Test of wills over budget

A bid by senators to amend the Trudeau government's budget escalated Wednesday into a test of wills over which parliamentary chamber — the elected House of Commons or the appointed Senate — has the right to decide budgetary matters.

Senators were incensed after the government summarily and swiftly rejected Senate amendments to its budget implementation bill, sending a message back to the upper house that the changes "infringe upon the rights and privileges" of the Commons.

The message echoed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's contention that the elected chamber has the sole authority and legitimacy to decide budgetary matters.

The message was sent, without debate and with unanimous approval of MPs from all parties in the Commons, less than three hours after the Senate gave final approval to an amended version of the budget bill, deleting provisions that would impose a so-called escalator tax on booze.

Senators must now decide whether to insist upon their amendments or defer to the will of the elected chamber. But they were so insulted by the assertion that they don't have the right to amend budget bills that they almost unanimously refused to even consider the message later Wednesday, putting it off until Thursday and potentially disrupting MPs' summer break.

In the end, even the government representative in the Senate, Peter Harder, voted against his own motion to immediately consider the Commons' message, which went down to defeat by a vote of 79-2, with five abstentions.


Bikers escort boy to school

Hundreds of bikers gathered in Sydney, N.S., Wednesday morning to escort a 10-year-old boy who has been the victim of bullying to school.

The leather-clad bikers drove Grade 4 student Xander Rose to school and walked with him in a line to the front door of Harbourside Elementary.

Mike Basso organized the rally to support the boy after his mother reached out to a U.S. children’s advocacy group called Defenders Of The Children.

"I don't know if the smile is off his face yet," he said. "He was ecstatic. For the first time in a long while Xander wanted to go to school."

Basso organizes the Cape Breton Bike Rally and he said about 150 bikers showed up.

"The streets were lined with people who pulled over, clapping hands, tooting horns ... it was emotional," he said. "I was walking towards the front of the school with a lump in my throat."

Basso said the 10-year-old was being bullied because of his race and size.

"He is a mixture of aboriginal and African-Canadian and is 5'2 and 150 pounds," he said. "He was being bullied every day. It got so bad that kids on his school bus ripped his clothes off and another student threatened they would kill him."

Red Deer battered by storm

People in Red Deer were cleaning up Wednesday after a violent windstorm that knocked out power and prompted the central Alberta city to declare a local state of emergency.

Homes were damaged Tuesday when wind gusts of more than 100 km/h hit the city of about 100,000 just after 7 p.m.

Mayor Tara Veer said trees fell on power lines and wind blew debris around.

One person suffered minor injuries at a campground but was released from hospital.

"We do know that it was a severe windstorm. We do know that there were exceedances of 112 km/h winds," Veer said.

People posted images on social media of damage, including part of a roof that blew off a store and landed on nearby parked cars.

Windows were blown out of the local mall and one video showed scenes of people wandering around the darkened building wondering if they had been hit by a tornado.


Aboriginal Day to change

The federal government intends to rename National Aboriginal Day as National Indigenous Peoples Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

Canadians come together on this day to recognize contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, Trudeau said in a statement, adding that the history, art, traditions and cultures of Indigenous People shaped Canada's past and continue to shape it today.

In a statement, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he supports the change, saying the name is consistent with the international recognition of Indigenous Peoples and a resolution from his advocacy organization.

"I believe this small change is part of a larger movement towards recognition and acknowledgment that these lands are the homelands of indigenous nations and cultures," Bellegarde said.

Later today, Trudeau is expected to speak outside of 100 Wellington St. — the former U.S. embassy located across from Parliament Hill which is expected to become a space dedicated to indigenous people.

Woman's 'white Dr.' rant

A video showing an agitated woman demanding her son be examined by a "white doctor" at a Toronto-area walk-in clinic is sparking online outrage.

In the video, which was posted online Sunday and has since been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube, the woman becomes increasingly belligerent as she repeatedly asks to see a doctor who "doesn't have brown teeth" and "speaks English."

As the unidentified woman repeats her demands, the video shows others in the waiting room confront her, calling her behaviour unacceptable and racist.

Peel Regional Police say they were called to a clinic in Mississauga, Ont., shortly after 12:30 p.m. Sunday on reports of a disturbance. The woman's son eventually received treatment, and the case was closed with no charges laid since no one was hurt and no threats were made.

Many took to social media to decry what they described as the casual racism at play in the incident.

"Are you really going to deny your child who is sick care just because the doctor (who is a licensed professional!!!) isn't white???" one person wrote on Twitter.

Senators defy Trudeau

The Senate voted Tuesday to delete a so-called escalator tax on booze from the federal government's budget, defying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's insistence that only the elected House of Commons has authority over budgetary matters.

Senators voted 46-32 late Tuesday to accept the report of the Senate's national finance committee, which earlier in the day passed a series of amendments aimed at removing the government's plan to increase the federal excise tax on beer, wine and spirits automatically by the rate of inflation each year.

The amendments came one day after the Senate narrowly defeated a motion that would have carved out provisions dealing with the creation of a new infrastructure bank into a separate bill.

The committee — whose membership includes independent Sen. Andre Pratte, author of the motion to split the bill — did not propose any changes to the infrastructure bank provisions.

The bill will now go Wednesday to third reading debate in the upper house, during which individual senators could opt to propose additional changes, followed by a final vote.

