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Senate passes gender neutral anthem

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The Canadian Senate passed a bill to make the national anthem gender neutral on Wednesday despite the hold out from a few Conservative senators.

Former Liberal Member of Parliament Mauril Bélanger introduced a private member’s bill to the House of Commons in 2016 before her death later that year.

The Commons bill proposed replacing “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command” and was supported by many as it passed in the House in June of 2016.

Independent Sen. Frances Lankin of Ontario was the bill’s sponsor in the Red Chamber, introducing a contentious motion to shut down debate in the Senate after 18 months of discussion on Tuesday evening.

The bill passed in the Senate as a voice vote on the final confirmation as only Liberal Party and Independent senators were present due to Conservatives boycotting the Wednesday session.


Drama over bill

When Lankin introduced a motion to bypass further debate and put the motion to the ballot in the Senate, Conservative Party senators were outraged that Manitoba Sen. Don Plett was unable to speak in opposition, calling it an affront to democracy.

Mr. Plett led the charge against changing the words of the anthem via the parliament, instead saying the proposal should be put to a national referendum.

“This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide not just a couple of Independent senators,” he told the CBC.

One accusation came up against Senate Speaker George Furey of conspiring with Independent and Liberal Party senators to bypass the Conservative comments on the bill.

Mr. Furey was appointed as a Liberal by Jean Chretien but is now identified as non-affiliated in the non-partisan role he is supposed to take on as Speaker.


More details to follow. Image of the Senate of Canada from The Canada Guide.  ■

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Campus

Trudeau outlines plan to pass trade deal

CUSMA will come before parliament.

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File photo.

After the new North American free trade deal approved by U.S. Senate, the Canadian government plans to ratify the deal next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Tuesday in a news conference after a three-day cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, saying that it’s the government’s utmost priority to push forward with the Canadian-U.S.-Mexico agreement, known domestically as CUSMA, as millions of jobs depend on the new trade pact.

“On Monday, we will present a ways and means motion, and on Wednesday we will table legislations to ratify the deal,” said Trudeau, describing what will take place next week.

In order for the Liberals to pass this legislation in a minority government, they will neeed the support of another party in the House of Commons. Trudeau had expressed is hopes that all parties will negotiate and cone on ratification together.

“What we are doing is reminding everyone in the House and across the country of how important it is to secure the most important trading relationship for future generations.”

CUSMA has been on the top of the list of government priorities that were discussed during the cabinet meetings in Winnipeg.

The cabinet ministers also listened to expert guest speakers, who discussed other important matters including the fight against climate change, the current state of the country’s economy and pressing global affairs, among other critical matters facing the new minority government.

The trade deal, a result of a year of sometimes rocky negotiations with with the Trump administration, has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the president’s signature. It has also been approved in Mexico.

Justin Trudeau said in Winnipeg “we are going to make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible.”

Conservatives who are the main opposition, are generally supportive of the deal, but have vowed to grill the Liberals over its specifics when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday. ■

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Canada

Quebec's religious symbols ban survives ruling

The Court of Appeal would not suspend the law.

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Quebec’s contentious law banning religious symbols for public employees survived a key ruling on Thursday by the province’s Court of Appeal, however, it is not the final say on Bill 21 as more legal challenges await.

The court refused a motion by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims to suspend the law. The CCLA and NCCM argued the law was outside Quebec’s jurisdiction, was vague and violated rights guaranteed in the constitution. 

Quebec’s government claims the law aims to preserve secularism in the Francophone-dominated province. It specifically bans civil workers such as teachers and government service workers from wearing crosses, hijabs and other religious attire while working.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the bill claiming discrimination and that it is unconstitutional. Thursday’s 2-1 decision does not legally impact four separate lawsuits filed on a similar basis.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh came under fire during the federal election campaign for refusing to say he would intervene on the legislation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not certain either, and said his government “might” intervene.

All three of the justices wrote in their decision that the law is causing “irreparable harm” to those impacted, particularly women, CBC reported.

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Canada

Trudeau conciliatory after election, will not form coalition

The PM talks to the press.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who will keep the position after his Liberal Party won a strong minority, acknowledged on Wednesday his loss of support from the previous election with a conciliatory tone but ruled out a formal or informal coalition with another party.

It was during a half hour press conference at the National Press Theatre that Trudeau said his new cabinet will be sworn in on Nov. 20 and feature once again gender-equality as he aims to rebuild a broken image after a rocky year that saw Liberal polling drop.

Many analysts and political pundits have pointed out that a minority government — when a party receives less than 170 seats in the House of Commons — is not all bad.

Universal healthcare, the Canada Pension Plan, student loans, the official flag and more came about under Liberal minority governance, specifically Mike Pearson. Stephen Harper brought about tax reform, the Accountability Act and more with his first, minority term.

Trudeau confirmed during the early afternoon press conference that his government would charge ahead with the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The New Democrats, who are viewed as natural progressive allies to the Liberal minority, are opposed.

For his first moves, the prime minister said “our first priority will be to continue to lower taxes for the middle class”, legislation that could gain support from the Conservatives.

“We will also act on medically assisted dying as requested by the courts,” he added, a move that likely would be backed by the New Democrats. ■

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