National Newswatch
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Everyone thinks Parliament should be reformed, but no one can agree on how

Mar 24 2017 — Aaron Wherry — The state and functioning of the House of Commons have been widely and sorrowfully lamented in recent years. But to the list of lamentable things might now be added the latest attempt at parliamentary reform, an effort that seems in danger of being strangled by parliamentary democracy. Our current tale of woe begins, as many […]

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Liberal budget offers lots of ‘vision’ but few new numbers

Mar 23 2017 — Aaron Wherry — At a dozen points in the budget document, the Liberals interrupt their announcements to explain “What Success Will Look Like.” Canada, we are told at one point, “will have one of the most skilled, talented, creative and diverse workforces in the world.” The country “will be on the leading edge of discovery and innovation.” Commute […]

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How the federal budget could spare Justin Trudeau some difficult conversations

Mar 21 2017 — Aaron Wherry — A year ago, the prime minister came face to face with the reality of economic dislocation and hardship. And in that moment he seemed hard-pressed to offer a tidy solution. “It was a really difficult conversation,” Justin Trudeau told the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge after sitting down with Neil Piercey, a 58-year-old man from London, Ont., […]

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NDP leadership candidates consider what the heck happened and what now

Mar 13 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Possibly the most challenging question posed during the NDP leadership debate on Sunday came from Kim, the bartender. “A few months after [the last election], I went in to watch the hockey game at the local sports bar. Kim the bartender came up to me. She’s putting her son through law school on tips,” recounted […]

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What happens when Liberal backbenchers rise up

Mar 11 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Wednesday was an eventful day for the House of Commons. Perhaps even an important one, precisely because it was so eventful. In the climactic moment, 105 Liberals broke with the government and voted in favour of S-201, a bill sponsored by Liberal MP Rob Oliphant to ban genetic discrimination. Moments earlier, 27 Liberal backbenchers had […]

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Liberals propose changes to how House of Commons works

Mar 10 2017 — Aaron Wherry — The Liberal government is asking MPs to consider a number of changes to the way Parliament functions, including the introduction of a question period dedicated to the prime minister, the elimination of Friday sittings, limiting the ability of MPs to filibuster committee meetings and allowing MPs to vote electronically. Those and other possible changes are […]

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Debate over carbon pricing might be helped by release of available facts

Mar 7 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose stood during question period one afternoon last month and alleged that the prime minister was refusing to “tell Canadians how much his carbon tax will cost.” “In fact, this is now becoming widely known as the carbon tax cover-up,” she said, rather hopefully. In this case, “becoming widely known as” […]

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Do Canada’s Conservatives want to join the populism parade?

Feb 26 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Appearing on stage Friday at the outset of his eponymous institution’s latest conference, Preston Manning, the wise old man of Canadian conservatism, attempted to put his finger on the great matter of the moment. “Our conservative leaders will face many challenges in the days ahead,” he said, hours before the 14 candidates for the federal […]

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Trudeau and Trump to talk by phone today at Trudeau’s request

Feb 23 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump are scheduled to speak by phone today and, according to a senior Liberal, the call is being held at the request of the Canadian government. It is not clear, however, what the two leaders will discuss. Trudeau and Trump met at the White House last week and […]

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Liberals defeat Conservative counter-proposal to Islamophobia motion

Feb 21 2017 — Aaron Wherry — With a Liberal call to study Islamophobia still on the table, Liberal MPs voted on Tuesday to defeat a Conservative motion that sought a general study of religious discrimination. The Conservative motion was brought forward last week, just as the House of Commons prepared to debate Motion 103, sponsored by Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP […]

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Anti-Islamophobia debate might define both Liberals and Conservatives

Feb 18 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Appearing before reporters earlier this week to explain that the Liberal government would be putting its authority behind a Liberal MP’s motion calling for a parliamentary condemnation and study of Islamophobia, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said a “question of leadership” was at hand. She returned to the theme Thursday as she explained why the Liberals […]

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With electoral reform off the table, minister defends first-past-the-post

Feb 7 2017 — Aaron Wherry — Seven months after her predecessor described the current electoral system as “antiquated,” and one week after the Liberal government abandoned its pursuit of reform, the new minister of democratic institutions defended first-past-the-post during an appearance before a House of Commons committee. “The first-past-the-post system may not be perfect — no electoral system is,” Karina Gould […]

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Dominic Barton, top economic adviser, encourages bold response to Trump

Feb 6 2017 — Aaron Wherry — The chair of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s council of economic advisers is calling on the federal government to redouble its efforts to reinforce and reform the Canadian economy in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in the United States. “We’re a small trading nation. We’ve got to take more control of our own destiny,” Dominic […]