Weekly Round-Up: December 11, 2015

December 11th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

MPs back to work

After last week’s Speech from the Throne (which you can watch here), Members of Parliament were back at it on Monday with the return of question period. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet fielded questions on subjects that included Canada’s military missions in the Middle East, the national debt and income taxes.

The current format for question period could soon change as the Liberals plan to introduce a “prime minister’s question period” similar to what is currently seen in the British Parliament. The British prime minister responds to questions each Wednesday from a randomly selected group of MPs. Éric Grenier examined some of the pros and cons of this potential shift.

Electoral reform update

The government has also committed to another change: that the 2015 federal election would be the last to use the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is demanding the government hold a referendum on any proposed changes, but the Liberals will only commit to a “broad, cross-party consultation process”. Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail also support a public vote on the matter.

Electoral reform is also on the agenda in Prince Edward Island. After six months of public education and consultation, a plebiscite will be held in November 2016 to reconsider the use of First-Past-the-Post for future provincial elections. A similar proposal was rejected by voters in 2005.

Bélanger to serve as honourary speaker

Veteran Ottawa Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger intended to run for the Speaker’s chair but dropped out after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

On Wednesday, a motion to make Bélanger an honorary occupant of the Speaker’s chair for a day was met with unanimous consent and a “thunderous standing ovation”.

Leadership race rundown

The Conservative Party is “in no rush to select new leader”, according to the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert. Possible contenders for the yet to be scheduled race include Brad Wall, Jason Kenney and Lisa Raitt.

Will the NDP have a new leader for the next federal election? Tom Mulcair wants to stay on as leader, according to Postmedia’s John Ivison, but “anything short of 75 per cent” at his party’s mandatory leadership review in April could put that in jeopardy.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: December 4, 2015

December 4th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Parliament returns

Canada’s 42nd Parliament is now underway! The first order of business was the election of the new House of Commons Speaker, and Halifax West MP Geoff Regan was chosen by his peers. MPs Yasmin Ratansi, Denis Paradis and Bruce Stanton were also in contention for the Speaker’s chair.

For the first time in decades, MPs voted for their new speaker using a single ranked preferential ballot. In the past, a run-off system was used that often saw multiple rounds of voting. In other news from Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed 35 parliamentary secretaries and Former Conservative Senator Jacques Demers will now sit as an independent.

The Speech from the Throne

The new Speaker’s first job will be to preside over this afternoon’s Throne Speech. The speech, to be delivered by Governor General David Johnston, will outline Trudeau’s agenda for the current parliamentary session.

The speech is expected to focus on the immediate priorities of the new government. The speech is expected to be “low-key” and one of the shortest in Canadian history. You can watch the speech online here.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s new premier

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party, led by Dwight Ball, won a “landslide victory” on Monday by winning 31 of 40 seats in the House of Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives, led by outgoing-premier Paul Davis will form the opposition with 7 seats. The NDP finished in third with two seats. Voter turnout was a “record-low” 55.2 per cent.

In the Student Vote, students across NL took on the roles of election officials and cast ballots for the candidates running in their local electoral district. Like the adults, students elected a Liberal majority government. In total, 4,047 ballots were reported from 42 schools, representing 28 out of 40 electoral districts. You can view the results here. You can read more coverage of the results in The Telegram.

Democratic reform update

The results of a new poll from Abacus Data and commissioned by the Broadbent Institute suggests that most Canadians believe the federal electoral system needs to be changed. The Liberals promised during the recent federal election campaign that the 2015 election would be the last contested using the First-Past-the-Post system.

And on Thursday, the federal government announced changes to how Senators will be named to the Red Chamber. An arm’s-length advisory board will be created to consult widely and recommend to the prime minister a short list of five merit-based nominees to fill each vacancy. Five vacancies will be filled in January, and another 17 by the end of next year.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: November 27, 2015

November 27th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

NL election countdown

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election is just a few days away! All polls point to a sizable win for Liberal leader Dwight Ball over PC leader Paul Davis, but there is some debate over just how big that lead really is. A CRA poll shows the Liberals “poised to sweep” the province, Forum has the Tories “closing the gap” and the latest numbers from Abacus Data show a “commanding Liberal lead”. We’ll only know for sure when polls close on Monday night.

Students from across the province will also take part in the election through our Student Vote program. We expect that more than 5,000 elementary and secondary students from as many as 48 schools to participate from 31 of the province’s electoral districts. You can view all participating schools on our interactive map. All three leaders also took part in our video Q&A

NWT election recap

The Northwest Territories went to the polls on Monday and the electorate “delivered a blunt demand for change” as eight sitting MLAs lost their seats. The unofficial results are available here. Voter turnout was 43.6 per cent. The newly elected MLAs will meet on December 17 to select the speaker, premier and cabinet.

