Job News: Morning Update: Ottawa failed constitutional duty to fill judicial vacancies, Federal Court rules

Good morning,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have violated their constitutional duty to appoint judges, a Federal Court justice ruled yesterday, adding that the vacancies are at a “crisis” level. The ruling is the first to address a government’s obligations to appoint judges.

Justice Henry Brown made it clear he expects Trudeau, Justice Minister Arif Virani and cabinet to “obey the law” and fill the 75 vacancies as soon as possible.

In legal terms, Justice Brown broke new ground by finding that the responsibility of a prime minister and cabinet to appoint judges is a constitutional convention, and that the convention imposes legal duties which “may not be ignored.” In political terms, the ruling is a powerful criticism of the government’s failure to fill judicial vacancies, and the effects of that failure on the criminal and civil justice systems.

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft as Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez, President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Arif Virani listen, in Ottawa, Feb. 8, 2024.PATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

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Gaps in oversight of ArriveCan app ‘completely unacceptable,’ CBSA head says

Inadequate oversight of government spending is “completely unacceptable,” Canada Border Services Agency president Erin O’Gorman said yesterday, vowing to fix the issue after the Auditor-General sharply criticized her department over its poor management and record keeping in relation to the ArriveCan app.

Auditor-General Karen Hogan’s report, released Monday, raised several strong concerns, including questioning why border agency officials approved invoices and time sheets from contractors in cases where details of work performed were often missing. The report also raised red flags about agency employees involved with the ArriveCan project being invited to dinners and other activities by private vendors.

O’Gorman said she shares the concerns related to the audit’s findings and expressed hope that they don’t put at risk the trust Canadians have for border officials working across the country and around the world.

Ottawa pressed to develop national response to homeless encampments

As homeless encampments grow across Canada, the country’s first housing advocate is urging the federal government to develop a national plan to confront the issue.

In a report, Marie-Josée Houle said encampments are not a safe or sustainable solution for housing and individuals living under such circumstances face risks that include accessing water, food and sanitation.

Houle is calling on Ottawa to establish a national action plan by Aug. 31. Such a plan must prioritize offering people permanent housing as quickly as possible and address the root causes of encampments.

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Also on our radar

South Africa seeks new action against Israel: South Africa has sent an urgent request to the International Court of Justice to seek a new emergency order against Israel’s military offensive in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, saying it is in “serious and irreparable breach” of the world court’s orders and the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Singh delivers ultimatum for pharmacare bill: New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is threatening to end the supply-and-confidence deal with the Liberal government if it doesn’t deliver a pharmacare bill that includes plans for a single-payer, universal system to cover prescription medications. The bill is a key part of the agreement that the NDP struck with the government nearly two years ago to keep the Liberals in power.

Group seeks review of licence for long-term care home: The Ontario government violated its own long-term care legislation by awarding a new 30-year operating licence to the for-profit owner of a nursing home that was hard hit in the early days of the pandemic, a health care advocacy group alleges in a court filing.

Study reveals polar bears’ struggle to survive: A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists have discovered that polar bears that live along the western Hudson Bay coast and come ashore when sea ice is absent are increasingly hard-pressed to sustain themselves. While time spent on land is an annual occurrence for polar bears in the region, longer summers caused by climate change are delaying their return to the ice every fall. Only when the ice re-forms can the bears resume hunting for seals, their primary food source during the rest of the year.

Morning markets

Traders trim rate-cut bets: Global stocks wavered on Wednesday, while the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields stayed strong, as traders pared back expectations for the pace and scale of rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.77 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 added 0.13 per cent and 0.41 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.69 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.84 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was higher at 73.84 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Konrad Yakabuski: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government sought to throw private broadcasters a lifeline with legislation to reduce CRTC licence fees, force foreign streaming services to fund domestic programming and compel Google and Meta to compensate Canadian news outlets for linking to their content. But if last week’s cuts at BCE prove anything, it is that neither the Online Streaming Act nor the Online News Act can save Canadian broadcasting’s irreparably broken business model.”

Editorial: “Ultimately, though, the descent of politics into dumbness comes down to (a lack of) political leadership, and to a cynical calculation that Canadians won’t demand better. Voters deserve more than the parties’ condescending cynicism, and their dreary choice of dumb, dumber and dumberer.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by David Parkins, Feb. 14, 2024.Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

The new dating etiquette for paying the cost of a meal or drinks

Talking about money used to be something you did once you were well into a relationship. Today, it’s normal for dating conversations to cover debt, spending and savings habits and long-term financial goals like home ownership. Here’s some advice from Damona Hoffman, host of the Dates & Mates podcast, on how personal finance factors into dating today.

Moment in time: Feb. 14, 1992

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Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell, Dana Carvey as Garth Algar during the ‘Wayne’s World’ skit on Saturday Night Live, March 23, 1991.NBC/Getty Images

The premiere of Wayne’s World

Get ready for an extreme close-up and – cue gnarly guitar lick – a blast from the past that is totally excellent. Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, two long-haired rock dorks from Aurora, Ill., started from the bottom. And not the basement they hung out in. When Mike Myers pitched Wayne’s World as a sketch for Saturday Night Live, the show’s writers weren’t all that impressed. But it made it to air, making its debut in 1989, and the lovable doofuses played by Mr. Myers and Dana Carvey nerding out about music and babes on their local public-access show proved to be a hit. So much so, in fact, that the film adaptation premiered on this day in 1992. Featuring Tia Carrere – schwing! – Rob Lowe, Lara Flynn Boyle and Alice Cooper in supporting roles, among others, it went on to become a box-office smash. It’s still the most commercially successful movie ever adapted from an SNL sketch. A sequel came out the following year, although it didn’t have the first movie’s wicked tagline: “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl.” It was a simpler time. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth. Dave McGinn

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