The House of Commons would have to concur with any changes approved by the Senate, something Trudeau has made clear is not in the cards.

Someone stole the sourtoe

A mummified human toe that is the key ingredient in a strange drinking ritual in Dawson City has been stolen.

RCMP are searching for the suspects as well as the misappropriated member.

The shrivelled, brown toe vanished Saturday after being added to an infamous sourtoe cocktail served by the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon.

Hotel manager Geri Colbourne says a couple came in late that night and requested the unique drink but the waitress was called away after pouring two shots. The toe was gone when she returned.

The shrivelled brown toe is included in a shot of alcohol and, according to tradition, drinkers must allow it to touch their lips in order to join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

"We get people from all over the world coming here wanting to do the toe and it's well known everywhere and it's such a huge thing for Dawson City and for the Downtown Hotel," Colbourne said. "Why would someone want to ruin that, you know? It just makes no sense to me at all."

RCMP Cpl. Jeff Myke says a theft investigation is underway, adding the toe represents a tradition that has been an important part of community history

"It's not every day that we investigate incidents like this, but the sourtoe represents a Dawson City tradition that has been an important part of the history here for many years," he added.

Body parts killer to marry

A Quebec TV network is reporting that convicted murderer Luka Rocco Magnotta will be getting married this month.

TVA Nouvelles says the man who killed and dismembered Chinese student Jun Lin in 2012 will wed a male inmate from New Brunswick on June 26 at the penitentiary in Port-Cartier, on Quebec's North Shore.

Magnotta, who will turn 35 in July, is serving his life sentence at the maximum-security institution after being convicted in December 2014 of first-degree murder in Lin's slaying.

Magnotta was also found guilty of the four other charges he faced: criminally harassing then-prime minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.

In June 2015, it was revealed that Magnotta was looking for a "prince charming" on a matchmaking website for prisoners.

His profile was posted on Canadian Inmates Connect Inc., a website that tries to hook up lonesome convicts — some behind bars for violent offences like first-degree murder — with potential companions on the outside.

Quick cop stops train

A quick-thinking, off-duty RCMP officer is being credited with helping avert a tragedy in Saskatchewan by managing to stop a moving train.

Police say the officer was heading home after a night shift in Yorkton on the weekend when she spotted a vehicle that had crashed.

The vehicle ended up on the railway tracks and when the officer approached to help, she heard a train lumbering toward the crash site.

RCMP say the officer grabbed her flashlight and started running toward the train to get it to stop.

Her signalling worked and the train was able to brake just before it reached the crash.

The person inside the vehicle was taken to hospital for treatment.

Liberals' security plan

A super-watchdog to oversee the full array of federal intelligence services would be created under legislation introduced today.

The measure is part of a package of national security changes tabled by the Liberal government.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the new expert body — the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency — would keep an eye on intelligence services across government.

Many have complained the current system doesn't work as well as it should because separate watchdogs review the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and the cyberspies of the Communications Security Establishment.

The existing watchdogs cannot always freely exchange information about complaints or collaborate on reviews — a problem the new body is intended to solve.

The 150-page bill also follows through on Liberal campaign promises to repeal some elements of omnibus security legislation brought in by the Conservatives after a gunman stormed Parliament Hill in 2014.

The Conservatives gave CSIS explicit authority to derail terrorist threats, not just gather information about them.

The legislation introduced today would require CSIS to seek a warrant for any threat reduction measure that would "limit" a right or freedom protected by the charter and it clarifies that a warrant can only be issued if a judge is satisfied the measure complies with the charter.

1 in 2 will get cancer

Almost one in every two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and one in four Canadians will die from the disease, a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society predicts.

In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and an estimated 80,800 will succumb to their malignancy — making cancer the leading cause of death in Canada, the charitable organization said Tuesday in its annual cancer statistics report.

"Currently, every year we're seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases in Canada," said the society's epidemiologist, Leah Smith. "So between now and 2030, for example, we expect to continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Canada.

"That is a reflection of the growing and aging population," she said. "About 90 per cent of all the cancers that we expect to be diagnosed in 2017 will be among Canadians 50 years of age and older."

Despite the projection that cancer will cause the deaths of one in four Canadians, cancer mortality rates have been declining since their peak in 1988. Over the last three decades, deaths due to cancer have fallen by more than 30 per cent among males and by about 17 per cent among females.

Feds stick with pot plan

The Trudeau government is sticking with its deadline to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018, despite provincial fears that there's not enough time to address the legal, social and health challenges of ending Canada's pot prohibition.

The federal Liberals delivered that message Monday after Manitoba's finance minister said he felt rushed by Ottawa's tight timeline and asked for an extension.

In making his argument, Cameron Friesen said the provinces are bearing the bulk of the work involved, as well as the "very real" costs needed to create a regulated cannabis market.

With the countdown underway, Friesen insisted there were still many unanswered questions on issues like public safety, enforcement and finding legal supplies of marijuana.

"We gave everybody lots of time," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Ottawa. "We've been working for a long time with all the provinces, with the municipalities... It's time for us to move forward on this."

For provinces that aren't ready in time for the "fixed date," Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said, Ottawa will oversee a mail-order sales program. Consumers would be able to buy pot through a federally licensed producer and receive home delivery.

Morneau said the ministers agreed to the principle that pot taxation should stay low to ensure the regulated market squeezes out the illegal activity.

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