• The Alberta NDP is sticking with an election promise to increase the province’s minimum wage, and the idea’s received a bevy of mixed reactions.

    But the plan stated in NDP leader Rachel Notley’s election campaign — which over the course of three years would raise wages in Alberta from $10.20 to $15 per hour — is a positive step and done right will show other provinces that a higher minimum wage won’t cause the sky to fall, says economist Sheila Block.

    “I think if we can see that kind of minimum wage increase in Alberta, then we could absolutely see it in other provinces,” Block, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told Yahoo Canada News.

    “It’s really an important step forward in terms of decreasing inequality in Canada…a great way to decrease inequality is to raise people up who are at the bottom,” Block said. “That’s what an increase like that to the minimum wage would do.”

    Notley’s cabinet, which will be sworn in on Sunday, is expected to discuss in more

    Read More »from Incoming Alberta premier’s $15 minimum wage pledge could set example for other provinces: economist
  • NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is ready to face the prime minister wherever debates take place.NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is ready to face the prime minister wherever debates take place.
    Canada isn’t quite in official election mode, but the topic of leaders’ debates is already at the centre of an exhausting debate.

    The Conservative Party said it’s opting out of the typical TV debate format run by the broadcast consortium — a group of Canada’s major TV networks — so this time around things promise to be different.

    The consortium, which includes CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global, announced Thursday that there’s a tentative agreement for two televised debates with the leaders of the NDP, Liberal Party, Green Party and Bloc Quebecois (for one debate in French). No word on whether the Conservatives are at all interested.

    There’s a lot more up the air though, so here’s what you need to know before the writ drops and the election is, officially, in full swing.

    Last chance to see leaders in action

    Once the session in Ottawa wraps up on June 23, Parliament probably won’t reconve for several months with some observers predicting it won’t resume until January. That means once MPs

    Read More »from Debating the debates: 5 things to know before the writ drops
  • NDP on ‘charm offensive’ with young MPs

    The NDP is looking to build momentum ahead of what promises to be a tough federal election fight by touting the positives of some of the party’s rising stars.

    And their blitz has been focused on four individuals in particular: MPs Charmaine Borg, Matthew Dubé, Mylène Freeman and Laurin Liu, who made appearances on national TV programs in Toronto.

    Known as the “McGill Four” — all four Quebec MPs who were elected in 2011 while attending McGill  — have what York University professor Dennis Pilon says is an inspiring story.

    When Borg, Dubé, Freeman and Liu were elected, along with other first time MPs from Quebec, there were plenty of concerns about their lack of experience. But so far, the MPs have proven many of those concerns were unwarranted.   

    “Obviously the party wants to capitalize whatever positive associations they can with these MPs,” Pilon told Yahoo Canada News.

    “The public responds very positively to stories that focus on youth doing politics,” he added. “That’s obviously a

    Read More »from NDP on ‘charm offensive’ with young MPs
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during question period, May 12, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickPrime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during question period, May 12, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attendance in question period — or lack thereof — is an example of his shrewdness as a politician, says one political science professor.

    Nelson Wiseman, director of the Canadian studies program at the University of Toronto, told Yahoo Canada News that the prime minister recognizes question period as, essentially, a forum for the opposition, and not for the government.

    “In question period you play defence.” As government, you get questioned within a frame you can’t control, he said.

    Better to be outside the House of Commons, on stages away from opposition parties and the parliamentary press gallery making policy announcements that don’t generally happen in the House these days, he added.

    This week the Ottawa Citizen reported that Harper has skipped question period more often in 2015 than at any other time under his leadership.

    According to the Citizen’s analysis, the prime minister has only attended 35 per cent of daily question period sessions this year.

    Read More »from Stephen Harper's low question period attendance part of his 'shrewd' politics: professor
  • Some Liberal party members are posting photos of destroyed membership cards on social media sites.Some Liberal party members are posting photos of destroyed membership cards on social media sites.
    The Liberal Party’s voting record on Bill C-51 may be rearing its head as sentiments shift among progressive voters in Canada.

    Bill C-51 passed in the House of Commons with a Conservative majority as well as votes in favour from the Liberal caucus, and is now being studied by the Senate. And although the bill is poised to pass and become legislation before the next federal election, pressure continues to mount in opposition.

    Former Liberal supporters are posting photos of their cut up LPC membership cards on social media, in protest of the party’s support of the government’s controversial anti-terror legislation.

    One quick glance at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s Facebook page shows some of the hostility over the party’s stance on the bill. Almost every post on Trudeau’s wall contains comments denouncing the leader’s position.

    The story doesn’t quite end there. According to Sun News’ David Akin, some former Liberal Party members have switched allegiances — and are running for the NDP

    Read More »from Party members unimpressed with Liberal’s support for C-51
  • Conservative MP Michael Chong is just one of many MPs pushing for parliamentary reform. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred ChartrandConservative MP Michael Chong is just one of many MPs pushing for parliamentary reform. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
    Hopes for reforming Parliament for the better may not have to die with the predicted death of Michael Chong’s Reform Act; a number of backbench MPs across party lines are committed to reforming Parliament if re-elected come October.

