Senate drama showcases how poorly the Trudeau Liberals manage Parliament

For a moment, the Senate threatened a summer cliffhanger: Would it refuse to pass the government’s budget bill? And though the threat fizzled as Senate threats often do – with an agreement to break for summer – it underlined the Liberals’ frustrations in Parliament.

The drama ended with the Senate sending an unprecedented message to the House of Commons – proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s representative in the Senate, Peter Harder – asserting that the Red Chamber has every right to amend the government’s budget bills. That was a response to a blunt message sent up a day earlier from the Commons – put forward by Government House Leader Bardish Chagger – asserting that the Senate has no business touching such bills.

Huh? Here were the Trudeau government’s own representatives in the Commons and Senate sending formal messages contradicting each other on how Parliament works.

Read more: Parliament’s recess: A guide to the Liberals’ legislative accomplishments so far

It highlighted a problem catching up to the Liberals: they haven’t been good at managing Parliament.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trudeau probably wondered what kind of Senate monster he had created – independent senators he appointed and Liberal senators he expelled from his caucus led a ruckus. They almost split the government’s budget bill, to force separate scrutiny on a centrepiece initiative, the Canada Infrastructure Bank. When that failed, the senators stripped out a tax on booze, sending an amended budget bill back to the Commons.

But the new Senate hasn’t yet turned out to be a danger to democracy. It’s amending more bills, but not insisting on getting its way: When the Commons has undone those Senate amendments, the Senate accepted the will of elected MPs, every time.

But it has been a headache for Mr. Trudeau’s government – as has Parliament as a whole, including the Commons. The Trudeau Liberals have had trouble finding that combination of clever tactics and velvet touch that keeps egos unruffled and government business rolling.

This week’s Senate drama was an oddity: Most senators believe they should eventually defer to the Commons, except in extreme cases – but it almost came to a showdown over a tax on booze.

Mr. Harder proposed Thursday’s motion asserting the Senate’s right to amend budgets as a means to soothe senators who were upset at Ms. Chagger and her colleagues in the Commons. It wasn’t just that MPs had sent senators a message saying budget bills were none of their business – it was that no Liberal minister had responded to the Senate’s amendments with the traditional statement explaining why the government rejected them. That, to many in the Senate, was an insult.

Back in 2015, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals promised a new, collaborative Parliament – but managing the legislature has never seemed like a big priority for his PMO. Failing to take care of the procedural politics of Parliament has consequences and Liberal legislation has generally moved slowly.

The stickier Senate was one reason. Another was a slow start – Mr. Trudeau began his tenure with furious activity at summits and premiers’ meetings, but his government put few bills before the legislature in its first months. One major item, a contentious bill on assisted dying, was forced onto its legislative agenda by the courts.

But they’ve also misstepped. Governments must carefully budget the parliamentary calendar for debates and Opposition days; several Opposition days were still unscheduled as the spring sitting neared its end.

Most telling: Ms. Chagger’s handling of Liberal parliamentary-reform proposals, supposed to make Parliament more collaborative, sparked bitterness. She tried to push through changes to Commons rules in a rush, rather than finessing a consensus. The Opposition launched a series of time-wasting tactics in response.

There have been Opposition delays – the Conservatives have been guilty at times in both the Commons and Senate. Behind the scenes, the Liberals suggest they were too generous at first. Now, they say, since the Opposition won’t accept the changes, they’ll use tougher tactics, resorting to time-allocation motions to shut down debate – a tactic that they called autocratic when it was repeatedly used by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

But if they use it too often, there goes the promise to do things differently. That was Mr. Trudeau’s promise. So was the new Senate. And he made a lot of promises that require passing legislation. If they want to balance all that, the Liberals will have to manage the mundane business of Parliament better.



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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on accomplishments made by the Government of Canada since January 2017

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SOURCE Prime Minister’s Office

OTTAWA, June 22, 2017 /CNW/ – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today to highlight some of the accomplishments made by the Government of Canada since January 2017:

“Last year, we raised taxes on the wealthiest one per cent so we could cut taxes for the middle class. We put more money in the pockets of nine out of ten families through the Canada Child Benefit, and strengthened the Canada Pension Plan so more Canadians can achieve a strong, secure, and stable retirement. In 2017, we have built on these accomplishments, and taken further steps to create good, middle class jobs while growing the economy over the long term.

