• Young Palestinian groom Ahmed Soboh, 15 and his bride Tala, 14, stand inside Tala's house.Young Palestinian groom Ahmed Soboh, 15 and his bride Tala, 14, stand inside Tala's house.

    The Harper government has announced an additional $10 million in funding to combat the practice of child marriages in the developing world.

    Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement in Ottawa on Tuesday as part of the fourth-annual John Diefenbaker Award Ceremony  a ceremony to honour those who show “exceptional courage and leadership in defending human rights.”

    This year’s award went to an international organization called Girls Not Brides.

    "In all parts of the world, Girls Not Brides gives a voice to those who are silenced by child marriage. They do this by calling for new laws, sharing best practices and engaging with communities," Baird said, calling child marriage “one of the most pressing development challenges of our time.”

    "Currently, 700 million girls and women alive today were married as children.This isn’t a cultural nuance or a women’s issue — the impact on health and freedom of so many young girls adds up to a human tragedy. Global efforts to reduce the

    Read More »from Canada increases funding to fight forced child marriages abroad
  • It appears the election campaign ads are slowly but surely starting to roll out (Cartoon by Graeme MacKay)It appears the election campaign ads are slowly but surely starting to roll out (Cartoon by Graeme MacKay)

    We may have had our first glimpse at a federal election ad for the 2015 election. 

    No, this one isn’t brought to you by the Conservative Party or the NDP — it’s paid for by the taxpayers of Canada. 

    The Harper government has launched its latest Economic Action Plan ad promoting their suite of childcare tax credits. 

    Over the past several years, the Tories have spent millions of dollars on these ads that are supposed to promote government programs.  

    Critics, however, argue that they reek of political partisanship promoting nothing but the Conservative Party of Canada.  

    Last week, Canadians for Tax Fairness — a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization advocating for fair and progressive tax policies put out a press release suggesting that the radio counterpart to the television ad is “thinly disguised electioneering.”

    “These..ads push the limits on informing Canadians about government programs,” Dennis Howlett, executive director of the organization said in a press release noting

    Read More »from Tories slammed for latest Economic Action Plan ad's campaign-style tone
  • Lt. General (Ret.) Andrew Leslie speaks at a Liberal Party of Canada's convention in MontrealLt. General (Ret.) Andrew Leslie speaks at a Liberal Party of Canada's convention in Montreal

    Few political observers actually believe that party leaders don’t play favourites in nomination races. 

    Still, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has made it a point to distance himself from his predecessors, stating frequently that he’s committed to holding “open nominations across the country.”

    But now, more and more observers are calling B.S. on that claim. 

    The latest nomination race in question is in the riding of Ottawa-Orléans, where former leadership candidate David Bertschi has been told that he won’t be allowed to run. He was up against retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, a star Liberal nomination candidate and adviser to Trudeau. 

    Over the weekend, Bertschi made a plea to supporters asking them to sign a petition urging the Liberals to “re-instate an open nomination” in his riding. 

    "In a recent letter to me the National Co-Chairs of the party told me of their decision to block my candidacy for the nomination here in my home riding of Ottawa-Orléans," Bertschi wrote.

    "This was a

    Read More »from Liberal risk losing credibility over promise of open nominations
  • Hockey fans across the country often like to make excuses for their teams. 

    They’ll blame injuries, referees, scheduling, bad bounces and even the Zamboni driver for their team's poor record.  

    Well, here’s another excuse: taxes. 

    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has teamed up with Americans for Tax Reform to release a comprehensive report on the personal tax burdens of National Hockey League players based on which city they play in. 

    Their thesis is that low tax jurisdiction teams have an advantage in signing free agents; 57 per cent of of unrestricted free agents this past off-season moved to teams with lower taxes. 

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    In 2013/14, players for the Montreal Canadiens paid the highest taxes with a combined federal/provincial tax rate of 53.9 per cent.

    Players for the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had the lowest tax rate of just 38.2 per cent.

    The actual dollar figures  the amount of money an individual player gains or loses based on where he plays  are most striking. 

    "Having a

    Read More »from Do high taxes affect an expert's decision to relocate? If NHL hockey is any indicator, probably not
  • Villa Grandi in Rome, Italy is a residence for Canadian diplomats. Villa Grandi in Rome, Italy is a residence for Canadian diplomats.

    For governments, it always seems to be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. 

    The Harper government in the midst of a sell-off of a number of their foreign residences, which house Canadian diplomats. 

    The sale is part of a 2012 mandate to cut foreign affairs spending by $168-million over three years  the government hopes to make-up some of that money by selling the homes, replacing them with more austere ones and realizing savings on maintenance costs. 

    A lot of the current residences are quite opulent  almost fit for kings, let alone diplomats. 

    On Monday, the Canadian Press reported about one of the residences up for sale: 

    "Set in a two-hectare park, Villa Grandi comprises a main four-level villa and a two-floor caretaker’s cottage. The listing describes a large dining room, several reception rooms, a study and a service kitchen."

    Last spring, the Feds sold their Oslo residence for $12.5 million.  

