• With the extended 11-week election upon us and over two dozen third-parties looking to influence voters, you may be wondering if any of them actually have a chance at affecting the election outcome in any way.

    These aren't actually political parties, but unions, veterans groups, animal rights groups — groups looking to defeat Stephen Harper's conservative government and groups representing a particular issue like heathcare, open Internet or safe technology. All of them are looking to influence the election in some way, but it's a steep hill to climb.

    Nelson Wiseman, director of the Canadian Studies Program in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, predicts third parties won't have much influence at all.

    “They're limited in how much money they can spend now, which is one of the reason the election was called early because they could've spent all the money they wanted until the writ was dropped. Now that the writ's been dropped, they're limited, so they won't

    Read More »from Will non-political third parties have an influence on the Canadian election?
  • Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign stop in King Township, Ontario, August 20, 2015. (Reuters)Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign stop in King Township, Ontario, August 20, 2015. (Reuters)

    We take for granted that government will continue when an election campaign is underway. Public works will get done, cheques will be sent out, foreign policy matters dealt with.

    But how does that happen, exactly, when the Governor General has dissolved Parliament and the government has lost its mandate? And what’s to stop the ruling party from nudging the levers of power to make inroads with voters come polling day?

    Incumbency offers huge potential advantages. That’s why there’s something called the Caretaker Convention, which sets the rules of how governments can operate during election campaigns and after the vote before a new government is sworn in.

    The convention has existed for about as long as Canada itself but largely out of sight of the public until earlier this month when the government was pressured to post the latest version of it on the Privy Council Office’s web site on Aug. 2, the day the election was called.

    “This is the first time that a government has just voluntarily

    Read More »from There’s an election on, so who’s running the country?
  • A shift in how federal government employees communicate during the election appears to be taking a toll on operational issues at a local level.

    The Caretaker Convention outlines how government employees must limit their communication during an election in an effort to keep things neutral.

    One media report details how Parks Canada spokeswoman Christina Tricomi would not be interviewed for a story about two wolves that killed a deer in a populated area of Banff. Instead the agency released a statement nearly a week after the two animals chased and killed the deer in the townsite.  

    Tricomi referred to the Caretaker Convention as to why she couldn’t speak directly on the matter. The report points out that the convention excludes “routine, non-controversial or urgent issues,”,which can be addressed.

    When asked for comment by Yahoo Canada News, a Parks Canada media relations advisor responded with the following message:

    According to the Caretaker Convention, which governs government

    Read More »from Parks Canada’s muted response on Banff wolves questioned
  • Journalists are encountering a wall of silence from federal Conservative Party candidates as they and their Leader Stephen Harper work the campaign trail across Canada.

    Several media outlets have detailed accounts of trying — and failing — to find a Tory candidate, including Harper, willing to talk outside strict guidelines, on the record.

    In a column, the Toronto Star’s Tim Harper writes about trying to arrange interviews with several Tory candidates in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, only to have them cancelled or denied. A representative for Joe Daniel, the Conservative MP for Don Valley East told the Ottawa Citizen that he wouldn’t be doing interviews until after the election.

    Vice’s Justin Ling gives a detailed account of trying to submit a question to Harper at a campaign stop in eastern

    Read More »from Tory candidates avoiding media on campaign trail: reports
  • With its vast power to both influence and embarrass, social media can make or break candidates in this year’s federal election.

    With more than seven weeks left to go, six candidates have already found themselves in hot water after their controversial posts online were unearthed and presented to the media. While some resigned their candidacy and others stayed on, most were forced to go off-message and apologize publicly.

    Here is the list of candidates who have found themselves in the hot seat for their social media postings.

    VirJiny Provost, Mégantic-L'Érable, Que.

    VirJiny Provost, 18, the Bloc Québécois candidate in Mégantic-L'Érable, was the subject of a mocking blog post after a list she posted on ask.fm was published by Quebec comedian and journalist Infoman.

    Infoman published her response to the question of what three things she would want if she was the sole survivor of a nuclear attack. Her answer: “mon cell, un pénis, ben des chips,” which means “my cell, a penis, uhh some

    Read More »from Election 2015′s social media casualties (so far)
  • Conservative Party Leader Stephen HarperConservative Party Leader Stephen Harper

    Canada’s political parties hit the campaign trail this month with ready-made battle cries, the slogans meant to win hearts and minds and get out the vote.

    The ruling Conservatives went with “Proven leadership for a strong Canada,” sticking to their brand of strength and security and playing up their experience in government.

