In The News This Week – December 18, 2016

Your weekly news round up, starting in Canada and ending in Aleppo, Syria:

1. Marijuana Task Force Recommendation – The Task force appointed to look into how to legalize marijuana in Canada released its recommendations this week. The recommendations include:

  • Setting a minimum age limit of 18
  • Allowing provinces flexibility to set their own restrictions
  • Not having marijuana sold in locations where alcohol and tobacco are already sold

Formal legislation on the legalization is expected to be tabled in Spring 2017. You can access the entire report here, or a summary at CBC.

2. Health Care Agreement – You might recall the meeting in October between the Federal Health Minister and her provincial counterparts to agree on health spending (see In The News This Week – October 23, 2016). On Friday, the Federal government proposed a Canadian Health Transfer tax of 3.5% to the provinces (versus the 3% previously proposed, and the current 6%). The Federal and Provincial Ministers are meeting again on Monday to discuss, but the provinces are not pleased with the proposal and say it will cause Canadians to suffer. (Huffington Post)

3. Cash-For-Access Fundraisers – The saga continues. This week the Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson confirmed she will “question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally to determine whether he breached the Conflict of Interest Act when he attended Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraisers with corporate executives wanting favours from the federal government”. Trudeau  has admitted that government business has been discussed at such fundraisers, but has defended the act saying that they do not sway his government’s priorities and that his government is accessible to all Canadians. (Globe and Mail)

4. Asbestos Ban – The Federal government announced a full ban on asbestos, the deadly carcinogen that has been banned by the WHO, by 2018. (CBC)

5. More controversial Trump appointments – The President-Elect continues to announce Cabinet Appointments, many of whom are controversial. Take Rex Tillerson, the appointed Secretary of State – he used to head up ExxonMobil, the largest oil and gas company in the world, and has a close relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, even winning the `Moscow Order of Friendship. The Guardian has a full summary on Rex Tillerson and all the other appointments.

6. Russian Hackers and the US Election – I`m sure you`ve heard by now, but in case you’re feeling a little confused about whether Russian hackers influenced the result of the US Election, CNN has a good summary. This week the FBI agreed with the CIA assessment that “Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House”, making it fairly certain that angst and the electoral college aren’t the only reasons Ms.Clinton lost. (Washington Post)

7. Aleppo – Syrian government forces backed by Iran and Russia continued strikes to crush opposition in Aleppo this week, putting hundreds of thousands of civilians in harms way and causing the world to despair. Ceasefires negotiated by the international community allowed some civilians to take advantage of convoys out of the city, but the ceasefires are shaky and damage to both the city and the people is done after four months of assault. For a full history on the conflict in Syria, see Putting Together the Pieces of the Syrian Puzzle. Canadians can help humanitarian efforts in the crisis by donating to relief organizations like those listed on these CBC and Huffington Post lists.

This will be the last News Post of 2o16 for mPolitics. Thank you so much to all of our readers – we wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. See you in 2017! 

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The aftermath of bombing in Aleppo, Syria. Source: Flickr

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