“Between February and June, I signed agreements with the leaders of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Assembly of First Nations, and the Métis National Council, establishing a process to advance shared priorities for Inuit, First Nations, and the Métis Nation.

“In February, I welcomed the European Parliament’s approval of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. CETA is a gold-standard agreement that will give consumers more choice, make it easier and less costly for businesses to compete, and create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“In March, Minister Morneau tabled one of the most forward-looking budgets in Canada’s history. With its strong focus on innovation and skills, Budget 2017 prepares Canadians for the changing economy and secures Canada’s place as a hub of innovation.

“Budget 2017 makes significant investments in public transit systems, which will result in shorter commute times, less air pollution, and more efficient, better integrated transit. It also invests $11.2 billion in affordable housing to make sure all families have access to a safe and affordable place to live. Budget 2017 is the first federal budget ever to include a gender-based statement, which looks at the ways our policies and investments affect women and men differently.

“In April, we introduced a bill to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis no later than July 2018. Our legislation will, for the first time, make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences.

“In May, we unveiled tax relief measures for deployed Canadian Armed Forces personnel and police officers. We also introduced Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, and kept our promise to put a moratorium on crude oil tanker shipping on British Columbia’s north coast. At the end of the month, we announced that Canada will host the 2018 G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec.

“On June 6, Minister Freeland outlined a new foreign policy for Canada, and underscored our commitment to a rules-based international order, progressive trade policies, gender equality, and fighting climate change. The next day, Minister Sajjan unveiled Canada’s new defence policy, which establishes a credible, realistic, and funded strategy for our military and, most importantly, will deliver the standard of service and care our women and men in uniform deserve.

“A few days later, Minister Bibeau launched Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This vision focuses Canada’s international assistance on the empowerment of women and girls, and positions Canada as a leader on gender equality in aid programming. Minister Duclos also announced the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, which will ensure more Canadian families have access to affordable, high-quality, and inclusive child care.

“This month, we announced that we will introduce legislation to make it possible to erase the convictions for Canadians who were found guilty of consensual sexual activity with a same sex partner under historical, unjust laws. Three important pieces of government legislation passed Parliament: Bill C-4, which restores a fair and balanced approach to labour relations; Bill C-6, which ends second-class citizenship and makes it easier for hardworking immigrants to become citizens; and Bill C-16, which ensures the full protection of transgender people across Canada.

“Earlier this week, Minister Goodale tabled legislation to create a new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and introduce changes to Bill C-51, which will strengthen security and better protect Canadians’ rights.

“We have made real progress in helping the middle class and those working hard to join it. Since December 2015, Canada’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.1 per cent to 6.6 per cent. In the last year, the Canadian economy has created over 300,000 new jobs. We still have plenty of work to do, but as we get ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I am confident that Canada’s best days lie ahead.”

This document is also available at http://pm.gc.ca

©2017 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

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Canadian businessman to build liquor distillery in Wheatfield

A Canadian company plans to build a new liquor distillery in a Wheatfield industrial park with the aim of reducing costs as he focuses on U.S. customers.

Leon Safir of Anat Inc. said he intends to produce as much as a truckload of whiskey and vodka per day, creating five new jobs, at a site his company has purchased in the industrial park off Lockport Road.

“For me, because I’m using alcohol from the U.S., I can save money on logistics,” said Safir, explaining why he wants an American plant.

He also said he’d like to make some of his output available in a retail store on the premises. That could include a new apple vodka he hopes to begin producing next year.

“We want to buy local apples,” Safir said.

Safir said he intends to keep his 10-year-old Toronto location open to serve the Canadian market, but U.S. customers are his main focus.

“Ninety percent of my customers are in the states,” said Safir. Those customers include a company that produces a private-label brand of liquor for the giant Costco retail chain.

“We can propose a reasonable price – not the lowest price, because our quality is pretty high,” Safir said.

He plans an 8,000-square-foot, $500,000 building in Vantage International Pointe, the industrial park controlled by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, off Lockport Road in Wheatfield. The plant would be designed to be expandable if the business grows.

Last week, the IDA board approved Safir’s purchase of 2.78 acres of land along Lockport Road for $41,000. Safir signed the contract Tuesday.

