• Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands to speak in the House of Commons Mar. 10, 2015. (Reuters)Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands to speak in the House of Commons Mar. 10, 2015. (Reuters)

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comments on women, the niqab and Muslim culture is facing significant—and sometimes amusing—backlash online.

    On Tuesday afternoon during question period, in response to a question from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Harper told the House of Commons that such face coverings like niqabs comes from a culture that’s “anti-women.”

    “The leader of the Liberal Party continues to bring up his position on the niqab, not seeming to understand why almost all Canadians oppose the wearing of face coverings during citizenship ceremonies,” the prime minister said.

    “It is very easy to understand. We do not allow people to cover their faces during citizenship ceremonies,” he continued. “Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open and frankly is rooted in a culture that is anti-women. That is unacceptable to Canadians.”

    The prime minister’s words were quickly criticized on Twitter, with some

    Read More »from Harper’s niqab comments spark #dresscodePM hashtag
  • A man looks at a giant inukshuk as the moon rises above it in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut in this file photo from August 21, 2013. The inukshuk is a stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit people in the arctic. Canada's Arctic territory of Nunavut has opened long-awaited talks with the federal government on gaining control of the region's vast natural resources, a move that could boost exploration and development.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie/Files   (CANADA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)A man looks at a giant inukshuk as the moon rises above it in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut in this file photo from August 21, 2013. The inukshuk is a stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit people in the arctic. Canada's Arctic territory of Nunavut has opened long-awaited talks with the federal government on gaining control of the region's vast natural resources, a move that could boost exploration and development. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/Files (CANADA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
    Recent discord in the Nunavut legislature suggests that even governments representing large aboriginal populations find it difficult to be culturally sensitive to indigenous traditions.

    Last week, elder MLA Isaac Shooyook of the Nunavut legislative assembly walked out on question period in protest of what he said was a lack of Inuit traditional knowledge in the government’s practices and policies.

    Shooyook, who was first elected in the fall of 2013, told the legislature on March 5 that he would not return to the chamber after standing up to ask questions of the government.

    “There is flowery language about incorporating traditional Inuit knowledge, yet many times the department [of culture and heritage] refuses to implement this knowledge,” Shooyook said during question period on March 4, as reported by Nunavut news site Nunatsiaq Online.

    Isaac Shooyook  Photo: CBCIsaac Shooyook Photo: CBCSooyook’s concerns may be surprising given Nunavut’s aboriginal population, especially compared to other jurisdictions in Canada. But Terry Audla,

    Read More »from Cracks appear in Nunavut legislature over accommodating traditional Inuit knowledge
  • Justin Trudeau addresses students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. March 4, 2015. (CP)Justin Trudeau addresses students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. March 4, 2015. (CP)

    Defence and multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney is hitting back at Justin Trudeau after the Liberal party leader accused the Conservative government of stoking fear and prejudice against Muslim Canadians.

    On Monday night, Trudeau delivered a speech at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in Toronto and said the government is using the same kind of rhetoric against Muslims as the country has in other past, shameful, periods.

    He likened the government’s policies to other “dark” episodes in Canadian history, including the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and Italians during the world wars, as well as turning away boats of Jewish refugees.

    Trudeau pointed to the government’s anti-terror legislation and the prime minister’s stance that it is “offensive” for Muslim women to cover their faces during the Canadian citizenship ceremony.

    "It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear," Trudeau said.

    "Fear is a

    Read More »from Trudeau's Toronto speech 'obscene,' says multiculturalism minister Kenney
  • Alberta Premier Jim Prentice speaks to media at a political event in Ottawa March 6, 2015. (Reuters)Alberta Premier Jim Prentice speaks to media at a political event in Ottawa March 6, 2015. (Reuters)

    Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says comments he made earlier this week blaming Albertans for the province’s dire fiscal situation were taken out of context by critics.

    Plummeting oil prices have darkened the province’s future. On Wednesday, Prentice told a CBC radio talk show host that “in terms of who is responsible, we need only look in the mirror. Basically, all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs.”

    The comments were picked up quickly online and sparked some serious backlash against the premier with the #PrenticeBlamesAlbertans hashtag.

    Alberta’s NDP leader Rachel Notley also chimed in and said the premier’s words

    Read More »from Prentice shrugs off criticism over radio show comments
  • Panelists at this year’s Manning Networking Conference believe that conservative values are true to what young Canadians want from their country and say rising numbers of youth flocking to right-wing events is proof of that.

    The annual Manning conference, which takes place this weekend and has been dubbed the “Woodstock” of events for “small-c” conservatives and “big-C” Conservatives, is boasting more young delegates than ever before, with 200 registered as of Thursday and more expected as the conference gets underway. A spokesperson says last year’s conference drew 140.

    Aaron Gunn works for the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation in Victoria, B.C. and describes himself as a non-partisan, ‘small-c’ conservative, who believes in fiscal responsibility and small government.

    He will be one of five speakers at a lunchtime panel on Friday discussing the next generation of conservatism and how young people can find employment within the conservative movement.

