The Supreme Court of Canada says the rights of Indigenous people must be respected when governments and regulators consider resource projects – but that doesn't mean they have a "veto." The country's highest court released a pair of rulings yesterday that examined Indigenous rights when it comes to resource projects. In one, the court threw out an oil consortium's permit for seismic testing because the National Energy Board didn't properly consider the impact on the treat rights of residents in Clyde River, Nunavut. In another, the court denied a challenge filed by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation that sought to overturn the approval of Enbridge's reversal of its Line 9 pipeline through Ontario and Quebec.
The court says the rights of Indigenous people must be considered, but they also need to be balanced with other interests: "Indeed, it is for this reason that the duty to consult does not provide Indigenous groups with a 'veto' over final Crown decisions."
The decision could affect contentious resource projects across the country. Ottawa has argued that First Nations don't have a veto over project approvals – a principle the Liberal government wants reflected in new rules that govern how major projects are reviewed.
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Researchers from the International Monetary Fund say reducing the cost of daycare across the country could allow 150,000 highly educated women to return to the workforce – injecting billions of dollars into the economy. The Liberal government plans to spend $7.5-billion over 11 years to bring down the cost of daycare. But the IMF proposal calls for a tenfold increase to that plan with a program that would cost $8-billion a year. That's roughly the amount of increased tax revenue stay-at-home parents would bring in as they returned to work.
The federal government is struggling to fulfill a promise to give tax breaks to military personnel and police officers serving overseas. The Trudeau government announced the policy in May, but Defence Department officials have struggled to define exactly who should be eligible – and who would be left out. Under the policy, military personnel and police officers sent on certain operations would have their salaries exempt from federal income tax during their deployments. But it would only apply to "named missions" – the largest and most complex types of deployments – which means many overseas personnel would not benefit.
B.C.'s new NDP government is suggesting liquefied-natural gas projects could face stricter conditions. The government responded to news this week that Petronas had cancelled an $11.4-billion export terminal on the northern coast by insisting the province remains committed to pursuing the industry, so long as it can be done responsibly. But Environment Minister George Haymen says even if Petronas didn't pull out, the government would have imposed stricter conditions than were already in place. The company has denied that the change in government was a factor in its decision.
And a series of polls suggest attitudes toward the Liberal government may not be hurting in the wake of its $10.5-million payment to Omar Khadr. The Conservatives have seized on the payment as a weapon against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arguing Mr. Trudea's apology to Khadr flew in the face of Canadian principles. Three recent polls suggest the controversy may not be hurting the Liberals' popularity, which still leads the Conservatives'. The latest is from Nanos, which gives the Liberals 39 per cent support, up slightly from four weeks earlier, compared with 30 for the Conservatives. Abacus Data and Campaign Research have released similar polls in the past two weeks.
The Globe and Mail editorial board on Indigenous rights: "The bottom line in all of this is that the constitutional duty to consult means, as the words suggest, a legal obligation to confer honestly and fully with an affected native community, and even to make reasonable accommodations to avoid infringing on Indigenous rights. It's a powerful obligation. But it's not an Indigenous veto."
Andrew MacDougall (The Globe and Mail) on Justin Trudeau's Rolling Stone cover: "Canadians like that their prime minister is liked. If Conservatives are smart they'll brush Rolling Stone off as meaningless puffery. Because that's all it is. No American seriously thinks Canada is going to save the day. If the Americans still had Barack Obama, Rolling Stone wouldn't give two hoots about Justin Trudeau, or his feminism and fancy socks."
Terry Glavin (National Post) on the Liberal party's pro-China stance: "Given the depths of pro-Beijing sycophancy in that revolving door of veteran Liberal party figures, China trade lobbyists and senior Foreign Affairs and International Trade mandarins, it's a question worth asking: Are we even trying to beat them any more, or have we just decided to "join them"?"
Toronto Star Editorial Board on Donnie Bumanglag, the medic who saved Omar Khadr's life: "Had he found himself, like Khadr, under heavy bombardment that July day, with his fighters killed and the enemy closing in, Bumanglag said he probably wouldn't have hesitated to throw a grenade. While there has been criticism of both the fact and the reported amount of the compensation paid Khadr, Bumanglag offered an informed professional opinion of the latter. 'If you say you'd go through what he went through for $10-million, you're out of your mind, and that's the truth.' Fifteen years on, he says: 'Everybody may hate him, but I'm glad I saved his life.'"
"The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." So reads the statement U.S. president Donald Trump issued over Twitter on Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump's surprise announcement drew instant condemnation from human rights groups, and marked a shift from the promises he made as a presidential candidate to fight for the LGBT community. Last year, the Obama administration announced a plan to end the ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military. At the time, it was estimated there were about 4,000 transgender service members between the reserve and regular forces. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said a decision has not been made about whether transgender service members will immediately be forced out of the military.
As Venezuela's government prepares for a critical vote this Sunday, much of Caracas was shut down in a 48-hour general strike, organized by the opposition. Sunday's vote will choose 545 members of a new constituent assembly, which would rival the opposition-held National Assembly. President Nicolás Maduro has faced domestic and international criticism for what many see as a blatant attempt to consolidate power. The Trump administration stepped into the mix on Wednesday, placing sanctions on 13 Venezuelan officials. The U.S. government warned that it is prepared to impose "strong and swift economic actions" if Mr. Maduro does not cancel the upcoming vote. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described Mr. Maduro's actions as undermining "democracy, freedom, and the role of law." Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is reviewing the U.S. decision to impose sanctions. She did not say if Canada will pursue similar measures. Since April, nearly 100 people have died as a result of Venezuela's political unrest.
A remote Himalayan mountain pass could bring China and India to war. Last month, Chinese workers attempted to extend the road through the area where China, Bhutan and India meet. India responded by sending troops to the area, which China immediately denounced. Jeff M. Smith, an expert on Indian-Chinese relations at the American Foreign Policy Council, told the New York Times the hard-line positions taken by the two nuclear-armed superpowers is "eerily similar" to the border disputes that escalated into 1962's Sino-Indian War.
And, as predictions of rising sea levels become ever more grim, the Netherlands has a solution: don't block the water, but learn to live with it.
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the Dump Trump movement: "It's a wish on the lips of most everyone you encounter. Donald Trump doesn't last. He's forced out of office before the end of his first term. Sanity, normalcy, decency is restored to the unhinged Oval Office. Celebrations break out everywhere. It's a pleasing thought. But it isn't going to happen."
David Smilde (New York Times) on the possibility of civil war in Venezuela: "Since the plebiscite, Venezuela's opposition has taken steps toward establishing a parallel government. This might remain a symbolic initiative. But if the opposition continues down this road, it will soon be looking for international recognition and funding, and will at least implicitly be asserting the parallel government's claim to the legitimate monopoly on the use of force. After that it will seek what every government wants: weapons to defend itself. If it succeeds, Venezuela could plunge into a civil war that will make the current conflict seem like high school fisticuffs."
Jonathan Manthorpe (iPolitics) on China's dwindling pro-democracy movement: "Liu Xiaobo, who died earlier this month while serving an 11-year prison sentence for advocating democracy, was frequently called 'China's Nelson Mandela.' The epithet is an expression of admiration and affection. But it's wrong. Liu, who died of liver cancer eight years into his sentence for 'subversion of the state,' never had the chance to be China's Mandela. Nor have any of the other half a dozen or so opponents and critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who have risen to fame and – in some cases – fortune since the country began opening up to trade after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976."