April 22nd, 2024

In the news today: Pot review calls for look at taxes, Ottawa mulls school lunch

By The Canadian Press on March 22, 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. A framework for a national school food program has landed on the desk of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and with the federal budget just weeks away advocates hope the proposal will get the green light. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

Federal pot review calls for look at excise taxes

A group convened by the federal government to study the legislation that made cannabis legal is recommending the country review one of the industry’s biggest gripes: excise taxes charged to pot producers.

A report compiling 54 recommendations from the five-person expert panel released Thursday urged Finance Canada to consider a new model that would increase excise taxes on products with high quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabis’s psychoactive component, and lower fees on those with smaller amounts. It positioned the change as a way to move consumers away from high-THC products.

The tax, which the panel called a “substantial burden” for cannabis producers, amounts to the higher of $1 per gram or a 10 per cent per-gram fee for dried and fresh cannabis, plants and seeds.

Rick Savone, a senior vice-president with Aurora Cannabis, said the report was a “disappointment” because it failed to address industry sustainability and provide actionable recommendations that would combat the illicit market or offer immediate excise tax relief. Savone added a call for immediate excise duty relief in the upcoming budget, rejecting the idea of incremental changes.

Will Ottawa say yes to a national lunch program?

A framework for a national school food program has landed on the desk of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and with the federal budget just weeks away advocates hope the proposal will get the green light.

The proposed plan comes as food prices continue to cause political headaches for governments across the country, said Tyler Meredith, a policy thinker and former economic adviser to Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“A proposal has now been put forward to Minister Freeland, and it’s now for us to watch whether it’ll be funded in the budget,” said Meredith.

“I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The federal government consulted with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders to come up with the framework over the past year.

Insolvent SaltWire Network returns to court

A Nova Scotia judge will be asked on Friday to approve a plan to restructure or seek bidders to buy or invest in SaltWire Network Inc., the insolvent Halifax-based media company recently granted protection from creditors.

SaltWire, the largest newspaper publisher in Atlantic Canada, is hoping to survive by restructuring its operations and finances under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), but it will need investors to accomplish that goal. In the meantime, the business will continue as usual.

The potential restructuring could include the reorganization of some or all of the companies that are part of the SaltWire group, including The Halifax Herald Ltd., Titan Security and Investigation Inc., Brace Capital Ltd., and Brace Holdings Ltd.

Slain cop’s partner to continue trial testimony

Toronto police officer is set to continue her testimony today at the trial of the man accused of killing her partner.

Sgt. Lisa Forbes is being cross-examined by defence lawyers representing Umar Zameer.

Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup, who was hit by a car in an underground parking garage on July 2, 2021.

Forbes told jurors Thursday that she identified herself as a police officer several times when she and Northrup approached Zameer and his family in the garage around midnight that night.

‘Scrappy cooking’ takes off amid high food prices

In 2021, Carleigh Bodrug posted a video online of herself using leftover orange peels, sugar and water to make candy that – in her words – “literally tastes like gummy worms.”

She reminded people that citrus peels are edible and don’t have to be tossed in the garbage, stuck the label “scrappy cooking” on her video and walked away.

The response was electrifying.

That “scrappy” culinary moment appeared to strike a chord with millions of people who were stressed out by rising food prices and ever-tighter family budgets.

It became the inspiration for Bodrug’s soon-to-be-released second cookbook, and inspired her popular social media series where she shares tips such as how to make pesto using the tops of carrots and beets or how to turn potato peels into a delicious crispy snack.

‘Very painful’ jellyfish stings stop man’s swim

Ultra-endurance athlete Nick Pelletier knew the Hawaiian channel he planned to swim had plenty of sharks, but he should have been worried about the jellyfish.

Pelletier, who’s from Kelowna, B.C., flew to Hawaii last week for an attempt to swim across the Molokai Channel, a 41-kilometre stretch between the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Oahu.

The channel is known for treacherous currents and abundant marine life, including whales and more than 40 types of sharks.

He didn’t encounter any sharks. Instead, jellyfish stings forced him to quit his challenge on Tuesday.

Pelletier, 26, had been in the channel more than 13 hours, and was about halfway through his swim when the jellyfish struck and his crew decided he needed to come out of the water.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2024

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