Blog Posts by Andy Radia

  • One year until the next federal election: What to expect

    A man casts his vote for the 2011 federal election in Toronto in this May 2, 2011 photo. (CP)A man casts his vote for the 2011 federal election in Toronto in this May 2, 2011 photo. (CP)

    Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen our federal party leaders shamelessly embrace populist politics.

    Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took part in a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast with new host George Stroumboulopoulos.

    Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was featured in a Chatelaine magazine article titled ‘Is  Justin Trudeau the candidate Canadian women have been waiting for' and this week will unveil his new tell-all biography.  

    NDP leader Thomas Mulcair went on “The Social”  a lifestyle show on CTV  to talk about his party’s childcare plan. The man some Conservatives ‘affectionately’ call “Angry Tom” even dove into a children’s ball pit. 

    If it feels like an election campaign, that’s because we’re in the midst of one — an election campaign which could be the longest in Canadian history.  

    In 2007, the

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  • Two women wearing Islamic niqab veils stand outside the French Embassy in London, England. (Getty)Two women wearing Islamic niqab veils stand outside the French Embassy in London, England. (Getty)

    There’s yet another debate taking place in Canada about niqabs, face coverings and religious accommodation. 

    This one, however, is not focused on Quebec; it’s happening in an Ontario court. And no, it’s not the result of a separatist government. It’s all thanks to multicultural minister, Conservative Party ethnic outreach king and former immigration minister Jason Kenney. 

    Back in 2011, Kenney and his government amended regulations to place a ban on face coverings  such as niqabs  for anyone taking an oath of citizenship in front of a citizenship judge. 

    That change is now being deliberated over by a court.

    As explained by the Toronto Star, Mississauga resident Zunera Ishaq is challenging the government’s edict on grounds that it violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    "This policy was dictated by the immigration minister [Jason Kenney] that there had to be a change, and there’s no willingness to provide any accommodation,” Lorne Waldman, Ishaq’s co-counsel said, according

    Read More »from Muslim groups split on Jason Kenney's no-veil policy for citizenship oaths
  • Conservative plan for new CSIS powers fails to impress critics

    Opposition parties are withholding judgement but voicing some concerns about the Harper government's plan to fight homegrown terrorism  a plan that was partially unveiled Thursday by Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney. 

    At a press conference in Alberta, Blaney announced that CSIS, Canada's spy agency, would be receiving additional powers, saying "we cannot be complacent in the face of terrorism."

    "In particular, we are firmly committed to take strong action to address the threat of individuals who become radicalized to violence and the growing problem of extremist travelers.

    "We want to introduce legislative changes to update the CSIS Act to allow our security and intelligence service to better operate and investigate threats from abroad  threats to our national security. There is no doubt that the threats to our security have changed dramatically since the passage of the CSIS Act in 1984, 30 years ago."

    According to the Ottawa Citizen, the changes will allow CSIS to cooperate

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  • Digital billboards along Ontario's highways worry paramedics

    With their big, bold images, digital billboards are designed to draw the attention of drivers, and now they're drawing the ire of Ontario's emergency medical workers.

    In response to a proposal to erect new billboards in four locations along Highways 401 and 427, the Toronto and Ontario paramedic associations have each penned letters to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking her to kibosh the plan.

    "The [Toronto Paramedic Association] TPA is greatly troubled by the news that efforts are underway to seek regulatory exemptions related to signage and digital billboards on Ontario Highways," the TPA's Geoff MacBride wrote in his in letter.

    "Currently these signs are not permitted. The reasoning for this is obvious. Digital billboards are designed with one reason, to draw your attention. Anything that distracts road users from solely concentrating on their driving is completely unsafe and totally inappropriate."

    Cars drive past a digital billboard in Bucharest, Romania. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)Cars drive past a digital billboard in Bucharest, Romania. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)Metrolinx, the arms-length government body that oversees transportation in the Greater

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  • Protesters are seen in Montreal City Hall on Aug. 18.Protesters are seen in Montreal City Hall on Aug. 18.

    It’s been almost two months since municipal employees stormed Montreal’s City Hall in protest of Bill 3 — provincial legislation which would claw back pension benefits. 

    It was an ugly scene with dozens of union members encroaching municipal offices and council chambers, scattering paper and flinging cups of water. 

    Now, one of the union leaders involved in the melee, who has been suspended for his actions, is suggesting that things could get even uglier. 

    "This is the first time that a union president has been suspended while performing his union duties,” Ronald Martin, the president of the firefighters’ union, told the Montreal Gazette.

    “In Quebec, the presumption of innocence has fallen again. No one will stop me from performing my role as union president. Union action will continue, more than ever … more determined and forceful than ever.”