Susan C. Langdon, the IDA’s director of projects and finance, said the lot Safir is buying is the last one available in Vantage, a 159-acre industrial park the county has been striving to fill for almost 20 years after acquiring it in a foreclosure.

Safir said he is eager to get started with his project.

“My idea is to be building it in a month, as soon as I can get the building permit,” he said.

He said he also intends to apply to the NCIDA for tax incentives. Langdon and Andrea Klyczek, the IDA’s director of regional and international development, said they expect an application to land on the IDA’s agenda in the next month or two.

Klyczek said she was under the impression that a retail store would be a long-range addition to the business. Safir said he would like to start the retail and the distillery together, “if it’s possible.”

Langdon said as long as the store covers less than 30 percent of the building, it wouldn’t run afoul of the ban on IDA incentives to retailers.

Eric C. Tudor of Tudor Collins Commercial Real Estate, who brokered the deal, said the U.S. location will be called Sanborn Distilling Corp.

Safir said some of the brands his company produces are Glamorgan whiskey and 49th Parallel vodka, the name of which is a nod to the line of latitude that marks most of the U.S.-Canadian border.

A critic in Wine Enthusiast magazine last year gave 49th Parallel 92 points out of 100, calling it a “robust, corn-based vodka that hints at cacao, plus a slight raspberry-jam fruitiness.”

Sears Canada Closing Stores, Cutting 2,900 Jobs

Retail’s bloodbath has spread north of the border.

Sears Canada announced on Thursday it has entered bankruptcy protection in the Great White North and will close 59 stores and slash nearly 3,000 jobs while it tries to get back on its back after a years-long slump.

The retailer, which was spun off from Sears Holdings (shld) in 2012, won protection from creditors under Canada’s equivalent to a Chapter 11 knowns as “Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act” and said it plans to exit bankruptcy “protection as soon as possible in 2017, better positioned” to executive a turnaround.

Sears Canada, which is independent of its U.S. namesake, will close 20 of its 94 full-service locations, 15 home stores, 10 outlet stores and 14 hometown locations and will cut 2,900 positions across its store fleet and at its Toronto headquarters.

The spin off in 2012 was one move made by Sears Holdings CEO and top investor Eddie Lampert to raise urgently needed cash will inflict pain on Sears Holdings: the U.S. namesake company still owns 12% of Sears Canada, and Lampert and his investment vehicles still own about 45% of its shares. Sears Holdings has also been closing stores and failing to hang on to shoppers: last week, the retailer, which also operates the Kmart discount chain, said it was cutting 400 jobs at its Chicago area headquarters in addition to a previously announced $1.25 billion cost restructuring of the company.

Its Canadian siblings said in its statement that “the continued liquidity pressures facing the company as well as legacy components of its business are preventing it from making further progress.” Last week, it issued a warning that it might not be able to generate enough cash to meet debt payments and other obligations in the next year. Sears Canada has posted losses in its last three fiscal years. (Sears Holdings, which is run entirely independently, stoked its own bankruptcy chatter when it acknowledged fears in the marketplace about its longer-term viability in its annual report released in March.)

As for Sears Canada, its much-hoped for comeback involves selling more discounted designer fashions and its own house brands while also improving its e-commerce, things its rivals have been doing for years.

Sears Canada to close stores, cut jobs in restructuring

(Adds details on filing on pension payments and lawyer comment)

By Solarina Ho

Sears Canada Inc said
on Thursday it plans to cut jobs and close about a quarter of
its stores as it restructures its operations after a steady
decline in sales due to competition from big-box retailers and
online merchants.

Like many department stores, the Toronto-based company has
struggled for years to attract fashion-conscious shoppers who
have embraced apparel stores more adept at keeping up with
fast-changing clothing trends.

The company, which in 2012 was spun off from U.S. department
store pioneer Sears Holdings Corp, said it planned to
close 59 of its 225 stores and cut 2,900 of its 17,000 workers
as part of a restructuring approved by an Ontario bankruptcy
court on Thursday.

Sears Canada also plans to file a motion to request
permission to suspend certain monthly payments to its pension
plan because it is running low on cash, according to court
documents.

It also intends to stop payments to a post-retirement
benefit plan providing retirees with life insurance and medical
and dental benefits, according to the filing.

