• Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper serves up pancakes at a stampede breakfast at the Calgary Stampede in July.Oops, he did it again.

    In less than a week, a second Member of Parliament has introduced Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the "prime minister of cannibal."

    Rookie MP Ryan Leef was the first to do it on Monday, while hosting a Conservative party barbecue fundraiser outside Whitehorse, Yukon.  (Yes, he called him a cannibal at a barbecue.)

    And then on Wednesday, speaking as the announcement of a new national park in the Northwest Territories, Environment Minister Peter Kent did the same thing: he introduced Stephen Harper as the "prime minister of cannibal" before quickly correcting himself.

    According to CBC News, the senior cabinet minister blamed Leef for his miscue, telling the crowd the MP had just regaled about his own verbal gaffe earlier in the week.

    Harper laughed off both mistakes, joking that his two caucus MPs had managed "to confirm rumours about me."

    Users on Twitter were quick to quip about the MP's flubs:

    Read More »from Stephen Harper introduced as the ‘prime minister of cannibal’ — twice
  • Refugee applicant Daniel Garcia Rodriguez almost went blind, thanks to the Harper government's refugee health care cuts.

    Rodriguez fell victim to the new rules, which went into effect June 30, which limit some refugees to only 'urgent health care' while others are denied all care unless they have a disease that would be a risk to the public.

    According to a report by the Toronto Star,  Rodriquez, whose refugee wife had her application for permanent residence approved in January, started having vision problems last month. He sought the advice of Dr. David Wong, an eye surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital, who identified the problem as a chronic retinal detachment and recommended surgery.

    [ More Political Points: Is it time for an official inquiry into the robocall scandal? ]

    Repeated pleas by a Dr. Wong, for government funding for Rodriguez, had fallen on deaf ears at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    On Monday, out of desperation to save the man's deteriorating vision, Wong went ahead

    Read More »from Ottawa’s cuts to refugee health care almost cost man his eyesight
  • The number of complaints about fraudulent phone calls in last year’s federal election has almost doubled, according to court documents filed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.It's time for the Harper government to call a public inquiry into allegations of voter suppression in the last election.

    The Canadian Press is reporting that the number of complaints about fraudulent or misleading telephone calls in last year's federal election has almost doubled, according to recent court documents filed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

    By mid-August, Elections Canada had received 1,394 complaints "alleging specific occurrences" in 234 of Canada's 308 federal ridings, the lawyer for the elections watchdog says.

    The new court filing, is part of legal action by the left-leaning Council of Canadians to contest the election results in seven closely fought ridings, arguing that misleading calls to voters may have skewed the outcome.

    The Council has openly accused the Tories of  being behind the robocalls but nothing has been proven in court or anywhere else.

    [ Related: Robocall scandal: what's happening to the investigation ]

    Along with robocalls, candidates in the

    Read More »from Is it time for an official inquiry into the robocall scandal?
  • It seems the 'comeback kid of Quebec politics is making, well, a comeback.

    According to a new Forum Research/National Post poll, Liberal leader Jean Charest is finally gaining momentum.

    The poll, conducted Monday, reveals a sudden turnaround in voters' intentions, which had, in previous surveys, given the edge to the Pauline Marois Parti Québécois.

    Of 1,602 telephone respondents surveyed, more than one-third of voters said they would vote for the Liberals, pushing Jean Charest's party to 35 per cent, more than four points higher than polls had suggested the Liberals enjoyed as recently as last week.

    [ Related: Talk of sovereignty, promoting French culture is bad for Quebec's economy ]

    Much of the gain appeared to come from voters previously backing the PQ, which saw its popularity drop six points to 29 per cent.  Support for the fledgling Coalition Avenir Québec showed little change, at 24 per cent.

    "In an astounding turn of events, these voting intention results — if they hold on

    Read More »from New poll suggests that Jean Charest’s Liberals could win a majority in Quebec election
  • Former NDP Leader Jack Layton leaves the stage at the party's 50th anniversary convention. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckWednesday marks the one year anniversary of Jack Layton's death.

    As is often the case, journalists and the public alike use these kinds of anniversaries to look back and reflect upon the life of the deceased.

    Depending on your political ideology, Layton was great man who accomplished great things or just a leader of a leftist party who happened to die while in office.

    Regardless of your political leanings, however, Layton deserves credit for reaching out to young people — a demographic that has long been ignored by Canada's political leaders.

    [ Related: Layton family draws strength from Canadians amid grief ]

    Shortly after his funeral last year, student writer Robyn Urback wrote a compelling piece noting that she didn't support Layton's politics but respected him for reaching out.

    "Despite being in his sixties, Jack was indisputably the best of the federal leaders at connecting with the nation's youth. He reached out to us despite our record of poor turnout at the polls. For this

    Read More »from Jack Layton reached out to Canadian youth like no other federal party leader
  • Is the Harper government afraid to upset the apple cart in its dealings with Russia?

