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Liberals, WE Charity Release Details on Fees With Potential Confidence Vote Looming

OTTAWA—The minority Liberal government suggested Monday the Opposition Conservatives are pushing the..

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OTTAWA—The minority Liberal government suggested Monday the Opposition Conservatives are pushing the country to the brink of an election with their potential demand for an “anticorruption” committee to probe COVID-19 spending.

Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez said in a letter to his opposition counterparts that the Tories’ effort to strike the committee is “blatantly partisan,” and designed to paralyze the government.

“If passed, it will raise serious questions about whether the House of Commons continues to have confidence in the government,” he wrote.

Rodriguez’s letter comes as the Tories were still deciding which of three potential subjects they’ll put up for debate Tuesday during one of the regularly scheduled days on the parliamentary calendar devoted to opposition business.

The committee proposal is one option. It would incorporate ongoing efforts to scrutinize the Liberals’ decision to farm out management of a COVID-19 aid program to WE Charity, known for its long-standing ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.

Another is about China’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong, and a third relates to banning the Chinese telecom firm Huawei from Canada’s networks.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre laughed off Rodriguez’s suggestion that the creation of a committee ought to push Canadians to the polls.

“Is he really suggesting that if the committee looks into Trudeau’s corruption, Trudeau’s just going to call an election? Is that really what he’s going to do?” Poilievre asked Monday.

“Setting up a committee is not a matter of confidence.”

Poilievre suggested his party is ready to do whatever it takes to hold the Liberals to account over the WE matter, but the Conservatives were also waiting on the Liberals’ own pitch on a special COVID-19 spending committee.

Rodriguez laid out details of that as well Monday, proposing a 12-member committee where government and opposition MPs would have an equal number of spots.

That’s roughly in keeping with the standings in the full House of Commons, but rounded in the Liberals’ favour.

Among other things, the Tories want the Opposition to have more seats.

The NDP’s Charlie Angus said Monday he has concerns the Liberal approach could just result in the government stonewalling that committee in the same way they’ve filibustered others in recent days.

But Angus said it would be reckless for the government to push Canadians to the polls, and he’s hoping cooler heads prevail.

“Our message to the Liberals is calm down, we have work to do. Work with us.”

For the Conservatives’ motion to pass over Liberal objections, it will need the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

Last week, several parliamentary committees were forced to sit for hours as the Liberals sought to block the resumption of studies into a decision to award WE Charity a contract to run a COVID-19 student program.

The ethics committee spooled back up Monday, where opposition MPs are trying to get more details on how much Trudeau and members of his family received in speaking fees in connection with not just WE but for attending other events.

How two disclosures earlier Monday, one by WE Charity and the other by the Liberals, will affect that effort wasn’t immediately clear.

WE Charity released dozens of pages of documents that had previously been demanded by the finance committee, including details of fees paid to, and expenses covered for, members of the Trudeau family who participated in WE events.

The charity had previously said Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the prime minister’s wife, had been paid a $1,500 speaking fee for one appearance, and the documents released Monday also disclosed that the charity covered $23,940.76 in expenses for eight appearances between 201Read More – Source

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Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.

The inoculations were administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, a royal source said.
To prevent inaccuracies and further speculation, Her Majesty, who 94, decided that she would let it be known that she has had the vaccination, the source added. Her husband is 99 years old.
The couple’s son, Prince Charles, tested positive for coronavirus and went into isolation in March. The 72-year-old later said he was lucky to only experience mild symptoms, adding he’d “got away with it quite lightly.”
Meanwhile, their grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year, UK media reported, though exactly when he contracted the virus is unclear.
The UK has recorded more than 3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 80,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The UK reported 1,325 coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday — its highest ever daily increase in deaths.
Health officials face a deadly start to 2021 as a new coronavirus variant, first detected in the UK, sweeps the nation.
In the capital, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” on Friday, warning that hospitals in the city were close to being overrun.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan added. “If we do not take immediate action now, our [National Health Service] could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger

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Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.

The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.

“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”

It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.

The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.

Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.

On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/03/dozens-killed-in-suspected-jihadist-attack-in-niger

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Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections

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People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.

The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.

He’s focussing on security and education.

Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.

“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.

Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.

Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/27/niger-votes-in-presidential-and-legislative-elections

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