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Nunavut Senator says ‘antiquated’ landowner law needs to go

“They are requirements that haven’t changed since the Constitution Act in 1867,” Senator Patterson earlier told the Senate.

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One of the few Confederation-era laws still on the books is being challenged by Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson in hopes of repealing the outdated law, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

Patterson described the law that requires senators to be landowners with at least $4,000 in paid-up equity as “antiquated and elitist.”

“They are requirements that haven’t changed since the Constitution Act in 1867,” Patterson earlier told the Senate.

“These are antiquated and elitist measures that have lost their raison d’être in modern society.”

Patterson first began his attempt to repeal the then 149-year-old law in 2016 which requires senators to own “real and personal property” worth $4,000 over and above any debts and liabilities.

“Millions of Canadians across the country are not qualified to sit as a senator and fully participate in the governing of Canada solely because they do not own land or their net worth is below $4,000,” said Patterson Thursday upon introducing another bill: S-228.

“Canadians should not be excluded from participating in the parliamentary process simply because they rent or are an Aboriginal homeowner on reserve.

“The provision made a lot of sense, I suspect, in 1867, putting aside the purpose for which it was put in place,” said Patterson.

The new bill would repeal the provision for appointees from all provinces but Québec due to an anomaly that would require approval of that province’s National Assembly.

The original $4,000 property requirement represented a senator’s annual pay at the time, a salary level that remained unchanged until 1925, while industrial wages were 60¢ per day or less.

The 1867 Senate, then comprised of 72 members, included 12 factory owners, 10 bankers, four railway executives, three publishers, two law professors and a judge.

“This was the chamber that was going to protect the rich by being sure it was populated by the rich,” then-Senator Joan Fraser (Que.) said in 2018 debate on repeal.

“In 1867 it meant quite a lot. It was a huge requirement, and it was done by design.”

The original 1867 British North America Act set similar criteria on MPs. Candidates from Ontario and Québec were required to own property worth at least 500 pounds sterling.

New Brunswick MPs had to prove ownership of at least $1,200 worth of land while property requirements in Nova Scotia were just $8. The Commons abolished all property requirements in 1874.

Following the Senate appointment of Sister Peggy Butts, a Catholic nun who had taken a vow of poverty, efforts began to repeal the property requirement law.

In order for Butts to meet property qualifications, Congrégation de Notre Dame of Montréal granted her title to a $4,000 lot.

Senator Butts, who died at the age of 81 in 2004, donated her entire salary to charity.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Red Deer

    November 27, 2021 at 7:54 am

    You can Solve this problem in one swell foop for the Natives/Aboriginal/Indigenous ! Make all reserves into fully constituted townships. The townships could then allocate lots to the residents as owners. Done! The benefits would be self government, and taxation ability and revenue stream not from the public trough.

  2. David Climenhaga

    November 26, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    The Senate in 1867 required all Senators to be significant taxpayers. Taxation of Land owners was a primary source of tax revenue. There was no income tax. A primary responsibility of the Senate in 1867 was to protect taxpayers from excessive spending by the populist lower house. Rather than remove the $4000 capital asset requirement it should be reformed to ensure that all Senators are significant taxpayers. That might bring some sanity to the excess spending by the current Liberal government.

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Ottawa press gallery discusses letting Chinese propaganda agency in

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

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Officials with the Parliamentary Press Gallery held a behind closed doors meeting on Tuesday to talk about letting reporters from Xinhau, the Chinese Community Party’s propaganda agency, into the club, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The gallery is not bound by any outside political considerations,” said gallery president Catherine Levesque of the National Post. 

“We are doing our due diligence to ensure Xinhua meets certain criteria and we will be making a decision shortly.”

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

“Membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery allows access to the secure physical buildings of the parliamentary precinct and the opportunity to directly question individuals who drive and shape public policy,” gallery directors wrote in a 2020 code Journalistic Principles And Practices.

“As a result, accreditation is a privilege, not a right.”

Xinhua had been a member until 2020 when its press pass lapsed.

The Department of National Defence in 2012 blacklisted the agency from attending its press briefings, and a Xinhua correspondent in 2012 disclosed he was asked to maintain surveillance on Chinese dissidents in Canada.

The gallery would not discuss the Xinhua application but the gallery code states members must “respect the rights of people involved in the news.”

