National Newswatch
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Harper, PCO approved long hiring process for social security tribunal

Dec 17 2014 — Lee-Anne Goodman

The Privy Council Office, the bureaucracy that serves the prime minister and cabinet, played a key role in designing a lengthy 15-month hiring process for members of the government’s badly backlogged social security tribunal, an internal memo shows. The document, obtained by The Canadian Press, says the process was approved by Prime Minister Stephen Harper […]

Dec 17 2014 —

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s caucus is meeting to discuss a bid by as many as seven official Opposition members to cross the floor — and at least one cabinet minister says he’s keeping an “open mind.” Justice Minister Jonathan Denis (rhymes with TENNIS) says he’s prepared to put his best foot forward and leave past […]

Dec 17 2014 —

The White House is extending its thanks to Canada for hosting the meetings that let to the United States and Cuba agreeing to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties. Senior Obama administration officials say Canada was “indispensable” in hosting the majority of the secret talks, which took place for more than a […]

Dec 17 2014 — Bill Curry

Justin Trudeau says there’s a way for Finance Minister Joe Oliver to save millions in the upcoming federal budget: slash spending on advertising. The Liberal Leader responded in writing Wednesday to Mr. Oliver’s request for low- or no-cost budget ideas. Mr. Trudeau’s letter calls on the government to support a Liberal private member’s bill that […]

Dec 17 2014 —

The Harper government has signed off on a proposal to buy an additional C-17 Globemaster, bringing to five the number of heavy-lift transport planes in the air force’s arsenal. Multiple defence sources say the decision to acquire the aircraft was made recently, but has not yet been announced as officials are still hammering out the […]

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Cuba, U.S. relations ‘overdue development,’ Stephen Harper says

Dec 17 2014 —

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says a warming of relations between the United States and Cuba was “overdue” after half a century of cold war, and that he is pleased Canada is being recognized for its role in bringing the two neighbours closer together. “We facilitated places where the two countries could have a dialogue and […]

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Rethinking Cuba and the U.S. embargo

Dec 17 2014 — Stephen Wicary

In September, scores of Cuban-Americans filled a Miami lecture hall to talk reconciliation. Speakers included a Kosovo independence leader on the need to prepare ahead for uncertain change, and a top U.S. diplomat on how lessons learned in the Middle East apply to Washington’s half-century feud with the Castro government. It was the third time […]

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Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lead in year-end polls

Dec 17 2014 — Eric Grenier

A flurry of federal polls over the last few days has painted a picture of Canada’s political landscape as the year comes to an end. However, what that picture shows is up for interpretation. Three polls, all conducted in early December, have been published in the last week. The first, by Léger and published by […]

Dec 17 2014 — Alex Boutilier

The very public spat between Queen’s Park and Ottawa won’t work well for Premier Kathleen Wynne in the long term, according to Treasury Board President Tony Clement. The Conservative cabinet minister and former MPP accused Wynne of dialing up her “rhetoric” around Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s seeming reluctance to meet with her. “My experience in […]

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Dec 17 2014 —

Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault says he hasn’t been seeing eye-to-eye with the federal NDP for a while. So when the newly elected Joe Cimino suddenly resigned as Sudbury’s MPP last month, Thibeault said he saw an opportunity to represent the riding in a different way. But it involved crossing the floor and becoming a […]

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Featured Ink

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Voters lose again in game of political musical chairs

Dec 17 2014 — Tim Harper

In 2011, 22,684 voters in Sudbury — fully half of those who cast a ballot — chose a New Democrat named Glenn Thibeault. They didn’t cast a ballot for a provincial Liberal, but that’s what they now have. In 2012, more than 442,000 Albertans — more than one in three — decided they wanted to […]

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The EKOS poll: What the numbers really mean

Dec 17 2014 — L. Ian MacDonald

Robert Bourassa used to say that a week is a long time in politics, and a year an eternity. Consider the EKOS poll for iPolitics in early October, which saw Stephen Harper’s Conservatives trailing Justin Trudeau Liberals by 13 points, 38-25, with Tom Mulcair and the NDP just behind at 24 per cent. With those […]

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Will governments use legal tools to support development

