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Tuesday, 01 August 2017 23:59

Jagmeet Singh Out Ahead

By: BJ Siekierski and Kyle Duggan in Ottawa

Jagmeet Singh raised more money than the rest of the NDP leadership field combined in the second quarter of 2017.

According to fundraising data published by Elections Canada late Monday afternoon, the deputy leader of the Ontario NDP raked in $356,784 from 1,681 contributors for the period that ended June 30.

That was well above Charlie Angus, who finished second with $123,577 from 1,285.

Niki Ashton raised $70,156 from 1,006 contributors, while Guy Caron brought in $46,970 from 568.

Peter Julian, who dropped out of the race in June citing fundraising troubles, still raised $28,673 from 296 donors.

In a press release, Singh cited the fact that he only officially joined the race on May 15, 2017 and that he therefore raised the impressive amount in only 47 days.

“Jagmeet Singh, candidate in the federal NDP leadership race, has raised more in the first 47 days than Justin Trudeau or Andrew Scheer at the same point in their leadership campaigns,” the press release said.

It added that the median donation was $40 and that two-thirds of the donations received were under $100.

The Liberals took issue with the $40 median donation being portrayed as evidence of a grassroots groundswell, pointing out that 87 per cent of all their donations in the second quarter were under $100 and that the median donation was just $11.

They also disputed the comparison to Trudeau’s leadership fundraising. A party spokesperson told iPolitics that — though Trudeau announced his intention to run on October 2, 2012, the race wasn’t officially underway until November 14, when the party began providing administrative support to the candidates.

In the first 47 days from November 14, the spokesperson said, Trudeau raised over $700,000.

All the same, with the NDP’s fundraising hitting a seven-year low in the quarter, Singh’s success is indisputably good news for the party, which takes a 25 per cent cut of all donations to leadership campaigns.

“Singh’s fundraising numbers also revealed how his message is resonating with new supporters for the NDP. A cross reference of address, name, and postal code with Elections Canada donor records, demonstrate that roughly 75% of the donors to Singh’s campaign have never before given to Canada’s NDP,” the Singh release said.

Singh himself argued his fundraising numbers show the party can take on the Liberals and Conservatives in 2019.

“I am very proud of what our team was able to accomplish in our first six weeks of the campaign,” he said.


By arrangement with ipolitics.ca.

Published in Politics

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

Elections Canada would need a bare minimum of six months to carry out a referendum on electoral reform, owing in large part to a loss of corporate memory on how to manage the process, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand said Thursday.

Appearing before the standing committee on procedure and house affairs, Mayrand was asked by Conservative democratic reform critic Scott Reid to elaborate on a risk highlighted in the agency’s 2016-17 report on plan and priorities (RPP).

In the RPP, the agency states that it isn’t currently prepared to hold a referendum — something Reid and the Conservatives insist is essential if the Liberal government changes the way Canadians vote.

Reid believes that any change to the electoral system requiring a boundary redistribution isn’t going to allow enough time for one.

And he’s convinced the Liberals are trying to run out the clock on the possibility of a referendum without rejecting the idea outright — though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted strongly on Tuesday that it was off the table.

“It might be difficult now, but it’s more difficult than it would’ve been six months ago,” Reid told iPolitics.

“And I’m trying to make the point now — because maybe it’s still possible — but a month from now it’ll be less possible. And with every passing day it becomes less feasible, which I think is the whole point.”

The Elections Canada RPP notes that the committee on procedure and house affairs began but didn’t complete a 2009 review of the Referendum Act, and Elections Canada suspended “readiness activities” pending the implementation of legislative amendments.

“In order to conduct a referendum, the agency would require a minimum of six months following legislative changes,” the RPP says.

Reid asked Mayrand Thursday whether six months was, in fact, the minimum amount of time they would need.

“It’s an absolute minimum — six months. Corporate memory is loose now, after more than 25 years. Not many people have run a referendum in our organization. So there’s a lot of work to do,” Mayrand said.

Furthermore, though it would be feasible to conduct a referendum under the current legislative framework, Mayrand said that wouldn’t be his preference.

“The Referendum Act is outdated — it has not been changed since 1992, which is the last time we had a national referendum. In that regard, it’s very much out of sync with the Elections Act — particularly around political financing,” he explained.

There would be no limit on union and corporate donations, for example.

“There’s no limit on contribution by any entities, so this might come as a shock. But again, the legislation still stands. Is it possible to conduct a referendum on the current legislation? It is possible,” he said.

