Auditor-General Karen Hogan said billions of dollars in ineligible COVID-19 benefit payments are at risk of going uncollected because the federal government is doing a poor job of identifying individuals and businesses that should be forced to pay back funds.
The Auditor-General found $4.6-billion in overpayments to ineligible recipients as well as an additional $27.4-billion that should be investigated further. A report released Tuesday also says the $27.4-billion “is the minimum amount that should be investigated.”
More than $210-billion in payments were distributed to individuals and businesses between early 2020 and mid-2022 in an effort to avoid a spike in poverty and business closures as large swaths of the Canadian economy were forced to shut down or scale back during the pandemic.
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ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE VICTIMS HONORED - Tributes were planned Tuesday in Montreal to commemorate victims of the École Polytechnique shooting on the 33rd anniversary of the tragedy. Story here.
CAREY PRICE APOLOGIZES - Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has issued an apology to the families of victims of the 1989 murder of 14 students at École Polytechnique after, over the weekend, he posted a photo of himself holding a hunting rifle to protest new gun legislation proposed by the federal government. On Monday, the hockey club asserted that Price was unaware of the 1989 massacre. Story here.
COP15 SUMMIT BEGINS - Countries are gathering Tuesday for a key UN nature conference in Montreal, aiming to broker a new global agreement to protect what’s left of Earth’s wildlife and natural spaces. Story here. There’s an Explainer on the summit here.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HACKED - Amnesty International Canada says its computer system was hacked by a group believed to be working for the Chinese government, in the latest instance of suspected interference in Canadian affairs by Beijing. Story here.
MPS SEEK TO QUESTION GROCERY CEOS - A parliamentary committee wants the CEOs of major grocery companies to appear for questioning on record-level food price inflation after representatives for Loblaw and Sobeys said there’s little they can do to prevent passing on costs to consumers. Story here.
LIBERALS CONSIDER FIREARMS CONCERNS - The Liberal government is listening to concerns that some of the firearms it’s looking to ban are used primarily for hunting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says. Story here.
OTTAWA TRYING TO STOP EXPORTS THAT HELP RUSSIA: PM - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is working to stop exports that help Moscow wage war after an investigation found Canadian-made parts in drones being used by Russia to attack Ukraine. Story here.
TAXPAYERS’S OMBUDSMAN GOES PUBLIC - Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson felt obligated to go public over an impasse between his office and the Canada Revenue Agency as he investigates complaints that the CRA is unfairly targeting Muslim charities, he said in an interview . Story here.
UCP TO OVERHAUL SOVEREIGNTY ACT - Alberta’s United Conservative Party plans to overhaul Premier Danielle Smith’s signature legislation, a so-called sovereignty act designed to push back against overreach from Ottawa, so that the bill would be harder to invoke and would no longer give cabinet unchecked power to rewrite provincial laws. Story here.
ACCESS-TO-INFORMATION UNITS OVERWHELMED: FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS - Senior officials from four different federal departments told a House of Commons committee their access-to-information units are plagued by chronic staff shortages, outdated technology and pandemic-created backlogs. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Dec. 6, accessible here.
DAYS SINCE CONSERVATIVE LEADER PIERRE POILIEVRE TOOK MEDIA QUESTIONS IN OTTAWA: 84
POLITICAL IRONY - Four Conservative MPs were scheduled Tuesday to hold a news conference for members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery on the Auditor’-General’s COVID-18 performance audit reports. This comes the week after their party leader, Pierre Poilievre, said Parliament Hill journalists are biased, do not represent Canada and that he has little use for them as a means of getting his message out. Specifically, he told the True North website: “There are some good reporters who are in the press gallery but for the most part there is a definite bias in favour of just defending the government and regurgitating its talking points, and I don’t need to validate that.” The Tory MP lineup Tuesday were John Williamson, Pierre Paul-Hus, Stephen Ellis, , Jasraj Hallan, and, according to a media release, “other members of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet.”
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS VISIT - Ukrainian parliamentarians Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze and Mariia Ionova were scheduled Tuesday to participate in a panel on the state of the embattled country.. Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze is chair of the committee of Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union. Ms. Ionova is a member of the Ccmmittee on Foreign Policy and Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation of the Ukraine parliament. The panel was to be held at the Rideau Club in downtown Ottawa.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, in Montreal, was scheduled to attend the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, participating in an iopening press conference and opening ceremony.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, attended private meetings, participated in a roundtable discussion with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus. He also delivered opening remarks. In Montreal, the Prime Minister was scheduled to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity about the importance of protecting nature and biodiversity. Mr. Trudeau was then scheduled to attend a vigil in memory of the victims of the 1989 tragedy at the École Polytechnique de Montréal.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a media scrum in the foyer of the House of Commons, joined by Public Safety Critic Kristina Michaud and Justice Critic Rhéal Fortin. Mr, Blanchet then attended Question Period.