    According to an article by Matthew Fisher of Postmedia News, the

    Read More »from New Democrats slam Tories over 'fire sale of historic residences'
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks in Vaughan, Ont. on Oct. 30, 2014. (Reuters)Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks in Vaughan, Ont. on Oct. 30, 2014. (Reuters)

    A hat-tip to the folks at Sun News for doing the math on this: Stephen Harper is now the 6th longest-serving prime minister in Canadian history. 

    Harper reached the milestone on Thursday, overtaking Brian Mulroney in terms of number of days in office.

    As of Friday, Harper has now served for 3,203 days to Mulroney’s 3,202.

    Former MP Paul Forseth, who was once a seat-mate of a much younger Stephen Harper when they were both in the Reform Party, says the milestone is very satisfying. He predicts that Harper will eventually pass Chretien. 

    “It’s interesting…to look at the relative success of the Harper administration as compared to the difficulties and the gradual downward spiral of the Mulroney administration,” Forseth told Yahoo Canada News in a telephone interview.

    “Comparing the two, the Harper administration appears to still have things to do

    Read More »from Stephen Harper becomes Canada's sixth longest-serving PM
  • Gregor Robertson unveils Vision Vancouver affordability plan. (CBC)Gregor Robertson unveils Vision Vancouver affordability plan. (CBC)

    As the battle for control of Vancouver city hall tightens ahead of Saturday’s B.C.-wide municipal elections, voters will be doing something most other Canadians can’t; choosing leaders who run under the banners of civic political parties.

    Outside of Montreal, Vancouver is the only major Canadian city where civic parties dominate municipal politics. Some provinces, like Ontario, forbid them.

    But in B.C. and Quebec civic parties are common, and a political scientist says he believes they could make sense elsewhere as Canadian cities grow and the issues they tackle go beyond maintaining roads and making sure residents can count on police and fire services.

    “Once a city gets to a certain size, the issues they confront become more complex,” says political scientist Carey Doberstein of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. “They become more than simply about filling that pothole.”

    The campaign in Kelowna, his home base, now has two civic parties vying for power in the

    Read More »from Do political parties make sense in municipal politics?
  • A mock-up of a banknote depicting Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space (womenonbanknotes.ca)A mock-up of a banknote depicting Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space (womenonbanknotes.ca)

    How about a picture of Kim Campbell on our $10 bill?

    Kathleen Wynne? 

    A petition at Change.org, aiming to impel the Bank of Canada to include images of women on Canadian banknotes, is gaining some steam. 

    The petition, which has almost reached its target of 50,000 names, derides the fact that Queen Elizabeth is the only notable female figure on any Canadian currency. 

    "In 2011, the Bank of Canada began issuing new $50 polymer bills which replaced images of The Famous 5 and Thérèse Casgrain with an icebreaker - rather than images of other female historical figures. Despite a public outcry over the new bills, the Bank of Canada made no changes to the series or firm commitments of more inclusiveness in future bills," notes the preamble to the petition. 

    "Bank notes that belong to all Canadians should depict a wider range of Canadians, of both genders as well as various ethnic origins. Who and what is celebrated on our bank notes matters, as it reflects what we consider important in our

    Read More »from Petition to add pictures of notable women on Canadian banknotes almost reaches target
  • Robert Ghiz, premier of Prince Edward Island (R) during a news conference on August 28, 2014. (Reuters)Robert Ghiz, premier of Prince Edward Island (R) during a news conference on August 28, 2014. (Reuters)

    Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz is resigning his post. 

    In an announcement on Thursday, the 40-year-old two-term Liberal premier said he will step down once his party picks a new leader in the next few months. 

    "I am proud of our government’s accomplishments in the objectives I set out when first taking office: Building a stronger education system, improving access to health care and helping more young Islanders attend university or college," he said in a statement.

    "While there is more work to be done, Prince Edward Island is in a very good position. Renewal is an important part of a healthy democracy and I know our team will continue to build on the progress achieved."

    The Guardian newspaper editor Wayne Thibodeau told CTV News that the announcement came as a surprise to everyone. 

    "We started off today like any ordinary day. It was supposed to be the first Question Period of the Fall session, Thibodeau told the news network. 

    "Just over the lunch hour we received a

    Read More »from P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz announces his resignation
  • Are the Christy Clark Liberals the grinches who are stealing Christmas?

    That seems to be the nefarious narrative the B.C. NDP is painting ahead of the festive season. 

    The province’s Official Opposition has released details of a letter from the Vancouver Island Health Authority  the arm’s-length body that oversees health services in the region  that imposes limitations on the number of family members that can attend Christmas dinner at their senior care homes. 

    "Food Services has changed how we provide meal and food programming at our Residential Care sites," notes a copy of one letter obtained by Yahoo Canada News

    "An example of this is is how we provide the Christmas meal. In years past we used to cater to all of the residents' families and have large bustling excellent tasting meals and great festivities. However, as our residential care population has declined these large festivities are not meeting the needs of our residents. In order to respect our residents we have changed

    Read More »from NDP slams B.C. government for cracking down on Christmas dinners at senior care homes

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