In the Student Vote, students across the NWT took on the roles of election officials and cast ballots for the election candidates running in the 2015 territorial election. In total, 389 votes were cast from 11 schools representing 13 electoral districts. You can view the results here.

Trudeau meets the Queen

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday as part of his first full bilateral trip. Trudeau later met with British PM David Cameron.

Trudeau will also attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta starting today, and will attend the first day of the Paris climate summit next week.

Remembering Manmeet Bhullar

Calgary-Greenway MLA Manmeet Bhullar died in an accident Monday when he stopped to help another motorist. Tributes for Bhullar poured in from premiers past and present, as well as other MLAs and politicians and members of the public from across Canada. You can share your condolences with the Bhullar family here.

Question period on Wednesday was dedicated to Bhullar and every question was one he would have asked on the issues he was most passionate about. The day was described as “terribly sad, but beautiful too”, and “one of the legislature’s greatest days”. A state memorial service will be held Sunday in Calgary.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: November 20, 2015

November 20th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Trudeau’s debut on the world stage

Just more than a month removed from the federal election, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spent the past week on a “globe-spanning trip” that has taken him from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey to the APEC summit in Manila, Philippines.

Among the many notable world leaders in attendance, Trudeau’s meeting with US President Barack Obama was perhaps the most notable during the tour. The two leaders discussed trade, terrorism, the economy, energy, climate and refugees on Thursday – as well as tips for keeping ones hair from going grey.

NWT voters head to the polls on Monday

The Northwest Territories heads to the polls on Monday for their territorial general election. Consensus government is used in the NWT (and Nunavut), and the premier, cabinet and speaker are chosen by elected MLAs shortly after the election. The Elections NWT has a handy Polling Station Locator, if you’re not sure of where to vote.

Elementary and secondary students from across the province will also be casting ballots, as part of the Student Vote NWT program. If you’re looking to learn more about the candidates, we asked each to reply to two student-focused questions through video or a written response. You can view all of the submissions here.

Nominations close in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is in the midst of their own provincial election campaign. Candidate nominations close today, and election day is set for November 30. The Progressive Conservatives, led by current Premier Paul Davis, may not be able to field a full slate of candidates and currently trail in the latest Abacus Data polling.

The NTV leaders’ debate took place earlier this week (you can watch a replay here), and the final debate of the campaign is set for Monday. Voter information cards should be arriving in mailboxes across the province, but if you’re not sure where, when or how to vote you can visit the Elections NL website. We will also be running a Student Vote program for schools.

Conservative leadership update

Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose has named Denis Lebel to serve as deputy leader of the Conservative caucus, and former-speaker Andrew Scheer to take over as the party’s House leader. The party’s official leadership race is not yet underway, but there are rumblings that MPs Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong could be considering bids.

The Conservatives lost a member on Wednesday, however, when New Brunswick Senator John Wallace quit to sit an independent, citing “irreconcilable differences” with the party. There are currently seven other independent senators in the upper chamber.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: November 13, 2015

November 13th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Canada’s new prime minister

We were unable to post the ‘Weekly Round-Up’ last week, so had to wait to share that Justin Trudeau was officially sworn in as Canada’s twenty-third prime minister by Governor General David Johnston, along with the members of his cabinet.

Who made it to cabinet? You can read a full list here. There is regional balance and, because its 2015, it is evenly made up of men and women. You can see all 31 cabinet members in action when the House of Commons returns on December 3 with a speech from the throne.

The (interim) leader of the Opposition

The first Question Period of the 42nd parliament will be led by Rona Ambrose, the Conservative’s party interim leader and interim leader of the Opposition. Ambrose was chosen for the job last week.

In British Columbia, John Horgan will stay on as provincial NDP leader for the next election, scheduled for 2017. Horgan received 95 per cent support at the party’s convention as part of a mandatory leadership review.

Quebec by-elections

Four provincial by-elections were held in Quebec on Monday, and the Liberals won three of them. The Liberals won in Fabre, Beauce-Sud and St-Henri–Ste-Anne, while the Parti Quebecois took René-Lévesque in the Saguenay region.

Voter turnout was low for all four by-elections, ranging from a low of 22 per cent (in Fabre) to a high of 43 per cent (in Beauce-Sud). Full results and statistics are available on the Elections Quebec website.

Provincial/territorial election update

Did you know that the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador are in the midst of their own elections? The NWT heads to the polls on November 23 and NL voters cast ballots on November 30.