    That seems to be the only logical explanation for foreign affairs minister John Baird's "low-key response" to last week's sentencing of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

    Three members of the punk band were sentenced to two years in prison on hooliganism charges for singing a song in Moscow's largest church that criticized President Vladimir Putin. Their trial has been globally denounced as an example of Russia's growing decline in tolerating dissent.

    "We believe in every part of the world of sentencing having some relation to the serious nature of the crime," Baird said Monday according to The Canadian Press.

    Baird's low-key response to Pussy Riot sentencingForeign Affairs Minister John Baird avoided heavy criticism Monday of the controversial sentencing last week of members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison.

    "Obviously, there's, I

    Read More »from John Baird’s stance on Pussy Riot is an international embarrassment
  • If Quebec ultimately chooses to separate from the rest Canada, it will cost the province $7.8 billion a year in equalization payments and potentially $131,789,570,016 — their share of the national debt based on population.  That's if they separate.

    But even the threat of sovereignty or separation is already costing them, big time.

    During Monday night's one-on-one debate between the PQ's Pauline Marois and Liberal leader Jean Charest, Marois said she wants to call a referendum on Quebec sovereignty as soon as possible, when Quebecers want one.

    [ Related Video: Quebec's feisty one-on-one debate ]

    Earlier in the day,  she talked about using a modest amount tax dollars to promote sovereignty.

    Such discourse, says the Montreal Gazette's Henry Aubin, drives people and money away.

    "A referendum is likely to cause people elsewhere to be more reluctant to come here or invest; many people who are here, including many with investments here, will be more likely to leave," he wrote in a column

    Read More »from Talk of sovereignty, promoting French culture is bad for Quebec’s economy
  • Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. CBC photo.The end of foreign doctors and PHDs driving our taxi cabs could soon be nigh.

    According to the Toronto Star, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has revamped the immigration point grid it's used for the past 10 years to judge skilled-immigrant applications.

    The proposed revisions, to go into effect next January, will put more emphasis on age (ie: younger immigrants), language skills and professional credentials equivalent to Canada's — while de-emphasizing work experience abroad.

    Foreign nationals applying for immigration to Canada use a 100-point grid, with a pass mark of 67.

    The grid takes into account the candidate's official language ability, education, work experience, age, job offers in Canada and their overall adaptability — which awards points for previous work or study in Canada — spouse's education and relatives in Canada.

    The problem with the current point system is that those that don't fluently speak one of Canada's official languages, or those whose education credentials

    Read More »from New immigration system puts greater emphasis on language, age
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves today for a five-day trip that begins with a rally near Whitehorse and ends Friday in Churchill, Man. Harper is shown making an announcement at the Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit , Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickPrime Minister Stephen Harper will visit Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern Manitoba this week for his seventh northern tour.

    The annual tour has become a key part of Harper government's foreign policy — Harper uses it to assert Canadian presence in the area.

    Buoyed by the region's potential natural resource riches, Russia, the United States, and the EU are all in disagreement with Canada on Arctic boundaries, and particularly about control of the Northwest Passage — a water route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

    While the Harper government doesn't foresee a military threat in the Arctic, they have made it clear that 'Arctic sovereignty' would be a focus of their government.

    [ Related: Harper's visit to feature new announcements, past promises ]

    "Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty in the Arctic; either we use it or we lose it," Harper said in 2007 according to CTV News. "And make no mistake this government intends to use it.

    Read More »from Harper needs to step up on asserting Arctic sovereignty
  • Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader Francois Legault (L), Liberal leader Jean Charest (2nd L), Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois (2nd R), and Quebec Solidaire co-leader Francoise David, pose before a Quebec leaders' debate in Montreal August 19, 2012.Picking a winner in a televised leadership debate is often a mug's game.

    Very rarely does anyone emerge as a clear victor — more times than not candidates merely solidify the support of their political base.

    Sunday's Quebec leaders' debate was no different.

    Politcal analyst Steve Rukavina provided one of the better overviews of the debate on CBC Newsworld:

    "Nobody won last night's debate. It was a four way draw.  Each of the leaders actually performed pretty well and did what they needed to do. Not a lot of minds were changed [Sunday]."

    "Francois Legault from the CAQ, he did what he had to do in getting out his populous message. He had few stumbles but no major gaffes.

    PQ leader Pauline Marois got in some good shots at Legault and also some good shots at premier Jean Charest...so she performed well.

    [Françoise David] the leader of..Quebec Solidaire, which is left leaning separatist party, was so widely picked by columnists this morning of last night's debate largely because she had

    Read More »from No clear winner in Quebec leaders’ debate as real battles begin Monday

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