Dec 17 2014 — Dwight Newman

Vandalism by masked perpetrators against gas pumps at several Chevron stations in Vancouver earlier this fall as a protest against Chevron’s Pacific Trail pipeline is just one example of a possible new kind of challenge for Pacific Trail and other major pipeline projects. An emerging critical national discussion of the so-called “social licence to operate” […]

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To prune a wild rose

Dec 17 2014 — Colby Cosh

The scenario: roughly half of the Official Opposition, including its leader, quits its party and crosses the floor to join a government that already has an overwhelming majority in the assembly. It appears that’s what’s going to happen in Alberta on Wednesday, and it is difficult to find any precedent for it—outside the Third World, […]

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If the Wildrose defection destroys Alberta’s opposition, Prentice has cemented himself as a generational premier

Dec 17 2014 — Jen Gerson

After only four months at the helm of the Progressive Conservatives, Jim Prentice may have neutered the only effective opposition party Alberta has seen in 43 years. No confirmation came on Tuesday, but multiple sources predicted as many as half of the 14 remaining Wildrose Party MLAs could defect to the long-ruling PCs on Wednesday, […]

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Rachel Notley, grab the brass ring

Dec 17 2014 — Naomi Lakritz

Guess who emerges from all this PC/Wildrose merger/betrayal mess as looking better than ever? NDP Leader Rachel Notley. The provincial NDP, with the highly principled Notley as leader, has an incredible opportunity now to shine; they should take advantage of it to build momentum and strengthen their cachet for the 2016 election. And with the […]

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Forecast calls for end of Wildrose as effective opposition

Dec 17 2014 — Graham Thomson

Today they’re Wildrose MLAs. On Wednesday, they’ll be Progressive Conservative MLAs. And on Thursday or Friday, some of them will become government ministers as part of a cabinet shuffle planned by Premier Jim Prentice to welcome his latest floor crossers. That is your forecast for the week. It is our political equivalent of climate change […]

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Smith and Anderson lead Wildrose defection to Prentice PCs

Dec 17 2014 — Rick Bell

Right about now it’s hard to find reality without a program. But there it is. Danielle Smith, the leader of the official opposition, decides to leave the party she leads and join the ruling Progressive Conservatives she despises until about 72 hours ago. More than half of her crew are expected to move with her. […]

Dec 16 2014 — Don Braid

In politics, as in sex, a sudden urge to merge can bring disaster. Wildrose is already tearing itself apart over this bizarre plan to stage a “reunion” with the Progressive Conservative government. Wildrose President Dave Yager sent out a bitter memo Tuesday morning. “This is not a merger in any way,” he said. “It is […]

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Dec 17 2014 — Lorne Gunter

To understand the movement of some Alberta Wildrose MLAs back to the PCs, it’s necessary to remember why the Wildrose party exists in the first place. Wildrose, at least in the form it existed in until this week’s talk of “reunion,” was a reaction to the governing Tories’ drift toward the centre under former premier […]

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Dec 17 2014 — Carol Goar

This has been a vintage season for excuses wrapped in indignation and delivered with aggrieved self-righteousness. Since the beginning of December, a parade of high-ranking public officials caught wasting taxpayers’ money, mistreating vulnerable members of society and holding back embarrassing information has maintained they are blameless. Proper procedures were followed. Rational choices were made. Taxpayers […]

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Dec 17 2014 — Heather Mallick

This Thursday night will be the last time Stephen Colbert ever shows up on TV to play an idiot, a hopeless, needy, high-status, insecure, preening, under-informed, over-shouty, hard-right, box-suited American blowhard. U.S. TV is not short of them. Fox News breeds them like chinchillas. But Colbert? He was one of a kind. The Colbert Report […]

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Entertainment Plus

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The Interview premiere screenings axed from Canadian theatres

Dec 17 2014 —

All 17 Rainbow and Magic Lantern Theatres in Toronto are cancelling screenings of The Interview during the Christmas holidays, after hackers behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment threatened moviegoers with 9/11-style attacks. A spokesperson told CBC News’s Ioanna Roumeliotis the cinemas aren’t sure whether the decision will be reversed. The Cineplex website in Canada […]