“It would be, at times, awkward. But it is possible. It is feasible. My preference would be to see it amended, updated. But again it would not be impossible.”

For the NDP, which doesn’t see the need for a referendum, the greater concern is that the clock will run out on electoral reform itself.

NDP MP David Christopherson asked Mayrand to provide a “trigger point” after which it will no longer be possible to have reform in place for the 2019 election.

“I would put before the committee that legislation enacting reform should be there at least 24 months before the election…There’s all sort of hypotheses — I don’t know exactly what the reform will be — but if it involves a (boundary) redistribution exercise, which PR (proportional representation) does by definition — this is a significant undertaking,” Mayrand answered.

In accordance with both the constitution and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, after each decennial (10‑year) census a riding redistribution process has to be undertaken to reflect changes in where Canadians are living. That was last done in 2012, adding 30 seats to the House of Commons.

“How long would it take to engage the Electoral Boundaries Redistribution Act? I assume an amendment would actually be required to allow it to happen out of normal sequence. But how long would the actual process take?” Reid asked Mayrand Thursday.

“You’re correct. It would need legislation for it to happen. And the bare minimum — and again, it’s difficult, because I’m not sure what’s on the table — the bare minimum for a standard redistribution is 10 months,” he answered.

That, however, is only from the setup of electoral boundary commissions to the issuance of their final reports for the redistribution.

“There’s another seven months after that for implementing,” Mayrand said.


Republished in partnership with iPolitics.ca

Published in Politics

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

Patrick Brown has already taken the Ontario Progressive Conservative party in a new direction since becoming its leader — now he’s encouraging his former federal colleagues to do the same as they try to reinvent themselves in the post-Harper era.

On Saturday afternoon, over 300 people filled a warehouse in Barrie, Ontario to hear from Brown and six current Conservative MPs, all of whom are at least exploring the possibility of running for the Conservative party leadership.

The event was called “Conservative Futures” and the majority of them were confident about the party’s prospects in 2019, convinced the Liberal government will defeat itself through a combination of bigger-than-promised deficits, unmet promises, and arrogance.

Fewer, however, were willing to really look critically at the past — and specifically the last election.

Patrick Brown was an exception.

"[I]f we do not defend minority communities of every religion, of every race, then every other cultural group will say: are we next?”

“(It’s) important to have this pause and understand where mistakes have been made so we can go into the future with a sense of conviction that we’re on the right path. My sense, showing up to probably about 1,000 cultural events in the last year in the GTA, is that if we do not defend minority communities of every religion, of every race, then every other cultural group will say: are we next?” he told the crowd.

“I think we lost our way when we did not say that unequivocally. I think there were mistakes made, and I think we have to learn from that.”

Reconnecting with ethnocultural communities

As both his and Jason Kenney’s persistent outreach to different ethnic communities have proved, Brown added, many ethnic minorities share Conservative values. But the party went “too far” with its niqab rhetoric during the federal election campaign.

They alienated voters they’d spent years bringing into the Conservative tent.

It was a blunt assessment that only Conservative MP Michael Chong would come close to matching on Saturday.

“I think it’s clear in the last election we lost the ethnocultural communities in this country, and we need to regain their trust.”

“I think it’s clear in the last election we lost the ethnocultural communities in this country, and we need to regain their trust,” Chong said.

He then recounted the struggles his father faced as a Chinese immigrant to the country in the 1950s, only four years after the repeal of the Chinese exclusion act. And the struggles he faced as a “mixed-race kid” growing up in rural Ontario in the 1970s.

“I tell you these stories because we need to reconnect with ethnocultural communities. We need to tell them that we understand the challenges of coming to a new country, often with a foreign language. We need to tell them that we understand the barriers that they face; that we understand their fears, hopes, and aspirations; that we understand the plight of Syrian refugees coming to this country, scared, facing an environment unknown,” he said.

"We need to tell them that we understand the challenges of coming to a new country, often with a foreign language."

Closer to turning the page

Though Chong acknowledged the mistakes, he didn’t mention the niqab specifically. Nor did he mention the barbaric cultural practices tip line Conservative candidates Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander introduced in the final weeks of the last campaign, and which was met with widespread scorn and derision.

Leitch, who spoke of the need for tolerance on Saturday, didn’t touch on it either.

“We know as Conservatives that we have to make sure that every Canadian is treated fairly and equally,” she said.

“We are the party where families of all religious backgrounds, of all ethnic backgrounds, have a home. As Patrick was mentioning, Jason Kenney has done outstanding work in reaching out to so many different groups across this country. He did a remarkable job. And he had many of us join him in doing that.”

A few weeks ago at the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa, it was clear Conservatives were still bothered by the divisive identity politics that featured so prominently in the last campaign.

On Saturday in Barrie, five months to the day Canadians replaced a Conservative majority with a Liberal one, they came a bit closer to turning the page.

But they didn’t get all the way there.

“The reality is, in four years there will be people looking for change,” Brown said. “And if the Conservative Party has the courage to talk in a positive fashion…I believe there’s going to be a lot more Conservative MPs, and one of the people running for this Conservative leadership will be the prime minister of Canada.”


Republished in partnership with iPolitics.ca

Published in Politics

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

John Manley — the president and CEO of Canadian Council of Chief Executives — criticized the Harper government Tuesday for mismanaging bilateral relationships with China and Mexico, and reiterated a call for the incoming Liberal government to pursue a free trade agreement with China.

There are reasons to think that isn’t out of the question.

“We have very important trading relationships with both Mexico and China. And quite frankly, the Harper government didn’t manage those relationships particularly well,” Manley, whose organization represents 150 CEOs of Canada’s biggest companies, said in an interview on BNN.

"Smart, principled engagement of China must be at the centre of Canadian foreign policy.”

This comes after an open letter Manley sent to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau last week, which called for a “comprehensive bilateral economic agreement” with China, the reversal of the visa requirement for Mexican visitors and the ratification of the Canada-EU agreement and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

“We urge your government to reverse the 2009 decision that requires most travellers from Mexico to obtain a visa before visiting Canada. With regards to China — our country’s second-largest trading partner, and soon to be the world’s largest economy – we believe the time has come to seek a comprehensive bilateral economic agreement. Smart, principled engagement of China must be at the centre of Canadian foreign policy,” Manley wrote.

China requires immediate attention

He elaborated on those points Tuesday, days after the CEO of Ford Canada, Dianne Craig — a member of the Canadian Council of CEOs — spoke out against the TPP.

“Ford is one of our members, likewise is Linamar, one of our largest auto part companies, which supports TPP. So I don’t think there’s a unanimous view. I think overall, though, what I’d say…is this: if TPP doesn’t happen, well then life goes on. If TPP does happen, and the United States and Mexico are part of it, then Canada really needs to be there. We can’t afford, for our national interests, to be excluded from an an agreement in which two of our three largest trading partners are there,” Manley said.

Since TPP ratification on the U.S. side could be held up by Congress, Manley didn’t think there was any reason for Trudeau to “lose sleep” over it yet.

"We don’t have to agree with China on everything, but we do need to engage China.”

He said China, however, required immediate attention, adding that, like Australia and New Zealand, Canada should pursue a free trade agreement.

“Australia, while being a strong proponent of human rights — a strong supporter of rule of law — all of the things that Canada stands for, has managed to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. As has New Zealand. And they are benefiting — their economy is benefiting significantly in both cases,” Manley said.

“We seem to have a hard time deciding whether we want to do business with China or not, and we blow warm and cold. I think a consistent, lasting approach to China — multiple visits by our prime minister, by our minister of foreign affairs, by our minister of trade, and by our minister of industry, would yield benefits in the years to come. We don’t have to agree with China on everything, but we do need to engage China.”

Deepening relationship with China

While the Harper government signed and ratified, not without controversy, a foreign investment protection agreement with China, and released an economic complementarities study in August 2012, Ottawa preferred an incremental approach with regard to trade liberalization, reaching individual market access agreements for products such as beef, cherries, and blueberries.

“There are many mechanisms other than free trade agreements to allow us to deepen our trade relationship with China,” Trade Minister Ed Fast said last November.

[T]he Harper government wanted to see the “more balance” in the trading relationship before moving forward with negotiations. The Liberals have seemed more eager.

In May, he clarified that the Harper government wanted to see the “more balance” in the trading relationship before moving forward with negotiations.

The Liberals have seemed more eager.

As Australia moved to implement their concluded free trade agreement with China, Liberal MPs — including Ralph Goodale, Chrystia Freeland, and Scott Brison — accused the Conservatives of bungling the relationship.

More recently, the Liberals named Peter Harder, who serves as president of the Canada-China Business Council, to head their transition team.

That could be a sign of things to come.


Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca

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