May 25, 2010

Pt 1: Omnibus Bill - Bill C-9 is working its way through the House of Commons. But it's no ordinary bill. It runs 900 pages and covers a huge range of policy areas. And critics say the Government is trying to use it to hide some important legislative changes that deserve a full airing in their own right. (Read More)

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Pt 2: LTD Insurance - When Nortel declared bankruptcy, its former employees who were on long-term disability were left in the lurch. And it turns out more than a million Canadians are covered by plans with similar risks. We take a look at some very important fine print. (Read More)

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Pt 3: Nisga'a Real Estate - The promise - or the peril - of private property rights for Canada's First Nations. A look at the Nisga'a Nation's new private property regime and the people who'd like other First Nations to adopt it. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Tuesday, May 25th.

Some senators are critical of the 904 page budget bill. They say too many amendments have been added that deserve their own, separate bills and debates.

Currently, besides, they're kinda bored.

This is the Current.

Omnibus Bill - Stakeholders

It has 22-hundred clauses and more than 900 pages. There's a lot of ground covered in Bill C-9, a so-called omnibus budget bill, heading for a final vote in the House of Commons in the coming days. Critics say that the danger with these sorts of bills is that they propose such a wide swath of legislation the changes don't get enough scrutiny.

So to get an idea of the range of issues rolled into this package of legislation, we started with Part 15:

The exclusive privilege referred to in subsection 14(1) does not apply to letters intended for delivery to an addressee outside Canada.

In a nutshell, that passage of Bill C-9 would eliminate Canada Post's monopoly on the delivery of letters out of Canada to other countries. And George Floresco has a problem with that. He is a National Vice-President of the Canadian Postal Workers Union in Ottawa.

Now on to Part 20 of Bill C-9:

An environmental assessment is not required under section 5 or sections 8 to 10.1 for the projects and classes of projects that are set out in the schedule and that are to be carried out in places other than a national park, park reserve, national historic site or historic canal

In case you didn't quite catch that, Part 20 says that the government may decide that some federal building projects don't need environmental assessments before they proceed. And for Cindy Chiasson, this proposal needs further inspection. Ms. Chiasson is the executive director of the Environmental Law Centre in Edmonton.

The Minister may, with the approval of the Governor in Council and on any terms that the Governor in Council considers appropriate, despite section 11 of the Nuclear Energy Act, sell or otherwise dispose of some or all of the securities of AECL;

This section of the bill says the Minister responsible for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited may do whatever he or she wishes with some or all of Canada's nuclear assets - and that includes selling it.

That's a tough sell for Michael Ivanco. He is Vice President of The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, an independent union that represents engineers, scientists and technologists who work for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. He was in Toronto.

Though the critics argue many of these amendments need their own stand-alone bills, not all of the proposed changes are under fire. Section 17 of the bill deals with Federal Credit Unions, and includes proposals to change they way they're regulated. David Phillips is CEO of the Credit Union of Canada.

Omnibus Bill - Senator Pierrette Ringuette

Well, Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette has complaints about the sweeping nature of Bill C-9. But she is also concerned that her own Liberal Opposition party won't want to rock the minority government boat over these issues. Senator Ringuette was in Ottawa.

Omnibus Bill - Bob Rae

So along with the critics of the bill itself ... as we just heard .. comes the criticism that the official opposition is so afraid of an election it will let these changes go forward. Bob Rae is the Liberal Party's foreign affairs critic. He was in Ottawa this morning.


Nortel LTD - Talk Tape

While many working Canadians pay into long-term disability plans -- they hope they'll never have to take advantage of those benefits.

But if you're one of those who does fall sick and needs to be off work for a prolonged period of time, it's a relief to know that a workplace benefit plan will prevent you from spiraling into a life of poverty.

But not all insurance plans are created equal. Julie Ireton has talked with enough former workers at Nortel to know that's the case. She is CBC's business reporter in Ottawa.

Listen to Julie Ireton's original Talk Tape on Nortel LTD Benefits that aired in November 2009.

Listen to an update from two Nortel Workers who survived 16 rounds of layoffs. This aired in December 2009.

Music Bridge

Artist: Thievery Corporation
Cd: Mirror Conspiracy
Cut: #3, Indra
Label: 4AD
Spine: CAD2K 06


Nisga'a Real Estate - Mitchell Stevens

It was headline news 10 years ago this month when the historic Nisga'a Treaty gave the Nisga'a First Nation ownership of 2,000 square kilometres in northwestern BC. It was the first treaty in Canada to recognize First Nations self government.
Joe Gosnell was the Nisga'a Chief at the time, and he became the first Nisga'a president. We aired a clip of him speaking just after his new government sat for the first time.

Ten years later, the Nisga'a are again making history. This time, it's in relation to property rights. Last November, the Nisga'a Lisims Government passed the Land Transition Act which will give the Nisga'a people property rights allowing them to sell their land to whomever they choose. That legislation comes into effect this fall. And the prospect of having access to capital already has many Nisga'a people excited.

We heard from Laurie Mercer, a member of the Nisga'a Nation. She recognizes not everyone embraces the idea of private property rights for First Nations people. But she thinks it will have a positive effect on her community.

For more on the details of how this new property rights system will work, we were joined by Mitchell Stevens, the current President of the Nisga'a Nation. He's at his home in Laxgalts'ap, on the Nass River.

Nisga'a Real Estate - Panel

Well, the Nisga'a are going to be the first First Nation to privatize their land, but they may not be the last. Not if Manny Jules has his way. The former chief of the Kamloops Indian Band now runs the First Nations Tax Commission and is lobbying the federal government to allow more First Nations to adopt the Nisga'a model of property ownership. We reached Manny Jules at his home on the Kamloops Indian Reserve, in British Columbia.

And Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux is an assistant professor at the Aboriginal Studies Department of the University of Toronto. We reached her at her home on the Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario.

Last Word - Elon Parkinson

Finally today, Canadian travellers are being advised to avoid Kingston, Jamaica, where at least two policemen and one civilian have been killed during armed attacks ... allegedly carried out by the supporters of accused gang leader Christory "Dudus" Coke.

His supporters attacked five police stations and barricaded streets to protect Mr. Coke from extradition to the U.S. for weapons and drug charges. The U.S. prosecutors allege Mr. Coke is the leader of the Shower Posse, a gang reportedly responsible for hundreds of murders in the U.S. alone. It is believed to have a robust presence in Canada and it was in fact the target of a major police raid this month in Toronto.

Today, we ended the program with a report from Elon Parkinson ... the co-host of Nationwide at 5, a local evening news program on Nationwide radio Kingston on what is happening in that city's Tivoli Gardens neighbourhood.

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