National Newswatch

F-35 procurement troubles may hurt military’s relations with allies

Feb 24 2015 — Dean Beeby — The widening fallout from a botched program to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jets may be damaging the military’s relationships with its international allies. A defence briefing note says hundreds of arrangements the military has with allies to share facilities and services are being called into question, and must be reviewed as if they were […]

Contraband tobacco-sniffing dogs a bust for border agency

Feb 23 2015 — Dean Beeby — The Harper government spent $1 million on dog teams specially trained to sniff out contraband tobacco entering Canada, but the pooch patrols were a bust, suggests a newly released report. The dogs’ noses led to nine small seizures worth just $1,000 in unpaid federal tobacco taxes over the three-year program. “Based on seizure results alone, […]

Joe Oliver’s unpaid hotel bill caused departmental headache

Feb 16 2015 — Dean Beeby — The minister in charge of paying Canada’s bills forgot to pay one of his own. Finance Minister Joe Oliver neglected to pay his hotel tab in Wakefield, Que., last August at the conclusion of a major policy retreat with economists, bankers, business leaders and others. His room bill for $168.15 was left unpaid for more […]

Revenue Canada’s call centres giving bad tax advice: report

Feb 8 2015 — Dean Beeby — One of every four business callers who ask for tax help from the Canada Revenue Agency’s call centres gets bad information, an internal survey suggests. The dismal finding is worse than previous estimates by the agency, and confirms repeated complaints by a small-business group that the call centres are routinely dispensing misleading — and perhaps […]

Feds ask whether commissionaire jobs should go to low-income vets

Dec 18 2014 — Dean Beeby — The security guards known as commissionaires, usually Canadian Forces veterans, who protect the lobbies of federal buildings are better paid than other guards in the private sector – but those good wages may not be going to the right people. That’s one of the conclusions from an internal study that suggests the commissionaires program could […]

Anti-marijuana ad’s dubious claim a scary hit with parents

Dec 18 2014 — Dean Beeby — Health Canada’s latest anti-marijuana ad makes a “scary” claim about lowered IQ that has been widely challenged by researchers, but the campaign went ahead anyway after that message tested well with focus groups. An ominous 30-second ad now on YouTube and TV warns that smoking too many joints can seriously harm a teen’s developing brain, […]

Ottawa shooting: Federal nerve centre relied on dubious reports

Dec 10 2014 — Dean Beeby — The Harper government’s nerve centre for emergencies issued a Canada-wide alert more than five hours after traumatic shootings at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, warning that up to five other assailants were involved in the attack. The erroneous Oct. 22 report from the Government Operations Centre to top officials claimed to be drawing […]

RCMP officers break rules on note-taking: internal audit

Nov 29 2014 — Dean Beeby — Mounties are breaking the rules governing the notebooks they use to scribble information at crime scenes or during undercover investigations, according to auditors. A sample review of 217 RCMP notebooks from across the country found some with missing pages, improper handwritten corrections and no indication that supervising officers had routinely inspected them, as required. And […]

Health Canada clamps down on medical marijuana advertising

Nov 27 2014 — Dean Beeby — Health Canada has ordered Canada’s medical marijuana companies to stop making their products look so good. The department issued warning letters this week to licensed commercial growers across Canada telling them to clean up their advertising by Jan. 12 or face suspension and even revocation of their licences. The letters, customized for 20 officially licensed […]

Canada Revenue Agency privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details

Nov 25 2014 — Dean Beeby — Detailed tax information about the private lives of hundreds of Canadians — many of them rich and famous — has been obtained by CBC News through a major privacy breach by Canada’s tax agency. The highly confidential details, including home addresses of taxpayers and the value of tax credits they were granted, are contained in […]

Revenue Canada targets birdwatchers for political activity

Oct 16 2014 — Dean Beeby — A small group of nature lovers in southern Ontario enjoy spending weekends watching birds and other wildlife, but lately they’re the ones under watch — by the Canada Revenue Agency. The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities. Earlier this […]

Crumbling House of Commons puts MPs and visitors at risk, report says

Oct 8 2014 — Dean Beeby — Crumbling brickwork and loose window glass in the House of Commons pose a “potentially catastrophic,” life-threatening risk to members of Parliament and others, an internal Public Works report warns. A heavy piece of glass from a stained-glass window in the chamber has already crashed to the floor, without injuring anyone, and a group of consultants […]

Clear the air over charity audits: NDP

Aug 5 2014 — Dean Beeby — OTTAWA - The New Democrats are pressing for an unusual summer meeting of a parliamentary committee to clear the air over the auditing of charities for their political activities.New Democrat MP Murray Rankin, the party critic for national revenue, wants the finance committee to convene before Parliament resumes in six weeks, calling the matter urgent.Rankin […]

Timeline of political-activity audits

Aug 3 2014 — Dean Beeby — OTTAWA - Timeline of key events surrounding the Canada Revenue Agency's launch of political-activity audits of charities:Jan. 9, 2012 — Joe Oliver, then Natural Resources minister, issues an open letter denouncing "environmental and other radical groups" who "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical agenda."March 21, 2012 — EthicalOil.org, founded in 2011 […]

Canada Revenue Agency’s ‘political’ targeting of charities under scrutiny

Aug 3 2014 — Dean Beeby — OTTAWA - The Canada Revenue Agency says it pays no attention to pro-government or anti-government political leanings when it chooses which charities to audit for their political activities.But charities targeted in the first wave of agency audits were largely opponents of the Harper government's energy and pipeline policies, an analysis shows, suggesting bias in their […]