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Ottawa signs agreement to find Indigenous policing solutions after mass stabbing

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PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Federal Public Minister Marco Mendicino says he had a heavy and difficult visit with families of those killed in a mass stabbing, before he signed an agreement to explore new ways to improve safety on some First Nations in Saskatchewan.

The agreement between the Prince Albert Grand Council, the Saskatchewan government and Ottawa creates a collaborative working relationship for community-oriented ways to deliver police services.

Mendicino has said he is pushing to table legislation that would declare Indigenous policing an essential service.

Eleven people were killed and 18 injured during the stabbing rampage last month on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.

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A suspect in the attacks later died in police custody.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns says finding solutions to policing will also help the community heal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2022.

 

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Alberta, Saskatchewan chiefs call for sovereignty acts to be withdrawn

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First Nations chiefs from Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling for their provinces to toss proposed legislation they say is inherently undemocratic, unconstitutional and infringes on Indigenous rights.

“We are not looking for change or amendments to the bill. We want it withdrawn,” Chief Tony Alexis said Wednesday on behalf of Treaty 6.

The chiefs are putting forward an emergency resolution at the Assembly of First Nations special assembly to reject sovereignty bills that are before both provincial legislatures.

Alexis, of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation northwest of Edmonton, said there has been no consultation or dialogue with First Nations around the Alberta bill.

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It has been criticized for giving the premier and cabinet unchecked powers to pass laws behind close doors, although amendments to change that have recently been put forward.

Alexis said the bill is harmful to Albertans and Canadians. He said it infringes on treaty rights and could set a harmful precedent.

“We are deeply concerned that, if passed, it would have a domino effect across Canada,” Alexis said. “And what would keep other provinces from following suit and, ultimately, what will that mean for treaty rights across Canada?”

Vice Chief Aly Bear of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations also said the act in Saskatchewan is unconstitutional. The bill, tabled last month, looks to unilaterally amend the Constitution to reassert the province’s jurisdiction over its natural resources.

Premier Scott Moe has said the act doesn’t affect treaty rights and is aimed at growing the economy to benefit all people, including Indigenous people

Bear said, however, that the proposed legislation creates more harm than good. She said there has also not been consultation with Indigenous groups in Saskatchewan.

“If we want to fix that relationship, we have to be sitting down at the table,” she said.

The chiefs said the federal government has, so far, taken a hands-off approach to the bills and encouraged officials to meet with First Nations leaders from the provinces.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said she stands with the chiefs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, calling for the acts to be withdrawn.

She said the bills have a specific agenda around lands and resources and that they infringe on First Nations inherent and treaty rights.

“We will not stand idly by.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new black-ringed toonie to honour Queen Elizabeth II.

The mint says the coin’s black outer ring is intended to evoke a “mourning armband” to honour the queen, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.

The mint says it will start to circulate nearly five million of the coins this month, and they will gradually appear as banks restock inventories.

Aside from the black ring, the mint says the coin retains the same design elements of the standard toonie.

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Four different images of the queen have graced Canadian coins since 1953, when she was crowned.

The core of the commemorative toonie will feature the same portrait of the queen that has been in circulation since 2003, with a polar bear design on the other side.

“Queen Elizabeth II served as Canada’s head of state for seven decades and for millions of Canadians, she was the only monarch they had ever known,” Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, wrote in a statement.

“Our special $2 circulation coin offers Canadians a way to remember her.”

The mint says it may produce more of the coins, depending on what it calls “marketplace needs”.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Bank of Canada raises rate again to 4.25% — but opens door to staying there

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The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points, to 4.25 per cent.

The move was widely expected by economists, who were anticipating a rate hike of either 25 or 50 points.

Canada’s central bank has raised its rate seven times this year in its fight to wrestle inflation into submission. In the process, the bank has taken its rate from 0.25 per cent to 4.25 per cent.

That’s had a huge impact on the rates that Canadian consumers and businesses get from their banks on things like savings accounts and mortgages.

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In previous rate hikes, the bank made it clear that it would continue to raise its trend-setting rate until inflation came back to within the range of up to three per cent that it targets. As recently as October, the bank was saying it “expects” that rates will have to go even higher.

The month before, they said they “still judge” that rates would have to go higher. Even after announcing its biggest rate hike ever, of a full percentage point in July, the bank was saying it “continues to judge that interest rates will need to rise further.”

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But Wednesday’s statement accompanying the rate decision was a clear departure from that tone, as the language shifted to a more neutral, wait-and-see approach.

The bank and its policy makers “will be considering” whether or not the rate has to go higher in order to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target, the bank said Wednesday.

For economist Royce Mendes at Desjardins, that’s a clear pivot. “Upcoming readings on the labour market, inflation and the central bank’s own surveys will dictate whether there’s more to come,” he said. “We now expect central bankers to officially communicate a pause at their January announcement, when they will have a fresh set of forecasts in hand.”

 

Rate hikes gobble up every penny of household spending

 

Rabia Shumayal of Mississauga, Ont. has seen her mortgage rate go from 1.9% to above 5% this year, which has forced her to cut out basically all other spending for her family.

Stopping the barrage of rate hikes is long overdue for people like Rabia Shumayal. She and her husband bought a home in Mississauga, Ont., during the pandemic, a decision she says she has since come to regret because of the rapid escalation in her mortgage costs.

“If they keep increasing the interest rate at this rate, I don’t know how I’m going to afford [my mortage] bill,” she told CBC News in an interview.

Skyrocketing payments

On the advice of her mortgage broker and others, she opted for a variable rate loan.

Her initial rate was 1.92 per cent, which resulted in a monthly payment well within her family budget. But rates have skyrocketed to more than five per cent since then, causing her mortgage payment to balloon to the point where it gobbles up every spare cent the family has, she said — and then some.

“My kids don’t have any extracurriculars because I can’t afford it,” she said. “Every single penny is going toward the mortgage.”

She bristles at suggestions that families can beat inflation by cutting back on expenses, such as the recent quip by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland that families should consider cancelling their subscriptions to Disney+.

“I already don’t have one of those things,” Shumayal says. “And even if I had those, how would getting rid of $30 make up for $1,000 of an escalation of an interest rate?”

While she’s glad to have a home for her children, she’s angry that the bank seems committed to raising rates and punishing families like hers, despite the bank’s infamous 2020 pledge that “interest rates are going to be low for a long time.”

“I should punch myself on that decision,” she says. “Why did I listen to all these people?”

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