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Canadian Politics

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he doesn’t have useful information for suspended senator Mike Duffy’s trial

Posted July 22, 2014 by Stephen Maher

Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not intend to testify in the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy because he doesn’t have any useful information to offer, his office said Tuesday. RCMP laid 31 criminal charges against Duffy last week related to […]

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Canadian Politics

Would Tories be better off without Stephen Harper?

Posted July 22, 2014 by Michael Den Tandt

Would the governing Conservatives be better off motoring into Election 2015 without Stephen J. Harper at the wheel? And, if so, who would replace him? Tories adore scoffing at this question, so unlikely is the prospect of a prime ministerial […]

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General

Good grammar

Posted July 20, 2014 by Andrea Mrozek

I decided after the Miley Cyrus debacle that I was disgusted with Robin Thicke. And absolutely couldn’t dance to his song, Blurred Lines, in spite of how fun the beat was. I recall the cultural-disaster-sliding-into-the-sea-as-a-society-morals-are-dead-I-wish-I-was-too moment at the MTV awards–which I didn’t watch. Of course, we were all “treated” to hearing about it afterwards. Now, […]

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General

The connection between moms and kids

Posted July 19, 2014 by Andrea Mrozek

Watch this. Sweet. A mom, and I gather a Gold-medal winning gymnast, watches her daughter perform as she comments. (With enthusiasm, shall we say. She’s really living it with her daughter. Which does remind me of my mom, albeit at an entirely different level of sport. If you can call what my sister and I […]

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General

Obama Won’t Allow Religious Exemption for LGBT Discrimination

Posted July 18, 2014 by Anonymous

According to the Huffington Post, President Obama will sign an executive order…

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General

Extraordinary in black and white

Posted July 18, 2014 by Anonymous

How times have changed. The essence of what a child needs hasn’t changed, but the expectations surrounding parenting sure have. I am struck by the sheer beauty found in these black and white shots taken 50 years ago, and re-discovered just recently. I love the close physical contact between the mothers and their children. I love […]

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General

An opportunity to give

Posted July 18, 2014 by Faye Sonier

Hey all, just a reminder of this opportunity. If you want to give a gift card for a restaurant so they can order in or for diapers or anything else, I can bring them when I drop off food on the 26th. Just get in touch with me. You can also do e-gift cards with […]

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General

Making conscientious objection a crime

Posted July 18, 2014 by Andrea Mrozek

Our democracy has a rich tradition of allowing conscientious objection, be it for pacifists or pro-lifers. Not so, argues Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition. Blogger Pat Maloney explains the issue. I think I feel an op-ed coming on, about why this issue is not about the Pill or abortion at all, but rather […]

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Alberta

The Alberta Liberals’ Biggest Gamble Yet

Posted July 17, 2014 by vsp

In life, and in politics, risk normally matches reward. And the Alberta Liberals are throwing a die so far, so long, that it overshadows any risk the party has ever taken on before. And the reward may in fact be massive if all goes well. Today Kent Hehr announced his run for Member of Parliament by […]

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General

We’re having a bad dream

Posted July 16, 2014 by Andrea Mrozek

Jonathan Van Maren writes about how people doing abortions experience it. Not pretty. I must confess, I’ve had nightmares featuring dead babies. Interesting to know others have too. It is called “We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Story.” In it, she calls abortion a “sweet brutality,” and attempts to justify what she sees as a […]

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General

Abortion isn’t just some other medical procedure…

Posted July 16, 2014 by Faye Sonier

When was the last time you stumbled upon a memorial site for extracted wisdom teeth? Or  kidneys? You haven’t. Because there is no need. We don’t mourn extracted teeth. But families sometimes (perhaps often?) mourn aborted children. Online for Life created an abortion memorial site. I just spent some time reading through the tributes for […]

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General

Good things happen, even in Toronto

Posted July 15, 2014 by Andrea Mrozek

“What makes you different, makes you beautiful.” Yay. So nice to hear someone say that and mean it. And a billboard at Bay and Bloor!! Wow! A major,  busy intersection in downtown Toronto. I hope the bad traffic causes people to sit and ponder it. It looms over a strip of pretty fancy pants shops, […]

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General

Enough outrage to go around in the search for truth

Posted July 14, 2014 by Anonymous

This news story   brought to mind Amanda Marcotte . She is the writer who is famous for her incendiary comments on abortion in The Raw Story. Given the choice between living my life how I please and having my body within my control and the fate of a lentil-sized, brainless embryo that has half a chance […]

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General

Are kids worth it?

