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Liberal committee pushing for phone voting in pandemic elections

The move was met with opposition warnings that telephone voting could leave open the possibility of fraud

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Canadians should be able to use their phone to vote in an election held during a pandemic, say Liberals members of a Common’s committee.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the move was met with opposition warnings that telephone voting could leave open the possibility of fraud.

The committee’s Liberal members in a majority report to Parliament said “Elections Canada should explore the options for establishing a vote by phone option.”

“Phone voting poses considerable challenges for properly verifying the identity of voters who vote this way,” Bloc Québécois MPs wrote in a minority report.

“It also opens the door to fraud, something important to consider especially in light of the theft of data and personal information over the internet in recent years.”

No federal election has ever allowed telephone voting.

The majority report also recommended greater use of mail-in ballots “to ensure voters are aware of how they can vote should they miss the mail-in deadline.”

Conservative MPs protested the proposal would see mailed ballots counted after Election Day.

“Ballots received after the close of polls should not be counted,” wrote Conservatives.

“The election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay.

“Regardless of when the deadline to submit ballots occurs, there will be some votes that arrive too late. The anxiety and uncertainty that would be caused by a delay of election results is unacceptable.”

A total 49,545 Canadians voted by mail in the last campaign in 2019, mainly members of the armed forces and Canadian citizens working overseas.

Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault earlier testified his office has already budgeted $10 million to process 5,000,000 mail-in ballots from Canadians at home who choose not to vote in person.

“For the first time we will have prepaid postage for the mail-in ballots,” Perreault told a November 19 hearing of the House affairs committee.

“It’s critical for us to be able to manage what we think will be up to 5,000,000 mail-in ballots.”

The committee’s Liberal majority recommended “that Elections Canada expand, optimize and promote the mail-in process to increase awareness and prepare for a potential influx of mail-in ballots.”

The forecast of five million votes by mail would be the largest in Canadian history. A Saskatchewan election last October 26 saw 56,000 mail-in ballots. British Columbia in its election October 24 had 596,000 electors vote by mail.

New Democrats in a minority report expressed wariness over a clause of the Elections Act that allows cabinet to postpone Election Day voting in local ridings.

Section 59 states cabinet may “order the withdrawal of a writ for any electoral district” due to flood, fire or other disaster, including a pandemic lockdown. The law has never been invoked.

There have been musings about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling a spring election to try and move from a minority to majority government.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Editor of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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O’Toole says his carbon tax is ‘not a tax’, denies breaking promise

And he said he didn’t break his promise to kill the hated Justin Trudeau carbon tax because with his tax, the money doesn’t go to the government.

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Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says his proposed new carbon tax is “not a tax”, and that he didn’t break his promise to kill the Justin Trudeau carbon tax because his carbon tax’s revenues will be managed by bankers appointed by him, and not be held in government accounts.

“Well I’ve always been consistent on wanting to eliminate Mr. Trudeau’s carbon tax, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

O’toole on ctv’s question period

“The low carbon savings account we’ve proposed will be kept by consumers, not one cent goes to government.”

In a shocking flip-flop, O’Toole tore up his leadership campaign’s signature promise to end carbon tax last Thursday, and will be campaigning on a large, re-branded carbon tax in the next federal election. O’Toole written pledge with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation included a clear commitment to not replace the Trudeau carbon tax with “any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.”

O’Toole is proposing to charge a $50/tonne carbon tax on everything from gasoline to home heating fuel, and use the money to fund government-controlled bank accounts, which Canadians can use to purchase government-approved, environmentally friendly products.

Canadians would pay a carbon tax beginning at $20 per tonne, increasing to $50 a tonne, but the Tories promised it would go no higher than that. However, O’Toole promised emphatically that there would be no carbon tax at all under his leadership.

When running for party leader, O’Toole signed a Canadian Taxpayers Federation pledge to oppose the federal carbon tax. The vow said: “I, Erin O’Toole promise that if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax, and reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.”

O’Toole repeated his pledge to fight against any consumer carbon tax during the campaign for the Tory top spot.

The O’Toole carbon tax may also leave less money in taxpayers pockets than the Trudeau plan does.

Under the Trudeau plan, a portion of the federal carbon tax is rebated to taxpayers to spend as they see fit. Under the O’Toole plan, revenues will go into personalized “green” savings accounts that Canadians could only spend on government-approved environmentally friendly products.

People could then draw on those accounts for “things that help them live a greener life,” according to the Secure The Environment document. 

“This will not be a government-run program, it will be something that we view the industry doing in a similar way that the financial services industry developed and innovated with the Interac system, which people use far more now than then traditional old currency,” said O’Toole on CTV.

“This will be an account that is then tracked, it will not be big government, it will be actually run in a similar fashion to a loyalty-type program.

“I hear all the time from all parties on the spectrum saying every Canadian needs to take their role in a climate change plan. This allows that through full transparency, and for people to have their low carbon savings account and make smart decisions.”

The flip-flop angered the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“O’Toole is insulting our intelligence, of course this is a carbon tax,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Federal Director.

