• MP David Wilks represents the <span class=constituency>Kootenay-Columbia riding for the Conservative party. (Handout)<br /></span>

    It’s an election year, so voters might be able to expect more than the usual number of political gaffes.

    The latest comes from Conservative MP David Wilks, who admitted a $32.6-million oops in a funding announcement he made earlier this month.

    The British Columbia MP for Kootenay-Columbia said the federal government was investing $156 million in capital improvements in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks — projects like bridge repairs, Trans-Canada Highway paving, avalanche mitigation and other improvements.

    But eagle-eyed readers of the Revelstoke Mountaineer tipped the newspaper off that many of the “new” projects on the list had been covered in the 2014 budget.

    Wilks admitted to the Mountaineer on Sunday that he had overstated the number by $32.6.

    “I made a mistake,” he said, listing several projects that were indeed from last year’s budget. “So the 2015 announcement should have been $123.4 million.”

    Ahead of the election call expected any day now, ministers across the

    Read More »from Not all of B.C. MP’s new Parks Canada funding announcement is new
  • Donald Sutherland, if you’re reading this, Elections Canada wants to hear from you.

    The Canadian-born actor is on the list of Genie Award winners, Order of Canada recipients and Canada’s Walk of Fame honorees, but there’s one list he’s not on: Canada’s list of voters.

    “I’m an expatriate and the Harper government won’t let expatriates participate in Canadian elections,” the actor wrote in a letter published Tuesday in the Globe and Mail.

    “I’m not dual anything. I’m Canadian,” the Governor General’s Award winner continued.

    His comments come on the heels of an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling last week that Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years can be barred from voting in federal elections. In a split decision, the judges said the Elections Canada rule is a “reasonable” infringement on expats’ constitutional rights.

    “Permitting all non-resident citizens to vote would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis but have little

    Read More »from Donald Sutherland says as a Canadian he should be allowed to vote
  • Senate scandals: a brief history

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he will make no more appointments to the country’s scandal-plagued Senate, in an effort to pressure provinces to agree to reforms.

    Harper has made that promise before – and gone on to appoint more partisan senators to the upper chamber than any previous prime minister.

    But if the promises of Senate reform are a familiar refrain, so are the scandals that prompt them.

    Modelled on Britain’s much-maligned House of Lords, the Red Chamber is supposed to be the chamber of “sober second thought.” Yet on more than one occasion, it has been anything but.

    “The Senate is a place that seduces everybody,” says J. Patrick Boyer, a former Progressive Conservative MP and author of the book “Our Scandalous Senate.”

    “They learn the rules: sip your scotch slowly and stay out of the news and you’re fine.”

    The “celebrity senators” appointed by Harper – Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau – have simply shone a spotlight on the upper chamber.

    “All of a sudden, all

    Read More »from Senate scandals: a brief history
  • If Drake’s reading this, it’s too late.

    Video footage of the Canadian rap star appearing to cheer on a federal Conservative cabinet minister has already been tweeted.

    “Even @Drake supports the trades,” Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre posted on July 10, along with a link to a YouTube video mash-up featuring the Toronto-born Grammy winner.

    Poilievre says from a podium “… that trades deserve the same respect as professions, that blue collars deserve the same respect as white collars, and polytechniques and colleges deserve the same respect as universities, because those are the skills we’re going to need to build the jobs of the future.”

    Cut to Drake at a Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets game, score 96-80 for the Raptors with 13 seconds to go, and the singer is cheering and egging on the fans from the sidelines.

    It’s unclear who produced the video, which was uploaded July 9 by a

    Read More »from Drake ‘supports the trades,’ Poilievre tweeted
  • 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

    By Sherry Noik

    Maybe it’s because she’s a woman. Maybe it’s because she’s a threat. Maybe it’s because they can. Or maybe it’s all of the above.

    Whatever the reasons, three of four organizations hosting federal leaders’ debates ahead of October’s election have excluded Green Party Leader Elizabeth May — and experts say the “old boys’ club” wants it that way.

    One political studies professor says a lack of codified, transparent rules around leaders’ debates allows the status quo to continue.

    In contrast to the United States, where there is an independent, arm’s-length debates commission, says Jonathan Rose of Queen’s University, debates in Canada are “at the whim of” the leaders and the Election Broadcasting Consortium (EBC), an informal committee made up of CBC, CTV, Global TV and French broadcaster TVA that has hosted the official debates for decades.

    “One solution is to take it out of the hands of the consortium and party leaders and recognize this is a fundamental part of an election so

    Read More »from Elizabeth May kept out of leaders' debates by 'old boys' club': experts
  • A combination picture shows New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair (L-R), Conservative Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attending the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, July 3, 2015. A federal election in which the three will lead their parties, is planned for later in the year. REUTERS/Todd KorolA combination picture shows New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair (L-R), Conservative Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attending the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, July 3, 2015. A federal election in which the three will lead their parties, is planned for later in the year. REUTERS/Todd Korol

    By Peter Henderson

    Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau will have much to discuss in their first debate slated for early August.

