Canada in Brief, Jan. 5-11

January 4, 2017 Updated: January 4, 2017

Fireworks, events across the country mark start of Canada’s 150th year

OTTAWA—A Canada Day tradition was repurposed New Year’s Eve to herald the start of Canada’s 150th year.

A massive fireworks display over Parliament Hill—usually reserved for July 1—took place on the evening of Dec. 31 to mark the beginning of 2017 and a year-long birthday bash across the country.

New Year’s Eve events with a 150th birthday flavour were held in 19 cities.

The celebration in the capital, which cost about $2.5 million, included performances by Canadian artists and also featured remarks by Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

Joly is in charge of more than $210 million being set aside for 150th anniversary projects and events planned for the anniversary.

Total compensation for Top 100 CEOs rose to $950 million in 2015

TORONTO—A new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the top 100 CEOs of TSX-listed public companies got a total of about $950 million in compensation in 2015, according to regulatory filings issued last year.

That was up about 6 percent from the prior year, when total compensation for the Top 100 chief executive officers totalled $895.85 million in salary, bonuses, pensions, and stock-based compensation.

The think tank’s annual tally says the Top 100 average, at $9.5 million, was 193 times Canada’s average industrial wage of $49,510 in 2015.

The highest-paid person on the 2017 Top 100 list was Michael Pearson, the former CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. He received a total of $182.9 million in all forms of compensation in 2015.

Alberta government defends new carbon tax

EDMONTON—Alberta’s NDP government jumped to defend its new carbon tax on New Year’s Day as consumers got their first taste of some of the new prices they’ll be paying in 2017. Gasoline at the pumps rose 4.5 cents per litre on Jan. 1; home heating and business fuels will go up, too.

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman addressed reporters at the legislature on Jan. 1, where she stressed the link between the tax and getting pipelines to tidewater approved.

Hoffman noted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was clear when he approved Kinder Morgan’s expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline in November that the decision would not have happened without Alberta’s climate plan.

She said the tax is “the best way for us to protect the environment and protect jobs and get pipelines built.”

NS shootings underscore need for better veterans’ services: Ombudsman

OTTAWA—Ombudsman Gary Walbourne has urged the federal government to do more for soldiers forced out of the Canadian Forces for medical reasons after an Afghan war veteran and three family members were found shot dead in Nova Scotia.

Walbourne wants Ottawa to ensure injured military personnel have all the necessary benefits and supports in place before they are forced to turn in their uniforms—recommendations he made back in the fall.

Retired corporal Lionel Desmond, 33, was found dead Jan. 3 in a home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His wife Shanna Desmond, 31, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah, and his mother, Brenda Desmond, 52, also died of apparent gunshot wounds.

Uncommonly cold winter has Vancouver offering residents free salt

Vancouver is offering its residents buckets of free road salt thanks to uncharacteristically cold and snowy winter weather, which has made some sidewalks and streets in the usually temperate city treacherously icy.

Ten fire halls began making de-icing salt available this week for residents who can’t find any at local stores. The city has already gone through 7,000 tonnes of salt, which is seven times the average amount used in each of the last two years.

Jerry Dobrovolny, general manager for engineering services, says all non-emergency construction has been shut down and more than 300 city workers have been reassigned to help with salting, sanding, and clearing neighbourhood streets.

With files from The Canadian Press