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The gun registry was spared, Newfoundland was not and Canada set its sights on the Security Council and the Space Station. Two landmark court verdicts came down and the federal student loans cap went up. And oh yes, we’ve got an angry snowman on our hands.
Parliament started off with a bang this month when it resumed after the summer break. Just three days into the new session, the abolishment of the controversial long-gun registry was put to a vote. The issue made headlines all summer long, portrayed as a divisive issue between rural and urban Canadians. The registry was saved — by a mere two votes — after enough MPs from opposition parties voted against the bill. In a future election, the ruling Conservatives will almost certainly use this as ammo when campaigning in rural areas, where the registry is unpopular.
Not that an election is on the agenda. This fall, the government insists it's all about the economy. True to his word, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed a Toronto finance star as his new chief of staff. On the other side of the House, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff followed suit by making former federal finance minister Ralph Goodale his deputy leader.
But it wasn’t promotions across the board. One major head rolled at Quebecor Media, the company trying to launch Sun TV or “Fox News North.” Executive Kory Teneycke abruptly announced his resignation on the heels of a dubious online petition to stop the news channel, as well as a public attack on Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood for signing it. Teneycke officially stated that his Conservative roots were a liability in the company’s quest to secure a broadcasting license. A new licence hearing is scheduled in November.
Two landmark verdicts were reached in Ontario Superior Court this month. In one, a judge ruled against a gay man who argued his equality rights were violated by a Canadian Blood Services policy that bans donations from men who have sex with men. Kyle Freeman lost after the judge ruled that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to the agency, raising fears of a “Charter-free zone” in institutions that operate at arms length from the government. In the second groundbreaking case, a judge struck down certain prostitution laws, leaving sex workers free to openly solicit customers. The Crown has 30 days to challenge the ruling before it comes into effect.
Hurricane Igor stuck Canada’s Atlantic coast in what has been called the worst storm to ever hit Newfoundland, an island province on the eastern coast. An 80-year-old man was swept out to sea when it struck. The military has responded to the disaster and is assisting with clean-up and repairs to roads and bridges.
The biggest takeover battle in Canadian history continues, with an early victory going to Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan over BHP, the world’s largest miner. A judge ruled that BHP must hand over documents detailing its actions leading up to its multibillion dollar bid for Potash. While BHP argued this is just an opportunity for Potash to scope out the competition, Potash says it believes the documents will show BHP schemed to drive down the price of potash for years to win control of the company at a lower price.
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney raised his voice in a different battle, one raging on the floor of the House of Commons over the Conservative party’s decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census. This will complicate economic analysis, Carney argued. Banks may no longer be able to rely on labor, productivity and household data to assess and steer the economy.
But university students might just have it tougher than anyone else. The recession has driven young and old back to the classroom, and it took a last-minute hike on the federal student loans cap before they had the funds to do so. Although this move bought Ottawa time, the government will have to decide whether to raise the cap further, or cut back on the student loans it provides.
Canada is parading across the international stage with both a bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council and a Canadian commander set to launch to the International Space Station. Stephen Harper traveled to New York to state his case for Canada’s spot in the horseshoe while Col. Chris Hatfield promised to serenade his coworkers when he takes over as the first Canadian to ever command the ISS.
Copies of newsweekly magazine Maclean’ssold out when it published a controversial cover story analyzing why Quebec is the “most corrupt province in Canada.” No one was angrier than Bonhomme, the Quebec City winter carnival’s mascot. The giant snowman was the cover image, pictured with his red cap and a briefcase overflowing with money. The carnival is now mulling over a lawsuit against Maclean’s, which has refused toapologize for the image or content.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, Canadian basketball star Steve Nash made his directorial debut with “Into the Wind,” a documentary about another legendary Canadian athlete — Terry Fox, whose attempt to run across Canada after losing his right leg to cancer is commemorated every year.