• Photos of birthday card for Stephen Harper via Tumblr user richardlazarusisgo.Photos of birthday card for Stephen Harper via Tumblr user richardlazarusisgo.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is celebrating his 56th birthday today, April 30, and he'll be receiving well-wishes from many of his party supporters thanks to his wife, Laureen.

    Members of the Conservative Party of Canada received a letter last week from Laureen Harper, asking for donations ahead of the October 19 election. The mailout also included a card for the prime minister's birthday, which was shared on Tumblr. It reads, "Happy Birthday, Prime Minister! Wishing you another Happy Birthday on April 30th... and another Conservative Majority victory for Canada this October!"

    Stephen Harper birthday card, via richardlazarusisgo/TumblrStephen Harper birthday card, via richardlazarusisgo/Tumblr

    The Tumblr post showing the card was reblogged hundreds of times, and was spotted by leftist political news site Press Progress, who didn't think much of the gesture:

    "While it's not uncommon for political parties to use the birthdays of leaders as an opportunity to collect information from supporters, in this case, it's hard not to wonder if the Conservatives are worried no one will wish the Prime Minister

    Read More »from Stephen Harper celebrates birthday with cards sent to, mailed back from party supporters
  • Despite a drop in support in one Atlantic province, the Liberal Party — both federally and in the Maritimes as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador — looks set to dominate the eastern part of the country.

    A poll commissioned by the Guardian newspaper in Prince Edward Island and carried out by Corporate Research Associates (CRA) put premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Liberals in the lead, again, but with a 14 point drop in support since the most recent survey.

    The Liberals are at 44 per cent in support, according to CRA, with the Progressive Conservatives following with 35 per cent.

    It’s unlikely the Conservatives will manage to swing a victory when the province heads to the polls on May 4, suggested CRA chairman and CEO Don Mills, although their support across the province has gone up by nine points since a February poll.

    The shift in support will likely make things, at the very least, more interesting than expected.

    “We thought in February that it was going to be a cakewalk for the

    Read More »from Liberals drop in P.E.I. polls, but Maritimes remain a Grit stronghold
  • REUTERS/Chris WattieREUTERS/Chris Wattie
    The entry of former Toronto police chief Bill Blair into the federal political world is heralded by some as smart politics on the part of his chosen party, the Liberals, but not everyone lauds its tendency to court and attract star candidates.

    Blair announced his intentions Sunday to seek the Liberal nomination in Scarborough Southwest, a riding currently represented by New Democrat Dan Harris.

    Liberal leader Justin Trudeau held a news conference Monday in Ottawa with Blair, signalling his preference for the candidate, and promising public safety officer compensation under a future Liberal government for those killed or injured.

    Nelson Wiseman, a professor at the University of Toronto, said bringing Blair into the Liberal fold was a smart, well-calculated move and that the Liberal party likely sought him out.

    “Polls indicate that people trust the police much more than they trust politicians or reporters, or people in most occupations,” Wiseman said. “Parties are always interested in

    Read More »from Bill Blair steps into the political ring to mixed reactions
  • A screengrab from the latest NDP ads, slamming the Conservatives and Liberals on spending.A screengrab from the latest NDP ads, slamming the Conservatives and Liberals on spending.

    The Liberal Party’s recent TV ad on the Conservative government’s use of taxpayer’s money for “partisan” advertising has raised the eyebrows of at least a few higher ups in the NDP, who’re retaliating with an ad of their own.

    The NDP ad uses the same music and visuals as the Liberal party’s effort, but points to both the Conservatives and Liberals as wasteful spenders, even doubling down on the LPC.

    The Canadian Press reported earlier this week that the Conservatives are dishing out $13.5 million from government coffers to advertise its “Economic Action Plan” — also known as the federal budget — on both TV and radio.

    The Liberals are trying to make the point that the Conservative government is using taxpayer-funded advertising to promote itself and its recently tabled budget. Alongside the ad, the party also used its opposition day motion on Monday to debate the government’s “wasteful spending on partisan ads.”

    Liberal MP David McGuinty’s private member’s bill, which would see

    Read More »from NDP spoof Liberal ad on wasteful government spending
  • Richard Fadden, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, appears at Senate national security and defence committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51 in Ottawa on Monday, April 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickRichard Fadden, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, appears at Senate national security and defence committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51 in Ottawa on Monday, April 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    What keeps the prime minister’s national security advisor up at night? Well, when Richard Fadden was the director of CSIS, one thing in particular.

    “One of the things that, honestly — and perhaps figuratively sometimes, directly sometimes my wife would tell you — kept me awake at night, was the thought that if something terrible happened, and we found out two days later, that the government of Canada had information that could have prevented this,” Fadden said Monday afternoon.

    “I could not have explained that to my minister.”

    Fadden was appearing for the first time in front of a Senate committee Monday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national security advisor, testifying before members about the Conservative government’s anti-terror legislation.

