Canada's minority government struck a last-minute compromise Thursday in a dispute over federal powers that saved it from facing a no-confidence vote that could have brought its downfall in parliament. \nPressure on Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal Party government has mounted with a row over a navy submarine bought from Britain that caught fire off the coast of Ireland on its maiden voyage. \nThe parliamentary showdown centered on a move by the regional Bloc Quebecois to commit the government to spending budget surpluses on provincial governments. \nAfter a cabinet meeting, Martin said the move would remove the rights and obligations of the federal parliament to control the budget. \n"Any fundamental issue of this nature," Martin told reporters, "is a vote of confidence. If you take a look at what the issue is, it is the responsibility of parliament to control the public purse and not see that responsibility delegated to a third party. \n"That's what the bloc motion essentially says it would do. And I can tell you that, certainly exercising my responsibility as prime minister, I will not accept that kind of abdication," he said. \nTechnically, the motion by the regional party is a sub-amendment to an amendment being moved by the main opposition Conservative Party. \nJust over 30 minutes before the parliamentary vote was to have been taken, the leaders of the Bloc and the Conservatives left Martin's office and announced compromise wording had been agreed on that would satisfy Martin's constitutional argument. \nThe watered-down amendment was then passed without opposition by the full House of Commons. \nIf the disputed measure had come to a vote, Martin's future could have been decided by a single vote. \nSince the June 28 election, Martin's governing Liberal Party has 134 seats in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party has 99 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 54 and the leftist New Democrats 19. There is one independent. \nWith one Liberal MP and one Conservative reported to be too ill to vote, the ruling party has been promised the support of the New Democrats, which would have given the government a probable vote tally of 152. \nThe remaining Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois, if they stood together, would also have had 152 votes. That would have left independent MP Chuck Cadman, a former Conservative, to decide the government's fate. \nOn the submarine crisis, Martin said he hoped to go to Sligo, Ireland, to visit two injured sailors being treated in hospital following a fire on board the HMCS Chicoutimi. One crew member has died. \nMartin said a visit to Sligo could be made yesterday at the start of a planned visit to Russia, France and Hungary.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications