Canada in Brief, Oct. 25-31

October 24, 2018 Updated: October 25, 2018

Cancelling Saudi arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says cancelling the controversial contract to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia would leave taxpayers on the hook for $1 billion.

The comments come as the Liberal government is facing new pressure to cancel the deal amid international outrage over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month.

Human rights groups have urged Canada to cancel the $15 billion contract to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

Trudeau says the government could suspend export permits but notes the contract is structured in a way that makes it very difficult to cancel and he is limited in what he can discuss publicly.

BC’s Horgan, Weaver support electoral reform at referendum rally

Those for and against changing British Columbia’s provincial voting system to a form of proportional representation will soon have a say as residents begin receiving referendum ballots in their mailboxes.

Debate started to heat up on Oct. 23 in the legislature, with the Opposition Liberals calling the vote a “sham,” but it was all cheers at an evening rally in support of the change side.

About 1,000 people attended a campaign-style event that featured speeches in favour of electoral reform by Green Leader Andrew Weaver and New Democrat Premier John Horgan.

Ballots for the vote were placed in the mail this week and must be received by Elections BC by Nov. 30, with a result expected several weeks later.

Tory cruises to victory in Toronto; Brown elected mayor of Brampton

Toronto Mayor John Tory easily won re-election on Oct. 22, taking 63 percent of the vote while his main rival, former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, took 24 percent.

Embattled politician Patrick Brown was elected next mayor of Brampton, making his political comeback months after sexual misconduct allegations forced him to step down as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives.

The municipal election was Brown’s latest attempt at resurrecting his political career after his dramatic resignation in January amid the allegations, which he has vehemently denied.

In all, voters in more than 400 communities cast ballots in a campaign that saw everything from legal battles to electoral reform.

Removal of straight pride flag is discrimination, creator says

The man behind a New Brunswick village’s straight-pride flag says he and his supporters are considering legal action or a political challenge of the municipal officials who took it down.

Glenn Bishop, a retired welder, says he is not the least bit anti-gay but is simply proud to be straight and doesn’t understand why Chipman village officials removed the flag after a single day.

Chipman’s village council issued a statement saying it was removed as a result of “unintentional attention” and based on residents’ feedback.

Canadian Coast Guard to increase focus on Arctic with new zone

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has announced that the Canadian Coast Guard is creating a new branch devoted solely to looking after Canada’s northern waters.

The new coast guard zone will be accompanied by an extensive set of talks across the North to discuss what the coast guard’s future role in those rapidly changing seas should be.

Climate change is opening Arctic seas across the world to tourism, shipping, and resource development. At the same time, it’s creating new problems such as the pileup of old ice that blocked some northern communities from their annual supply shipment this year.

With files from The Canadian Press