    “I don’t think I could have explained that to you,” he said to committee members.

    In an attempt to downplay and abate concerns over the bill — of which there are many — Fadden had laudable things to say about the legislation, including the

    Read More »from Harper’s national security advisor downplays C-51 concerns
  • New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair (L) and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attend a regimental funeral for three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who were killed last week in Moncton, New Brunswick, June 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair (L) and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attend a regimental funeral for three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who were killed last week in Moncton, New Brunswick, June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

    The Conservatives under Stephen Harper are hanging on in the polls with a narrow lead over opposition leaders Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, who just haven’t been able to steal the podium from the prime minister so far.

    A recent poll from EKOS research has federal voting intention with the Conservatives on top, with about 32 per cent. The Liberals follow at almost 28 per cent and the NDP at about 24 per cent.

    And according EKOS, the “faux horse race” to the next election has really only just begun, and not even in earnest. The public may start engaging more in federal issues now that the budget has been tabled in the House of Commons, a signal that the unofficial race to the election, expected Oct. 19, is on.

    EKOS CEO Frank Graves tells Yahoo Canada News last week that the Conservatives, with their PR skills and funds for government advertising, are winning the framing war.

    Last week’s budget, too, serves as a positive for getting the public’s attention.

    “I think it does deal with a

    Read More »from Mulcair and Trudeau unable to steal Harper's spotlight: poll
  • Anyone looking at reaction to the face off between Alberta party leaders would be hard pressed to find a negative word about NDP leader Rachel Notley, who according to many came out as the clear winner of Thursday night’s leaders debate.

    Notley was the main target of Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, suggesting she and her party pose the biggest threat to the longstanding Progressive Conservative reign in the province.

    A poll from Mainstreet Technologies, conducted immediately after the debate and released one day later, has Notley on top. Most watchers of the debate — at 44 per cent — said Notley won the night.

    “Notley went toe to toe with the Premier time and time again and more than stood her ground,” said Mainstreet Technologies president Quito Maggi in a press release.

    The poll surveyed 2,322 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

    According to Mainstreet Technologies, 36 per cent of debate watchers said Notley would make the best

    Read More »from Notley clear winner of Alberta leaders debate: poll
  • Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says the government’s proposed anti-terror bill C-51 will stretch the resources of his office and limit its ability fulfill the entire scope of its duties.

    “Given the breadth of information-sharing contemplated by this bill, and my other responsibilities under the privacy act, and PIPEDA, the private sector privacy legislation, my office’s review may not be fully effective with its current level of resources,” Therrien told the Senate committee on national defence Thursday afternoon.

    “We will try to adjust our work priorities as much as possible, but directing my review powers towards activities related to Bill C-51 will come at the expense of reviewing other important programs and initiatives, both in the public and private sector.”

    Among many provisions, Bill C-51 allows for information-sharing across 17 federal institutions, with the intention of detecting and identifying terrorist threats to national security. Privacy advocates have

    Read More »from Bill C-51 will strain my office's resources: privacy commissioner
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper accompanies Finance Minister Joe Oliver as he makes his way to deliver the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickPrime Minister Stephen Harper accompanies Finance Minister Joe Oliver as he makes his way to deliver the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


    The government’s focus on retail politics and catering to target demographics, in the lead up to the next federal election, may add some complications for opposition parties as they try to jockey for votes. 

    In Joe Oliver’s first budget as Canada’s finance minister, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday, the government put forward a message of fiscal discipline, relishing that the Conservatives kept their promise of a balanced budget while producing a modest surplus.

    The Conservatives also treated various segments of the population with specific inducements, “a kind of retail politics approach to specific segments where they have to shore up support,” says Frank Graves, CEO of EKOS Research. Segments such as families with kids, seniors and small business owners.

    This may present a challenge to the opposition that doesn’t want to — and nobody wants to do this — draw any ire from those types of voters.

    “Seniors, in our research, are absolutely critical to this government’s success,”

    Read More »from Government kicks off unofficial election campaign with retail politics budget
  • New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Chris WattieNew Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
    The Conservative government is patting itself on the back for living up to its promise of balancing this year’s federal budget, but opposition parties say this year’s fiscal document does nothing for Canadians who need help the most.

    “A promise made, a promise kept, Mr. Speaker, this budget is written in black ink,” Joe Oliver said when he delivered his first budget speech as finance minister in the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon.

    The budget, coming in at over 500 pages, marks the first Conservative government surplus in eight years, at $1.4 billion projected this year, and includes many measures that were already expected or already announced.

    The budget is viewed by many as an obvious road to the 2015 election, with a focus on putting money back into the pockets of consumers and a drop in direct program expenditures.

    After the document was tabled in the House at 4 p.m. Tuesday, NDP leader Tom Mulcair responded to questions from reporters on Parliament Hill. He said the budget

    Read More »from Opposition says budget leaves too many Canadians behind

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