New Staff Profile: Vicky Mochama

April 16th, 2014 by CIVIX

Hi, my name is Vicky Mochama. I am joining CIVIX as a Campaign Communications Assistant. I will be supporting communications for various Student Vote projects.

It was actually thanks to a civics teacher in my high school that I got involved in politics. I was invited to join the Model United Nations team in tenth grade and I loved everything about it from researching to making speeches to negotiating. Because of that experience, I believe that regardless of how old you are, everyone can have an opinion on political issues and has a right to have their opinions heard.

Vicky Mochame

At Carleton University, I studied communications and political science which let me combine my passion for politics with my love of popular culture. More than just watching MTV and writing about it (yes, yes, I did), I was also very involved on campus. I joined the Carleton Model UN Society – first as a delegate and then as president – and also helped organize Relay for Life.

In my spare time, I volunteer at the Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles as a volunteer coordinator. I like reading, watching movies and playing board games. I’m a sore winner at Scrabble and a delighted loser at Twister.

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Canadian legislatures head back to work

January 22nd, 2014 by Abhi Saini

*Updated on March 24, 2014

Most provincial and territorial legislatures, as well as the House of Commons, will head back to work over the next few weeks.

Here’s our breakdown of the dates each legislature is expected to return:

Experiencing a legislature in action can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Check out the website for your local legislative assembly to find out how to visit or schedule a tour.

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Prince Edward Island: “A beacon of engagement”

November 12th, 2013 by Dan Allan

The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island reconvenes at Province House today to open the 4th Session of the 64th General Assembly.

PEI has been described as “a beacon of engagement” as “voting is a must for most in the province, not an afterthought.”

Voter turnout during the 2011 PEI provincial election was the “lowest in decades” (76.5 per cent of Islanders voted, compared to 83.8% in 2007), but PEI still consistently has the highest turnout in Canada, at both the provincial and federal level. Federal turnout in 2011 was only 61.1 per cent.

Troy Media columnist Andy Walker wrote last week about the great democratic tradition in PEI:

Tucked between Remembrance Day and Christmas is a highlight of the year for many Islanders – the fall sitting of the provincial legislature.

I have been told there are provinces where the visitor’s gallery at the legislature is virtually empty most of the time and where most people don’t know who their elected representative is. PEI is on the other end of the spectrum.

The visitor’s gallery is usually full and the first 10 to 15 minutes is usually taken up by MLA’s welcoming their constituents. Many Islanders go to the building where the Fathers of Confederation met 149 years ago each sitting day to watch the proceedings. Hundreds more watch on the local cable channel.

The best way to ensure electoral success is PEI is to be “a good constituency person.” Islanders expected their MLA to be at weddings, funerals, anniversaries and birthdays. Every high school graduate gets a letter from the premier. It is not uncommon for an elected politician to help a constituent fill in a job application or apply for a passport – especially if they are a senior and the application involves a computer.

This trend may not be as prevalent as it once was, but it is still too strong to ignore for any politician or would be politician. Watching their elected representatives in action is just a logical extension of that mentality.

The session that begins November 12 should prove to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. 

We’re proud to work with many great educators in Prince Edward Island. Nearly 5,000 PEI students took part in our 2011 provincial Student Vote program, and more than 6,500 PEI students cast ballots during the 2011 federal Student Vote program.

Are you following your MLA on Twitter? Check out our list

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Kim Campbell reflects on being Canada’s first woman prime minister

November 7th, 2013 by CIVIX

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell served as the Prime Minister of Canada from June 25 to November 4, 1993. This past Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the end of her time in office. Megan Beretta, a CIVIX volunteer and University of Ottawa student, attended a panel that included Campbell this week.

On Wednesday, November 6, the University of Ottawa played host to The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, the first female Prime Minister of Canada. The event was held due to a partnership between uOttawa’s Women in Leadership Speaker Series and the national political organization Equal Voice.

The former Prime Minister spoke about a variety of topics. She discussed the benefits of having women in management roles, and how equality in leadership is not about women being “better,” but about women making the organizations better, as they bring half of the world’s talents, perspectives, and skills to the table, when given the chance to contribute. Quoting statistics and research from the field, she proved that women make a difference in breaking up the norms in societal structures, and make a difference to the monotonous “group think” that occurs in organizations lacking diversity.

