Monthly Archives: February 2013

National Post | Full Comment

The easiest thing to say about the Italian election is that they’re all nuts. Any country that would give Silvio Berlusconi another dose of influence in its national affairs has forfeited the right to be taken seriously.

That’s what a lot of columnists are saying. Rome “witnessed this week the end of Italian democracy, at least as understood as the mature deliberation of a free people choosing responsible leaders,” wrote Full Comment’s own Fr. Raymond J. de Souza. The Star’s Thomas Walkom says it’s proof “the old solutions don’t work. Those old solutions … emphasize fiscal frugality (cuts to social welfare), flexible labour markets (low wages) and structural adjustment (throwing people out of work).” Given a choice, voters will choose anything else: “they will vote for anyone who promises another way. If the only ones promising another way are racists, sybarites and clowns, that’s who people will vote for.”

[np_storybar…

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National Post | News

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper took pains to rub salt in the wounds of his New Democrat rivals Thursday after a member of the official Opposition bolted the party to join the Bloc Quebecois.

By crossing the floor to the languishing Bloc, Claude Patry abruptly became the fifth member of the pro-independence party in the House of Commons.

The defection is a badly needed morale boost for the Bloc, which was crushed by the NDP in the last election and has been perceived to be on political life support.

And despite the fact no one asked him to comment on the move, Harper nonetheless seized the opportunity to score some political points.

“This is an issue that has concerned us for some time, and does concern us: the ambiguity on Canadian unity that we have among some members of the NDP caucus in Quebec,” he said.

Harper said the…

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Financial Post | Business

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has been asking realtors for months to keep consumers in the dark about whether the properties it sells are part of a foreclosure, according to a document obtained by The Financial Post.

[np_storybar title=”CMHC backing fewer loans” link=”http://business.financialpost.com/2012/01/30/cmhc-backing-fewer-loans/”]Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is cutting back on mortgages it insures as the Crown corporation edges closer to a $600-billion cap imposed on it by the federal government, the Financial Post has learned.

A CMHC spokesman confirmed that it had approached a number of lenders at the end of 2011 about reducing its “bulk or portfolio insurance” after third-quarter results showed the agency had committed to back $541-billion in mortgages.

Continue reading. [/np_storybar]

The move, said to be part of CMHC national policy, upset Quebec realtors who refused to play ball, worried about an ethical breach.

The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, which oversees the…

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National Post | Sports

A new basketball franchise in Ottawa will drop the name “TomaHawks,” after public outcry when the team unveiled their controversial logo on Tuesday.

“I’d like to sincerely apologize the First Nations community and to the people who were offended and insulted. It was not my intention at all,” team co-owner Gus Takkale said at a CTV Ottawa appearance on Wednesday.

“Very, very soon we want to have a new name that’s going to represent the community and represent the things we want to do and the values that we hold.”

Ian Campeau, an Ojibway man from the Nipissing Fist Nation who started a campaign to get the Nepean Redskins youth football team to change their name, told CBC on Tuesday he was surprised by the logo choice for the Ottawa basketball team.

“It sets Ottawa back almost thirty years, when the NCAA is on its way to remove names…

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National Post | News

Canada’s human rights hate speech laws are a constitutionally valid limit on freedom of expression, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in a landmark judgment.

The judgment in the case of William Whatcott of Saskatchewan reaffirms the Canadian approach to hate speech, that it can be limited by law to address the problem of hate speech, unlike the American approach, in which speech cannot be limited except in the most extreme circumstances.

In upholding a definition of hatred first crafted by the Supreme Court in 1991, the current justices ruled that the hate speech section of Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code addresses a pressing and substantial issue, and is proportional to its objective of “tackling causes of discriminatory activity to reduce the harmful effects and social costs of discrimination.”

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The court struck out some strange language in the law, which bans speech that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the…

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National Post | Arts

We all knew what to expect from Seth MacFarlane — lowbrow, mostly offensive humour, a song and dance number or two and, if we were lucky, a few well-placed Family Guy-esque cutaways.

But We’ve Seen Your Boobs? Really, Seth?

Here’s some of the early reaction from Twitter to MacFarlane:

New York magazine’s fashion blog The Cut even went so far as to compile a running tally of MacFarlane’s sexist jabs throughout the night:

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National Post | News

It had already been a busy weekend for stunt driving charges in Toronto when officers clocked a man going 188 kilometres per hour, a speed that made other alleged speeders seem like slugs.

The 37-year-old man is alleged to have reached 188 km/h while westbound on the Gardiner Expressway, where the speed limit is 100 km/h, around 2:05 a.m. in a 2003 Audi A4.

The driver’s licence has been suspended for seven days, during which the vehicle will be impounded.

The alleged speedster pales in comparison to the fastest on record in Toronto, however. John Koval, 29, was charged with stunt driving, impaired driving and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle after clocking 231 km-h on the Don Valley Parkway on the morning of Jan. 9, 2009. That put the Aurora man 141 km/h over the parkway’s 90 km/h speed limit.

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On Sunday morning, a 22-year-old Pickering man was pulled…

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National Post | News

Toronto’s embattled mayor celebrated his third major victory in as many months on Monday after the city’s compliance audit committee dropped the investigation into apparent election spending contraventions during his 2010 campaign.

After hearing for more than two hours from the forensic auditor who uncovered the apparent breaches, and lawyers for both Mayor Rob Ford and the Toronto men who sought the audit, the committee voted 2 to 1 to accept the report’s findings without commencing legal proceedings against Mr. Ford.

The decision was delivered with some drama in city hall’s committee room 1, with member John Hollins, a former chief electoral officer with Elections Ontario, first moving a motion that would have hired a special prosecutor to look into the matter. “I am dissenting,” Virginia MacLean, a municipal lawyer on the panel, said quietly. It then fell to chair Douglas Colbourne, a chartered accountant and former chair of the…

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National Post | Full Comment

Ottawa is following a “same here” policy on the environment as it seeks to provide President Barack Obama with political cover for his upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. Judging by Monday’s announcement from Environment Minister Peter Kent, any declarations from the Washington on U.S. environment policy will be quickly matched by Ottawa announcing: “Same here.” Maybe they should just have a codicil added to the bottom of official U.S. environmental announcements: “FYI, Canada will be doing the same thing.”

It wouldn’t be any less subtle than Mr. Kent’s statement that Canada will match U.S. regulations on emission standards for heavy duty vehicles. The first sentence in the official announcement was: “Today the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister, announced final regulations to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines.”

Now that Obama has been elected to a second term…

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National Post | News

OTTAWA — An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that former Conservative MP Helena Guergis must pay $118,560 in legal costs to those she tried unsuccessfully to sue for defamation — including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada – after she was booted from the party caucus and cabinet.

“When a plaintiff, as in this case, chooses to sue a wide variety of defendants on the basis of accusations of conspiracy and bad faith, the expectation must be that the claims will be vigorously defended,” said Justice Charles T. Hackland in Monday’s decision.

“The plaintiff’s expectation here must have been that the defendants would be incurring substantial costs in the defence of this action.”

Guergis, the former minister of state for the status of women and onetime MP for the Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey, resigned from cabinet and was dumped from caucus in 2010 after Harper…

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