Weekly Round-Up: October 17, 2014

October 17th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

A busy week for by-elections

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called federal by-elections in Whitby-Oshawa and Yellowhead for November 17. The seats were previously held by Jim Flaherty and Rob Merrifield, respectively.

Gary Keating has decided to step down as the MLA-elect for New Brunswick’s Saint John East riding just three weeks after winning his seat. Premier Brian Gallant is being urged to call the by-election to replace him as soon as possible.

The provincial by-election in Lloydminster has been set for November 13. The seat became vacant when MLA Tim McMillan left for a job in private sector last month.

Four Alberta provincial by-elections are in full swing. Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-West and Edmonton-Whitemud all head to the polls on October 27. Premier Jim Prentice is vying for a seat in the legislature.

Leadership race update

The Alberta NDP will elect their new leader this weekend. Rachel Notley, David Eggen and Rod Loyola are in the running to replace outgoing leader Brian Mason.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? James Beddome resigned as Green Party of Manitoba leader last November and was replaced on an interim basis by Alain Landry. Beddome now joins Kate Storey in running for the party leadership. The leadership convention is scheduled for November 15.

The first candidate in the Parti Québécois leadership race is Martine Ouellet. Ouellet has represented the Vachon riding since 2012.

The latest from the legislatures

Northwest Territories MLAs backed away from a proposal to extend their terms by a year, which would have pushed the next election to 2016. Instead, the territorial election is now tentatively set for November 23, 2015. The election was previously scheduled for October 5, 2015 – just two weeks before the federal election.

The Nova Scotia legislature will now sit for just four days a week. MLAs agreed to get rid of Monday House sittings, unless there is an emergency. Question Period will also be extended by five minutes.

Four provincial and territorial legislatures return next week for the fall session! Our blog has more details.

What we’ve been up to

Student Vote Day is just a week away for the Ontario municipal and school board elections! More than 1,600 schools have registered from 250 municipalities and the results will be announced at the close of polls on election night. The program received some great coverage this week from CTV News and Global.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 10, 2014

October 10th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Elections and by-elections

Federal by-elections in Whitby-Oshawa and Yellowhead could be called as soon as this weekend. Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Whitby-Oshawa on Thursday, just two weeks before the deadline to call the by-election in Jim Flaherty’s former riding.

Several riding recounts confirmed the result of last month’s New Brunswick provincial election. Technical difficulties with vote tabulators delayed the results, but Brian Gallant and the Liberals did in fact win a majority government.

Legislature news

Speaking of Gallant, he was sworn in as New Brunswick’s 33rd premier on Tuesday. He also announced his 13-member cabinet – the smallest New Brunswick cabinet in nearly 50 years.

The British Columbia legislature convened this week for a “rare fall sitting.” The Third Session of the province’s Fortieth Parliament began with a Speech from the Throne read by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon.

Leadership race update

The Parti Québécois will select their new leader in May 2015. The leadership rules were announced last weekend and the race officially kicks off on October 14. There are no official candidates yet but Stéphane Bédard has led the party on an interim basis since April’s election loss.

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod will enter the Ontario PC leadership race. MacLeod joins caucus mates Christine Elliott, Vic Fedeli, Monte McNaughton as well as Conservative MP Patrick Brown. The new leader will be elected on May 9.

Online voting in Ontario

Ontario municipal and school board elections are less than three weeks away and many municipalities will be casting their ballots online. The election will serve as a “test of online voting” in Sudbury, everything is “so far, so good” in Brantford, and everything is “working well” in Guelph. Will Hamilton be the next city to move to online voting? Check out an interesting perspective in the Spectator.

What we’ve been up to

Our Ontario municipal and school board election Student Vote program is in full swing! More than 1,600 schools have registered from more than 250 municipalities and elementary and secondary students are engaging in the election process.

We launched two new animated videos that explain the role and composition of Ontario municipalities and school boards. You can watch all five of our educational videos here. This week we were also featured in the Toronto Star’sClassroom Connection’ and the special section on the Toronto Foundation’s Vital Signs Report.

Registration for our Ontario program is now closed, but there is still time for educators to sign up in British Columbia!

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 3, 2014

October 3rd, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Elections and by-elections

The New Brunswick provincial election ended last week but the campaigning is far from over. Two parties are seeking judicial recounts in six ridings decided by fewer than 200 votes. Results were called into question after several vote tabulator machines experienced technical problems.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has called four provincial by-elections. Prentice is running in Calgary-Foothills (he is currently without a seat in the legislature) and voters in Edmonton-Whitemud, Calgary-Elbow and Calgary-West will also head to the polls.

Leadership race update

Barrie MP Patrick Brown has entered the Ontario PC leadership race. Brown is the fourth official candidate in the race, joining Monte McNaughton, Christine Elliott and Vic Fedeli. Candidates have until the end of January to announce their campaign, and the new leader will be elected in May.

Brown intends to stay on as MP while running for Ontario PC leader. Should a politician be allowed to hold more than one office? We looked at some other notable examples in a 2013 blog post.

Legislature news

Ontario may soon have thirty new elected representatives. The province is set to gain 15 MPs after the next federal election and the provincial legislature may follow suit by adding 15 MPPs after the next provincial vote. This would increase the number of seats at Queen’s Park from 107 to 122.