Kim Campbell

Alongside Campbell on the panel were other female politicians: Penny Collenette, former National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada and current uOttawa Professor of Law, as well as the 22-year-old Member of Parliament, Laurin Liu, of the riding of Rivière-de-Mille-Îles.

Campbell praised the feminist “movers and shakers,” like Liu, who continue to pursue equality, with the assistance of their teammates: male feminists. The struggle is not about women versus men, rather between men and women who “get it” versus the ones who don’t get it, she stated emphatically. She finished her speech with an anecdote: her colleague made her get specialized stationary that used the French female form of her title, proudly stating “La Premiere Ministre” on the letter head. “It’s in some box, likely over in Langevin Block,” she said, “and before it gets too old, too yellowed, it needs to be used again.” Thunderous applause erupted across the room to that call to action.

The panel that followed her moving speech included questions from Liu and Collenette who added anecdotes, and used their experiences to ask pointed questions. The prime minister discussed her legacy, which is often forgotten amongst the discussion of her short tenure, and the immense changes for her party that were occurring before, during, and after her time in office.

Many citizens may not realize her remarkable contributions, and thusly, her legacy in Canada. Besides from being Canada’s first, and so far only, female prime minister, Campbell was the very first female leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the first female Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice, along with having held other significant portfolios throughout her time in Parliament. In her time as prime minister, she created important and enduring ministries, like the Department of Heritage and the Department of Public Security.

During Ms. Campbell’s tenure as Prime Minister in 1993, she had an approval rate of 51 per cent, which made her the most popular leader of the country in 30 years. Campbell spoke with great candour, humour, and resilience. She discussed the infamous negative ad campaigns, and what it feels like to lose everything for herself, and her party. The setbacks never got to her, not 20 years ago, and not today. Her perspective is admirable, as she proclaimed: “I don’t pretend I was the greatest Prime Minister. But I do have a legacy. I am the first woman Prime Minister, and that is a reflection of change in Canada.”

Posted in Famous Canadians in Democracy, Guest Blogs, News | 1 Comment »

New Staff Profile: Conor Holash

November 6th, 2013 by Conor Holash

Hey there! I’m Conor and I’m very excited to be starting with CIVIX. I’ve joined the team as a Communications Coordinator and have hit the ground running in more ways than one. After a few interviews with Taylor, our co-founder, I packed up my life in Ottawa and found myself in the CIVIX office the next day. Almost immediately, I started working with Taylor to expand our Rep Day initiative that puts Members of Parliament face to face with an incredibly important constituent demographic: high school students.

Politics and civic engagement have always been important topics in my family, and I’d have to say that my interest in them came from my parents. We’d have long discussions during long road trips to visit family members scattered around my home province of Saskatchewan. These conversations left me surprised when I got to high school and realized that not everyone gets exposed to these important topics in their youth.

Conor Holash

This is why the Rep Day initiative has been a passion project for me. Rep Day ensures that students are given the opportunity to talk politics and to put a face to their local representative.  It essentially gives them a reason to care. This hits especially close to home for me. If I hadn’t been interested in politics, I would have missed out on a lot of the opportunities that brought me to CIVIX.

After finishing high school, I moved to Ottawa to work as a Page in the House of Commons and have been hooked ever since. From that time I’ve worked a number of different jobs on Parliament Hill that have all focused on teaching other people about our country and how it’s governed. Once I looked up CIVIX and the Student Vote program, I knew right away that it’d be a good fit. I’m excited to see what comes next!

Posted in News | 1 Comment »

What Happens When You’re MP-less?

September 20th, 2013 by Katie Reidel

It has been two months since my MP, Bob Rae, stepped down from his position as the representative from Toronto Centre to the House of Commons. Since then, there has been a lot of chatter about who his successor will be, as individuals clamour to get their names known by voters and the support of their respective political parties. Eventually one of these individuals will be my new Member of Parliament, but in the interim I am officially MP-less.

Toronto Centre

This is actually quite concerning to me. The House is currently prorogued, but right now I have no one responsible for speaking on my behalf in parliament. I feel a bit lost, as a Canadian without a representative. I have never been in this position before, so I was unsure about what happens to ridings without MPs.