NDP Premier Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, was scheduled to take media questions ahead of Question Period, attend Question Period and meet with the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as well as deliver remarks to the meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He was also scheduled to attend a candlelight vigil for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe feature writer Jana Pruden shares the story of Helen Naslund who was sentenced, two years ago, to eighteen years in prison for killing her husband, Miles, in 2011. They married young, in the early 1980s – he was 20, and she was 17. He abused her and their three children for decades. Ms. Pruden also unpacks how the justice system treats women who have been abused. The Decibel is here.
SAM WAKIM - Former Progressive Conservative MP Sam Wakim, a classmate of prime minister Brian Mulroney from the pair’s day at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has died. L. Ian MacDonald, editor of Policy Magazine, tweeted here on Mr. Wakim’s death. There’s a Parliament of Canada biography of Mr. Wakim here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on mapping a future of Canadian oil in a net-zero world: “There is a list of key moments when the world started to look differently at the future of fossil fuels. A prominent early milestone was 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen warned of a hotter future. It was front-page news – an early alarm sounded – but the burning of fossil fuels only escalated. More recently, the United Nations in 2018 outlined what it would take to limit climate heating to 1.5 degrees C – “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes.” And last year, the International Energy Agency, founded in 1974 by Western countries to plan for adequate oil supplies, mapped out net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That included the argument the world did not need to spend money on new oil and natural gas fields.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how the Alberta government has been hijacked by the Freedom Convoy: “Make no mistake, the Alberta government has been hijacked by the “freedom convoy” folks. Ms. Smith and her acolytes in the United Conservative Party want to fundamentally change the way Canada works. They want the federal government to forfeit any serious role over areas such as climate change and health care, leaving those matters to the provinces. What we are witnessing at the moment is a right-wing government trying to cause havoc and assert rights it doesn’t have all in the name of bullying a Liberal government in Ottawa that it finds ideologically abhorrent.”
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on how hospitalizing homeless people with mental illness would just replace one failure for another: “For decades now, we’ve lacked a coherent system to care for and support people with severe mental illness. That’s a problem that won’t be resolved with simplistic approaches such as police roundups. Instead, it will require a commitment to long-term solutions, such as Housing First initiatives and mental health supports in the community. If you’re going to force people with mental illness and addiction problems into hospital, what matters most is where they go next.”
Andrew Auerbach (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada’s $1.1-trillion debt is shockingly high – it threatens all that we value: “There is precedent for elected officials taking action before it’s too late. In 1979, then U.S. president Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker as chair of the Federal Reserve, with an aggressive mandate to curb inflation. The president was warned that the severe short-term pain would cost him a second term. Mr. Carter did it anyway – and it did help cost him re-election. Getting out of massive debt, a slowing economy and high inflation is difficult, but it can be done. Unchecked, however, the path Canada is on almost guarantees that children and young adults today will inherit a country with such massive debt that investment will go elsewhere. While this may sound harmless, it is not.”
Kirstin Beardsley, Michael McCain and Nick Saul (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on committing to cutting food insecurity in half: “As a nation we acted swiftly and effectively to mitigate the worst socio-economic impacts of COVID, but it’s clear our work is far from done. Canada is advancing a poverty reduction strategy and we’re making headway. Yet rates of food insecurity continue to climb – the latest reports show a staggering 16 per cent or almost six million people in Canada face hunger. Indigenous and Black people experience rates 3.5 times the national average owing to systemic racism and colonialism. An estimated 50 per cent of people who are food insecure are living with a disability.”
Michael Halpin (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how it’s everybody’s job to prevent efforts by Incels to make Dec. 6 a day of celebration: “Dec. 6 is the anniversary of Marc Lépine’s misogynistic assault on École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989. On that day, Mr. Lépine entered a classroom armed with a semi-automatic rifle. He asked all the men to leave and then opened fire. He murdered 14 women and wounded another 14 people before taking his own life. While Tuesday will be honoured by most as a national day of remembrance, there are some men both in Canada and around the world who will celebrate it as “Saint Marc Lépine Day.”
Rosa Rahimi (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on not being fooled by Iran’s ‘reforms’. They are only meaningless distractions: “Nevertheless, there is talk in Iran that hijab laws might be relaxed or reformed. Yet this would be no reason to call it a day on Iran’s current revolution. At best, any legitimate reforms that might be announced in the months to come would only demonstrate reluctant concessions from a government that knows it has lost the battle on one front, but still seeks to win the larger war being fought for the future of Iran. At worst, they would represent cosmetic announcements that lack long-lasting effects; there is no guarantee that such reforms would be permanent, or that other security forces would refrain from violently attacking those who challenge the morality laws, all the same.”