Polls in Newfoundland and Labrador suggest a Liberal “landslide” win, with Dwight Ball’s party poised to take about 66 per cent of support. This puts them well ahead of the Progressive Conservatives, led by current-premier Paul Davis, who are currently polling at 19 per cent.

With just more than a week remaining until election day in the NWT, one seat has already been determined! Jackson Lafferty was acclaimed in the Monfwi electoral district as he was unopposed. A full list of candidates is available here.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: October 30, 2015

October 30th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Government transition continues

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has announced that the House of Commons will reconvene in December. The specific date has not yet been set, but a speech from the throne will be read to lay out the new government’s agenda. Trudeau’s will be sworn-in and announce his cabinet next week.

The old PM has to resign before the new one take over, and Stephen Harper will formally step down on November 4. The Harper family is moving back to Calgary, while the Trudeaus are set to move into Rideau Cottage (rather than 24 Sussex). Harper plans to stay on as the MP for Calgary Heritage (and may also have an airport named after him).

Judicial recounts underway

The federal election is over but there’s still a chance that some ridings could change hands. Recounts are underway in four ridings: Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte (108 votes), Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup (269 votes), Hochelaga (541 votes) and Regina–Lewvan (132 votes). A fifth recount was completed in Edmonton Mill Woods and confirmed the Liberal victory.

Judicial recounts are mandatory if the vote margin difference between the first and second-place candidates is less than one one-thousandth of the valid votes cast. They can also be done at the request of a candidate if there are questions about miscounted or rejected ballots.

The final Student Vote results

In total, 6,760 schools participated in Student Vote this election with 922,000 students casting a ballot, representing all 338 electoral districts. You can watch the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge break down the results in this video:

Like the results of the official election, students elected a Liberal majority government and a Conservative official opposition. You can access the final results here. Wanted to keep your class engaged with their democracy? There’s still time to take part in the National Democracy Challenge.

Budget day in Alberta

The Alberta NDP presented their first-ever provincial budget in Tuesday and Finance Minister Joe Ceci unveiled the plan that will see the province run its largest deficit to date.

What did the budget include? The Globe and Mail has put together a list of ‘nine takeaways’, or you can read the entire document here.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: October 23, 2015

October 23rd, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Canadians elect a Liberal majority government

The results are in! Canada’s 42nd general election took place on Monday and Canadians elected a Liberal majority government led by Justin Trudeau. The Conservatives came in second and will form the official opposition, while the NDP finished in third place. Complete results are available on the Elections Canada website.

Voter turnout jumped to 68.5 per cent for this election, up from 61.1 per cent in 2011 and 58.8 per cent in 2008. This is the highest level of turnout since 1993, when Jean Chrétien’s Liberals won a majority (and the Blue Jays won the World Series).

The Student Vote results

The Student Vote program also saw record participation, with more than 900,000 students under the voting age casting ballots from 6,500 elementary and secondary schools across the country. Like the adults, they elected a Liberal majority with a Conservative opposition. The complete riding-by-riding results are available here.

The program, and the results, have garnered some great media attention from across the country. They were covered by the Globe and Mail, Radio-Canada and many other local and regional papers and stations. Thanks again to the thousands of dedicated and enthusiastic educators who helped make the program a success!

Transition of power

Having won the election, Trudeau’s team has begun the transition to power. The prime minister-designate met with the outgoing PM on Wednesday afternoon before coming together again with Harper on Thursday morning to lay a wreath in remembrance of the two Canadian soldiers killed last October.

Trudeau will name his cabinet on November 4 and has committed to it being gender balanced. The House of Commons will return shortly thereafter, with electoral reform possibly at the top of the agenda.

Leadership races underway

Monday’s election result has sparked at least two leadership races. Gilles Duceppe has (once again) stepped down as Bloc Québécois leader, and Harper resigned from the Conservative top job. Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May are staying on as NDP and Green leaders, for now at least, although there is a petition for May to become the Liberal environment minister.

No date has been set for either upcoming leadership convention, but potential Conservative candidates have begun to make themselves known. Diane Finley has expressed interested in the interim job, and Michelle Rempel has mused about running on Twitter.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: October 9, 2015

October 9th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Advance polls open today

Thanksgiving weekend is here! This year that means turkey, family, football, playoff baseball and advance polls! This is the first time Canadians will have four days to cast advance ballots and polls will be open Friday-Monday from 12 noon to 8pm.

Voter engagement in this elections has already been “strong,” according to Elections Canada CEO Marc Mayrand. Elections Canada ran a pilot project this week that allowed students to vote on university and college campuses. Through four days, 42,000 young people cast ballots!

Polling update

There is just a little more than a week remaining until election day and polls show the Liberals and Conservatives “gripped in [a] close race” at the top.