Posted July 14, 2014 by Faye Sonier

A few thoughts from Sheila Wray Gregoire: And so I think there’s something else going on. If you’re a young adult surveying the parental scene, you see harried parents chronically short on cash because hockey costs so much this year. You see them tying themselves in knots because their toddler won’t sleep through the night, […]

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General

Comparing PIA’s “Alberta Could” Campaign to the Alberta Liberal’s 2012 Platform

Posted July 13, 2014 by vsp

Over the last couple of months Public Interest Alberta has been championing a change to Alberta’s tax code to bring it in line with the rest of Canada and fund desperately needed programs. Nicknamed ‘Alberta Could‘ the campaign calls for progressive taxation and investments in public programs. As someone who is familiar with the 2012 Alberta […]

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Allan's Perspective

Whatever happened to middle-of-the-road?

Posted July 7, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Your ever faithful reporter has been listening to a lot of weekend political shows recently and one thing struck me as extremely strange! It doesn’t matter who you talk about, the left wing, or the right wing, Canada or the States, it seems that anyone who is in one camp or the other, […]

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General

Andrew Coyne: We need democratic reform not because it’s nice, but because it’s necessary

Posted July 4, 2014 by Andrew Coyne

I’m not sure any of the party leaders get this, to be honest. But that’s the meat-and-potatoes case for democratic reform

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General

Ignored No More

Posted July 4, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Is this a known demonstration?
For another Canada Day we were able to celebrate all that makes our nation great. But a day later, the frustration with unresponsive political leaders returns.
Recent elections and by-elections prove many Canadians don’t even bother to vote to choose their representatives, apparently either believing undifferentiated, or feeling their vote can’t make anything better. And given that we labour under an electoral system straight out of the 19thcentury, one can hardly blame them. Would Canadians tolerate 19thcentury medical, communications, or transportation systems? Would we ride carriages to the polls, keeping the windows shut tight to exclude harmful disease-causing vapours, hearing the pony express arrive with the latest mail from 2 weeks ago on the other coast? 3 of these 4 systems have been updated, only one left to go!

Our system promotes politicians who are disengaged from the public, because getting elected only requires a plurality of core party support, sometimes less than a third of the votes. Despite the efforts of MPs to come across as representing everyone in the riding, woe betide those whose political philosophy differs significantly from that of the party of the elected member.

We see this when we send letters (or nowadays, emails) to our local representative, party leaders, or cabinet ministers. You may see a form response from a staffer, perhaps rubber-stamped by the office-holder; other times, nothing but silence. I regularly email our Prime Minister and leaders of opposition parties about various important issues; the latter usually respond, but I can’t recall the last time I’ve even gotten acknowledgement from the ever-growing office of the PM, staffed with hacks paid from my tax dollars.

Recently, with members of Fair Vote Simcoe, I attended the office of our local MP to discuss the misnamed Fair Elections Act. Our MP mentioned that we were the first people to express to him objections to that bill. This surprised us, as we had, only a few weeks prior, attended his office with a few dozen other citizens to hand-deliver a stack of signed petitions against that bill! Although he was in Ottawa at the time, perhaps the message wasn’t passed on?

But never fear, your actions and words, if undertaken in public, will no longer be ignored by your government. A recent missive from the Government Operations Centre was sent to all federal departments, ordering them to provide information to compile “a listing of all known demonstrations which will occur” so they can be used to build “Situational Awareness”.

So there you go. Get some friends together and bring a sign or a petition to a representative’s office, or a public square, or any other location, really. Post plans for your “demonstration” on Facebook and send an email to the relevant ministry. And then, even if you feel your elected representative is ignoring you, you can take comfort knowing that in a dark office somewhere, an anonymous intelligence analyst in Canada’s internal spying network has noted your action for future reference. Ignored no more!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “Some simple ways to get yourself noticed by government
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.
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General

Pancakes, politics, and parades: Stephen, Justin, Xavier … and Captain Kirk

Posted July 4, 2014 by David Akin

Cool pic (above) taken at the Calgary Stampede and published on Justin Trudeau’s Flickr feed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomes Xavier Trudeau to Calgary, as dad looks on. Trudeau — Justin,that is, also met Captain Kirk: The PM and Mrs. Harper also got to meet William Shatner at the first of several pancake breakfasts to […]

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General

Laurie Blakeman was right. (Again.)