“If you’re going to break your promise and hammer Canadians with a carbon tax at least have the spine to admit it.

“Instead of playing word games with Canadians, O’Toole should live up to his promise and fight carbon taxes.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Feds say costly Super Bowl ads needed to make Canadians aware of COVID

Authorities earlier credited millions in advertising, not blanket news coverage, for alerting Canadians to the risks of COVID-19.

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The feds paid almost $182,000 for COVID-19 safety ads aired during the Super Bowl, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

That works out to $1,347 per second of taxpayers’ money for 135 seconds of Feb. 7 ad time. The total cost was $181,879.

An estimated 8.8 million people in Canada watched a portion of the game.

Authorities earlier credited millions in advertising, not blanket news coverage, for alerting Canadians to the risks of COVID-19.

A $120-million government-wide marketing budget included funding for “behavioral scientists,” according to a July 16 report.

“Up to $3.7 million is related to estimated salary costs for up to 16 (employees) that will support this initiative, including behavioural scientists and dedicated resources in the digital communications, public opinion research and advertising teams,” wrote staff in the Annual Report On Government Of Canada Advertising Activities.

Ken McKillop, assistant secretary to cabinet, testified June 16 at the Commons government operations committee the advertising blitz was intended to “get the news to Canadians” about the pandemic.

MacKillop credited the Privy Council’s own $49.5 million ad budget with “encouraging social distancing,” a claim disputed by committee members.

“COVID’s on the TV every second, every newspaper, every Facebook feed, everything, it’s Covid all the time,” said Conservative MP Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West):

  • MP McCauley: “Everyone knows about social distancing. Everyone knows there is Covid going on. Do you find it justifiable to spend the $50 million on something every single person knows about?”
  • Assistant MacKillop: “Well you know, you’re not wrong. People know about it because we’ve advertised.”
  • MP McCauley: “No, I think because it’s on the news cycle 24 hours a day. I’m asking, do you think this is a fair use of taxpayers’ money to advertise about something that every single person in the entire world knows is going on right now?”
  • Assistant MacKillop: “I do think it’s worth the money to advertise to Canadians on health and safety and what we’re asking them to do. Again, the virus has been unpredictable.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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O’Toole wants carbon tax placed on Chinese imports

“It’s certainly something we’re interested in,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

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A day after flip-flopping on Canada’s carbon tax, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says the Liberals should slap one on imports from China, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Most Canadians don’t want to see Canadian jobs being shifted to China where they don’t respect the climate change commitments democratic countries are making, where their aluminum, where their steel is five, six, seven times more carbon intensive than the incredible production in the Saguenay region or in British Columbia or Ontario,” said O’Toole.

“That tariff will price out some of these bad actor countries’ products.”

The Conservative Party proposed the carbon tariff in a document, Secure The Environment.

“We will study the imposition of a carbon border tariff which would reflect the amount of carbon emissions attributed to goods imported into Canada,” it stated.

Access To Information records indicate the Department of Environment has researched the proposal for five years.

Department of Industry managers, in 2016 testimony at the Commons trade committee, said they had no way of punishing importers that pollute. Chinese steel mills produce more than 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions of Canadian plants, about 598 kilograms of carbon for every tonne of steel, by official estimate.

“It’s certainly something we’re interested in,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

“While we are very interested in the idea – we are working on the discussion with the Americans and with Europeans – I think anybody who says that’s something you could do in the very short term doesn’t really understand how it works.

“We are very positive with respect to the potential for border carbon adjustments, but I do think folks need to understand how complicated that discussion is. In order to actually put in place a border carbon adjustment you either need to have alignment between Canada and the United States – for example, on carbon pricing – or you need to be able to have agreement about how you’re going to impute carbon pricing that is associated with either investments or regulation.”

In a shocking flip-flop, O’Toole tore up his leadership campaign’s signature promise to end carbon tax Thursday, and will be campaigning on a large, re-branded carbon tax in the next federal election.

O’Toole is proposing to charge a $50/tonne carbon tax on everything from gasoline to home heating fuel, and use the money to fund government-controlled savings accounts, which Canadians can use to purchase government-approved, environmentally friendly products.

Canadians would pay a carbon tax beginning at $20 per tonne, increasing over time to $50 a tonne, but the Tories promised it would go no higher than that. However, O’Toole promised emphatically that there would be no carbon tax at all under his leadership.

When running for party leader, O’Toole signed a Canadian Taxpayers Federation pledge to oppose the federal carbon tax. The vow said: “I, Erin O’Toole promise that if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax, and reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.”

O’Toole repeated his pledge to fight against any consumer carbon tax during the campaign for the Tory top spot.

The O’Toole carbon tax may also leave less money in taxpayers pockets than the Trudeau plan does.

Under the Trudeau plan, a portion of the federal carbon tax is rebated to taxpayers to spend as they see fit. Under the O’Toole plan, revenues will go into personalized “green” savings accounts that Canadians could only spend on government-approved environmentally friendly products.

People could then draw on those accounts for “things that help them live a greener life,” according to the Secure The Environment document. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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