• Kathy Absolon’s voice shook as she spoke, quietly, of her mother and her mother’s siblings who were never able to find any kind of healing after the racism and abuse they experienced as children.

    “The residential school was a time bomb that went off in my family,” she said.

    Absolon’s mother, who is now 83 years old and lives on North-Eastern point Georgian Bay, attended the St John’s Indian Residential School in Chaplea, Ontario from the age of five to 15.

    Her aunts and uncles also attended the institution and Absolon said the experience of residential school has had a serious and negative impact on her family, on how they all connected with each other. It tore them apart, she said, and left them scattered to the wind.

    Aboslon and many other survivors, or family members of survivors, spoke candidly Monday about the intergenerational effects of Canada’s Indian Residential School system during the final days of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa.

    Sharing circles

    Read More »from Survivors of residential school system share emotional stories as Truth and Reconciliation Commission wraps up in Ottawa
  • Justice Minister Peter MacKay rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldJustice Minister Peter MacKay rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

     

    Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s announcement today that he will not seek re-election does not signify that the Conservative Party’s ship is sinking. It does, however, hint that the Conservatives are unlikely to coast to another majority in this year’s federal election.  

    “He can read the writing on the wall,” said University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman. “And the writing on the wall is that even if the Conservatives form a minority government [after the next election, it is possible] that the Liberal and NDP will undo them.”       

    MacKay, who represents the riding of Central-Nova, has been in federal politics since 1997. He’s the former leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party before it merged with the Conservative Alliance to form today’s governing Conservative Party of Canada.

    MacKay will be adding his name to a growing list of Conservative cabinet ministers who have either resigned, John Baird, for example, or said they won’t seek

    Read More »from MacKay dodging potential backbench bullet by jumping gun with early retirement
  • Alberta Premier Rachel NotleyAlberta Premier Rachel Notley
    The Alberta NDP recently made history for becoming a government with the highest proportion of women in caucus, but the case in other provinces, and federally, is not nearly the same.

    A few years ago the most provinces were led by a female premier, but now only three remain: Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. On the federal scene so far, candidates for the next election are primarily male and gender representation in the House of Commons next fall could pale in comparison to what it is now.

    Amid the troubling numbers for those seeking gender parity at all levels of government, Carleton University’s Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership and Equal Voice, a national advocacy group, have produced a how-to guide for women wanting to enter the world of politics.

    “Running for office can be intimidating but we need many more women to consider jumping in,” said Clare Beckton, executive director of the Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership.

    Just looking at the

    Read More »from New how-to guide seeks to get more women running for office
  • Minister for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre Minister for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre
    Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre announced a few amendments to the government’s Bill C-50 Thursday, but made no apologies — or changes — to parts of the bill that have raised concerns about restricting voter rights.

    C-50, the Citizen Voting Act, would change the Canada Elections Act and alter the way Canadians living abroad vote in federal elections.

    Among other things, the bill eliminates the International List of Electors and rolls that information into the general register of electors for all Canadians and requires electors outside of the country to apply to vote by special ballot after a writ is dropped, and not before.

    Poilievre appeared before the procedure and House affairs committee Thursday morning and defended a bill that critics have said is a solution looking for a problem — namely, attempting to prevent voter fraud overseas, where there’s little evidence of any real issues to warrant changing the Canada Elections Act.

    The opposition has also accused the

    Read More »from Poilievre pushing to have controversial changes in Citizen Election Act in place before next  election
  • Anti-abortion campaigners on Parliament Hill.Anti-abortion campaigners on Parliament Hill.
    The controversial issue of abortion looks ripe to make its way back to the House of Commons this week with a motion tabled by a backbench Conservative MP.

    Saskatchewan MP Ed Komarnicki’s motion M-590, tabled in the House earlier this year, will be debated for the first time Thursday evening.

    The motion — “That, in the opinion of the House, all Members of Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of conscience” — is a kind of read between the lines scenario.

    Nowhere within the text is there any reference to a woman’s right to choose, but Komarnicki is a regular attendee of the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally on Parliament Hill and has spoken out in favour of the government’s decision not to include funding for abortions in its international maternal and newborn health initiatives.

    A representative from Komarnicki’s office in Ottawa said the MP would not be speaking to media about the motion until after Thursday’s debate, slotted for 5:30 p.m.

    Komarnicki did

    Read More »from Abortion likely topic in House with MPs set to debate free votes on matters of conscience
  • A screenshot from the Conservatives' Proven Leadership ad.A screenshot from the Conservatives' Proven Leadership ad.
    The union representing workers at a General Motors plant in Oshawa is upset over one of Stephen Harper’s latest ads and its depiction of an assembly line for a car that will soon be assembled in the United States.