Posted July 4, 2014 by vsp

Last year I wrote a blog post about the immense privacy breach by Education Minister Jeff Johnson — a concern first broken to the province by Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman. And the Privacy Commissioner has confirmed that the mass email sent to 30,000+ teachers was a massive breach, confirming both Blakeman’s and my blog post’s […]

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General

The courts vs the Harper cabinet: This time it’s over refugee health care

Posted July 4, 2014 by David Akin

This morning, Federal Court of Canada Justice Anne Mactavish delivered a sharply worded judgement slamming a decision, made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet, to deny some refugee claimants the benefits of Canada’s publicly funded health care system. It’s the latest clash between the Harper government and the country’s judges. Harper versus the Supreme Court […]

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General

The West’s Alternative

Posted July 1, 2014 by vsp

The two byelections tonight in Alberta — one in southern Alberta and the other in northern Alberta — have made it clear just who is the alternative to the Conservatives in Alberta. That alternative is the Liberals. Through hope, hard work, and a good dose of grit, two local candidates with credibility in their respective ridings […]

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General

By-election scorecards: How have party leaders fared?

Posted June 30, 2014 by David Akin

  Since Stephen Harper became leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he has led his side through 30 by-elections. His party’s record in those by-elections? Pretty good. Conservatives held 7 seats in which they were the incumbent, stole 4 seats from another incumbent party, and suffered 1 loss. In the rest, they were neither […]

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General

Liberals hope Peter MacKay is money in the bank

Posted June 28, 2014 by David Akin

Arriving this afternoon in the digital inboxes of members of the Liberal Party of Canada is this fundraising pitch:

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Allan's Perspective

Ya can’t get there from here!

Posted June 26, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Do you remember that TV commercial where a guy is trying to give directions to someplace or other, and after several attempts he scratches his head and says: “Ya can’t get there from here!” Funny eh? NO! It happened to me in real life today! The main intersection of downtown Byron, (which is a small […]

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General

The Ontario PC Party leadership race: Where do MPPs and MPs stand?

Posted June 26, 2014 by David Akin

Usually, though not always, it’s helpful for a prospective party leader to have members of the legislative caucus on his or her side, the more usually the merrier. Alison Redford won the Alberta PC leadership with little or no caucus support (and look what happened). Justin Trudeau won with dominant caucus support (and we’ll see […]

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Allan's Perspective

Kardashian speak with forked tongue!

Posted June 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Your ever humble, and much maligned reporter weeps for society! POLITICAL CORRECTNESS has gripped our land and the nuts are running the show kids! Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian has sparked outrage online after sporting a traditional Native American headdress to her niece’s lavish birthday bash.Listen boys and girls, if some asshole can […]

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General

Fair to launch attack ads at an opponent who’s in re-hab? Chow thinks so

Posted June 24, 2014 by David Akin

Last night, Olivia Chow unveiled two new radio ads in her campaign to win the job of Mayor of Toronto. The two ads are “attack ads” and they go after the incumbent, Rob Ford. As far as attack ads go, they’re pretty slick and may make you chuckle. Listen to them here: And here: Pretty […]

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Canadian Politics

Olivia Chow is the reason we don’t have that many fact checks

Posted June 23, 2014 by MGK

Over at Torontoist, we’re doing a series of fact-checks of mayoral candidates’ policy speeches. We just recently did Olivia Chow, who was unsurprisingly pretty accurate. (My idea to enliven the post with a series of GIFs of adorable dogs was shot down.)

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Allan's Perspective

Convert to Islam or face the sword!

Posted June 23, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Christianity is on the run in the Middle-East folks! Won’t be long before Israel is the only place they will be safe! “Iraqi Christians flee cities captured by extremists known to kill non-Muslims:” That was the stark message Christians in the Syrian city of Raqqa received when ultra-fundamentalist Sunni extremists, proclaiming themselves to be members […]

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Animals

Solar Tour 2014

Posted June 21, 2014 by John Klein

Cowessess Wind Developments Ltd. turbine. 800kW at 32mi/h tailless, computer controlled. Has Li-ion batteries. Solar farm and home system of 10kW Inverter anti-islanding. Prevents electrifying the grid while grid is down. Isolation ring for the meter can be installed so you can attach a generator to the house to let the inverter keep working during […]

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General

Decline to decline your role in politics.

Posted June 20, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Your mandatory vote for me is muchly appreciated.

Last week was a provincial election, and perhaps the most surprising fact was that voter turnout bucked recent trends and rose a wee bit. Yet it was still just barely above half, which means almost half Ontario’s potential voters didn’t show up at the polls, which means their views will not be reflected at Queen’s Park.

The most ridiculous development around not-voting in this past election was the “decline your ballot” social media movement, built on the fantasy that if enough people showed up to vote but declined their ballots, the media or the parties would sit up and take notice and somehow change their ways. Well, I have news for you: no such luck. As a long-time party insider, even from a party particularly obsessed with democratic engagement, I can tell you that declined ballots go into the same big conceptual pile as spoiled ballots, blank ballots, and voters who don’t show up. All non-voters are at the bottom of the list for party engagement efforts.

