• Rachel Notley says election about best interests of Tories, not AlbertaRachel Notley says election about best interests of Tories, not Alberta

    The provincial election in Alberta is likely to bode well for the NDP, under the new leadership of party leader Rachel Notley, and the party could realistically set its sights on official opposition status.

    The party’s prospects aren’t, technically, the best they’ve ever been. The NDP was the official opposition in Alberta in the mid-to-late eighties, says Duane Bratt, political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, when they held the bulk of seats in Edmonton. This, he added, is what the party is looking at now.

    Bratt expects they’ll do very well in Edmonton, likely picking up a seat in Lethbridge and maybe in Calgary as well, but shouldn’t expect to knock out Jim Prentice and the reign of the Progressive Conservatives.

    “Given that they have a caucus of four, previously they had a caucus of two, going up to 10 or 12 or 14 seats would be dramatic for the NDP. They’re not about to form power,” Bratt says.

    “Notley can talk about [how] she’s running for premier, [but]

    Read More »from NDP’s Rachel Notley running for opposition leader, not premier, says expert
  • A view shows the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 24, 2014. The Supreme Court of Canada will deliver its opinion Friday on how Canada's unelected Senate can be reformed or abolished. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)A view shows the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 24, 2014. The Supreme Court of Canada will deliver its opinion Friday on how Canada's unelected Senate can be reformed or abolished. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)
    The next few months may be an exercise in airing the dirty laundry of members of the country’s Upper Chamber, as if Canadians needed more fodder to fuel their disappointment in the 148-year-old institution.

    A new poll from Angus Reid suggests an overwhelming number of Canadians want the Senate to change.

    According the the poll, conducted between March 11 and 12, 45 per cent of respondents said the Senate should be reformed and 41 per cent said the Upper Chamber should be outright abolished. Only 14 per cent said the Senate should stay as it is.

    Respondents also don’t trust any of the political parties in the House of Commons to fix the Senate.

    Only 17 per cent said they trusted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to effectively deal with Senate issues, 16 per cent said the same for NDP leader Tom Mulcair and 15 per cent responded this way for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

    More than one third, or 34 per cent of respondents, said they trust “none of the above” to effectively deal with the

    Read More »from Canadians not satisfied with Senate status quo: poll
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at an event in Miramichi, N.B., on Thursday, April 2, 2015 where it was announced a contract has been awarded to build a new federal payroll centre in northern New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivrayPrime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at an event in Miramichi, N.B., on Thursday, April 2, 2015 where it was announced a contract has been awarded to build a new federal payroll centre in northern New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

    Despite a drop in support, with public outcry over the government’s controversial anti-terror legislation and a lagging national economy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks set to return to 24 Sussex after Canadians head to the ballot box later this year, according to a new poll.

    The survey, conducted by EKOS research between March 25 and March 31, suggests there are some paradoxes at play. The public isn’t giving the country or the government high marks on direction and the prime minister has the worst approval rating of all the federal leaders.

    Yet, the public still intends to vote for Harper. This, according to EKOS, could come down to what’s perceived as “clear, consistent and values-based” messaging over the past few months on the part of the prime minister.

    When asked about federal vote intention, 32 per cent of respondents said they’d cast a ballot for the Conservatives. About 28 per cent are planning to vote Liberal, 23 per cent NDP with the Greens bringing up the rear at

    Read More »from Harper in lead despite slumping economy, approval rating: poll
  • Canada’s security watchdog needs more power, says Liberal MP

    Joyce Murray calls for stronger mandate for CSE commissioner's office

    Liberal defense critic Joyce Murray says giving the Communications Security Establishment commissioner’s office more teeth to do its job may be more important than giving the agency more funding and resources.

    The CSE commissioner is tasked with providing independent, external review of the country’s intelligence agencies to ensure they are complying with with Canadian law.

    In a report tabled in the House of Commons this week, the commissioner’s office noted that cost-sharing with the CSE’s initiatives and “fiscal restraint measures are reducing the flexibility of the office’s available funding.”

    The report suggests that as the CSE grows, the fiscal situation for the commissioner’s office isn’t keeping pace. According to the Toronto Star, the commissioner’s office has a team of about 10 people and a budget of $2 million. The CSE has over 2,000 employees and will be spending more than $500 million this year.

    Murray noted in an interview with Yahoo Canada News that this “raises the

    Read More »from Canada’s security watchdog needs more power, says Liberal MP
  • For the second time in six months, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has introduced a motion in the House of Commons committing Canada to war with the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Harper is shown rising to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday March 30, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldFor the second time in six months, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has introduced a motion in the House of Commons committing Canada to war with the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Harper is shown rising to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday March 30, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld


    The rest of the spring sitting is looking to be a busy number of weeks. After MPs take a two week recess from April 3 to April 17, it’s full steam ahead for parliamentarians until the House rises at the end of June. All of this, too, with a federal election on the horizon. Here are a few things to watch over the coming months:

    Finally, a budget date

    Finance Minister Joe Oliver finally announced the date that the federal budget drops this year: April 21. Ottawa has been waiting, and waiting, for the the budget date, which typically comes in February or March, but was delayed this year on account of slumping oil prices and the damage done to Canada’s economy.

    “We needed the time to obtain as much information as possible to make reasoned fiscal decisions and receive current forecasts from our independent economic advisors whose projections we rely on,” Oliver told reporters at a press conference in Toronto on Thursday.

