Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 17/13
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canada’s youngest Senator has been expelled from the upper chamber while three others face an investigation into their residency claims and expenses.
Patrick Brazeau was removed from the Conservative caucus in the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper after being arrested for domestic and sexual assault.
There was criticism of Harper when he appointed Brazeau to the Senate in 2008 when he was 34 as he wanted to also continue as national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
Brazeau has also been put on a paid leave of absence by the Senate until the criminal case is resolved but remains an independent member and keeps his annual salary of $132,000. In Canada’s non-elected Senate, members can serve to age 75.
He has also been under scrutiny recently over allegations he was using an address other than his own in Gatineau, Quebec in order to receive a federal government housing allowance for his service in the Senate.
As well, an external auditor has been asked to review the residency declarations of Brazeau and three other senators to determine where they actually live and if they qualify for the added benefits.
The others are former television news journalists Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin as well as former Member of Parliament Mac Harb.
A $25-million lottery win was just what cannabis crusader Robert Erb needed to pursue his quest to legalize marijuana use.
Erb, 60, of Terrace, British Columbia won the tax-free jackpot last November and pledged to spend $500,000 of it to fight for decriminalization of marijuana.
He is giving the money to match donations made to Sensible B.C. that is urging the police to not take any action, such as “searches, seizures, citations or arrests, in cases of simple cannabis possession by adults.”
The criminalization of marijuana is “the biggest social injustice I've seen in all my entire lifetime,” Erb said.
News in brief:
- A Canadian Navy officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling military secrets to Russia. Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, 41, was also ordered by Nova Scotia Judge Patrick Curran to pay a fine of $111,817, the amount of money he was paid by Russian agents. Prosecutor Lyne Decarie said Delisle was a threat assessment analyst who had access to top secret databases. It was the first conviction under Canada’s Security of Information Act.
- Canada’s health department is moving ahead with a study into the possible link between wind farms and health problems. The $1.8-million study will involve 2,000 residences near about a dozen wind-turbine installations. Opponents say that exposure to low-frequency noise and vibrations from the turbines causes sleep disorders, headaches, depression, anxiety and higher blood pressure.
- Montreal police arrested 36 environmental protesters outside the downtown convention center upset over Quebec's northern resources extraction plans. Some of the protesters wore masks and red squares associated with last year’s university student tuition protests. Several police cruisers were damaged as the group clashed with officers.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar is lower at 99.35 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0064 in Canadian funds.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,711 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,186 points on Friday.
Lotto 6-49: (Feb. 13) 17, 18, 21, 25, 35 and 47; bonus 16. (Feb. 9) 7, 17, 30, 33, 42 and 49; bonus 40. Lotto Max: (Feb. 8) 3, 8, 13, 30, 38, 45 and 47; bonus 10.
- Two key Ontario Cabinet members involved in controversies over costly programs have resigned as Kathleen Wynne was sworn in as Premier. Former Energy Minister Chris Bentley and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan left their jobs last Thursday. The shakeup in the Ontario government occurred when former premier Dalton McGuinty quit in mid-term and suspended the business of the government last October.
- About 20,000 customers in western Nova Scotia were without power last weekend as the worst storm in five years moved eastward from Ontario. The blizzard dumped up to two feet of snow in Newfoundland and smaller amounts whipped by winds up to 60 mph across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org