In a decade of partisan political activity, people have told me many reasons for not voting, although a lot of them stem from a basic perception that voting doesn’t change anything, or the bizarre paradoxical complaint that “voting only encourages them”.

I certainly share the frustration of casting a ballot that doesn’t elect anyone, having done that almost every time I’ve voted. But I also know that every vote, even for a party that doesn’t win, has some effect on the political process, while not voting has none, except for letting the governing parties get away with more.

Many ridings are swing ridings – two or more parties have a strong chance of winning. And Barrie has proven to be a swing riding, first federally, and more recently, provincially, as we’ve gone PC-Liberal-PC-Liberal in 4 successive Ontario elections. In swing ridings, candidates and parties know the difference between victory and defeat can be just a few hundred votes, while third and fourth parties often pull in thousands of votes each. That means the contending candidates will try to seduce a segment of those votes, or at least try not to bleed any more away. So, for instance, in regions with strong Green Party vote results like the +10% in all 4 ridings bordering Lake Simcoe in 2008, environmental issues get more attention, and we even saw a characteristically enviro-hostile Harper government commit a surprising (but welcome) $30 million to improving our lake.

But if you feel your vote is ineffective, the answer isn’t to spurn it. We have a fairly open political system in Canada: you can join any political party and take part in choosing that party’s local candidate, leader, and (sometimes) policy direction. And since only 1% of us ever do that, you will have a disproportionate effect, especially if you recruit some like-minded friends alongside you. Join the party that sits closest to your values, or even start your own, and you’ll find you can actually influence the voting options to the point that you will always see a ballot choice deserving of your support, and will never again feel your vote won’t count.

You will never get more responsive government by backing away; by engaging, you will be able to exert a real (if small) influence.

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “Declined ballots go into the scrap pile“.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
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Allan's Perspective

Ya, but is she really nuts? Or just faking it?

Posted June 19, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Well, just a few days after Hillary Clinton was in Toronto for a book signing tour, the Republican National Committee has deployed a giant squirrel to follow Hillary Clinton around the country on the book tour for hew new memoir, Hard Choices, mocking her potential 2016 presidential run with the message that, quote, “another Clinton […]

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Alberta

Alberta P3 News #skpoli

Posted June 18, 2014 by John Klein

Here’s some news hot out of Alberta. Only one of them is satirical. The other satirical bit is that Saskatchewan’s Sask Party recently announced they’d be saving taxpayers millions of dollars by starting a P3 Bike Share like Stettler had. No wait, they said they were going to build P3 schools, after the Alberta model, […]

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Allan's Perspective

“Assholes of the Day!”

Posted June 18, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Two! Count ‘em, Two for the price of one! The Government announced the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline yesterday, which means thousands of jobs and billions of dollars pumped into our economy …., and both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau came out against it! For playing politics, and jeopardizing the economic health of Canada, […]

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Climate Change

A Plan Designed To Fail Is No Plan At All #skpoli

Posted June 16, 2014 by John Klein

“While it’s not immediately clear what impact the Obama (climate change) plan will have on the province, the government of Saskatchewan has taken measures to address the greenhouse gas issue through the development of programs and policies that will reduce our CO2 emissions,’ Wall said. “We have our (GHG) emissions reduction targets and continue to […]

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Allan's Perspective

U.S. Invades Victoria!

Posted June 15, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Victoria has a lot of tourists this weekend thanks to a visit from one of the world’s largest warships. The USS Nimitz is anchored near the Canadian navy base in Esquimalt near B.C.’s capital. The Nimitz is stopping in Victoria this weekend before conducting trials and testing at the Canadian military’s test range […]

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Canadian Politics

Post Election Pride

Posted June 14, 2014 by Lyn Brown

I left work extra late Thursday and it was only when I was whipping down the highway that I remembered it was election day — AND I ONLY HAD 40 MINUTES UNTIL THE POLLS CLOSED. I panicked. I knew I had to get there – every vote counts – absolutely. Neve…

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Allan's Perspective

I’m not at all confused about Saturday morning!

Posted June 14, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Nope, everything is as “right as rain” if you will pardon the expression. Yesterday was the famous “Friday the 13th” motorcycle rally in Port Dover, Ontario, and as usual, tens of thousand of bikers gathered for the event. Even the rain didn’t seem to deter the hard-core bikers, as the streets of Port Dover filled […]

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