    One of these MPs is B.C. New Democrat Kennedy Stewart, who’s been talking to other members about ways to work together to mend what many say is an ailing institution.

    The first goal right now for these MPs is re-election, obviously, but they’ve agreed to meet after Oct. 19, to sit down and make some parliamentary reform plans.  

    “I’ve talked with a number of members from my own party and from other parties, like Mr. Chong,” Kennedy told Yahoo Canada News, “about after the election…getting together right away and trying to hammer out four or five items that we might be able to work on together in terms of parliamentary reform.”

    In addition to Chong, Stewart said Liberal MP Stephane Dion, Craig Scott from the NDP and Conservative Brad Trost, among others, are

    Read More »from Backbenchers no longer taking a back seat to parliamentary reform
  • Elizabeth May says sleep deprivation behind failed attempt to be 'edgy' on Khadr. Elizabeth May says sleep deprivation behind failed attempt to be 'edgy' on Khadr.
    Hill denizens and politics watchers knew 2015 would be a unique year in Ottawa, but few probably guessed how weird things would get at this year’s annual parliamentary press gallery dinner Saturday night.

    Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s speech — an attempt at comedy, she’s admitted — fell like a dead weight and made the hundreds of journalists and politicians in the great hall of the Canadian Museum of History shift in their seats uncomfortably.

    As May rambled, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt made her way to the stage to escort the party leader out of the spotlight, at which time May told the crowd that Omar Khadr, recently released on bail, has “more class than the whole f——g cabinet.”

    May’s speech has been a topic of conversation in political circles since Saturday, some voicing anger over the cabinet comment, some expressing confusion, others in support for what she said.

    But will her words haunt her, politically? Is there damage control to be done?

    Yes, some, said Tim Powers of

    Read More »from Elizabeth May’s ‘kooky’ press gallery speech unlikely to hurt  politician in long run
  • Lele Truong, Lareen Jervis and Mariana Hollmann (left to right) take part in a news conference and petition on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday, May 7, 2015 calling on the federal government to remove tax on feminine hygiene products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred ChartrandLele Truong, Lareen Jervis and Mariana Hollmann (left to right) take part in a news conference and petition on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday, May 7, 2015 calling on the federal government to remove tax on feminine hygiene products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand


    In a rare move in favour of an opposition party initiative, the Conservative government said it will be supporting the NDP’s motion to remove the GST from feminine hygiene products.

    Minister for the Status of Women Canada Kellie Leitch made the announcement over Twitter Friday after the House of Commons had spent about an hour debating the NDP’s opposition day motion calling for a menstrual product GST exemption.

    The real question now is when, if ever, the Conservative government will follow through with the support Leitch committed to on Friday.

    New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen has been pushing for this initiative since 2011, when she introduced a private member’s bill on the subject. Pressure to get menstrual products — pads, tampons, menstrual cups and the like — exempt from GST ramped up last January

    Read More »from Canada one step closer to having no tax on tampons
  • Mylène Freeman is pictured outside the Famous Five monument on Parliament Hillto raise awareness of the NDP's new motion. Photo courtesy of Freeman's Facebook page.Mylène Freeman is pictured outside the Famous Five monument on Parliament Hillto raise awareness of the NDP's new motion. Photo courtesy of Freeman's Facebook page.

    A crazy week in politics will be bookended by another somewhat unusual event: MPs talking about periods in the House of Commons.

    The NDP is using its opposition day motion on Friday to talk about taxes on tampons, in an effort to get the GST removed from all feminine hygiene products sold in Canada.

    They’re urging the federal government to remove what they call an “unfair tax on women.”

    On Thursday morning, MPs Irene Mathyssen and Mylène Freeman, with a backdrop of a handful of supporters dressed in red, held a small rally in front of the Famous Five monument on Parliament Hill to raise awareness about the party’s motion.

    “It’s very, very clear that when the GST was introduced, no one gave any thought to the fact that this was going to impact women, all women,” Mathyssen said.

    She noted that this tax — which targets one sex for products that are essential, not luxury — is particularly burdensome for women struggling in poverty.

    The No Tax on Tampons campaign spearheaded by the group

    Read More »from NDP to use opposition day to push for tax free tampons
  • Green Party leader Elizabeth May talks to reporters after the federal budget was delivered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick DoyleGreen Party leader Elizabeth May talks to reporters after the federal budget was delivered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

    Will the government’s controversial anti-terror bill be an election issue, even if it becomes law before the writ is dropped this year? In all likeliness, yes, if Bill C-51’s critics have anything to do with it.

    The House of Commons wrapped up debate on the legislation this week, which passed in a vote at third reading stage Wednesday night with a Conservative majority, as well as with the support of the Liberal Party.

    The NDP and Greens voted against C-51 and have had serious concerns with the bill since it was tabled in the House earlier this year.

    The Greens are readying themselves to make Bill C-51 an election issue and get the bill repealed.

    “The fact is that this bill will not make Canadians safer – it will actually do the opposite and that’s the big lie being told to Canadians,” noted Green Party leader Elizabeth May after the vote Wednesday night.

    “We need outreach programs that counter radicalization of our youth, oversight over our intelligence agencies, and improved

    Read More »from NDP, Greens vow to make C-51 an election issue as bill heads to the Senate

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