A couple weeks ago I received a piece of mail from the House of Commons. A very official looking letter had been sent to me as a resident of Toronto Centre, explaining that although my seat was vacant I would be taken care of. The letter stated:

The House of Commons of Canada provides for the continuation of services to the constituents of a Member of Parliament whose seat has become vacant. The party Whip supervises the staff retained under these circumstances.

Following the resignation of the Member of Parliament for the Constituency of Toronto Centre, the Hon. Bob Rae, P.C., the constituency office will continue to provide services to constituents.

Click here to see a copy of the letter.

Constituency offices provide services to help their constituents interact with the government. They can help you with Employment Insurance or the Canada Pension Plan, with visa applications or immigration issues, or any other service provided by the Federal government. So at very least these services will continue to be offered to the constituents of Toronto Centre while we wait for a by-election to elect our next Member of Parliament.

If you’re living in a riding that is about to face a by-election, check out our tips on ‘Getting Ready for a By-Election.’

If you want to follow in-depth reporting on the Toronto Centre and other federal by-elections, including the nomination of candidates from the major political parties, please tune in to Pundits Guide.

Posted in News | 1 Comment »

Canada’s Democracy Week: “Connect with Democracy”

September 16th, 2013 by Dan Allan

For the third year in a row, Elections Canada is organizing Canada’s Democracy Week, a civic education initiative to promote the importance of democratic involvement and voting. This year’s Democracy Week runs from September 16th to 23rd.

The theme for this year is “Connect with Democracy.” Democracy Week is about “connecting with people, places and information that help broaden your understanding of why democracy and voting are so important.”

We’re proud to be taking part in another Democracy Week! On September 23, CIVIX President Taylor Gunn will be in Ottawa to take part in a discussion on civic education titled “Breaking Down Stereotypes and Hang-Ups: Democracy and Citizen Engagement in Your Classroom.” It’s open to the public.

We’ve also been coordinating multiple “Rep Day” visits in schools across the country during Democracy Week, and throughout the fall. Rep Day is a nationwide civic education initiative that allows high school students to connect with their democracy by meeting elected representatives for a dialogue on current political issues.  

Rep Day

Rep Day aims to break down the stereotypes that young people have of politicians and the political process, and develop a better understanding of and a sense of trust in the people and institutions within our democracy. We’ll be sharing more details throughout Democracy Week and the weeks ahead.

Click here for a full list of Canada’s Democracy Week events.

Posted in News, Special Events | 2 Comments »

Weekly Round-Up: August 30

August 30th, 2013 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian and international politics. For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

An “Unofficial” Nova Scotia Leaders’ Debate

Three of Nova Scotia’s party leaders met this week for a “moderated chat,” despite the fact that the provincial election has not yet been called. NDP Premier Darrell Dexter, Liberal leader Stephen McNeil and Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie met at an event hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce to discuss likely campaign issues like the economy, government spending, taxes, education and immigration.

The Senate saga continues

Ontario Senator Mac Harb resigned this week. Harb was under investigation for inappropriate living and travel expense claims. Harb dropped his legal action and agreed to repay the remaining money he owed. Harb was appointed to the Senate in 2003 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and previously served as the Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre from 1988 to 2003.

Despite six Senate vacancies, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the he had “no immediate plans” to appoint new Senators.

Nominations and Appointments

Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday stepped down as the councillor for ward 3 to run in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore provincial by-election. Holyday won, and Toronto council decided this week that council would appoint his replacement rather than holding a potentially costly by-election.

Windsor councillor Percy Hatfield was also elected to the Ontario Legislature, and council will also be appointing his replacement. Someone posted a satirical “help wanted” ad on Kijiji that called for applicants to put their names forward for the ward 7 seat. “Why waste time with silly elections when we can just pick someone,” writes the anonymous poster.

Adam Olsen was appointed interim leader of the British Columbia Green Party this week. Jane Sterk resigned as party leader earlier this month. Olsen was defeated in Saanich North and Islands during the provincial election this spring, but won his seat in the Student Vote.

