Category: Federal Politics

On Racism and the Bloc

It may be a stretch to call it “the boot heard round the world.” But Jagmeet Singh attracted international attention with his ejection from the House of Commons last week for calling another member racist. The incident caught the attention of  both the BBC and National Public Radio in the U.S. and, according to iPolitics, assorted other international media outlets. As has been widely reported, the racist epithet was hung on Bloc Quebecois MP Alain Therrien who denied unanimous consent for debate on the NDP leader’s motion to recognize systemic racism in the RCMP and review the Mounties’ budget,...

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Budget office sheds fresh light on public debt and private wealth

The Parliamentary Budget Office, about the only worthwhile thing to emerge from nine years of the Harper Conservatives, issued two significant reports last week. The first was the latest scenario for the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on federal finances. It showed that despite what seems like a never-ending stream of spending commitments from Ottawa, the country’s fiscal outlook has improved. A second PBO report was even more enlightening, providing at least a partial answer to the question of how to pay not only for COVID-19-related assistance but also for mending holes in the social safety net exposed by the pandemic....

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Disabled population gets its pandemic moment – as a political football

For a brief but far from shining moment this past week, Canadians with disabilities were in the political spotlight in Ottawa. At issue was the wrangling about a modest gesture by the Liberal government to recognize the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on disabled people. The proposal is to send a one-time payment of up to $600 to about one million Canadians eligible for the disability tax credit. Within that group, seniors would get only $100 to $300, presumably because they’re already benefitting from a pension top-up announced several weeks ago. At most, the initiative would cost half...

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Diary of a plague week: Gifts and Grifts

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth but I couldn’t help being conflicted on hearing that we seniors are about to get a tax-free $300-$500 pandemic pension top-up. No doubt those who’ve endured financial stress as a result of COVID-19 will welcome the modest windfall. The fortunate ones who feel they don’t need the cash are free to give it away. What really struck me about the gift to seniors was the estimated cost – $2.5 billion. Although a relatively modest addition to the more than $150 billion in pandemic-related program spending already announced, the pension...

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Kenney’s “equalization rebate” grabs the spotlight

It was Alberta time again in Ottawa with the province’s demands for a re-jigging of the previously obscure Fiscal Stabilization Program (FSP) dominating coverage of this week’s annual meeting of Canada’s finance ministers. Other longstanding issues – such as increased health transfers – were shoved into the background as attention was focused on Alberta’s appeal for $2.4 billion from the feds. Also known the “equalization rebate,” the potential payout is being framed as a peace offering to the demons of western alienation, an opportunity for the Trudeau government to connect its money with its post-election soothing words. The FSP,...

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Post-election Reflection #3: Whatever happened to the Climate Emergency?

As discussed a couple of weeks ago, health care, identified in an Ipsos poll as the main issue, was barely raised by the main parties during the election campaign. Climate change, ranked number two in the same poll, came up more often – mainly to highlight absence of a credible climate policy in the Conservative platform. But since the election, discourse about climate change has joined health care near the bottom of the political agenda. Consider what’s been happening in the two-plus weeks since the election. Early last week, 27 young people from Our Time made news when they...

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Richard Starr, The man behind the Point

About Richard

RICHARD STARR has had careers as a journalist, public servant, broadcaster, political staffer and freelance policy adviser. He is author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, a former radio and TV producer and weekly newspaper editor, and the author of three non-fiction books. Starr has lived in Dartmouth for more than 30 years.

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