    The opposition New Democratic Party went with “Ready to lead,” promising to hit the ground running if they take the most seats in the House of Commons.

    NDP Leader Thomas MulcairNDP Leader Thomas Mulcair

    The third-place Liberals are promising “Real change for the middle class,” aiming to brand themselves as a better option than either of their rivals to address the real issues facing one of Canada’s biggest voting blocks.

    Liberal Leader Justin TrudeauLiberal Leader Justin Trudeau

    The Green Party is calling for “A Canada that works. Together.” The Bloc Québécois has no English slogan, but one of the party’s prominent messages translates roughly to “We grow, we gather, we move forward, together.”

    Green Party Leader Elizabeth MayGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May

    Memorial University professor Alex Marland says having a simple and

    Read More »from Election slogans set up choice between leadership and change
  • It’s not a leaders debate on women’s issues, but it’ll have to do.

    More than 30 years after Canadians last saw a federal election debate on women’s issues, the Up for Debate campaign has announced Plan B — that four of the five main party leaders have agreed to participate in an “alternative debate format” focusing solely on those issues.

    The new format will see leaders from the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois sit down for pre-recorded interviews on women’s issues. Quebec journalist France Pelletier is expected to conduct the interviews, which will then be screened with analysis and commentary at Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre on Sept. 21. They will also be made available online.

    “If the major broadcasters in the country can’t get all five leaders to the table, it’s sad but not surprising that we can’t either,” says Ann Decter, director of advocacy and public policy at YWCA Canada and a spokeswoman for Up for Debate,

    Read More »from Leaders debate on women’s issues cancelled but debate long overdue
  •  

    The federal Conservatives are learning the hard way that the power of social media will not let flubs go unnoticed, particularly when they involve stock photos.

    Leader Stephen Harper stopped in the riding of North Island-Powell River in British Columbia on Friday to announce the promise of $15 million towards repairing wild salmon habitats. He then tweeted a poster of a salmon jumping upstream, with the banner “Protecting British Columbia’s Natural Environment,” along with the Tory logo.

    Only problem was that whoever designed the poster used a stock image of an Atlantic salmon, not a Pacific salmon. The image was later attributed to a photographer in England who snapped the shot on the river Tyne at Hexham, located in Northumberland County.

    The tweet about the salmon was quickly taken down and replaced with the correct species, but not before astute Twitter users, including Derrick O’Keefe and Alexandra Morton, could respond.

    Read More »from Tory ads show perils of using stock photos
  • Flickr/palindrom6996Flickr/palindrom6996

    A new poll shows that one in five Quebecers don’t know who’s leading the federal government.

    Nineteen per cent of respondents didn’t know that the Conservative Party of Canada holds power in Ottawa, according to a CROP survey commissioned by La Presse newspaper.

    CROP vice-president Youri Rivest told Yahoo Canada News that he wasn’t surprised by the results.

    “They don’t care about politics,” he says of the respondents. “They have no interest in politics.”

    The lack of knowledge was greater among women, given that 28 per cent of female respondents and only 11 per cent of males didn’t know the Tories run the show.

    Those aged 18-34 were the most clueless at 32 per cent, while only 9 per cent of respondents over 55 didn’t know which party has power.

    THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

    Eighty-four per cent of respondents knew Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party, 81 per cent knew Justin Trudeau leads the Liberal Party and 77 per cent knew Thomas Mulcair heads the NDP.

    Seventy-three per cent knew Gilles

    Read More »from 1 in 5 Quebecers don’t know the Tories are in power: poll
  • (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)(Photo courtesy Thinkstock)

    The public health care system is a source of pride for a majority of Canadians, but a new study from the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute has found that individuals and families aren’t fully appreciating the cost they pay out of their own pockets to access that system.

    In a research bulletin released Thursday, the conservative think tank said Canadians need to better understand how much health care actually costs them personally so they can determine whether they are receiving good value for their tax dollars.

    The research found that in 2015, for six common Canadian family types, the estimate average payment ranges from $3,789 to $12,055.

    Graphic from Fraser Institute report on 'The Price of Public Health Care Insurance' (Fraser Institute)Graphic from Fraser Institute report on 'The Price of Public Health Care Insurance' (Fraser Institute)

    For the average Canadian family over the ten years starting in 2005, the cost of public health care insurance increased 1.6 times faster than average income, 1.3 times as fast as the cost of shelter and 2.7 times as fast as the price they were paying for food.

    Nearly three quarters of Canadians polled in a recent Ipsos Reid survey says that the

    Read More »from Canadian families pay up to $12K annually for 'free' healthcare, right-wing think tank finds

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