Senators are the ultimate policy wonks

Tease the day: Senators say aging northern airports should be refurbished

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Ask any senator in Ottawa about the value of their beloved institution, and they’ll tell you all about the “good work” produced within its hallowed halls. They’ll point to committees as particular sources of this “good work,” and they can point to various recommendations—say, eliminating the penny or paying attention to the Canada-U.S. price gap—that caught the government’s attention in recent years.

Whatever the merits of all that good work, it’s hardly noticed. This morning, the Canadian Press reported a story about Canada’s aging Arctic airports. The impetus for the story was a conference of the Air Line Pilots Association, apparently the world’s largest pilot union. The inability of northern airports to accommodate newer jets, largely due to widespread gravel runways, was a topic of conversation. Older jets are costlier to operate, and that means northerners pay more for flights than they would if newer airplanes could make the trip.

Stephen Nourse, the executive director of the Northern Air Transport Association, spoke about northern airports at the conference. But that wasn’t the first time he’d raised the issue publicly. He testified at the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications when it studied Canada’s airline industry earlier this year. There’s no doubt that Nourse contributed to one of the committee’s recommendations, with respect to airport infrastructure:

The committee recommends that regional and northern airport infrastructure improvements must be a priority in order to encourage economic growth in Canada’s remote and northern regions.

The Canadian Press buried the line about the Senate report, as well as a quote from Senator Dennis Dawson, at the end of its story. But when next year’s budget rolls around, watch for the government to pay attention to some of the Senate’s “good work”—perhaps related to the occasionally prioritized north—when it’s sprinkling goodies around the country.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with social unrest in Turkey, where thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in four large cities. The National Post fronts Turkey’s protests, which started as opposition to a development in Istanbul. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with an anti-bullying program set to launch today with the federal government’s support. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the Department of National Defence’s investigation of a reporter for allegedly publishing leaked operation material—which was actually released publicly by the U.S. Navy. iPolitics fronts the prime ministers various shades of obfuscation. leads with the Canada Revenue Agency’s bungling of private records, which it sent to a B.C. woman and then failed to retrieve. CTV News leads with anti-government protests in Turkey. National Newswatch showcases a Hill Times story that quotes Senator David Tkachuk, the chair of the chamber’s internal economy committee, as calling the Senate expense scandal a “horrible experience.”

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Insurance. Amended tax rules could force domestic insurance companies to pay the feds $1 billion in back taxes, because many financial transactions are now subject to the GST. 2. Arctic airports. Most of Canada’s northern communities haven’t upgraded airports since they were built decades ago. Most use gravel runways, which means costlier flights for northerners.
3. Marijuana. The federal government hopes to contract out the production of medical marijuana, and since making the announcement ha received dozens of applications from Canadians. 4. Turbans. The Quebec Soccer Federation has upheld a ban on turbans on the soccer pitch, even though the Canadian Soccer Association asked provincial leagues to allow the headgear.

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