Former Prince Edward Island NDP leader Larry Duchesne will be running in the upcoming Nova Scotia provincial election in the riding of Cumberland South. Duchesne served as PEI NDP leader from 1991 to 1995.

Do you remember Tuxedo Stan? Despite being a cat, Stan ran a valiant campaign during last fall’s Halifax mayoral election. Stan is now battling cancer, but his brother Earl Grey plans to run in the Nova Scotia provincial election. Feline voter turnout is expected to increase dramatically, while mice will likely stay home on election day.

Posted in News, Weekly Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Round-Up: August 30

Is Egypt on the Brink of Civil War?

August 27th, 2013 by Abhi Saini

Civil unrest continues to grow in Egypt following the removal of President Mohamed Morsi by the military last month. Increasing tension between Morsi supporters and the interim government has placed Egypt on the brink of political uncertainty and chaos.

Peace talks between government security forces and protesters have failed, and violent public clashes have been the result. In response, the government has cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood supporters and leaders in Cairo. The government has made it clear that the violence will continue.

These attacks have left hundreds dead and many injured. Human Rights Watch called the violence the “most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.” World leaders and prominent organizations, like the United Nations, have condemned the violence.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird released a statement noting that “Canada firmly believes that implementing a transparent democratic system that respects the voices of all Egyptians, including members of civil society and religious minorities, is the best way to restore calm and give all Egyptians a stake in the future stability and prosperity of their country.”

Acting Egyptian vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in the aftermath of the violence. Security forces also arrested the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Mohammed Badie in an effort to break down the party while it is “struggling to keep up its street protests against the authorities.”

In response, the Muslim Brotherhood appointed Mahmoud Ezzat as its temporary leader. The party released a statement noting that the arrest of Badie “will change nothing” and that the party will continue to protest against the “coup.”

In other Egyptian news, former President Hosni Mubarak (who was removed from office in 2011) was released from prison last week. He has been placed under house arrest “as part of the emergency measures” imposed this month after violence escalated in the country following the crackdown.

Despite his release, Mubarak still faces trial for allowing the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising against his regime. If the court finds him guilty, he could be sent back to prison.

Judging from the current political climate in Egypt, it is clear that the interim government has failed to unite a deeply divided country. If the violence continues to persist, it could lead Egypt towards a deadly civil war. Peace talks must resume between the two parties to find a political solution addressing the conflict.

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Weekly Round-Up: August 23

August 23rd, 2013 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian and international politics. For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

House of Commons prorogued until Thanksgiving

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Monday that the House of Commons would be prorogued and would not resume until after Thanksgiving. The House was originally scheduled to resume on September 16, but the prorogation will allow the government to present a Speech from the Throne and begin a new session of parliament.

Fiscal update adds to election speculation

Former Nova Scotia Finance Minister Graham Steele released the first quarter fiscal update for the 2013-2014 provincial budget on Monday. There has been a lot of pre-election chatter and preparations in the province lately (which we summarized in this week’s Student Vote blog), and it’s only a matter of time until an election is called.

New electoral maps in QC, BC and SK

Do you live in Quebec, British Columbia or Saskatchewan? If so, your province now has new federal electoral maps. Electoral districts are reviewed and revised every 10 years, after the census, to ensure the boundaries reflect population movement and growth. The changes don’t go into effect until the 2015 election, but you can check out the new maps now.

New MPPs welcomed to Queen’s Park

Ontario voters went to the polls earlier this month for five provincial by-elections. The winners were sworn in this week, and are now officially Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). The new MPPs are Liberal Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood), Liberal John Fraser (Ottawa South), New Democrat Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh), New Democrat Peggy Sattler (London West) and Progressive Conservative Doug Holyday (Etobicoke-Lakeshore).

“Jack’s Got Your Back”

New MPPs weren’t the only things unveiled in Toronto this week.  A “life-size bronze sculpture” of former NDP leader and Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton was officially installed at the Toronto ferry terminal that now bears his name. Thursday marked the sec0nd anniversary of the former MP’s death.

 

What’s the most important news story of the week? The answer is simple: CIVIX is hiring a Communications Coordinator. Apply now, and tell your friends!

Posted in News, Weekly Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Round-Up: August 23

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