    The Conservative Party of Canada has been focusing its attacks on Trudeau as the October election looms.

    The New Democrats have gone after the party in power with an ad highlighting the ethical breaches and criminal charges that have brought down political staff, members of Parliament and senators alike.

    And the Liberals have been challenging the Conservatives on using public money for advertisements they say have pointed political messages.

    When they meet before the cameras in August, the three party leaders will be facing off in a national debate organized for the first time by someone other than the Election Broadcasting Consortium.

    The group, an informal committee made up of CBC News, CTV News, Global TV and French broadcaster TVA, has until this year been in charge of the organization, format and timing of the debates. Ratings showed the 2011

    Read More »from Federal leaders’ election debates kick off  Aug.6
  • Canada&#39;s Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Chris WattieCanada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

    By Brent Jolly

    A piece of legislation that would see pensions pulled from MPs and senators who are convicted of an indictable offence is set to die on the vine when the impending federal election is called later this summer.

    Bill C-518, the Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians Act, is a private member’s bill introduced by New Brunswick Conservative MP John Williamson. It stipulates that politicians would lose out on the government-funded portion of the gold-plated pension plan if convicted of an offence that carries a minimum two-year sentence.

    An overwhelming majority passed the bill in February in the House of Commons — an oddity in modern Ottawa. But it has been held up in the Senate.

    “Watching senators hold up this bill sends the wrong message to Canadians,” Aaron Wudrick, federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, tells Yahoo Canada News. “It says that they are just looking out for their own.”

    Senators, however, disagree. They say that

    Read More »from Senators object to bill that nixes pensions from convicted politicians
  • By Kyle Edwards

    The biggest challenge for the Millennial generation this fall will not be whether young people can make it to the ballot box, but rather finding something to vote for.

    “Millenials won’t receive the proportion of the attention that the size of their population deserves,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, a Canadian market research firm.

    Millennials between 18 and 34 represent 25 per cent of the electorate but because of low turnout among the younger demographic in past elections, Coletto said political parties are unlikely to spend 25 per cent of their time on them. The result will be political campaigns that cater towards policies directed at older people.

    According to a survey done by Abacus Data — which polled 1,004 Canadians — the three issues Millennials are most concerned about are education, job creation and the environment. Millennials differ with older generations on issues concerning health care, retirement and financial security.

    “It’s a group that

    Read More »from Social media outreach one strategy in courting the Millennial vote
  • NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks at a rally in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Mulcair is urging Stephen Harper to defend Canada&#39;s supply management system &quot;in its entirety&quot; in the course of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin TangNDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks at a rally in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Mulcair is urging Stephen Harper to defend Canada's supply management system "in its entirety" in the course of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

    By Peter Henderson

    A government led by Tom Mulcair would have a dramatically different stance on free-trade agreements than the NAFTA-bashing NDP of the 1980s.

    NDP trade critic Don Davies says pragmatism is the guiding principle for his party’s policy on international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the New Democrats are willing to support flawed deals if they improve Canadian trade.

    His remarks give clarity to the party’s position on free trade, a thorny subject for the NDP. The new stance is somewhat at odds with the party’s history and its roots in the labour movement.

    The NDP opposed Brian Mulroney’s free-trade agenda in the 1980s, arguing against Canada’s participation in the Free Trade Accord with the United States and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    Since being elevated to Mulcair’s shadow cabinet in 2013, Davies has taken a more nuanced position on trade deals versus the party’s NAFTA-bashing past.

    “We favour signing good agreements

    Read More »from NDP would embrace trade agreements in office, party's trade critic says
  • Mulcair’s NDP edge ahead in poll

    NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 15, 2015. A report published online by Maclean&#39;s magazine says NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was in discussions in 2007 to join the Conservative party as a senior adviser on the environment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickNDP Leader Tom Mulcair asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 15, 2015. A report published online by Maclean's magazine says NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was in discussions in 2007 to join the Conservative party as a senior adviser on the environment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    If Canadians were casting ballots today, parliamentary staff might have to change the letterhead to Prime Minister Thomas Mulcair.

    For the first time since Mulcair became leader, the New Democrats are leading in polls with an average of 32.4 per cent support, says an aggregation site tracking federal polling data.

    The Conservatives, meanwhile, have dropped slightly to 28.9 per cent, says the latest analysis from ThreeHundredEight.com.

    The Liberals have dropped less than a point to 27.4 per cent support – better than they’ve been faring lately – while the Bloc Québécois has 5.2 per cent and the Green Party of Canada, 4.9 per cent.

    In terms of seats — which is all that matters — the site projects the NDP would win between 113 and 140 seats. The Conservatives would win between 99 and 141 seats and the Liberals between 71 and 106.

    With the Tories at a lower low, the site’s more precise projection says the NDP would win 127 seats to the Conservatives’ 114.

    “This is the first time that the

    Read More »from Mulcair’s NDP edge ahead in poll

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