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Showing posts from May, 2016

Manitoba PC's present moderate budget with a few changes from NDP

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The first budget introduced by the new Progressive Conservative government of Brian Pallister introduces only minor changes after the recent defeat of the former New Democratic Party (NDP).
The budget does not try to avoid a deficit. Instead is plans for a $890 million deficit at the end of its first fiscal year. Although the budget is called "Correcting the Course" it only makes modest changes. Rather than any drastic cut in government spending and austerity measures, all but two government departments will actually see their budgets rise this year.Health and social serviceswill receive the greatest increases:  What's now known as Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living will receive an additional $300 million as its budget increases to $6 billion from $5.7 billion. The budget for the new Families Department will rise $100 million, to $1.9 billion from $1.8 billion The Conservatives, or Tories as they are called, claimed only they would balance the budget during their n…

Federal Liberal Party adopts a new constitution at convention

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In his speech Saturday afternoon at the federal Liberal convention in Winnipeg party leader, Justin Trudeau emphasized the new open and accessible movement that the amended constitution would provide for the Liberal Party.
The new constitution does away with any fees for joining the party. Under the new constitution there is no charge for registering as a Liberal. Concerns had been raised that the new constitution would concentrate power around the party's leadership. Party officials amended some parts of the constitution in response to concerns of critics. The final vote adopted the constitution with 1,988 in favour and 68 opposed. There were still a few complaints about how the constitution was drafted as it was done without consultation with local officials or members. Trudeau not only concentrated on the constitution in his speech but moved it when it came to the convention floor. He directly addressed the issue of concentrating power: “If I believed for a second that the new …

US malls bordering Canada offering specials to lure Canadians as loonie dives

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The low loonie or Canadian dollar began to fall against the U.S. dollar last fall. Before its fall Canadians often went on shopping trips across the border to buy many items at lower prices.
Although the loonie has recovered slightly to around 76 cents U.S., it is still too low to entice Canadian shoppers to travel to the US. The loss of Canadian shoppers has had a detrimental effect on malls that previously had made extra profits from the Canadian trade.Stephen Fine, president of the resource site CrossBorderShopping, said: "They're really noticing the decrease in Canadian Shoppers now." Some malls are using special deals to lure Canadian customers back. The deals range from gifts, to at-par exchange. Some start this Victoria Day weekend. Statistics Canada reports that 977,686 Canadian autos made same day trips to the U.S. this March, a decline of 15 percent from last year. Overnight trips declined by almost as much at 13 percent. Bells Fair, a Mall in Bellingham, Washi…

Sale of Manitoba's MTS to Bell could reduce wireless competition in Canada

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Bell Canada (BCE) has agreed to buy Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) in a friendly takeover valued at $3.9 billion. BCE is already the largest telecom company in Canada.
The purchase price breaks down into $3.1 billion for the company and $800 million of debt. In a separate transaction BCE will sell a third of the MTS postpaid subscribers and also retail locations to Telus. MTS is now the largest wireless provider in Manitoba with 491,017 subscribers at the end of its last fiscal year. When the deal goes through BCE will have 400,000 subscribers and Telus 140,000. The deal will need the approval of Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Burea, the Competition Bureau, and Industry Canada. It is expected to be finalized by later this year or early 2017. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have among the cheapest cellular plans in Canada, thanks to Sasktel in Saskatchewan and MTS in Manitoba. Some experts think that the merger will result in less competition and higher fees. Sasktel is a …

Canada finally to sign optional UN protocol on torture

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On Tuesday a number of activists, several of them wearing black blindfolds around their eyes, held a demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa demanding that Canada sign on to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
OPCATis an optional protocol added to theUN Convention Against Torture. OPCAT establishes an international inspection system for places of detention. The system is modeled on that used in the EU since 1987. OPCAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December of 2002 and entered into force as of June 2006. There are 75 signatories as of April 2016. Neither the United States, Russia, or China have signed the protocol. Alex Neve, director of Amnesty International in Canada, said that signing the protocol was only a first step in ending torture and degrading treatment. Neve said: “Having expert UN investigators poke and prod in jails in those countries is an absolutely essential step in helping to end torture. Once Canada is on board, we can at l…