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On the front lines of the equalization wars

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Terry Glavin has no time for those who argue the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou makes Canada a pawn in the Trump administration’s trade war with China, or that China’s outlandish retaliatory threats reflect the regime not knowing how things operate in nations governed by the rule of law. He writes:

Neither was her arrest a “kidnapping,” as the Chinese commerce department bureaucrat Wei Xinyu claimed in the party-owned newspaper Global Times. In the most comically intemperate language, Chinese diplomats have demanded that Canada release Meng immediately, to assuage China’s “hurt feelings.” Over the weekend, China’s deputy foreign minister Le Yucheng threatened Canadians with “serious consequences” unless we do what we’re told.

They should all be told to pound sand, of course, but it is perfectly understandable that Beijing would feel free to take this sort of tone. Among the G7 countries, Canada has adopted a uniquely supine posture in its relations with Beijing and its legions of creepy billionaires. Unlike Canada, our partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom—have not been slobbering on Huawei’s slippers all these years. (Maclean’s)

In the latest on the case Meng has offered to wear a tracking device if she’s granted bail, while China has continued its over-the-top rhetoric, calling Meng’s arrest “inhumane“. (Globe and Mail, Global News)

An Alberta strategist predicts the federal Liberals will be wiped out in the province in the next election, such is the anger felt there toward the Trudeau government: “Alberta is angry. It is as angry as I have ever seen it, and it’s hard for an incumbent party when the population is [this] angry.” (Hill Times)

Each moment brings another wedge between the province and Ottawa—from Alberta resentment over Ottawa’s failure to get a pipeline built to Ottawa’s tepid response to the latest oil price crisis to Justin Trudeau’s comments while at the G20 about the danger to women from men at rural construction camps.

The latest split: the breakdown, released Sunday evening, of who’ll get what  and who’ll get squat from equalization payments in 2019/20. With Quebec in line to receive $13 billion while the oil-producing provinces Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland will get naught, anger flared up again. (Globe and Mail)

Equalization “has not worked,” Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said. It’s “extremely flawed” said Finance Minister Donna Harpauer. Ontario threw its entry into the complaint pile too, since the province won’t receive equalization payments for the first time in a decade. “We see an inequity from from the Federal government” added Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli. (Edmonton JournalRegina Leader-PostToronto Star)

The loudest heckles came from Alberta UCP leader Jason Kenney, on Twitter: “So after unilaterally cancelling this year’s planned equalization talks, Justin Trudeau’s finance minister says the issue can be revisited – in FOUR YEARS. Meanwhile, suffering Alberta continues to transfer wealth to a province blocking the source of our wealth. Truly outrageous.” (Twitter)

Meanwhile, over in #cdnecon twitter, economists were gamely trying to bring facts and, you know, numbers to the debate. (Twitter, Twitter, Twitter)

Standing before a roomful of soldiers to announce new transition services to help soldiers adjust to life after the military, Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan decided it was a good time to share his own “very difficult transition”: leaving journalism for politics. Not surprisingly, it didn’t go over well. “Good Lord, what an insensitive and inaccurate thing to say,” one former soldier told the CBC. “It shows me he has no concept of what he is dealing with.” (CBC News)

 

 

 

 

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Students call on University of Ottawa to implement pass/fail grading amid pandemic

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OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) is calling on the university to introduce optional, one-course-only pass/fail grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students’ union said nearly 5,000 uOttawa students have signed its petition supporting the grading system.

In a letter to the university, the UOSU said it is asking the school to make changes to the grading structure, including allowing one course per semester to be converted to the “pass” or “satisfactory” designation.

The UOSU also made recommendations regarding a reduction of workload and course delivery.

“The adaptation to online learning during the pandemic for students has created unique challenges and disruptions that could not have been anticipated,” wrote Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s Advocacy Commissioner. 

“The use of flexible compassionate grading options has been introduced in other universities, such as Carleton University which includes a use of Pass/Fail which we feel could be implemented at the University of Ottawa.”

Carleton University approved the use of flexible and compassionate grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms in early November.

The UOSU also called for all grades that constitute a fail to appear as “Not Satisfactory” on their transcript, which would not be included in grade point average calculations. 

The union represents more than 38,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.

In a response to CTV News, the University of Ottawa said it is aware of the petition.

“Last spring a decision was made by the (University) Senate to allow the Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory mark to be used, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, which hit us close to the end of the Winter 2020 semester. The University is aware of the petition and is looking into the matter.”

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OPP warn of phone scams in Ottawa Valley

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Upper Ottawa Valley OPP warn residents of a phone scam that’s been making its way through the region recently. 

Police say a scammer pretends to be from a local business and tells the person their credit card didn’t work on a recent purchase before asking the person on the phone to confirm their credit card number. 

The victim may not have even used the card at the store, but police said the scammer creates a sense of urgency. 

Police remind residents to verify the legitimacy of any caller before providing any personal information over the phone. 

Similar scams have been reported recently in the region, according to police, with scammers posing as police officers, Revenue Canada or other government agencies demanding payment for a variety of reasons. A Social Insurance Number scam has also been reported recently, where a victim is asked for their SIN number under threat of being arrested. 
 
If a scam artist contacts you or if you have been defrauded, you’re asked to contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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The human history of Ottawa Valley is thousands of years old. Archeologists may have found a piece of it on Parliament Hill

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OTTAWA—Archeologists working on Parliament Hill have discovered a relic of Indigenous life that one Algonquin leader sees as a symbol of his people’s long history in what is now the heart of Canadian political power.

The jagged stone point was unearthed last year on the east side of Centre Block, but its discovery was not publicized as officials worked with Algonquin communities to authenticate the object, the Star has learned.

Stephen Jarrett, the lead archeologist for the ongoing renovation of Parliament’s Centre Block, said this week that while such an object is “not an uncommon find,” the stone point joins just a small handful of Indigenous artifacts ever discovered on Parliament Hill.

“It’s about the size of my palm, and it could be used as a knife or a projectile,” Jarrett said this week in response to inquiries from the Star.

He said the point is made of chert, a type of sedimentary stone most often used for implements of this type. And while the point was unearthed in what Jarrett calls “disturbed soil” — earth that has been dug up and moved, most likely during construction of Parliament — the soil it was in “is natural to the site.”

That means “it came from a source nearby, but finding exactly where it came from is impossible,” Jarrett said.

For Douglas Odjick, a band council member responsible for education and culture with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, this artifact of “an original world” is a testament to the longevity of his Algonquin nation in an area they still claim as unceded and unsurrendered territory. Based on the assessment of Ian Badgley, the top archeologist with the National Capital Commission, Odjick said the stone point is likely 4,000 years old and dates to a time when the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers — along with all their tributaries that stretch out into the surrounding area — served as a great hub of regional trade activity.

“It symbolizes who we are and how long we’ve been here,” Odjick said, comparing the area to an ancient version of a busy hub like New York’s busy Grand Central Station.

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