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Fedeli out

Vic Fedeli out as finance minister

Nipissing MPP taking over in economic development 

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TORONTO — Finance Minister Vic Fedeli is one of several high-profile ministers demoted in a major cabinet shuffle announced today by Premier Doug Ford.
The Progressive Conservative government has faced weeks of criticism after near-daily stories emerged of cuts that were hidden in Fedeli’s April budget.
Environment Minister Rod Phillips, who played a major role in the cancellation of the province’s cap-and-trade program, will replace Fedeli, who will be in charge of economic development.
Lisa MacLeod, who angered parents over her handling of the autism file as minister of children, community and social services is taking over the tourism, culture and sport portfolio.
Another minister being demoted in the shuffle is Education Minister Lisa Thompson who will be responsible for government and consumer services.
The shuffle comes just after Ford and his Tories marked the one-year anniversary of winning a majority government.
Ford has been slipping in the polls, and some suggest he could hurt Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s chances of winning in Ontario in the October federal election.
This story will be updated

Public places should remain neutral

Montreal

Quebec government adopts controversial religious symbols bill

Religious symbols law, introduced as Bill 21, passed with a vote of 73-35

June 17, 2019

Quebec’s majority government has pushed through a controversial piece of legislation that will bar public-school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work. 

The bill, introduced by the Coalition Avenir Québec government, passed after a marathon weekend of deliberations at Quebec’s National Assembly, in which the CAQ used a parliamentary mechanism called closure to speed through the passing of its two flagship law projects: an immigration reform and the secularism bill. 

The religious symbols ban, also known as Bill 21, passed with a vote of 73-35 at around 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

Closure shuts down the usual committee debate over a bill, and forces a vote after around 12 hours of additional discussion on the floor of the legislature.

It is the same mechanism the CAQ government used Saturday to force passage of a bill that aims to reduce delays in Quebec’s immigration system by tossing out more than 16,000 pending applications for skilled worker status.

That bill, Bill 9, passed just after 4 a.m. EST Sunday, by a vote of 62-42.  

The larger number of votes for Bill 21 than Bill 9 is due to support from the Parti Québécois for the religious symbols bill.

The religious symbols bill has attracted widespread criticism from legal experts and minority groups, who worry it will institutionalize discrimination. They say Muslim women who wear the hijab will be disproportionately affected.

The bill also invokes the notwithstanding clause in an effort to spare it from court challenges about its constitutionality. Protests against the impending law are already being planned in Montreal for Monday.

‘We aren’t an elective monarchy’: Opposition MNAs decry Legault’s push to pass immigration, secularism bills

Surveillance and enforcement measures

The government also used the closure to add a number of amendments to the bill, including changes that would implement surveillance and enforcement of the law. 

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has defended the legislation, which he sponsored, as a chance to safeguard Quebec’s secular society.

Jolin-Barrette and Quebec Premier François Legault have argued that, according to polls, a majority of Quebecers want religious symbols to be prohibited on civil servants.

“I feel like saying finally. Finally, Quebecers have been heard and listened to. Finally, a government that had the courage to act,” Jolin-Barrette said Sunday evening, shortly before the vote. 

Zanetti, of Québec Solidaire, referenced other polls, with differently worded questions, that showed fewer Quebecers supported such a bill if it impinged people’s rights. 

“Calling on a majority suffices for several things. It suffices for a public transit project. It suffices to enact public policies, but it does not suffice to go and break human rights,” Zanetti said.

The two largest opposition parties, the Liberals and Québec Solidaire, spent the day railing against the bill, saying it goes against people’s fundamental rights. 

Why doesn’t the Quebec government seem bothered by mounting tension over its religious symbols bill?

“Tonight, at the end of this closure, we understood, finally, why it was invoked,” said Sol Zanetti, the secularism critic for Québec Solidaire, referring to the amendments. 

“Because amendments were introduced to use, one after the other, in bursts, and which are enormously worrying,” Zanetti said. 

He said what Jolin-Barrette added to the bill “in fact, open the door to everything,” with regards to how the law will be enforced.

“It was never part of the debate.”

François Legault defends decision to quash debate over immigration, religious symbols bills

Jolin-Barrette said, earlier in the day, that “this is the first time here in Canada, and Quebec, that we have the principle of secularism and laicity in a law. What we’re doing is really important.”

‘Profoundly unjust’

“In no way does [state] secularism mean the banning of religious symbols,” said Liberal secularism critic Hélène David.

“The minister is making the wrong choice. It’s wrong because it is profoundly unjust. It will prevent employment access to women and men who are qualified. Unjust because some women will have to make a choice between a promotion, their career and a profound and sincere conviction,” David said before Sunday’s vote.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, David called it a “very sad day and night for Quebec.”

“Tomorrow morning, a number of Quebecers will wake up with fewer rights than they had today,” she said.

