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On this day June 22, 1854

The British Parliament abolished the Seigneurial system of New France, formally abolished by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada and assented to by Governor Lord Elgin on June 22, 1854 in An Act for the Abolition of Feudal Rights and Duties in Lower Canada which was brought into effect on December 18 of that year.

The act called for the creation of a special Seigneurial Court composed of all the justices of Lower Canada, which was presented a series of questions concerning the various economic and property rights that abolition would change.

Some of the vestiges of this system of landowning continued into the twentieth century as some of the feudal rents continued to be collected. The system was finally abolished when the last residual rents were repurchased through a system of Québec provincial bonds. Read More…

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

Canadian Parliament suspended

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has received approval from Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue the Canadian Parliament for about two months, up until the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Prime Minister’s Office has announced today.

Under the prorogation, Parliament will resume on March 3, as opposed to January 25, when it was originally scheduled to return from the holiday break.

The move to prorogue will strike any currently proposed legislation off the order paper, including the anti-crime bill that was proposed by the Conservatives as part of their election platform.

The move, which has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition, would allow the Conservatives to gain a majority in Senate committees, while also dodging criticism stemming from allegations of the abuse of Afghan detainees. Read More…

Chet Baker family against music industry

A report published last week in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist of Canada’s University of Ottawa claims a copyright case under the Class Proceedings Act of 1992 may see the country’s largest players in the music industry facing upwards of C$6 billion in penalties.

Chet Baker

The case is being led by the family and estate of the late jazz musician Chet Baker; moving to take legal action against four major labels in the country, and their parent companies.

The dispute centres around unpaid royalties and licensing fees for use of Baker’s music, and hundreds of thousands of other works.

The suit was initially filed in August last year, but amended and reissued on October 6, two months later.

At that point both the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors (SODRAC) were also named defendants.

On this day December 11, 1931

The British Parliament enacted the Statute of Westminster, giving the option of complete legislative independence to the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

The Statute is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which established a status of legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the British Empire and the United Kingdom, with a few residual exceptions. Read More…

On this day December 6, 1922

A ship in Halifax Harbour carrying trinitrotoluene (TNT) and picric acid caught fire after a collision with another ship and exploded, devastating Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

halifax_explosion_blast_cloudApproximately 2,000 people (mostly Canadians) were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings, and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured.

This is still one of the world’s largest man-made, conventional explosions to date.

At 8:40 in the morning, Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship which was chartered by the French government to carry munitions, collided with the unloaded Norwegian ship Imo (pronounced E-mo), chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to carry relief supplies. Read More…

Canadian PM Stephen Harper watches American news

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper caused controversy this week after telling Toronto business leaders that he prefers to watch American news programmes instead of Canadian.

On Wednesday, he told the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Convention that he watched “mainly American news” and suggested it was his hobby “to watch politics elsewhere”. The Toronto Star says his “words ring true” in light of the interviews he’s given to American broadcasters like Fox News and CNN.

Three of Harper’s cabinet members, Jim Flaherty, Peter Kent and Tony Clement, questioned the veracity of his statement, stating they “assume” he must digest some Canadian news issues. But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said “I think the prime minister is too busy to sit there being vainglorious and watching himself on TV.” Read More…

Hurricane Bill to pass off U.S. east coast

Hurricane Bill, the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, is currently threatening parts of New England and eastern Canada.

Bill weakened somewhat on Friday, although it remains a formidable Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. As of 11 p.m. AST August 21 (0300 UTC August 22), Hurricane Bill was located within 10 nautical miles of 31.0°N 67.5°W, or about 545 mi (880 km) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds were near 90 knots (105 mph, 165 km/h), with stronger gusts. Forecasters estimate the storm’s minimum barometric pressure to be around 957 millibars. Read More…