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MPs say ‘oui’ to declaring Quebec a French nation

The final vote was 281-2 in passing the Bloc motion.

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Only two MPs in the House of Commons Wednesday voted against declaring Quebec a French nation, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The final vote was 281-2 in passing the Bloc motion.

Premier Minister Justin Trudeau voted in the affirmative but did not speak on the motion. A total of 34 MPs abstained.

“It is a French nation whose only official language is French,” said Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet.

The motion stated the Commons agree “that Québeckers form a nation, that French is the only official language of Québec, and that it is the common language of the Québec nation.”

“Québec is not a nation within a united Canada,” said Blanchet.

“That does not mean anything. Québec is a whole, entire, thriving, complete, vibrant, beautiful and up and coming French nation.”

“We are putting this Parliament in a position where it will be forced to effectively take note of the fact that Québec is affirming that we are a French nation. I would dare say that Parliament should do that in a humble way, which is not something it is often known for. There will be consequences.”

Five members opposed it: Liberal MP Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre), New Democrat MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre), Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, Independent MP Derek Sloan (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.) and Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville), the former attorney general. Three opponents subsequently changed their votes before the final tally: FryGazan and McKenna. 

“It is true that symbols are important,” Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said in debate on the motion.

Rodriguez said “as a Québecker and a Canadian I am very concerned about the decline of French, and so is the government.

“When we, the representatives of the four parties, meet and discuss, it is in French,” said Rodriguez.

“I do not think this has ever been done so regularly in French.”

MPs to abstain from voting on the motion included New Democrat Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre, Ont.)

Conservative abstentions were MPs John Barlow (Foothills, Alta.), Bob Benzen (Calgary Heritage), Kelly Block (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek, Sask.), Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords-Lloydminster, Sask.), Jeremy Patzer (Cypress Hills-Grasslands, Sask.), Martin Shields (Bow River, Alta.), Mark Strahl (Chilliwack-Hope, B.C.), Shannon Stubbs (Lakeland, Alta.), Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton-Melville, Sask.), Chris Warkentin (Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, Alta.) and David Yurdiga (Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, Alta.).

Liberal abstentions were MPs René Arsenault (Madawaska-Restigouche, N.B.), Chandra Arya (Nepean, Ont.), Serge Cormier (Acadie-Bathurst, N.B.), Julie Dabrusin (Toronto-Danforth), Anju Dhillon (Dorval-Lachine, Que.), Wayne Easter (Malpeque, P.E.I.), Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York, Ont.),  Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Que.), Angelo Iacono (Alfred-Pellan, Que.), Annie Koutrakis (Vimy, Que.), Emmanuella Lambropoulos (Saint-Laurent, Que.), Patricia Lattanzio (St. Leonard-St. Michel, Que.), Wayne Long (Saint John-Rothesay), John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.), Sherry Romanado (Longueuil-Charles LeMoyne, Que.), Darrell Samson (Sackville-Preston, N.B.), Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-St. Louis, Que.), Peter Schiefke (Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Que.), Scott Simms (Coast of Bays-Central, Nfld. & Labrador), Patrick Weiler (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast) and Sameer Zuberi (Pierrefonds-Dollard, Que.).

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel-Garner said the vote could turn out to be an important one for Alberta.

“The issue of provincial rights has come to the forefront of Parliament,” Rempel-Garner said in a statement.

“This is particularly important for Albertans, who suffer from systemic inequities that are built into the fabric of Confederation. This is demonstrated by the significant net negative payments Alberta sends to Ottawa, which are in turn distributed to other provinces, our unequal representation in the House of Commons, and more.

“The motion passed today speaks to issues in Quebec, but more importantly underscores the right of every province to assert its autonomy. Given the economic crisis Alberta finds itself in, the problems created by the federal equalization program, and the motion passed today, should the province decide to do so, I would support Alberta beginning to examine the process of drafting and adopting a codified constitution and considering how section 45 of the Constitution Act of 1982 could be used to better defend Alberta’s interests. 

“The sentiment of having greater provincial autonomy to rectify the systemic inequities that Alberta faces as part of Confederation is at the heart of the Buffalo Declaration, which I published over a year ago and stand by today.

“The motion that was passed in the House of Commons today acknowledges the right of every province to defend their interests. Today’s motion affirms that if Quebec can do it, so can any other province, including Alberta. With the passage of this motion, the House of Commons opened the door for greater provincial autonomy for every province from Ottawa. It is time for Albertans to walk through it.”

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 Division 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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. David

    June 20, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    The delicious irony of the Parliament in Central Canada almost unanimously supporting provincial autonomy!

    Albertans! Maitre chez nous!

  2. Andrew

    June 17, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    We’ll be the Nation of Alberta. Join Wildrose Independence Party!

  3. K

    June 17, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    That’s the spirit, frenchies. Dissolve this heap of garbage country for the rest of us.

  4. Left Coast

    June 17, 2021 at 10:19 am

    French is a dying language . . . just like France is a dying country . . .

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SLOBODIAN: Decade long investigation into Manitoba residential school involves nearly 100 officers and 700 interviews

The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.

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A “large and complex” decade-long investigation by RCMP has been underway into allegations of sexual abuse at a former residential school in Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation.


The Fort Alexander Residential School opened in 1905 on Sagkeeng First Nation, located 120-km north of Winnipeg. In 1970 it was converted to a day school that operated for several years.


Manitoba RCMP issued a press release Tuesday confirming the major crimes unit began looking into allegations of abuse in February 2010, then launched a formal criminal investigation the following year.


RCMP began by gathering information, including reviewing archival records in both Ottawa and Manitoba. They went through thousands of documents such as student and employee lists and quarterly returns.


This involved more than 80 officers who interacted with more than 700 people across North America in an effort to find possible victims and witnesses.


“After compiling and collating all this data, investigators developed an investigative plan that began with the canvassing of people whose names had been identified in the documents as well as a door-to-door canvas in the Powerview/Fort Alexander area, where the school had been located,” said the statement.


The criminal investigation launched in 2011 involved 75 formal witnesses and victim statements.
Recently, Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said elders and survivors have long spoken about abuse at the school and children that went missing.


The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.


“Violation of the privacy rights of those involved in this investigation will not only cause further trauma to everyone involved, but also potentially compromise this highly sensitive investigation,” said Henderson. “We ask that the trauma our community has experienced and continues to live every day is respected and that those affected are afforded their privacy at this time.”

RCMP are working closely with First Nations leaders and no other criminal investigations into former residential schools are underway in Manitoba, said RCMP.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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BC increases vaccine efforts amid slowing rates, including ‘vax vans’

“Over the next two weeks, BC will push hard to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible.”

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BC health officials want more people rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 shot, and say they will be increasing efforts in the coming weeks to do just that.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr. Penny Ballem addressed BC’s vaccine roll-out plan during a Tuesday morning news conference.

Among their announced efforts are “walk-in Wednesday” which will take place August 4 when 20,000 jabs will be made available with no need to book in advance.

Walk-in Wednesday is part of the “Vax for BC” campaign.

“I’d like to begin by thanking each and every one of the millions of British Columbian’s, like me, who have stepped up to be vaccinated,” said Henry.

“Because of this small act, we have been able to re-open our province.

“While we have made tremendous progress with our immunization plan, there is of course more work to do. We know that some people still struggle to find a convenient time in their day to get immunized, and others may still have questions, and be hesitant about the vaccine.

“So starting today, we are making it even easier for people to get vaccines. To help protect themselves, and their loved ones against COVID-19.”

Henry said the province will be introducing “custom vax vans” so people will be able to get vaccinated on their lunch break or “while cooling off at a lake.”

The province is also reducing the wait time between first and second doses from eight weeks to seven weeks.

There are currently 906,772 eligible people who have not received a dose, roughly 19.6% of the population older than 12, according to data from July 23.

Interior health has an un-vaccinated population of 26.2% while Northern health has 32.5% without a first shot.

On Monday, the Surrey Board of Trade wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister of Canada Patty Hajdu, BC Premier John Horgan, and Minister of Health Adrian Dix urging them to “implement a proof-of-immunization model.”

“We support a centralized, Canada-wide approach to COVID-19 proof-of immunization that could be easily used to confirm vaccination status for international and domestic use,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“Without inter-provincial harmonization, Canada risks a piecemeal approach, making life more difficult and unpredictable for individuals and employers during an already uncertain time.”

Last week, YVR airport implemented separate lines for vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals prior to reaching customs.

The separation of lines – which was put in place as a federal policy – has since been removed following extensive public push-back.

As for enforcing proof-of-immunization policies at concerts, night clubs, and sporting events – an increasing number of British Columbian’s are cozying up to this idea.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com

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Feds silent on $120M loan to company not ‘worthy of taxpayers’ largesse”

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions.

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Federal agencies yesterday remained mum about a $120 million housing loan to one of Canada’s wealthiest developers, after Cabinet earlier defended the loan as critical, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Ahmed Hussen, minister responsible for housing, told reporters. “That’s why the government is taking action to increase the supply of rental housing through projects like the one we’re announcing.”

Cabinet on July 19 announced the $120 million loan to build 302 apartments in Brampton, Ont. The developer is Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. The company’s CEO was paid $3 million in salary and benefits last year, according to corporate filings.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Hussen’s department said in a statement. “A solid and reliable supply of rental housing is critical to ensuring more Canadians have access to housing that is affordable.”

Choice Properties is owned by George Weston Ltd. The developer’s 2020 net income totaled $451 million. The loan was approved through a federal program, the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, that extends 10-year, easy-term credit “for certainty during the most risky periods of development,” according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions. The news website Press Progress cited data from Canada Mortgage and Housing that of 302 apartments in the Brampton project, as few as 61 would rent at below-market rates. The building is scheduled for completion by 2023.

“We know that finding an affordable place to live is a challenge for many Canadians in communities across the country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time. “Today’s announcement is great news for families in Brampton. The Government of Canada will continue to invest to increase affordable housing options.”

George Weston Ltd. reported net earnings of $1.6 billion last year. It also operates the Loblaw Companies Ltd. supermarket chain that in 2019 received a $12 million federal grant to install new freezers. “Canadians might wonder why the Liberals handed over $12 million to Loblaw’s, one of Canada’s richest companies,” Conservative MP Mark Strahl (Chilliwack-Hope, B.C.) earlier told the Commons.

The freezer grant was paid under a Low Carbon Economy Fund. A now-disbanded ecoEnergy program similarly paid grants to large corporations in the name of energy efficiency.

Sobeys Inc. received $1.48 million in ecoEnergy grants in the period from 2006 to 2013. Loblaw Companies received $801,000. A total $207,968 was paid to McDonald’s Restaurants and $153,960 to Sears Canada.

“These companies are flush,” Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said in an interview at the time. “Companies, given their financial statements, don’t seem to be worthy recipients of taxpayers’ largesse.”

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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