    “This ad shows just how out of touch this government has become,” said Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor National.

    The ad, titled Proven Leadership, was released Monday in an attempt to portray Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a strong leader, capable of making tough decisions.

    The ad is also an obvious knock against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, without naming the Papineau MP in the video, who the Conservatives say is not up for the job of being prime minister.

    But Unifor members aren’t happy with the government or with the GM’s plans to ship production of the Camaro muscle car elsewhere.

    “Sitting back while good jobs leave the country is not proven leadership,” said Dias.

    The shot of the Chevy Camaro is, at the very least, an awkward blunder on the part of the

    Read More »from Union slams Conservative ad showing ill-fated Camaro assembly line
  • Pierre Poilievre is the minister responsible for the Citizenship Voting Act (Bill C-50).Pierre Poilievre is the minister responsible for the Citizenship Voting Act (Bill C-50).
    An attempt from the government to change how Canadians abroad will cast ballots come election time is facing growing opposition from House of Commons committee witnesses ahead of an appearance by the minister in charge of the legislation.

    Bill C-50, the Citizenship Voting Act, was cited by Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre after being tabled in the House of Commons last December as an effort to prevent non-Canadians from voting and to curb what he said was the serious risk of voter fraud.

    But witnesses on Tuesday at the procedure and House affairs committee currently studying the bill said there’s no evidence to back up claims that voter fraud, particularly abroad, is a something lawmakers need to worry about.

    “The legislation offers a solution in search of a problem, given that there really is no systematic, imperative evidence that voter fraud is really a problem,” said Dennis Pilon, a professor at York University.

    Bill C-50 was tabled in the House just after the Ontario

    Read More »from Bill C-50 facing mounting opposition ahead of Poilievre committee appearance
  • What better sign of a forthcoming election campaign than a fresh batch of attack ads making their way across Canadian airwaves and social networks?

    In the past few days all three main parties — the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals — have released ads, giving some glimpses into campaign strategies and messaging to come.

    The Liberal Party’s advertisement takes clear aim at the Conservatives, reminding viewers of a single day of government and PC mistakes and missteps that occured May 7, 2015 (an ad which has some marked similarities to a recent Andrew Coyne column in the National Post). The ghosts of an omnibus budget bill, a government’s “vanity” video that showed faces of special forces soldiers and Mike Duffy’s past being put on display in court haunt the Conservatives’ present. 

    The Conservative Party’s ad is all about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. It’s a more moderate attack against Trudeau than they’ve done before. But there’s no mention of the NDP or Mulcair, suggesting the

    Read More »from New ads from federal parties reveal tone and targets for eventual election
  • The Alberta NDP is sticking with an election promise to increase the province’s minimum wage, and the idea’s received a bevy of mixed reactions.

    But the plan stated in NDP leader Rachel Notley’s election campaign — which over the course of three years would raise wages in Alberta from $10.20 to $15 per hour — is a positive step and done right will show other provinces that a higher minimum wage won’t cause the sky to fall, says economist Sheila Block.

    “I think if we can see that kind of minimum wage increase in Alberta, then we could absolutely see it in other provinces,” Block, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told Yahoo Canada News.

    “It’s really an important step forward in terms of decreasing inequality in Canada…a great way to decrease inequality is to raise people up who are at the bottom,” Block said. “That’s what an increase like that to the minimum wage would do.”

    Notley’s cabinet, which will be sworn in on Sunday, is expected to discuss in more

    Read More »from Incoming Alberta premier’s $15 minimum wage pledge could set example for other provinces: economist
  • NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is ready to face the prime minister wherever debates take place.NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is ready to face the prime minister wherever debates take place.
    Canada isn’t quite in official election mode, but the topic of leaders’ debates is already at the centre of an exhausting debate.

    The Conservative Party said it’s opting out of the typical TV debate format run by the broadcast consortium — a group of Canada’s major TV networks — so this time around things promise to be different.

    The consortium, which includes CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global, announced Thursday that there’s a tentative agreement for two televised debates with the leaders of the NDP, Liberal Party, Green Party and Bloc Quebecois (for one debate in French). No word on whether the Conservatives are at all interested.

    There’s a lot more up the air though, so here’s what you need to know before the writ drops and the election is, officially, in full swing.

    Last chance to see leaders in action

    Once the session in Ottawa wraps up on June 23, Parliament probably won’t reconve for several months with some observers predicting it won’t resume until January. That means once MPs

    Read More »from Debating the debates: 5 things to know before the writ drops

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