The Commons by a unanimous 266-0 vote last February 22 condemned China for human rights atrocities including the genocide of its Uyghur Muslim community. MPs also voted to petition the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing.

“We need to move forward, not just as a country but as a world, on recognizing the human rights violations that are going on in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

“This is an issue that matters deeply to me, to all Canadians, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies on taking it seriously.”

Xinhua was originally granted Press Gallery membership in 1964 at the request of then-Foreign Minister Paul Martin Sr.

“It is a step in the direction of mutual understanding between Canada and mainland China,” Martin said at the time. Membership was approved in a press credentials swap that saw the Communist Party permit the Globe & Mail to open a Beijing bureau.

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PHA head says cellphone snooping fears unwarranted

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

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The president of the Public Health Agency (PHA) says Canadians need not fret over the fact his organization snooped on 33 million cellphone users, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

“No personal information was asked or was received,” Kochhar told the Commons health committee.

“No individually identifiable data is contained in any part of the work.”

The Commons ethics committee last Friday voted 10-0 to examine the data collection program using cellphone tower tracking. The PHA said it sought the information to monitor compliance with lockdown orders.

“The actual reason why we collected this data is reliable, timely and relevant public health data comes out of it for other policy and decision making,” said Kochhar.

“This is population-level mobility data analysis. This is what we have collected.

“That would help us to understand the possible link between the movement of populations within Canada and the impact on COVID-19. We did that in terms of a very clear way of getting that open and transparent means of collection. We never, ever actually know when we use that information that it is individually identifiable. It is aggregated data.”

MPs on the ethics committee earlier noted cellphone users were never told the PHA was collecting the cellphone tracking data. Conservative MP John Brassard (Barrie-Innisfil, Ont.), noted the scope of the monitoring was only detailed when the Agency issued a December 17 notice to contractors to expand the program.

“It becomes increasingly concerning that government is seemingly using this pandemic as a means and a cause for massive overreach into the privacy rights of Canadians,” said Brassard.

“As parliamentarians, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we protect those rights, that there is proper scrutiny and oversight.”

“The Public Health Agency was collecting data without the knowledge of Canadians, effectively doing it in secret. We need to know what security measures were in place to protect the privacy rights of Canadians.

“It is vital we do not allow the COVID response to create a permanent backslide of the rights and freedoms of Canadians including their fundamental right to privacy.”

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Health Minister Duclos has no info on $150-million COVID contract to SNC-Lavalin

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

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SNC-Lavalin was given a $150-million sole-source contract to provide “urgently” needed field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic — but Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos doesn’t seem to know much about it, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The field hospitals were never used.

“This is obviously in support of the needs at the request of provinces and territories,” said Duclos.

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

“What is the status of the mobile field hospitals SNC-Lavalin was contracted to produce?” asked Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.).

“It was an example of the significant level of preparation that we did throughout the crisis,” replied Duclos.

“Why have the field hospitals from SNC-Lavalin not been deployed?” asked Kramp-Neuman.

Duclos replied he had no information on “the exact nature of the state of that equipment.”

“Did the Prime Minister’s Office approve of this?” asked MP Kramp-Neuman.

“That’s a public works question,” replied Duclos.

“We’re not getting a lot of clarity here,” said MP Kramp-Neuman, adding: “The buck stops with you. Sadly, I recognize you don’t have all the answers to everything, but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a lot of answers to anything.”

An unidentified Department of Public Works manager finalized the SNC-Lavalin contract on April 9, 2020 without notice to other bidders.

“A public call for tenders was not issued due to the urgency of the need as a result of the pandemic,” said an internal e-mail.

However, as late as Sep. 9, 2020, the Québec contractor had still not fixed a delivery date, according to staff emails.

Paul Thompson, deputy minister of public works, Tuesday said he knew little of the contract details.

“I personally don’t have all the details at my fingertips,” said Thompson.

SNC-Lavalin was paid to supply field hospitals equipped with 200 hospital beds, ventilators, masks, medical gowns and ten days’ worth of medication, back-up generators, water and oxygen tanks, X-ray machines, shower bays and latrines.

“The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible for deployment where the need is greatest in Canada,” said a memo.

Internal records dated Oct. 13, 2020 disclosed no one wanted the field hospitals.

The department said spending included $2 million for design work and millions more on warehousing medical supplies for presumed future use.

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