My pick of the day’s national news, written for broadcast on Take 5, CIUT 89.5 FM.
HST – it just rolls off the paycheque
Ontario is blending its Provincial Sales Tax with the GST to make HST – a harmonized sales tax. The new tax will cost Ontarions more because they’ll pay PST on more goods – from fast food to heating bills.
But to soften the blow, Ontario households earning less than $160,000 dollars will get a cheque for $1000 dollars in 2010 – the year the HST takes effect.
PST will be withheld from certain items however – including children’s clothing, diapers, feminine hygiene products, books, child car seats, and new homes under $400,000.
Other things to expect when the $100 billion dollar provincial budget rolls out at 4 p.m. this afternoon –
• $27.5 billion for public transit, roads, schools, hospitals and long-term care
• $620 million to match federal funding for social housing
• and to pay for all of it – a predicted 18 billion deficit
The Hunters become the Hunted
Well Canada’s seal hunt is nothing if not efficient. The Quebec hunt started on Monday and ended yesterday at 10 a.m. after seal hunters reached their quota of 17,200 animals. Meanwhile hunters in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI are readying for their hunt that begins Friday.
The Federal Government has set this year’s allowable catch for the East Coast seal hunt at 338,200 harp, hooded and grey seals.
But the hunters are being turned into the hunted, as environmental and animal rights groups trail the hunt by air and sea.
While the seals killed in the hunt aren’t endangered, protesters say the hunting techniques are inhumane and that there is no market for the seal furs.
In the past weeks, their case has been bolstered after Russia decided to ban the hunting of baby seals, and the European Union said it’s considering a ban on trade in products made from seals.
Meanwhile Scientific American warns four seal species from around the world are threatened.
Only one of the species lives in Canada — Quebec’s Lac des Loups marine harbour seals live in lakes and rivers just south of Hudson’s Bay. They’re the only seal species in the world who spend their entire lives in rivers and lakes without ever venturing into the ocean.
Nunatsiaq News reports between 100 and 600 of the seals are left – but they’re not under threat from seal hunters or melting ice. Instead future Hydro Projects along Quebec’s northern lakes and rivers threaten to alter their habitats.
Labelling the seals as endangered would give them some protection from planned dams –
Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department will decide whether to add the seals onto the Canada’s Species at Risk Act by the end of the month.
Toronto’s own Champs-Élysées?
Yesterday the City of Toronto unveiled its plans for the $342 million dollar makeover of Queen’s Quay.
The plan includes a new streetcar to serve the eastern end of the Quay – and cutting the four lane road to two – using the leftover space for pedestrians and cyclists. The plan shows the streetcar running down the middle of a green lawn – a touch that has yet to be confirmed.
Construction on the new design by Rotterdam-design firm West 8 who won a competition in 2006 — is planned to begin in 2010.
City officials say the recession won’t stop their plan to make Queen’s Quay “one of the most ten beautiful streets in the world.“
University of Winnipeg Bans Bottled Water
After our interview this morning with the Polaris Institute on the evils of bottled water, you might be thinking of pitching your plastics. Well University of Winnipeg students won’t have a choice in the matter.
That’s because it’s Students’ Association voted to phase out all bottled water sold on campus by this Fall – and it will be banned from student-led events and meetings.
A student-initiated referendum on the issue drew the highest voter turnout in years – with three-quarters of students voting to eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus.
The university will put more water fountains on campus to quench student’s thirst.
Let’s talk about sex – teenage sex.
Two new reports show Canadian teens are on top in sexual education
but when it comes to sex toys – they have to take matters into their own hands…
Canadian women have fewer kids than their American counterparts – and experts say it’s because our approach to sexual education is better.
Both Canadian and American women say they want to have an average of 2.2 children BUT American women end up having 2.09 and Canadian women have about 1.6, says a special report by the Vancouver’s online newspaper, the Tyee.
America favours the abstinence makes the heart grow fonder approach. The federal government there spent 1.5 billion dollars over the past decade on abstinence-only programs that teach teens “skills to avoid sex.”
New numbers released this week show teenage pregnancy numbers are rising in the U.S.
Some experts are calling for a more Canadian approach – spending money on programs that educate teens about contraceptives and safe sex.
The birth rate of American teenage girls is more than double that in other industrialized countries, including Canada, and the abortion rate is also higher in the U.S.
But Canadian teens are forced to take matters into their own hands when it comes to accessing sex toys, according to a report by Xtra newspaper.
While Canada’s age of consent for sexual activity is 16, most major sex toy retailers, both in stores and online, restrict access to anyone under the age of 18.
The bar is a result of an old Toronto bylaw that requires porn products to be housed behind an opaque median. As a result, most adult stores pedaling porn, ban those under 18 from their shops so they can freely display magazines and DVDs.
For years, stores have posted signs restricting those under 18 from entering and today some stores still refuse to sell products to teenagers.
Critics say this unfairly prevents teens from getting their hands on sex toys.
A recent Toronto Teen Survey, shows only 6.4 percent of teenage girls and 3.9 percent of boys had used sex toys. But of those teens, 89.6 percent had engaged in penetrative sex.
Sex educators and activists, including the AIDS Committee of Toronto, argue the toys should be available to anyone, as a safe sex tool, an alternative to intercourse, and as a way for teens learn about their sexuality.
Don’t interfere with Kashmir…
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon might think twice before picking up his pen and answering citizen’s letters after one such letter put him in hot water in South Asia and Ottawa this week.
Torontonian Mushtaq Jeelani, fexecutive director of the Peace and Justice Forum which is seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict between India and Pakistan in Kahmir, wrote to Mr. Cannon asking for Canada’s position on the conflict.
After Mr. Cannon wrote back, Jeelani published a press release last Thursday. It contained quotes from Cannon saying Canada is working with other G8 countries to press India and Pakistan for a peaceful solution in Kashmir and ensure human rights are respected.
But the seemingly harmless comments got Indians into a tizzy, the Indian government fiercely resists foreign interference in the dispute.
The story was picked up in major Indian and Pakistani newspapers and drew comments from political parities in Kashmir and beyond.
Honourable Mentions —