Canada in Brief, Nov. 30-Dec. 6

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
November 30, 2017 Updated: January 3, 2019

NK nuclear crisis: Canada, US to co-host international meeting

Canada will assist the United States in co-hosting a major international meeting on North Korea in an attempt to find a non-military solution to a nuclear crisis, which escalated Nov. 28 with a record-setting missile test by the rogue state.

They will convene foreign ministers from the countries involved in the Korean War and from important regional actors like Japan in a meeting whose date has not been set but which will likely occur in Canada early next year.

A meeting of this magnitude “hasn’t been done before,” one Canadian official said.

Canada takes softwood lumber complaint to WTO

Canada is taking its softwood lumber case to the World Trade Organization. On Nov. 28, the government requested WTO consultations with the United States over American lumber duties. It called the duties unfair, unwarranted, and deeply troubling.

The United States has imposed a series of penalties, arguing that Canada unfairly subsidizes its lumber companies through cheap access to public land.

It’s the latest instalment in an off-again, on-again dispute, as efforts to renew a deal that expired in 2015 have proven unsuccessful; American companies have refused to sign off on a new Canada-U.S. accord.

Morneau rejects Tory insinuation, threatens legal action

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is threatening to take the Conservatives to court after the official Opposition peppered him with questions about a stock sale that occurred before he introduced pension legislation in the House of Commons.

Tory finance critic Pierre Poilievre said a motion introduced by Morneau in December 2015 to raise income taxes on the highest earners caused the entire stock market to drop—including the price of Morneau Shepell shares, 680,000 of which the minister sold off a week before the announcement.

Morneau said the insinuations are “absurd” and if the Opposition wants to make its claims outside the Commons, they will “absolutely be hearing how the legal system works.”

Feds pledge to fund Grassy Narrows mercury treatment facility

The federal government has committed to funding a treatment centre for an Ontario community plagued by mercury contamination, says Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister.

Fobister said Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott delivered the news during a meeting in Toronto Nov. 29 that included Ontario’s Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer.

The treatment centre is a “dream come true” and once it is built, those affected by the serious impacts of mercury contamination will not have to travel to centres like Winnipeg or Kenora, Ont. to receive care, Fobister said.

No alternative to Phoenix, so no plans to scrap pay system: Lemay

Ottawa says it won’t scrap the troubled Phoenix pay system, despite its costly problems and criticisms from the auditor general.

Marie Lemay, the deputy minister responsible for fixing the system, told the House of Commons public accounts committee Nov. 28 that her department has no choice but to attempt to stabilize Phoenix, at least in the short term.

Lemay said the Public Services and Procurement Department must work with Phoenix because there is no plan B.

With files from The Canadian Press