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Federal budget looms, and Morneau lays the groundwork

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Officials say Morneau will trumpet Canada's firm belief in a rules-based, multilateral trading system when his G20 counterparts host Donald Trump's new treasury secretary for the first time this weekend. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


The federal budget is out next Wednesday, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau is laying the political groundwork for "tax the rich" measures. Investors are worried that will mean a hike on the capital gains tax. In return, the Liberals seem poised to invest in things such as skills training and childcare.

Two senators continue to defend themselves amid controversy: Don Meredith says racism played a role in criticism he received for having sex with a woman before she turned 18, and Lynn Beyak says she was trying to draw attention to underfunding of reserves when she talked about the "good" done by residential schools in the past.

Kevin O'Leary says there's been voter fraud in the Conservative Party leadership election. Maxime Bernier denies his campaign has done anything wrong.

Federal prison conditions appear to have improved in just the first year of the Liberal government.

And an odd incident on Parliament Hill this week: a woman has been arrested after stealing a taxi, abandoning it and running into the parliamentary precinct, then hijacking another vehicle before being stopped.

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Tensions between the United States and North Korea have quickly reached their highest point in years. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now warns the U.S. is prepared to take any action necessary to counter the country's nuclear threat.

The Trump administration's budget proposal is facing a chilly reception among influential Republican members of Congress.

And Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she has urged her U.S. counterpart not to slash funding for monitoring the health of the Great Lakes.


She's ruled for more than 60 years, but eventually, as all things do, her reign will come to an end. The Guardian explains all the extraordinary plans in place in Britain and elsewhere for when the Queen eventually passes away.


Globe and Mail editorial board: "[Don] Meredith's case is a reminder that senators, unlike MPs, are nearly impossible to remove. They are appointed, not elected; they sit until age 75 – Mr. Meredith has more than 22 years to go – and they are responsible to nobody and to nothing beyond their own conscience. As long as they show up for work and aren't convicted of a crime, they are essentially irremovable."

Conrad Black (National Post): "The senator's conduct was indisputably tawdry and contemptible, and almost insane, and especially unbecoming a clergyman and champion of youth empowerment. But there is no grounds to expel him from the Senate, and that house would do itself honour by tempering justice with mercy and by not being duped and manipulated  to over-reactive severity in a case of imprudent but consensual intimacy with a young woman legally of age. Sen. Meredith should be censured, but his repentance should be accepted."

John Michael McGrath (TVO): " It's not just annoying for advocates of transit investment that [planning] takes so long: it's a legitimate threat to getting these projects built at all. Some municipalities — like Waterloo Region — have leaders who have enough built-up political capital that they can ask voters to trust them for the planning, approval, and construction cycles that last longer than several election cycles. But that's the exception, and reasonably so: voters are being told ad infinitum that the need for transit investment is so urgent that all levels of government need their tax dollars. If it's really that urgent, maybe it should show in the construction schedules and not just the volume of dollars expended."

Supriya Dwivedi (Global): "Lost in [NDP leadership speculation], however, is how [Jagmeet] Singh would fare in Quebec, as he faces an extraordinary uphill battle, and not just because he likely mispronounces poutine as Ontarians are wont to do. Even if you put aside the fact that as a brown man from Ontario his French skills would be judged on a harsher curve by both the Quebec public and commentariat, it is impossible to ignore the obvious and real tension Quebec voters would have in voting for someone who wears a turban as part of their Sikh faith."

Shree Paradkar (Toronto Star): "That [Niki] Ashton was not defensive and chose to respect Black Lives Matter's wishes and take [a Beyoncé quote] down, no questions asked, is a response of openness, not one of weakness, perhaps even of political shrewdness, if she is serious about bringing women, racialized communities and indigenous people into the NDP fold."

Written by Chris Hannay.

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