Federal government pledges $40 billion for First Nations child welfare

Politics Insider for Dec 14, 2021: Funds for Indigenous child welfare; Anand apologizes for military sexual misconduct; and Trudeau’s out of the Bill 21 fight for now

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The federal government revealed Monday that in today’s fall economic statement it will announce $40-billion for First Nations child welfare compensation and long-term reform, Kristy Kirkup reports in the Globe.

Since November, confidential talks have been taking place regarding First Nations children who were unnecessarily taken from their homes and placed in the child welfare system. The goal was to reach an out-of-court settlement before the end of the year. The discussions have been facilitated by Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who left the Senate last January. Monday’s announcement from the federal government does not amount to a settlement with the parties involved.

New marching orders: Chrystia Freeland gave new inflation control instructions to the Bank of Canada on Monday, asking the central bank to also consider employment, which Heather Scoffield writes in the Star, might be a good idea.

Anand apologizes: Defence Minister Anita Anand said Monday that successive Canadian governments failed to stamp out the “scourge” of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military, Global reports.

“Countless lives have been harmed because of inaction and systemic failure. This is a failure that our Canadian Armed Forces, our department, and the Government of Canada will always carry with us,” she said. “These institutions failed you, and for that we are sorry. I am sorry.”

Survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct received a historic and long-awaited apology on Monday from Anand, as well as from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and Jody Thomas, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence. More than 7,600 people watched the apology livestream on Facebook, which comes after a year in which the Canadian military has been forced to confront what experts have called a “crisis” of sexual misconduct within its ranks, particularly senior leaders.

Omicron is moving: Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday that new COVID-19 cases are expected to “rapidly escalate” in the coming days as Omicron circulates, CBC reports.  Tam said there is “great spread potential” with omicron and the situation in Canada is a “few days or maybe a week” behind the U.K.—where Boris Johnson today said that the country is dealing with a “tidal wave” of new infections.

Bad news: In Maclean’s, Patricia Treble looks at the numbers Tam released and sees uncertainty and reason for concern as we enter the holidays.

The bad news keeps coming. On Friday, Dec. 10, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, released the latest federal modelling of the pandemic. It projects around 7,500 cases a day by January, assuming our transmission levels remain the same. However, if transmission increases by as little as 15 per cent, or if the new Omicron variant gets established, like Alpha and then Delta, then a towering wave unlike anything previously seen could arrive by the New Year.

The upshot: think long and hard about holiday gatherings, experts say.

Get the jab: In the Globe, Andre Picard reviews what we know, and don’t know about COVID-19 immunity and conclude with a simple message: get vaccinated.

That’s why there is a push for people to get third doses. The more shots you have, the better your immunity will be. It might also be longer lasting, but we don’t know. Will we require annual COVID-19 shots in the future? Perhaps. But that’s not the end of the world. We already have annual flu shots.

Manitoba needs nurses: The Manitoba government has asked the federal government to provide ICU nurses, CBC reports.

Jean wins: Brian Jean won a UCP nomination battle 529 votes to 250, Don Braid reports in the Calgary Herald, setting up a struggle with Jason Kenny.

If the former federal MP and Wildrose leader wins the seat, he will join the premier’s UCP caucus as a sworn political enemy just in time for the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer. “I will not be supporting him (Kenney) in the leadership review and will be asking for his resignation as soon as possible,” Jean said in an interview. Kenney could still stop him cold by refusing to sign his papers. But the premier has already said he would accept the man he defeated for the UCP leadership in 2017. He wouldn’t dare renege on that promise now.

Not fighting: Justin Trudeau says for now he is going to stay out of the fight over Bill 21, the Star reports, to avoid a dispute with Quebec.

Trudeau said as a court challenge now underway wends its way through the courts, it’s “important … to not give the excuse of a fight between Ottawa and Quebec … and to ensure that it is Quebecers themselves who deeply disagree with the fact that someone can lose their job because of their religion, and not to give the excuse to the Quebec government that this is federal interference but just to say no, Quebecers disagree with this principle, that a young woman should be able to lose her job, a teacher who was doing her job very well simply because of her religion.”

Extremists in uniform: White supremacists in Canada’s armed forces pose an “active counter-intelligence threat” and national defence officials are “limited” in their ability to root them out, Alex Boutilier reports for Global.

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency reported concerns Monday that the Canadian Armed Forces’ counter-intelligence unit is “limited” in their ability to proactively identify white supremacists in the ranks. “The presence of white supremacy within the Canadian military has been well documented. White supremacist groups actively seek individuals with prior military training and experience, or conversely, encourage individuals to enlist in order to gain access to specialized training, tactics and equipment,” the report reads.

Not many trees yet: The federal government has planted less than half a per cent of the two billion trees it pledged to put in the ground across Canada by 2030, CP reports. So far, only 8.5 million trees have been planted.

Youth vote: NDP MP Taylor Bachrach has tabled a private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would extend the franchise to 16-year-olds, CBC reports.

— Stephen Maher

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