• Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma gestures as he speaks to PM Harper on Nov. 7, 2014. (Reuters)Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma gestures as he speaks to PM Harper on Nov. 7, 2014. (Reuters)

    Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and the leaders of all the Asian Pacific countries are being urged to make China’s human rights record a focus at next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Beijing.  

    Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International deride the state-party’s censoring of media, alleged unlawful imprisonment of democracy activists and religious leaders and the crackdown against China’s so-called ethnic minorities, including Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians.

    For the west, engagement with the Communist Party of China has always been a delicate balancing act  western politicians have had to weigh the access to a market of 1.4 billion people versus speaking out against human rights abuses that they and their domestic populations clearly deplore.  

    In recent years, however, North American and European countries have seemingly tilted towards the pursuit of economic and commercial interests.

    At least that’s the way it’s been in Canada.

    In 2006, Harper was

    Read More »from What can Stephen Harper do to curb human rights abuses in China?
  • Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 23, 2014. (Reuters)Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 23, 2014. (Reuters)

    The allegations of ”personal misconduct” against two Liberal MPs are shedding some light on the very complex world of harassment prevention and resolution procedures on Parliament Hill. 

    On Wednesday, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced that he was suspending his ethics critic, Scott Andrews, and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti after two female New Democrat MPs alleged they were harassed by the two men in separate incidences.  

    Liberal Party whip Judy Foote forwarded the matter to Speaker Andrew Scheer’s office noting that “there is no precedent or established process for dealing with a situation such as this.”

    She was right.

    Surprisingly  in 2014  there is no system in place for dealing with harassment allegations between members of parliament. 

    That, suggested NDP MP Megan Leslie, has helped facilitate a “locker room mentality.”

    "As one of the few young women in Parliament, I have had MPs discuss my clothing: “Hey, Megan, those are some pretty pink tights you have there.” When I

    Read More »from Sifting through Parliament Hill's hodge-podge of harassment prevention and resolution procedures
  • Canvasser Jenny Smith leaves campaign flyer to drum up support for Oregon's Measure 91 (REUTERS/Steve Dipaola)Canvasser Jenny Smith leaves campaign flyer to drum up support for Oregon's Measure 91 (REUTERS/Steve Dipaola)

    Pot activists in Canada are celebrating today, thanks to the residents of three jurisdictions in the United States who voted in favour of liberalizing marijuana laws.  

    In ballot initiatives included in Tuesday's mid-term elections, Alaska and Oregon decided to join Washington and Colorado in legalizing the drug. In Washington, D.C., voters approved the possession of cannabis for personal use.  

    Dana Larsen (via CBC)Dana Larsen (via CBC)Dana Larsen — the man who spearheaded the drive for decriminalization in British Columbia last year —  suggests that the U.S. referendum results buoy the ‘legalize movement’ in Canada. 

    "I’m very happy today. It’s pouring [rain] outside but that’s okay, it’s sunshining in our hearts," he told Yahoo Canada News in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

    "The final argument from prohibitionists in Canada has always been, ‘If you legalize it, America will punish us…they’ll shut down our border.’ That’s always been the last refuge of the prohibitionists. [President] Obama is not even punishing his

    Read More »from Canadian pot activists celebrate U.S. votes to legalize marijuana
  • Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti (left) and Scott Andrews have been suspended from caucus. (Yahoo)Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti (left) and Scott Andrews have been suspended from caucus. (Yahoo)

    Parliament Hill was rattled with a story, on Wednesday, that some senior press gallery types noted that they hadn’t seen before. 

    Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was forced to suspend two members of his party’s caucus  ethics critic Scott Andrews and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti  after two female New Democrat MPs alleged they were harassed by them. 

    "I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come forward. I believe strongly that those of us in positions of authority have a duty to act upon allegations of this nature," Trudeau said, according to CBC News.

    "It’s 2014 — we have a duty to protect and encourage individuals in these situations to come forward. The action must be fair but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties but, recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward."

    It’s unclear at this point what kind of harassment the NDP MPs are alleging. We don’t know if it was sexual, verbal, physical or

    Read More »from How common is harassment on Parliament Hill?
  • In the lead-up to the October 2015 federal election, we expected the Harper government to offer Canadians a lot of goodies and tax cuts. 

    Well, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. 

    According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, there’s really no more money left following the Harper government’s suite of tax measures announced last week, targeting families with children under the age of 18. 

    "As the Economic and Fiscal Outlook Update highlights, we now expect Canadian economic growth in 2014 to be higher than originally anticipated in our April outlook," PBO Jean-Denis Fréchette told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Monday. 

    "As a result of this, we projected that the budget would move into a surplus this year, following six years of deficits. On average, we projected annual surpluses of $8.8 billion over the outlook.