    The Conservatives have promised to balance the federal government’s

    Read More »from Disgraced Senators and debates over child care: 5 things to watch in Ottawa this spring
  • Justice Minister Peter MacKay (left), Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, CSIS director Michel Coulombe and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson arrive at the Commons public safety committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Act on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday March 10, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldJustice Minister Peter MacKay (left), Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, CSIS director Michel Coulombe and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson arrive at the Commons public safety committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Act on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday March 10, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld


    Not one of the more than 100 amendments submitted by opposition parties to try and change the government’s much-criticized anti-terror bill were adopted as a House of Commons committee wrapped up its study of the legislation

    During a clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-51 that ran late into Tuesday evening, the public safety and national security committee voted down all the amendments proposed by the NDP, Liberals and Green Party.

    The bill on the whole was passed in committee with Conservatives and Liberals voting in favour, and the NDP against.

    NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said the Conservatives used their majority on the committee to block any changes.

    “I’m frustrated on behalf of Canadians because 45 out of 49 witnesses called for significant changes of the bill and we didn’t get any,” Garrison tells Yahoo Canada News on Wednesday.

    The committee began studying C-51 near the beginning of March and sat through, what may have seemed like to some, a lightning speed

    Read More »from Bill C-51 wraps up at committee with few changes
  • Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 30, 2015. Parliamentarians voted to expand Canada's military mission against Islamic State by launching air strikes against the militants' safe havens in Syria as well as Iraq. REUTERS/Chris WattieCanada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 30, 2015. Parliamentarians voted to expand Canada's military mission against Islamic State by launching air strikes against the militants' safe havens in Syria as well as Iraq. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

    1) Original efforts to fight ISIS

    On Oct.7 of last year, Canada’s Parliament adopted a motion in support of Canada joining the U.S.-led coalition, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Denmark, against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The vote, supported by the Conservative majority in the House of Commons and with the help of some independent MPs, passed with 157 in favour and 134 against. All NDP and Liberal MPs, aside from Irwin Cotler who abstained, voted against the motion.

    The original motion covered a 6-month time frame for air operations in the Middle East. Canada devoted 69 special forces operatives to advise Kurdish peshmerga fighting ISIS, as well as six CF-18 fighter jets, one refuelling aircraft and two surveillance aircrafts.

    As of mid-February, Ottawa had spent $122 million on the air and ground mission.

    “Costs will ultimately be higher than that, but how much higher will depend on whether we wrap up the operation at

    Read More »from 5 things to know about Canada’s expanded mission against ISIS
  • The new Canadian five and 10 dollar bills, made of polymer, are displayed with the previously released 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes following an unveiling ceremony at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Chris WattieThe new Canadian five and 10 dollar bills, made of polymer, are displayed with the previously released 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes following an unveiling ceremony at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

    The Conservative government likes to trumpet its “low tax plan for jobs and growth” puts money back into the pockets of consumers, but the financial state of many provinces, according to BMO Nesbitt Burns, is putting a dent in some of the federal government’s efforts.

    “Most of what Ottawa will be returning to one taxpayers’ pocket, the provinces will take out of the other,” wrote Robert Kavic, a senior economist with BMO, in a recent note.

    It’s budget season and many provinces — Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick — are looking to cut debt and spending, which could result in a tax hike for some Canadians.

    “All told,” Kavic wrote, “while Ottawa’s package of tax cuts/benefit increases will come in at around $4.5 billion in FY15/16, it looks like the provinces will take back about three-quarters of it.”

    Kavic said the net tax/fee increases for the 2015-2016 fiscal year have already hit more than $2 billion.

    Last week both Alberta and Quebec tabled their provincial budgets. The Liberal

    Read More »from Austerity provincial budgets to claw back most of Ottawa’s tax breaks: BMO
  • Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, right, and Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer speak during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 30, 2015, to call for 60 amendments to Bill C-51. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May, right, and Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer speak during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 30, 2015, to call for 60 amendments to Bill C-51. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


    Green Party leader Elizabeth May and fellow MP Bruce Hyer will table 60 amendments to the government’s controversial anti-terror bill, which will be voted on when the House of Commons national security committee goes through clause-by-clause consideration of the legislation on Tuesday.

    May and Hyer have both been outspoken against Bill C-51 and on Monday morning, one day before possible amendments from the Harper government are tabled, the party leader said even if their amendments aren’t adopted, there’s still some time for critics to put pressure on MPs to ultimately vote against the bill so that it does not become law.

    Conservatives amendments

    Last week news broke the government will be making minor amendments to the bill. The first amendment deals with the measure that says “lawful protest” would not be monitored by Canada’s spy agency CSIS. But many have worried that protests or civil disobedience of any sort could fall under CSIS jurisdiction.

    The amendment will remove “lawful”

    Read More »from Greens unveil their amendments to ‘dangerous’ Bill C-51
  • Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson wants MPs to consider tightening up House conflict of interest code.Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson wants MPs to consider tightening up House conflict of interest code.
    Taiwan came out as the top travel destinations for MPs — when it didn’t come out of their own pockets or the government’s coffers — in 2014.

    On Thursday ethics commissioner Mary Dawson released the annual list of sponsored travel for MPs. In total, 60 MPs racked up $442,524 in free travel over the past year. 

    Members of Parliament are required, as a rule under the conflict of interest act, to disclose to the ethics commissioner any travel that exceeds $500 in cost and that are not “wholly or substantially” paid from by a government revenue fund, their own personal funds or by any interparliamentary or friendship group.

    In the 2014 calendar year, there were 17 trips to Taiwan. The cost of most of these were covered by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association.

    MPs, including Russ Heibert, Bruce Hyer, Dominic LeBlanc, Bev Shipley and Peter Goldring, made trips to Taipei over the past year, either on parliamentary delegations or on trips to assess or learn about trade and

    Read More »from Taiwan ranks #1 for dishing out free trips to Canadian MPs

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