China.

May’s appointment comes just ahead of Canada marking the one-year anniversary of the two Michael’s release.

It was late on the night of Sept. 24, 2021 when Trudeau made a national address, announcing that Kovrig and Spavor had boarded a plane in China with Barton, and “they’re on the way home.”

With files from CTV National News Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier, CTV National News Producer Mackenzie Gray and CTVNews.ca Producer Sarah Turnbull

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RCMP ‘did their best’ in response to N.S. mass shooting: federal Justice Department

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HALIFAX — The RCMP’s response to the 2020 shooting rampage that left 22 Nova Scotians dead was far from perfect, but police did their best, the federal Justice Department said Friday.

During the final day of public proceedings at the federal-provincial inquiry into the mass shooting, Lori Ward, general counsel for the federal Department of Justice, said there’s always room for improvement for all policing agencies.

“No response to a critical incident of this magnitude could be perfect, but when this crisis hit, the RCMP showed up, did their best and acted with courage, determination and dedication,” Ward said.

It’s difficult, she added, to separate what was known when the killer was at large on April 18-19, 2020, from what has been uncovered in the years since the tragedy. While hindsight is a valuable tool when used to learn lessons and make changes, it “can also impede a fair and objective evaluation of decisions made in real time.”

On the night of April 18, 2020, a man disguised as a Mountie and driving a car that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser started killing neighbours and strangers in rural Portapique, N.S.

Ward said she is aware of the criticism levelled at the RCMP for allegedly dismissing witness accounts of the marked police car that the gunman was driving during the 13-hour rampage. She said the idea that the killer could have built such a car himself was beyond reasonable comprehension and was unlike anything police had seen before.

When the RCMP were sent photos of gunman Gabriel Wortman’s replica police cruiser the morning of April 19, 2020, it was initially viewed with “disbelief and incomprehension” by all members, Ward said.

“To assert that (RCMP) should have continued to search for a car identical to their own as opposed to turning their minds to alternatives like decommissioned cars is to view the events through the lens of someone who has now been familiar with the existence of the replica car for more than two years,” she said.

Ward, who at times before the inquiry had tears in her eyes, highlighted that among the “problems and failings” of the RCMP in the aftermath of the shootings was the delay in discovering some of the killer’s 22 victims.

Harry and Cory Bond, the sons of Peter and Joy Bond — a couple murdered in Portapique, N.S., the night of April 18, 2020 — started hearing from acquaintances the next morning about shootings near Cobequid Court, the road where their parents lived.

The summary from the inquiry into the mass shooting says it was about 18 hours after the killings started before an RCMP officer found the Bonds’ bodies inside their home.

“The anguish felt by the families of those victims at the thought of that lapse of time is unimaginable,” Ward said, adding that the delay is among the things the RCMP “wishes it could go back and change.”

To close out the final day of public inquiry proceedings, the three commissioners thanked all those who participated for their contributions and the public for its engagement.

A final report detailing recommendations from the inquiry will be released March 31, 2023.

Commissioner Leanne Fitch said that the inquiry has heard commitments from RCMP leaders and other “institutional representatives” that they will be open to the recommendations and are prepared to receive them.

“We are encouraged by these commitments and call on policymakers, institutions, community groups and members of the public to take action based on the coming recommendations,” Fitch said.

The commission of inquiry said it has conducted interviews with more than 230 people, including 80 RCMP officers, and has released 31 summaries of evidence — known as foundational documents — alongside more than 3,800 supporting materials and exhibits. As well, more than 900 members of the public shared their experiences of the mass shooting through the commission’s online survey.

Members of the public may submit suggestions for recommendations through email, mail or over the phone until Sept. 30.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press

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Jason Kenney, soon out as Alberta premier, pokes fun at himself in speech

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Jason Kenney, in one of his last speeches as Alberta’s premier and United Conservative Party leader, riffed at the microphone Friday, drawing laughs as he poked fun at himself and pretended to brush off a call from the prime minister.

“This is clearly not a UCP caucus meeting,” Kenney joked as delegates gave him an ovation in Calgary at the Alberta Municipalities convention.

He then looked to the moderator and said, “Too soon?”

Kenney will be replaced as party leader and premier on Oct. 6. He announced in the spring he was leaving after open challenges to his leadership from party members and a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a review.

In his speech, Kenney lauded the accomplishments of his government and the province, which is once again gushing with oil and gas revenues just months after its economy was pancaked by the COVID-19 crisis.

As Kenney spoke, he got a call on his phone. He let it go to voice mail, saying, “Sorry, Justin. I’ll call back later.”

As delegates laughed, Kenney shrugged and added, “I got nothing left to lose.”

Kenney said his government did what it set out to do after winning the 2019 election. He said while oil and gas revenues have been the engine of the recovery, other policies have helped.

He noted his government slashed the corporate income tax, reduced needless and duplicative regulations, streamlined business approval processes, laid the groundwork to expand in growth areas such as high-tech and hydrogen, added more opportunities to teach skilled trades, and introduced tax incentives to lure more film and TV productions.

“You’re looking at something in the range of $90 billion of capital investment in this province over the next decade alone. This is huge,” he said.

Kenney joked that he had tried — and failed — to land a part in one of those film projects, opining, “I guess I’m proof that politics really is showbiz for ugly people.”

The premier also cautioned municipal leaders to keep their wish lists within reason, given that while times are good now, they can get ugly again in a hurry due to the mercurial nature of oil and gas prices.

He noted that at one point earlier this year, benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil was selling above US$100 a barrel but is now at less than $80, and fell $4 a barrel in the hours before his speech.

“Don’t imagine that we can wish our way out of fiscal constraints,” Kenney said.

Seven candidates, including four of Kenney’s former cabinet ministers, are running to replace him. The winner will have less than eight months before the scheduled general election in May.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, in her speech to delegates, promised a new revenue-sharing deal with municipalities and an end to UCP policies that led to higher auto insurance rates, school fees and tuition hikes.

Notley said her party would end the rancorous relationship between the government and the doctors that began after Kenney’s government tore up the master agreement with physicians in early 2020.

She received the largest round of applause of the morning after promising her government would abandon the plan to replace the RCMP with a provincial police force in smaller cities and rural areas.

Kenney’s government has been advocating strongly for the change while municipal and rural leaders worry over who will pay for such an expensive transformation.

“I’m not ever going to endorse a plan that sees hundreds of millions of dollars go toward repainting (police) cars and changing the signs on detachments,” Notley said.

“I won’t download new costs onto your constituents or gaslight you about who’s actually going to pay for it.”

This story by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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