    The governing Liberals introduced Bill 3 in June as a means to mitigate municipal pension plan deficits which, province-wide, had reportedly

    Read More »from Montreal union leader promises 'forceful' action after being reprimanded for City Hall raid
  • Gary Keating election sign (CBC)Gary Keating election sign (CBC)

    There’s not a lot that shocks political pundits these days  the veteran ones, especially, have seen it all. 

    This turn of events seems to be surprising even the most seasoned political news followers.

    On Tuesday, Gary Keating, a newly elected Liberal MLA in New Brunswick resigned just three weeks after the election that saw his party win a majority government.

    "It is with sincere regret that I inform the citizens of Saint John East that I will be unable to assume the responsibility of being their MLA," the former high school principal and avid runner wrote.

    "After careful personal reflection and the unconditional love and support from my family I have decided, at this particular point in my life, that my family must come first and be my priority. Over the course of the election, and during the past few weeks, it has become very apparent that the long hours and travel associated with the job would have a negative impact on my health and, especially, my family. Again, following deep

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  • Nuclear industry study suggests it's better for environment than wind

    Canada geese stand near the troubled Ontario Hydro Pickering nuclear power station August 13, 1997.Canada geese stand near the troubled Ontario Hydro Pickering nuclear power station August 13, 1997.

    The province of Ontario  like many jurisdictions around the world  is slowly shifting away from the use of nuclear power in favour of ‘green’ technologies such as those powered by wind. 

    It’s expected by 2025, nuclear reactors will supply only 42 per cent of the province's power compared to 59 per cent in 2013. 

    Well, the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) isn’t taking the industrial snub lying down. 

    They’ve released a new “independent study”  conducted by engineering firm Hatch  suggesting that nuclear power is cleaner than wind and natural gas when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. 

    "Because wind farms cannot produce electricity reliably and predictably, they typically rely on gas plants to fill in their supply gaps," notes a news release by the CNA.

    "The Hatch study realistically estimated that wind farms generate only 20 per cent of their capacity, leaving gas-fired plants to make up the remaining 80 per cent. 

    The combination of wind-plus-gas generates about 20 times

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  • Patrick Brazeau makes court appearance after latest arrest

    Senator Patrick Brazeau arrives at the Senate in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2013. (Canadian Press)Senator Patrick Brazeau arrives at the Senate in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2013. (Canadian Press)

    Suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau was arrested, again, and spent Monday night in jail. 

    After a court appearance on Tuesday, a Gatineau court has ordered Suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau back to rehab after his latest arrest on Monday afternoon. 

    According to the Ottawa Citizen, police in Gatineau found an impaired Brazeau in the driver’s seat of a parked car on Monday afternoon.

    They arrested him for being impaired while in control of a vehicle and for operating a vehicle “while having an alcohol level of more than 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.”

    He also faces a charge of breach of conditions for a knife found in his car.  

    In court, on Tuesday afternoon, the judge set bail at $2,000 and released Brazeau with a list of conditions including that he abstain from alcohol or drugs, that he stay away from anyone that he knows who consumes, possesses or traffics in narcotics and that he abstain from being in possession of any weapon. 

    According to reports, Brazeau will remain

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  • An Ontario teenager who held her own in a debate with CBC’s Kevin O’Leary about GMO labelling will have her voice heard in Ottawa. 

    Rachel Parent, 15, will meet with Health Minister Rona Ambrose later this month to discuss her goal of having all genetically modified foods clearly identified.

    "It’s super exciting," Parent told Yahoo Canada News in an interview last week.  

    "I want to talk to her about GMOs not being proven safe and that we need long-term, independent studies to determine their safety.

    "And finally, I’d really like to talk to her about the fact that until it’s proven safe, we should at least label them so we have the freedom to choose [what we eat]."

    Genetically modified organisms are crops or animals that have had their genes altered with DNA from different living species, so that they become resistant to disease or tolerant of pesticides.

    According to a U.S.-based organization called Just Label It, “five countries produce 90 per cent of the world’s genetically

    Read More »from Teen activist Rachel Parent set to debate health minister on GMO labelling
  • NDP resurrect the debate over a national child care program in Canada

    A student approaches her caregiver at a Winnipeg daycare.A student approaches her caregiver at a Winnipeg daycare.

    Next week, the federal New Democrats will reawaken an old Canadian debate when they unveil their plan for a national child care program. 

    According to the Canadian Press, an NDP government would negotiate deals with the provinces to create more child care spaces at an affordable rate similar to Quebec’s $7 a day, universal child care program.

    "In 2014, it’s unacceptable that many families have to pay more for child care than they do for rent. The NDP is determined to propose a practical plan to address the needs of parents across Canada," party leader Thomas Mulcair said in a statement earlier this week. 

    "The federal government has to be an active partner with provinces in order to help parents. After 30 years of Liberals and Conservatives promising and yet failing to deliver, the NDP isn’t waiting until the next election. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing the details of a national child care program that an NDP government will put in place." 

    [ Related: NDP’s renewed

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