    Aaron Gunn of the Canadian Taxpayers FederationAaron Gunn of the Canadian Taxpayers FederationGunn is in charge of the CTF’s

    Read More »from Conservative values 'attractive' to young Canadians, say Manning conference panelists
  • The Harper government’s new no-parole legislation, announced Wednesday afternoon and to be introduced next week when MPs return from some time back in their ridings, is, as it turns out, an opportunity to fall down the rabbit hole of ancient Crown prerogatives.

    The legislation will include a provision allowing cabinet to decide on the release of some killers, which caused a bit of a tizzy on Twitter after the prime minister announced the pending bill. Could the Conservative cabinet use this power to its advantage, for political gain, somehow? Is it not troubling for ideological politicians to be given this kind of legal power? Yes, possibly, but to be sure this isn’t anything new.

    Basics on the bill

    The government is planning to table legislation in the House of Commons that, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, would ensure Canada’s “most heinous criminals” stay in jail for life, without chance of parole.

    "Next week, our government will introduce legislation to ensure that for the most

    Read More »from Cabinet ministers granting clemency? Harper's new no-parole law reminds us they can
  • Protesters take part in a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, October 4, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand</span>
    On the heels of last week’s national roundtable on missing and murdered indigenous women in Ottawa, both main opposition parties in the House of Commons are promising to make the issue a priority in the upcoming federal election.

    NDP aboriginal affairs critic Niki Ashton and Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett told Yahoo Canada News they will be pushing for a national inquiry over the coming election campaign.

    “Absolutely,” Ashton said. “There is real need for political leadership for this issue.”

    The Conservative government has been resolute in its position against holding a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in December that “it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest.” He has called the issue a crime problem, and not a sociological one.

    Aboriginal affairs minister Bernard Valcourt and Minister for the Status of Women Kellie Leitch held a separate press conference from the rest of the participants —

    Read More »from NDP, Liberals vow to make missing and murdered aboriginal women an election issue
  • Screengrab of Conservative Party of Canada support sign-up page, linked from Uppal's email.Screengrab of Conservative Party of Canada support sign-up page, linked from Uppal's email.

    If the Conservative Party’s latest email to supporters were to be taken literally, Canadians should be shaking in their salt-stained Sorel winter boots: Canada is, according to the CPC, a war zone.

    In an email sent out on March 2, Tim Uppal, MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park, suggested Canada is being targeted by terrorists and that the government’s anti-terror bill, the controversial Bill C-51 that has received plenty of criticism from security experts, will keep Canadians safe.

    “Jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada,” Uppal wrote.

    “They hate us for our values. They hate us because we love freedom and tolerance.”  

    Near the end of February, media outlets reported that the Somalia-based terror group Al-Shabaab, the same group that attacked a mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, had posted a video online encouraging supporters to attack public shopping spaces, including the West Edmonton Mall.

    This, according to Uppal, is a reason why Canadians should get behind C-51.

    "This hit home for

    Read More »from Latest Tory pitch for support: ‘Jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada’
  • Getting a medical assessment for your private insurance? There'll soon be a tax for that

    Fears that amendments could reduce accessibility of some mental health care

    The Canadian Psychological Association is raising alarm bells over potential changes to federal tax laws, which CPA representatives say will place additional barriers in front of anyone seeking mental health services in Canada.

    Draft policy changes to Canada’s Excise Tax Act, published at the end of 2014, could subject interactions with private insurers to GST and HST. This, says Dr. Karen Cohen, CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association, is worrisome.

    “One in five Canadians have a mental health problem in a given year. And there are great barriers to access and care, and we don’t want to see those barriers be increased,” she told Yahoo Canada News

    Amendments proposed by the Canada Revenue Agency add what’s called a “qualifying health-care supply” to Canada’s Excise Tax Act.

    Health services that fall under this definition are exempt from taxation, but the CRA draft policy notes that some services “performed by health-care professionals may be taxable or exempt depending on their

    Read More »from Getting a medical assessment for your private insurance? There'll soon be a tax for that
  • Lt.-Gen. Jonathan Vance arrives for a technical briefing, Monday January 19, 2015 in Ottawa. (CP)Lt.-Gen. Jonathan Vance arrives for a technical briefing, Monday January 19, 2015 in Ottawa. (CP)

    We probably shouldn’t have been surprised that Canadian soldiers would end up exchanging fire with Islamic State fighters in Iraq.

    The question is, was the government being naive or disingenuous when it said last fall that Canada’s mission there would not put them in danger on the front line (except, of course, the pilots flying CF-18s on bombing missions)?

    It’s not a minor question since the Conservatives are likely to make Canada’s security against terrorism a central component of its re-election campaign this year and it’s identified the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL) as a major threat to that security. It committed a half-dozen CF-18 fighter jets and dozens of soldiers to an international effort to defend Iraq against ISIS forces surging through the country from Syrian strongholds. 

    About 70 special forces troops have been working with the Kurdish peshmerga fighters for the last few months. The Conservative government initially told Parliament the troops’ duties would be

    Read More »from Conservatives guilty of bad communication, not mission creep in Iraq, military experts say

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