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Charter of Rights and Freedoms celebrates 35th birthday

The centre block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press


With the House of Commons on break until next month and even Justin Trudeau taking a personal day off (perhaps to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), we turn today to issues of justice and how those laws are made.

Two judges, from Ontario and Manitoba, are making urgent calls for child-protection cases to be dealt with more swiftly, as very young children stay for months or years in state care awaiting a legal resolution. The judges say they were empowered to speak out by the Supreme Court's controversial Jordan ruling last year, which sought a time limit for criminal proceedings.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is standing by a strict maximum penalty of 14 years in jail for someone providing marijuana to a minor under the Liberals' proposed Cannabis Act.

An advocate of extending the right to medically assisted death to those suffering mental illness has taken his own life.

And there is continued trouble in Parliament around the making of Canada's laws: Liberal backbenchers say they are growing frustrated with procedural battles between the government and opposition, while senators are trying to undo laws passed by the House of Commons.


British Columbia's major parties are expected to be campaigning again today; everyone but NDP Leader John Horgan took a day off for Easter Sunday. Mr. Horgan will be in New Westminster and Coquitlam. New Westminster is a relatively safe NDP seat that the party won by more than 15 percentage points in 2013, though Coquitlam-Maillardville was incredibly close -- New Democrat Selina Robinson  won by just 41 votes. Liberal Leader Christy Clark is on Vancouver Island, though the party hasn't publicly released her itinerary. The Greens' Andrew Weaver is the Victoria region, including in his own riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

When the writ dropped last week for B.C. elections, political parties and candidates weren't the only ones whose spending came under scrutiny. The province's campaign laws also require any third-party groups engaged in political advertising to register and adhere to spending limits of more than $166,000. Several groups on both sides of the political spectrum didn't wait, spending millions on ads that ran before the campaign -- and before spending limits took effect. But some of those have gone dark now that the limits are in place. Any that continue to advertise not only have to account for what they spent during the campaign, but also any spending in the previous six months (though advertising before April 11 doesn't count toward spending limits).

Both the B.C. Liberals and the New Democrats have made significant promises around bridge tolls in the Lower Mainland -- the Liberals plan to cap the tolls at $500 per year, while the NDP are promising to eliminate them altogether. But the region's mayors and advocates for mobility pricing -- a system that would charge drivers based on how much they drive -- are writing off the promises as blatant vote buying. They point out that tolls aren't just there to make money; they can also be used to change driver behaviour and reduce congestion.

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After a tense weekend that was marked by a failed North Korean missile launch, the U.S. and China are working together to ensure that the situation in the Korean peninsula does not escalate further. The co-operation between the two global powers in the region has already impacted other spheres of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision making, with him reneging on a campaign pledge that would have labeled China as a currency manipulator.

After earlier reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was being usurped in the foreign policy hierarchy of the administration, first by Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and then by Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, reports are emerging that the former Exxon Mobil CEO's stock is rising

Mr. Trump, always the showman, has made sure to consistently tout his executive orders as political game-changers. But further analysis shows that the walk doesn't back up the talk on issues including "Buy American" provisions on steel for pipelines (including Keystone XL).


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"It may be good politics but it's bad public policy." New Westminster, B.C. Mayor Jonathan Coté on both major provincial parties' election promises to limit or eliminate tolls in an attempt to win votes.


Whether you're a hockey fan or just want to know what people are talking about around the water cooler, you should know that the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are leading their respective playoff series. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, both tied against their opponents, have games tonight. The Calgary Flames also play tonight, but so far haven't won a game against their rivals, the Anaheim Ducks.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail): "It's time to call out the Liberals on their soft, slippery, sliding commitment to access-to-information reform. This is a pattern this country has seen before. The pattern has left Canada with a federal freedom-of-information regime that is weak, that makes it easier for government to hide bad policies, mistakes, abuses, and corruption."

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail): "For the first time since Germany in the 1930s, homosexuals in a European country are being systematically rounded up, tortured and killed, according to Russian journalists and human-rights organizations. Now Canada and other nations are demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin investigate and end this purge in Chechnya, an autonomous republic within the Russian federation."

Barrie McKenna (The Globe and Mail): "Canadian officials can, and are, making their U.S. counterparts aware of all the benefits American companies currently enjoy in Canada through economic integration. They should also make it clear they are willing to invoke trade agreements and other legal means to defend Canadian interests. The best hope for Canada is to push for clear and reciprocal rules in a renegotiated NAFTA. Engaging in a wall-building contest with your richer neighbour never ends well." (for subscribers)

Charles Burton (The Globe and Mail): "The PRC is paralyzed into inaction on North Korea. If Beijing works with the U.S. to neutralize the DPRK's nuclear threat, the road to collapse of North Korean communism is irreversible, with concomitant implications for China's political future. If China does nothing, it leaves it to the U.S. to take unilateral action without China's support, which would put the lie to China's ambitions to be the future hegemon of East Asia."

Penny Collenette (Toronto Star): "Both parties [Conservative and NDP] are feeling the effect of the 2015 voter smack down in favour of the Liberal Party and both are anxious to pivot to the future with updated brands. However, a formidable obstacle stands in their way. Leadership races can make or break egos, ambitions and rivalries, not to mention the very existence of any party."

Joy-Ann Reid (The Daily Beast): "One wonders, as we head into culmination of the holiest week on the Christian calendar, whether the many hypocrisies will one day weigh on the right wing evangelical leaders who paved Trump's road to the White House. Our part-time president vacations liberally, but attends church rarely, with nary a peep from the self-appointed moral arbiters of our day. It will be a refreshing change of pace for presidents to no longer be required to make the weekly public pilgrimage to the prayer house, wife and family in tow, so long as the rightists agree to maintain this agnosticism about presidential piety when the president is not a Republican."

Written by Chris Hannay, Mayaz Alam and James Keller.

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