Retail experts said they were not convinced the company
would succeed in its effort to remain in business, but noted
that it could get more for its assets by winding down its
operations in several phases, rather than pulling the plug
through a liquidation.

“It’s just been baby steps toward the ultimate end,” said
Sally Seston, managing director at Retail Category Consultants
Inc. “A forced liquidation becomes a fire sale.”

“One way or another, it’s not going to be an easy road for
them. As is the case with all department stores,” said Maureen
Atkinson, a senior partner at retail consulting firm J.C.
Williams Group.

Existing lenders have agreed to provide up to C$450 million
($340 million) in interim financing to help the company
controlled by billionaire hedge-fund investor Eddie Lampert
focus on selling discounted designer labels and low-priced
clothing.

The plan shifts away from areas long associated with the
iconic Sears brand, such as home appliances, tools, electronics
and auto parts.

Lou Brzezinski, an attorney who represents several of the
retailer’s landlords and suppliers, said his clients were
relieved that the company had not given up.

“It’s a measured and a reasonable approach to continuing
operations in Canada and we’re happy to see that,” Brzezinski
said, but noted the fallout would hit employees and retirees the
hardest.

“It’s the older people who need the money for their medical
benefits and their dental benefits. They’re the ones that’s
going to have to pay the price.”

The company has total liabilities of C$1.1 billion as of
April 29, according to financial disclosures. That includes
outstanding loans, accounts payable, pensions and other debt.

Its shares tumbled 14.7 percent to 40 cents in Thursday
Nasdaq trading after touching a record low of 16 cents earlier
in the day. The stock did not trade in Canada, where it was
halted by the Toronto Stock Exchange.

About 78 percent of Sears Canada shares are held by Lampert
and others close to the company, according to Thomson Reuters
data.

Sears Canada named Bank of Montreal as its
financial adviser and the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
as its legal adviser. It said FTI Consulting would serve
as restructuring consultant.

($1 = 1.3249 Canadian dollars)

(Writing by Jim Finkle; Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto.
Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, Jessica
DiNapoli in New York, Richa Naidu in Chicago, and Siddharth
Cavale, Yashaswini Swamynathan, and Gayathree Ganesan in
Bengaluru; Editing by Denny Thomas and Dan Grebler)

Sears Canada obtains court permission to pursue restructuring

(Adds details on filing on pension payments and lawyer comment)

By Solarina Ho

Sears Canada Inc said
on Thursday it plans to cut jobs and close about a quarter of
its stores as it restructures its operations after a steady
decline in sales due to competition from big-box retailers and
online merchants.

Like many department stores, the Toronto-based company has
struggled for years to attract fashion-conscious shoppers who
have embraced apparel stores more adept at keeping up with
fast-changing clothing trends.

The company, which in 2012 was spun off from U.S. department
store pioneer Sears Holdings Corp, said it planned to
close 59 of its 225 stores and cut 2,900 of its 17,000 workers
as part of a restructuring approved by an Ontario bankruptcy
court on Thursday.

Sears Canada also plans to file a motion to request
permission to suspend certain monthly payments to its pension
plan because it is running low on cash, according to court
documents.

It also intends to stop payments to a post-retirement
benefit plan providing retirees with life insurance and medical
and dental benefits, according to the filing.

Retail experts said they were not convinced the company
would succeed in its effort to remain in business, but noted
that it could get more for its assets by winding down its
operations in several phases, rather than pulling the plug
through a liquidation.

“It’s just been baby steps toward the ultimate end,” said
Sally Seston, managing director at Retail Category Consultants
Inc. “A forced liquidation becomes a fire sale.”

“One way or another, it’s not going to be an easy road for
them. As is the case with all department stores,” said Maureen
Atkinson, a senior partner at retail consulting firm J.C.
Williams Group.

Existing lenders have agreed to provide up to C$450 million
($340 million) in interim financing to help the company
controlled by billionaire hedge-fund investor Eddie Lampert
focus on selling discounted designer labels and low-priced
clothing.

The plan shifts away from areas long associated with the
iconic Sears brand, such as home appliances, tools, electronics
and auto parts.

Lou Brzezinski, an attorney who represents several of the
retailer’s landlords and suppliers, said his clients were
relieved that the company had not given up.

