Permission to Die
After much anticipation, a 'doctor-assisted dying' bill was finally introduced in the House of Commons on Thursday. The bill had been in the works for over a year after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a ban on doctor-assisted dying last year which then required the government to develop legal framework surrounding the issue. The bill has been relatively well received by many but has also been criticised for being too restrictive. The bill limits access to mentally competent adults who are "suffering intolerably" and whose death is "reasonably foreseeable." This means that someone who is under the age of majority or is suffering from mental illness and not at increased risk of death will be restricted from using the proposed legislation. Such criticisms will likely result in legal challenges in court if the bill is not altered but still the bill is expected to pass in its current form.
Crisis in Ontario
While the government was proposing a bill that allows doctor-assisted suicide, it was also attempting to stop personal suicides on the Attawapiskat First Nation. MPs held an emergency debate on how to address the ongoing suicide crisis occurring in the northern Ontario community that has seen over 100 suicide attempts and one death since September. Health Canada officials announced that 18 health workers, mental-health workers and police officials were being dispatched to support the community and to address 'unacceptable conditions.' Minister of Health Dr. Jane Philpott also spoke out about the situation and said "we must do better, we have to find a way to go forward." Philpott also announced that the government would be investing over $300 million per year into mental wellness programs in isolated communities such as the Attawapiskat First Nation.
Crisis in Alberta
While the feds dealt with problems in the East, one province to the West also had a crisis of its own last week. On Thursday, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci released the provinces budget which called for a $10.4 billion deficit in 2016 and an estimated $57.6 billion worth of borrowing by 2019. Less than 24 hours after the announcement was made, credit rating agency DBRS Ltd. downgraded Alberta's credit rating from triple-A to double-A. During the release of the budget Ceci also announced a new carbon tax that is aimed at helping the province earn some desperately needed income. The new tax is expected to cost a two-income household earning more than $100,000 annually about $500 a year by 2018. News of the tax was quickly condemned by local residents who took to social media to express their dissatisfaction. Such a response was to be expected since taxes are almost never well received by the general population. However, Alberta still remains the only province in Canada that does not have a provincial sales tax which typically saves residents an average of 8% on day-to-day purchases.
In Other News...
Notley is NOT Ready to Take the Leap
As mentioned in last week's Report, the NDP have a long road ahead after ousting Mulcair while calling for a leadership race. The party saw close to a split vote on whether Mulcair was the right man for the job which signifies a significant divide amongst party members. While this in itself represents a serious problem that needs to be overcomes, members have also continued to disagree over the Leap Manifesto. During the NDP Convention, the party agreed to review the manifesto over the next two years before making any firm decisions on accepting or rejecting manifesto proposals ranging from the environment to indigenous rights. While some prominent party officials have spoke out in support of the manifesto, others including Alberta Premier Rachel Notley have completely rejected the proposal. Notley even went so far as to say: 'These ideas will never form any part of our policy. They are naive, they are ill-informed, and they are tone-deaf.' Such a bold stance further illustrates the growing conflict within the NDP both at the provincial and federal levels. Such conflict is likely to cause problems as the party attempts to reshape itself before the next election.
Click here to read the Leap Manifesto
Trudeau Still a Teacher at Heart
As most people probably know, Prime Minister Trudeau is a former elementary school teacher who taught both math and french before running for public office. Trudeau has often spoke highly of his time as a teacher and seemed all too happy to jump at an opportunity to give a brief lecture on quantum computing last week. While speaking at a press briefing at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Trudeau was jokingly told by a journalist that he was going to ask the PM how to explain quantum computing but was then surprised as Trudeau actually went on to explain it. The video of the press briefing has gained international attention as Trudeau once again shows that he is no ordinary politician. Watch the video below.
Thanks for reading.