• Three images showing the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as they rise in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill to speak about Canada's military mission in Iraq, Tuesday March 24, 2015 in Ottawa. The first debate of the federal election season will take place in the depths of summer with the leaders of all four major national parties going head to head.Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and - after some initial reluctance - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will take part in an Aug. 6 debate sponsored by Maclean's magazine.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldThree images showing the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as they rise in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill to speak about Canada's military mission in Iraq, Tuesday March 24, 2015 in Ottawa. The first debate of the federal election season will take place in the depths of summer with the leaders of all four major national parties going head to head.Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and - after some initial reluctance - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will take part in an Aug. 6 debate sponsored by Maclean's magazine.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

    An extra-long federal election campaign means parties have nearly six extra weeks to get their candidates in place — and they’re going to need it: The three main parties are still missing 135 candidates between them.

    But while all those holes are likely to be filled in time, the early election call has put everyone but the Conservatives at a disadvantage, one expert says.

    There are a total of 338 seats up for grabs on Oct. 19 — 30 more than in the last election after new seats were added in British Columbia (six), Alberta (six), Ontario (15) and Quebec (three).

    Of the main parties, the NDP is the furthest behind. The New Democrats have nominated 275 candidates so far and have 33 nomination meetings scheduled within the next month to fill the remaining 63 holes. The party was working to get more meetings set.

    “We’ve been moving forward at a solid pace, and certainly some riding associations are moving their dates up,” spokesman George Soule said.

    “The NDP, like everyone else … they

    Read More »from Main 3 parties still need to nominate 135 candidates
  • This fall’s federal election will be the first test of new robocall rules that Canada’s broadcast regulator rolled out in April in an attempt to prevent the type of fraudulent calls thousands of voters received in the last election.

    Anyone who intends to contact voters with pre-recorded political messages – robocalls – must register with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunicaions Commission (CRTC) within 48 hours of making the first call, under regulations that went into effect as soon as Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the election call on Sunday.

    The new rules are part of a number of changes the government made to the Elections Act after it was revealed that a staffer for Guelph, Ont., Conservative candidate Marty Burke made calls to some 7,600 opposition supporters on May 2, 2011, falsely advising them their polling locations had changed.

    Micheal Sona, Burke’s communications director at the time, was convicted of attempting to prevent non-Conservative voters from casting

    Read More »from New robocall rules attempt to protect voters during election
  • Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) shakes hands with a woman while serving pancakes during the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken July 4, 2015. Speculation mounted on Thursday that Canada's election campaign would formally begin on Sunday, with the governing Conservatives planning a Montreal rally with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday evening. REUTERS/Crystal Schick/FilesCanada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) shakes hands with a woman while serving pancakes during the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken July 4, 2015. Speculation mounted on Thursday that Canada's election campaign would formally begin on Sunday, with the governing Conservatives planning a Montreal rally with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday evening. REUTERS/Crystal Schick/Files

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to attend a Sunday rally in the downtown Montreal riding of Mount Royal sets the tone for what one former Tory senator says could be a “historic” campaign.

    Hugh Segal, who resigned from the Red Chamber last summer in order to become Master at Massey College at the University of Toronto, says the 2015 campaign will be a memorable one — and not only for its historic length, at an expected 78 days.

    Instead, he says, the campaign could mark a Tory breakthrough in a riding that has historically been a Liberal stronghold. Past representatives of the Mount Royal riding include: former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former House of Commons speaker Alan Macnaughton, and the current incumbent, Irwin Cotler, who will be retiring after a lengthy career in public office.

    “It’s usually a slam dunk in that riding [for the Liberals],” says Segal. “But the Prime Minister appears to be more optimistic that this could change this time around.”

    At the

    Read More »from Harper’s campaign kickoff in Liberal stronghold a strategic decision: ex-senator
  •  

    Progressive Conservative political pioneer Flora MacDonald will be laid to rest this weekend but Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be there.

    The Prime Minister’s Office says Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch will attend MacDonald’s funeral Sunday as a representative of the government.

    Harper’s absence and his bare mention of the passing of the country’s first female foreign minister could be viewed as further proof of a growing divide in the Conservative camp between the so-called Red Tories and the Harperite offspring of the Reform Party.

    “I’m not an expert in the Conservative Party family but I think there seems to be a rift between some of the folks who might traditionally consider themselves Red Tories, or Progressive Conservatives, and Mr. Harper’s preferred ilk of Conservative, which is perhaps more Reform-minded,” says Ian Capstick, managing partner of MediaStyle and a regular political commentator on CBC’s Power & Politics program.

    “It’s not a lot of time out of

    Read More »from Harper skipping Flora MacDonald’s funeral suggests party rift, pundit says
  • 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

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