“It’s a measured and a reasonable approach to continuing
operations in Canada and we’re happy to see that,” Brzezinski
said, but noted the fallout would hit employees and retirees the
hardest.

“It’s the older people who need the money for their medical
benefits and their dental benefits. They’re the ones that’s
going to have to pay the price.”

The company has total liabilities of C$1.1 billion as of
April 29, according to financial disclosures. That includes
outstanding loans, accounts payable, pensions and other debt.

Its shares tumbled 14.7 percent to 40 cents in Thursday
Nasdaq trading after touching a record low of 16 cents earlier
in the day. The stock did not trade in Canada, where it was
halted by the Toronto Stock Exchange.

About 78 percent of Sears Canada shares are held by Lampert
and others close to the company, according to Thomson Reuters
data.

Sears Canada named Bank of Montreal as its
financial adviser and the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
as its legal adviser. It said FTI Consulting would serve
as restructuring consultant.

($1 = 1.3249 Canadian dollars)

(Writing by Jim Finkle; Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto.
Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, Jessica
DiNapoli in New York, Richa Naidu in Chicago, and Siddharth
Cavale, Yashaswini Swamynathan, and Gayathree Ganesan in
Bengaluru; Editing by Denny Thomas and Dan Grebler)

Canadian sniper ‘kills IS militant two miles away’

A sniper in the Canadian special forces shot and killed an Islamic State (IS) fighter from a distance of 2.1 miles (3,540m) in Iraq last month.

Military sources told Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper that the gunman is a member of Joint Task Force 2, and made the shot from a high-rise building.

It took the bullet almost 10 seconds to hit its target, it reports.

The Canadian Special Operations Command confirmed to the BBC the sniper “hit a target” from that distance.

The shot, which sources tell the paper was filmed, is thought to be a record for the longest confirmed kill.

The sniper worked in tandem with an observer, who helps to spot targets, and used a standard Canadian military issued McMillan TAC-50 rifle.

“The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh [so-called Islamic State] attack on Iraqi security forces,” a military source told the paper.

“Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far away, the bad guys didn’t have a clue what was happening.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

The source described the difficultly of the shot, which required the shooter to account for wind, ballistics, and even the Earth’s curvature.

Military experts believe the successful shot may have set a record.

The previous record was held by British sniper, Craig Harrison, who shot and killed a Taliban attacker from 2,475 metres in 2009 using an L115A3 long range rifle.

The government of Canada’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau halted air strikes against the so-called Islamic State in 2016.

But at the same time, Mr Trudeau announced plans to treble the number of special forces on the ground, as well as increase the number of Canadian Armed Forces members who are tasked with training and assisting local forces.

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Rise in Canadian retail sales bodes well for second quarter economic growth

By Leah Schnurr



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian retail sales rose in April on higher gasoline prices and increased demand for home appliances and garden supplies, Statistics Canada said on Thursday in a report that lent support to the Bank of Canada’s recent hawkish monetary policy stance.



The value of retail sales rose 0.8 percent, exceeding forecasts for a 0.2 percent gain and providing a firm start to the second quarter. Stripping out the effects of price changes, April’s sales volumes were less robust, rising just 0.3 percent.



Canada’s economy is on track to grow at an annual rate of near 3 percent in the second quarter, said Brittany Baumann, macro strategist at TD Securities. The economy expanded at a 3.7 percent pace in the first three months of the year.



The report increases the odds the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates at its next meeting in July, though Friday’s inflation report will be key, particularly in regards to the central bank’s measures of core inflation, Baumann said.



“Further deceleration in core inflation is more likely to stay the bank’s hand in July, while some stabilization or uptick, which cannot be excluded at this stage, will put further pressure on the Bank of Canada to act,” she said.



Bank of Canada policymakers took a more hawkish turn last week, setting the stage for rate hikes. The central bank has held its policy rate at 0.50 percent since 2015 when it cut rates twice to offset the impact of cheaper oil, one of Canada’s main exports.



The Canadian dollar gained against the greenback and was trading at C$1.3253 or 74.45 U.S. cents after Thursday’s report. [CAD/]



Sales in the building material, garden equipment and supplies sector rose 3.5 percent, the biggest increase in nearly two years. Increased sales of home appliances and hardware have helped the sector rise for eight months in a row.
  Continued…


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