Monthly Archives: March 2013

National Post | News

Philippe and William Beaulieu hardly seem like threats to the survival of the French language. For one thing, they are still in elementary school. For another, they speak French at home and excel in the subject at school.

But the Beaulieu brothers and about 750 other children of military families in Quebec have become unlikely targets as the Parti Québécois government seeks to beef up the province’s language law. As part of Bill 14 introduced last December to “reinforce the status of French in Quebec,” in the words of the minister responsible, children of francophone Armed Forces personnel would be stripped of a 35-year-old exemption allowing them to attend school in English.

For the Beaulieu boys, who are in Grades 6 and 4, that would mean leaving the English schools they attend near CFB Valcartier outside Quebec City.

“I don’t think the government has considered the children in this issue…

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National Post | News

Underneath the quick wit and the brash persona, Ralph Klein was shy.

That’s not what most people will remember, of course, not about “King Ralph.” His admirers will remember his compassion and his common touch. They’ll point to the stifling debt he slew. His critics will memorialize the former Alberta premier, while noting what he had to cut from the public service to get there.

But Alan Hallman, Mr. Klein’s former campaign manager, said the thing to remember is that the province’s iconic populist premier was a bit uncertain around new people.

“When he would go into rooms, he would go a lot to the people that he knew because it was comfortable,” he said.

Mr. Klein, who died in hospital after a long illness Friday at the age of 70, had the uncanny charisma that naturally shy people sometimes affect, Mr. Hallman said.

“He would turn on going into…

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National Post | Full Comment

Bob Rae, who today will face his last Question Period as federal Liberal leader, is an inspiration to anyone out there — politician or not — who thinks there are no second acts in life.

For those who might’ve forgotten, Mr. Rae was the one-term Ontario NDP premier who led his party to electoral annihilation in 1995 — going from a 74-seat majority government to 17-seat third party status.

“Led by 50-year-old Mike Harris and a right-wing agenda that stressed job creation, tax cuts, a balanced budget and less government, the Conservatives swept to a majority in the 130-seat legislature,” the Financial Post declared on its front page the next day. “Rae, who has led the Ontario party since 1982, said he would use the next few months to consider his future.” Everyone assumed he’d drift off into respectable anonymity. He didn’t.

Mr. Rae resigned from the NDP, and began…

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National Post | Full Comment

Here’s the irony: Bob Rae, showered with accolades and crowned with laurel leaves by friend and foe alike this week as he gracefully stepped back from the fray, isn’t going anywhere.

A performer and political operator to his core, Rae is not leaving the stage, though his term as Liberal leader is over. Indeed, he’s poised to leap with both feet into the most intractable cluster of social and economic problems facing this country — aboriginal poverty, reserves and resource development. He won’t be departing the House of Commons either, certainly not before 2015. And he may run again. Asked whether he would consider serving in a Justin Trudeau cabinet, Rae paused, then delivered an answer that is classically him: “I don’t rule it out.”

Rae is, and has always been, the guy who doesn’t rule it out.

At every phase of his 35-year-and-counting career in and around politics, he…

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National Post | Full Comment

In these pages last Wednesday, columnist Christie Blatchford objected to the Toronto Star very thorough coverage — other adjectives are available — of all things to do with the city’s constantly embattled mayor, Rob Ford. She dislikes the paper’s “tactics”: sending a reporter to Huntsville, Ont., where he has a cottage; “staking out his backyard at night”; and posting a video in which two people giggle as Mr. Ford exits a KFC location with a bucket of chicken.

To my mind, those tactics are in fact in the best tradition of a very ruthless brand of journalism that we don’t often see in Canada. The Star sent a reporter to Huntsville because Mr. Ford had skipped out on the Pride Parade to spend time with family; if he wasn’t there, say, that would have been a story. What Ms. Blatchford describes as “staking out his backyard at night” was in…

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National Post | News

Russia warned North Korea and the United States Friday to tone down their rhetoric, warning that a flare-up in tensions between could spin out of control.

“Unilateral actions are being taken around North Korea which manifest themselves in an escalation of military activity. We can simply see the situation getting out of control, it would spiral down into a vicious circle,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

“We believe it is necessary for all not to build up military muscle and not to use the current situation as an excuse to solve certain geopolitical tasks in the region through military means,” he said, while calling for the resumption of diplomatic talks.

Lavrov’s comments came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Friday that his rocket forces were ready “to settle accounts with the U.S.,” unleashing a new round of bellicose rhetoric after U.S. nuclear-capable B-2 bombers dropped dummy…

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National Post | News

A video showing a Vancouver man being hit in the face by a Vancouver police officer is now being reviewed by the department’s professional standards section.

The alleged incident happened Tuesday as Andi Shae Akhavan rode his bike, without a helmet, through downtown Vancouver.

Akhavan says he was stopped by two plainclothes officers and as they began ticketing him, he inquired if they had “something better to do.”

According to Akhavan, that’s when he was handcuffed and punched in the mouth, driving one of his teeth through his lip.

He says his friend caught the entire incident on video.

The police officer can be heard saying to the videographer: “You can watch this, that’s fine, but don’t interfere while I am trying to do my job.”

Akhavan then asked: “Why did you punch me?”

The officer replied in a polite English accent: “Because you were resisting. I tried to put…

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National Post | News

When asked to provide a basic legal document for an Ontario sentencing hearing, Quebec justice authorities instead submitted something so “useless,” so “highly partisan,” and so “inflammatory” that it prompted an Ontario judge to denounce Quebec’s approach to federal justice.

“[I]nstead of receiving something useful … the court [was] delivered a diatribe by a highly partisan and poorly trained probation officer,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Deena Baltman wrote in a March 19 decision sentencing a Montreal man on prostitution-related charges in Brampton, Ont. “This is not only a waste of taxpayer’s monies but a disservice to the criminal justice system.”

The report’s “gross deficiencies” were “all the more galling,” added Judge Baltman, because it was submitted more than a month late and in the wrong language. Judge Baltman wrote that she repeatedly asked the parole officer to submit the report in English. Nevertheless, the document was submitted in French, forcing…

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National Post | News

QUEBEC — The former leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe, appears to have landed a government job two years after he lost his last one in a historic electoral drubbing.

He is being appointed by the pro-independence Parti Quebecois provincial government to lead a commission whose role will be to fight the feds over changes to skills training.

Duceppe led the Bloc through six federal elections, with some resounding successes, until the sudden and spectacular wipeout in 2011 where his party nearly disappeared and he lost his own seat.

Now the provincial government has confirmed he’ll be one of the people appointed to key roles in its so-called “sovereigntist government” strategy, more details of which will be released next week.

“If there’s anyone who knows the federal system well, who’s had the chance to debate about it, to discuss it, to defend the interests of Quebec, it’s certainly Gilles…

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