With files from Cathy Senay

Related Stories

François Legault defends decision to quash debate over immigration, religious symbols bills

‘We aren’t an elective monarchy’: Opposition MNAs decry Legault’s push to pass immigration, secularism bills

Protesters in Quebec City say Bill 21 will ‘create barriers for future generations’

ANALYSIS Decision time for Quebec government as it tries to pass 2 nationalist bills by week’s end

ANALYSIS Why doesn’t the Quebec government seem bothered by mounting tension over its religious symbols bill?

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“In no way does [state] secularism mean the banning of religious symbols,” said Liberal secularism critic Hélène David.

” The minister is making the wrong choice. It’s wrong because it is profoundly unjust. It will prevent employment access to women and men who are qualified. Unjust because some women will have to make a choice between a promotion, their career and a profound and sincere conviction,” David said before Sunday’s vote.

“In no way does [state] secularism mean the banning of religious symbols,” said Liberal secularism critic Hélène David.

“The minister is making the wrong choice. It’s wrong because it is profoundly unjust. It will prevent employment access to women and men who are qualified. Unjust because some women will have to make a choice between a promotion, their career and a profound and sincere conviction,” David said before Sunday’s vote.

A great listen every morning

LG Launches Amazon Alexa in 2019 ThinQ TVs

  • LG Launches Amazon Alexa in 2019 ThinQ TVs
  • Voice In Canada Flash Briefing #479

    Hey there and welcome to the flash briefing. Today, I want to tell you about yet another company that is incorporating yet more Alexa technology into their devices, and this is LG.

    We have known for some time that LG is incorporating Alexa, and they have recently announced that Alexa is incorporated into their new TV lineup.

    So if you are looking at purchasing a TV, specifically, Alexa will be in the ThinQ Ultra High Def TV, the Nanocell, and the OLED Smart TVs and those are TVs that are included in Canada.

    So that’s great. What is also interesting is that LG states that in addition to Alexa, also Google Assistant will be in these TVs, and select TV models are also going to have to receive Apple Airplay 2, and HomeKit support.

    So, it just kind of shows LG has put a lot of emphasis on the voice technology aspects of their TVs. Now, I want to finish off today again with a quick shout out to Terry Boulanger. I hope I said your name right Terry. Love that first name.

    LG has put a lot of emphasis on the voice technology aspects of their TVs.

    LG Launches Amazon Alexa in 2019 ThinQ TVs

    And, he gave a review on the skill store.

    He gave a five-star review for this flash briefing and wrote, “A great start for your morning. I look forward to this flash briefing every day when I’m home. I drive transport four days on, and home for four days. When I’m away, the first thing I do in the morning is to check the website AlexainCanada.ca and read the flash briefing. Dr. Teri Fisher is very positive, a great voice to hear first thing in the morning. Highly recommend this flash briefing. You won’t regret it. Enjoy.”

    Thanks so much, Terry. I really appreciate that. And, again, if anybody else wants to leave a review, you go to VoiceinCanada.ca and please stay tuned because we have something very, very special coming up to commemorate the 500th flash briefing, and you can win some surprises, so stay tuned.

    Talk to you tomorrow.

Forest fire near Gogama

Northeast community under voluntary evacuation notice

Fire rating high to extreme in the region

Fifteen FireRanger crews, support staff and aircraft continue to battle Red Lake 14, located east and south of the community of Pikangikum in northwestern Ontario. Photo courtesy of Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services

Published on: June 9, 2019 | Last Updated: June 9, 2019 6:52 AM EDT

The community of Gogama is under voluntary evacuation due to Timmins 2, an active forest fire burning on the west side of Highway 144, north of Sudbury.

In the event there is a need to evacuate, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Timmins District has recommended a two-hour alert notice for residents in Gogama and surrounding areas.

Timmins 2 was discovered on the evening of June 6 and now covers 700 hectares. OPP closed Highway 144 in both directions south of Gogama Saturday due to reduced visibility from smoke.

Timmins 2 has required daily aerial fire suppression by multiple water bombers and helicopters bucketing water since it was discovered. Heavy equipment and 11 FireRanger crews also are assigned to the fire.

Timmins 2 is burning parallel on the west side of Highway 144 and was approximately four kilometres west of Gogama on Saturday. The fire was spreading north northeast.

As of Saturday, there were nine active fires in the northeast region. Four of those fires were not under control, three fires were being held and two fires were under control.

The fire hazard rating is extreme in the Wawa, Chapleau and Timmins sectors. The North Bay, Sudbury and Cochrane sectors feature predominantly high hazard conditions.

Approximately 230 staff members from the ministry’s Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services are assisting the province of Alberta with its escalated fire situation. This includes FireRangers, support staff and one incident management team. In addition, the ministry is providing equipment such as pumps, hose and hand tools to support Alberta.