The Globe and Mail’s Election Forecast still shows the Conservatives on top, but Liberal odds are “slowly rising.” The CBC’s Poll Tracker shows the Liberals slightly ahead of the Conservatives, with their support increasing.

Student Vote in the news

Word is getting out that we’re in the midst of our best-ever Student Vote program! With more than 7,500 schools now registered, with more than 700,000 elementary and secondary students are expected to cast ballots next week.

The Globe and Mail wrote about how the program “seeks to engage young Canadians” in the federal election, and Metro papers across the country shared how we “make the abstract real for Canadian teenagers.”

Next week is Student Vote Week

During National Student Vote Week (October 13-16), students will take on the roles of deputy returning officers and poll clerks, and organize a vote using authentic election materials. Identical to the official election process, students have the opportunity to vote for the candidates running in their local riding.

The Student Vote results are released publicly by CIVIX on election night and shared with media for broadcast and publication. Stay tuned for more!

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: October 2, 2015

October 2nd, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Federal election countdown

Canada’s 42nd federal election campaign kicked off on August 2, exactly two months ago, and now less than three weeks remain until October 19! Those keen to cast a ballot only have to wait another week until advance polls open.

This campaign has featured many polls showing a tight three-way race, but things seemed to shift this week. The Globe’s Election Forecast now projects the Conservatives to win the most seats with a majority government still out of reach for any party. The CBC’s Poll Tracker shows the Conservatives in the best shape they’ve been in all campaign and The Signal, a new election forecast from Vox Pop Labs, similarly shows an edge for Stephen Harper’s party.

One week, two debates

Five leaders’ debates were scheduled for this 78-day campaign, and the last takes place tonight. Hosted by TVA, the French-language debate will feature Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Gilles Duceppe.

On Monday night, Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau squared off in the bilingual Munk Debate on foreign policy. Who won the debate? We asked the first-ever members of our Student Ambassador Network to share their commentary in real-time through Twitter. You can read some of their responses here.

These final two debates also come right on the heels of the Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, where Student Vote participants – in a new video – offered “some of the smartest post-debate commentary” one journalist had ever heard.

Democracy Bootcamp: Edmonton

Roughly 130 educators from Edmonton and the surrounding region took part in Democracy Bootcamp on Tuesday! Democracy Bootcamp: Edmonton was the fifth and final professional conference that CIVIX hosted in 2015 to inspire teachers’ democratic engagement and support their delivery of this fall’s federal Student Vote.

The day began with a panel featuring high-level political operatives Tom FlanaganSally Housser and Scott Reid who gave teachers a glance inside a campaign to explain how they are shaped, won and lost. The panel was moderated by The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson. The afternoon’s agenda included an all-candidate forum on federal politics hosted by Nancy Carlson of Global News.

Student Vote success stories

Student Vote registration has now closed and nearly 7,500 schools from across Canada are taking part – our most ever! Many media outlets across the country have caught wind of the nearly 700,000 students who will cast ballots later this month.

Students at D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School in Nepean were interviewed by the CBC about their Student Vote experience so far, and they also took the time to write a blog post for us. Students in Regina, Lakeland, Bracebridge and Barrie have similarly seen great coverage of their campaign events.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: September 25, 2015

September 25th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Leader’s debate recap

Last night’s Radio-Canada French-language debate brought together the five major party leaders – Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau, May and Duceppe – for the first and only time this federal election campaign.

The two-hour debate focused on five themes: government in service of Canadians; the economy; governance, democracy and institutions; the environment; and Canada in the world. You read a recap of the debate here, or watch highlights.

In advance of the debate, we spoke with Tasha Kheiriddin about what to look for in the debate, and what approach each leader might take. Who came out on top? It’s too soon to crown a winner from last night, but we did ask a group of high school students who they thought won last week’s Globe and Mail debate.

Election countdown

Less than a month remains until election day and Voter Information Cards are in the mail!

A new poll this week suggest that the supposed three-way race may not be as close as previously suggested. The Globe and Mail’s Election Forecast still shows the NDP and Conservatives on top, but the Liberals are “closing the gap”.

Democracy Bootcamp

On Monday we hosted two Democracy Bootcamps for our teachers, including 300 teachers in Calgary and 60 in Montreal. And next Tuesday we host our fifth and final Bootcamp before election day with 125 teachers in Edmonton.

In total, 800 teachers will have taken part in a Bootcamp this year to improve their delivery of our Student Vote program and to help engage other schools in their cities or school boards get engaged as well.

Student Vote campaign update

Our record-setting Student Vote pace continues, with more than 6,500 schools now registered to participate from schools across the country.

Haven’t registered your class yet? Don’t worry – there’s still time! Educators can register until September 30. Learn more at www.studentvote.ca.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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