    "However, measures announced on Oct. 30, 2014 have eliminated roughly half of this surplus. There is no longer any fiscal room for permanent

    Read More »from Harper's new family tax measures leaves little for tax cuts or new spending, PBO warns
  • (CBC Photo)(CBC Photo)

    The Harper government will comply with a court ruling to reinstate a health care package for refugee claimants. 

    Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander made the announcement in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of a midnight deadline set by a federal court judge last July.

    “Under the temporary measures, most [asylum seekers] are eligible to receive coverage for hospital, medical and laboratory services, including pre- and post-natal care as well as laboratory and diagnostic services,” the statement reads.

    “This coverage is similar to what Canadians get under provincial and territorial health-care plans.”

    The deadline emanated from the government’s decision in 2012 to restrict health benefits of most refugees and eliminate health services for rejected claimants and asylum seekers from countries designated as “safe”  countries that generally do not produce refugees, which respect human rights and offer state protections. 

    A group calling itself Canadian

    Read More »from Harper government set to provide details on revising refugee health coverage
  • Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announces his ministers during a signing-in ceremony. (CP)Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announces his ministers during a signing-in ceremony. (CP)

    Embattled Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger may want to commiserate with Gordon Campbell, Ed Stelmach, Kathy Dunderdale and Alison Redford.  

    Selinger becomes the latest premier in Canada to face an internal caucus revolt. 

    And this one is pretty harsh. 

    On Monday, five cabinet ministers — finance minister Jennifer Howard, justice minister Andrew Swan, health minister Erin Selby, jobs and the economy minister Theresa Oswald and municipal government minister Stan Struthers  resigned their posts stating that Selinger wasn’t listening to their advice. 

    "I’ve deep respect for the office of the premier and for the office of cabinet ministers," Oswald said during at a press conference.

    "I know that I am unable to effectively continue doing that job when the only way that my voice will be heard is if it is in total agreement with what the leader says."

    The five, now ex, cabinet ministers  who have each vowed to stay on as NDP MLAs and run in the next election slated for 2015  are part

    Read More »from Can Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger hang on to his job?
  • A woman places a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Remembrance Day 2013.A woman places a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Remembrance Day 2013.

    Every November, it seems, a debate rages about whether or not Remembrance Day should be a national holiday. Currently, people in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia have to work on Nov. 11. 

    Well, Dan Harris, the NDP MP for Scarborough Southwest, hopes to put an end to that debate once and for all.

    Harris is the latest member of Parliament to introduce a private member's bill to make Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday to be treated just like Canada Day. 

    That bill  Bill C-597  will be debated in the House of Commons for the first time Monday evening. 

    In a telephone interview with Yahoo Canada News, Harris argued that all Canadians should have the opportunity to go their local cenotaphs on Nov. 11th to pay their respects to the veterans who have risked and lost their lives in service to our country. 

    "Every year at the cenotaph in Scarborough there’s always some people who can’t make it because they have to work," he told Yahoo Canada News. 

    He notes that the recent deadly

    Read More »from Following soldier slayings, renewed interest in making Remembrance Day a national holiday
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    A Health Canada review of a new insecticide has reignited the debate about what’s killing our bees.

    At issue: a product called flupyradifurone  currently at the public consultation stage with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)  which, if approved, could be applied to vegetable, fruit and nut crops to interfere with the nerve functions of insects that come into contact with it. 

    Some of Canada’s leading environmental groups, however, warn that it could harm Canada’s already dwindling bee population. 

    "While dithering over neonicotinoids — bee-killing pesticides banned in Europe — Canadian regulators are poised to approve a closely-related poison called flupyradifurone. We call it the new "F"-word," Lisa Gue of the Suzuki Foundation wrote on the organization’s website

    "Inexplicably, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has yet to take action to curtail the use of neonics, and now the agency is preparing to give the green light to a

    Read More »from Save the bees? Environmental groups call on Health Canada to not approve new insecticide
  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. (Reuters)Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. (Reuters)

    If you're a high-income earner, you may be feeling that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest tax cut just isn't for you.

    And you're right, it probably isn't; but that doesn't mean you should be complaining that it should be taken away.

    On Thursday, Harper introduced several tax measures targeted at families with children under the age of 18. 

    One of the measures was income splitting which would allow a higher-income spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket as a strategy to lower their overall tax burden. 

    Pundits and analysts were quick to jump on that particular measure claiming that it didn’t help Canada’s middle or low-income earners. Some well-off analysts even claimed that they  personally  didn’t need the benefit. 

    Liberal leader Justin Trudeau also inserted his own family situation into the debate. 

    "Income splitting is an idea that will give a $2,000 tax break to families like mine or Mr. Harper’s. That’s not good enough.”

    Read More »from Don't like the Harper government's tax cuts? Donate your savings to the federal government

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