More than 50 staff members from Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services have been deployed to assist the Yukon with current active forest fires. This includes FireRangers and support staff.

Spring is grass fire season and grass fires can spread rapidly, the ministry warns. When performing spring yard cleanup, seek alternatives to burning by considering composting or using your local landfill.

For up-to-date forest fire hazard conditions in your area, see the interactive fire map at Ontario.ca/forestfire.

To report a forest fire located north of the French and Mattawa rivers, dial 310-FIRE

To report a forest fire located south of the French or Mattawa rivers, dial 911.

Flooding scaring away tourists

Flooding scaring away tourists

Mattawa-area resort fielding cancellations despite being on Lake Champlain

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Nicole Grigorov cringes every time she receives an email.

“I just lost a $40,000 reservation in June,” says the owner of the Mattawa River Resort. “Before a state of emergency was called for the Town of Mattawa, I had a waiting list for this long weekend. All of my 16 cabins were booked and now I have four cabins reserved.”

Grigorov says people from southern Ontario are cancelling their reservations after hearing the news about the flooding in Mattawa. As of Friday, there were nine cancellations.

“The cancellations started early May once the emergency was declared. The first cancellation was from a family from the Greater Toronto Area which reserved three cabins,” she says.

“Then the emails started to come. People have also started to call worried about their July reservation and wondering if everything will be OK by then.”

What’s extremely frustrating is that Mattawa River Resort isn’t part of the area under a state of emergency, Grigorov explains.

“We’re located on Lake Champlain and the lake remains open for boating and fishing. People can still come here and fish. I need people to come here and stay in our cabins and eat in the restaurant.”

But while Grigorov struggled to keep her doors open, she didn’t hesitate to reach out to those who were evacuated from a flooded-out Mattawa apartment building.

Up to 25 people were staying at the resort for free for the past two weeks.

“These people were forced out of their homes with nothing, just the clothes on their back. I gave them clothes from the resort and found supplies they needed, they were fed and had a clean and safe bed to sleep in.”

But as the tourism season approached, Grigorov asked the community and Red Cross to help find permanent placements for those displaced.

“It’s a lot to keep the cabins clean, keep up with laundry while continuing to pay our employees even though those staying with us are staying for free,” Grigorov said.

Navigation now prohibited on Mattawa and Ottawa rivers

Minister Garneau announces changes to navigation restrictions related to flooding 

News release

May 14, 2019                Ottawa                          Transport Canada

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued a new Interim Order identifying zones in which navigation is prohibited due to flooding. The changes are necessary to protect the safety of people and vessels, and to help first responders do their jobs in flooding conditions.

In addition, the public is urged to continue to stay off flooded waterways in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick  to ensure navigational safety, and prevent damage to infrastructure and the environment.

Due to the magnitude of this year’s flooding, and following consultations with local authorities and law enforcement, Minister Garneau has extended the areas covered by the navigation restrictions. To ensure vessel movements do not pose a risk to the safety of individuals or cause damage to the environment, properties and infrastructure, the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam and the Deux Montagnes Lake, and the Mattawa River between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River have been included in this new Interim Order Respecting Flooded Areas.  In the listed areas, navigation by non-emergency vessels is strictly prohibited.  This includes pleasure craft and human-powered craft, such as canoes or kayaks. The Interim Order does not apply to public ferry service in the waters listed below. 

This new Interim Order builds on the one issued on April 30 and now applies to the following waterways:

  • the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam (near Mattawa, Ontario) and the Deux Montagnes Lake (near Hudson, Quebec);
  • the Mattawa River, between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River;
  • Deux Montagnes Lake in the Province of Québec;
  • the Mille Îles River in the Province of Québec; and
  • the Des Prairies River in the Province of Québec.

The speed restriction of 9 knots for upriver traffic and 11 knots for downriver traffic remains in place between Ile des Barques and Batiscan, Quebec.

Individuals who can only access their property by boat are exempted from the Interim Order and other restrictions for the purpose of going to and from their property. If citizens must use a waterway to access a property, they are urged to navigate at as slow a speed as possible.

Any violations of these provisions are subject to fines. Speed violations between Ile des Barques and Batiscan can go up to $1 million and/or up to 18 months in prison, or the seizure of the vessel.

Minister Garneau also announced that communities in Muskoka Region are no longer part of the Interim Order Respecting Flooded Areas due to improved navigational safety conditions including lower water levels and slower currents. However, all vessel operators are asked to be cautious on the waters, including watching for debris and adjusting vessel speeds to limit wake.

Quotes

“Although we have expanded the area covered by  the Interim Order, I am pleased to see the improved situation in the Muskoka area. We continue to work with municipalities and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau                                        
Minister of Transport

Associated links

Contacts

Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
613-991-0700
delphine.denis@tc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055
media@tc.gc.ca