Paul Davis was sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador’s 12th premier last week. At Government House on Tuesday, Davis announced his new cabinet.

Did you know that British Columbia’s legislature is 116 years old? Here are five things you didn’t know about the BC legislature, courtesy of the Vancouver Sun.

What we’ve been up to

We visited Finance Minister Joe Oliver at his Eglinton-Lawrence constituency office to film four educational videos for this fall’s Student Budget Consultation. More information is coming soon!

We’re running our first Student Vote local government election program in British Columbia this November. Registration is now open and educators can sign up here to receive their free election resources.

Time is running out, but there is still time for Ontario educators to register for the Student Vote municipal and school board election program. Election day is just four weeks away!

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

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Weekly Round-Up: September 26, 2014

September 26th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

New Brunswick election recap

The results were delayed by a “software glitch,” but Brian Gallant’s Liberals won a majority government in New Brunswick’s 38th general election. The Liberals took 27 seats, the PC were reduced to 21 and Green Party leader David Coon secured the party’s first-ever seat in the legislature.

Voter turnout decreased to 65 per cent, five seats were decided by fewer than 100 votes and the new government will be sworn in within two weeks. You can check out our recap and view the complete results on the Elections New Brunswick website.

Leadership race update

New Brunswick’s election result has sparked two new leadership elections. Former premier David Alward resigned as PC leader and Dominic Cardy resigned as the leader of the NDP. Alward has served as PC leader since 2008, while Cardy’s resignation leaves the NDP looking for their fourth leader since 2005.

The Ontario PC will elect their new leader in May 2015Vic Fedeli is the latest candidate in the race, joining fellow MPPs Christine Elliot and Monte McNaughton. MPP Lisa MacLeod and MP Patrick Brown are expected to announce their intentions over the next few weeks.

Vice-regal roll call

Ontario has a new lieutenant governor! Elizabeth Dowdeswell was sworn in as the Queen’s representative in the province, replacing the outgoing David Onley. Want to learn more about the LG’s role? We updated our video on Canada’s Democracy to include Ms. Dowdeswell.

In other lieutenant governor news, Paul Davis will be sworn in as the new premier of Newfoundland and Labrador today by Frank Fagan, J.J. Grant delivered a Speech from the Throne to mark the beginning of the Nova Scotia legislature’s fall session and Vaughn Solomon was on hand to swear in Greg Ottenbreit as Saskatchewan’s new rural and remote health minister.

What we’ve been up to

Ontario’s municipal and school board elections are just a little over a month away and this week we began distributing resources to the more than 1,000 schools signed up for the Student Vote. You can check out photos from our warehouse and watch our new registration video. There is still time to get your class involved!

CIVIX team members Emily Barrette and Douglas Wong are former Ontario Legislature Internship Programme interns. They returned to Queen’s Park to give a presentation on our current projects. Here’s a recap.

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

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Scotland, Quebec and Sovereignty

September 19th, 2014 by CIVIX

This week in school, we spoke a lot about sovereignty. It wasn’t based on the upcoming referendum in Scotland, it’s just the place from which you start when discussing politics.

Every single politics class for the last three years of my degree has discussed sovereignty in some way during the first few weeks. This week it was International Public Law, where we discussed Kosovo’s independence. During Theories of Security, we debated if sovereignty and security were the only defining goals of a State. In European Comparative Politics, we saw when the boundaries of States were definitively drawn through our outline of history since the enlightenment.

That being said, I was very nervous about yesterday’s independence referendum in Scotland. Large political events generally make me anxious. However, this sense of nervousness was more about the fact that the precedence of a nationalistic political split could have been a catalyst for more secessionist movements, including Catalonia, in Spain, and of course, Quebec, in Canada. The successful and recognized split of a nation, especially in a western democracy, could provide a domino effect for powerful nationalistic politics to come into play, and perhaps launch more campaigns focused on referendums and the separation of these nations from their States.

So, I breathed a sigh of relief when the BBC alerted me this morning to the fact that Scotland voted ‘No’ and would remain a part of the United Kingdom. Though I believe that nationhood is important, the changes needed in order to function as a sovereign State may be a farther reach than two years’ away for Scotland. Their people voted with a strong margin against separation, with 55 per cent voting ‘No,’ which seems like an incredibly safe number when compared to Quebec’s slim 50.58 per cent, which narrowly kept the province part of Canada.

This vote has been a turning point for Scotland. Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks after the results repeated his commitment to moving towards more independence and devolution for Scotland’s politics and people. But, no matter the result, the referendum brought back the important discussion of sovereignty to the forefront of politics. It is not often discussed as a concept outside the confines of a political science lecture, but for the sake of cultural and historical nations, maybe it should be.

In many cases, nations can bridge their history, cultures, and differences through continued advocacy, awareness, and devolution. That way, perhaps the issues plaguing nations within States can come to discussion, negotiation, and solution, without having to redraw maps based on precarious margins.

Megan Beretta is a former CIVIX intern who currently studies Political Science and Communication at The University of Ottawa. She is currently studying abroad at the Euro-American Campus of Sciences Po in Reims, France. You can follow Megan on Twitter at @megberetta.

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Weekly Round-Up: September 19, 2014

September 19th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Canada’s Democracy Week

We were excited to take part in the fourth annual Canada’s Democracy Week (read our blog here). Canada’s Democracy Week is organized by Elections Canada and aims to connect Canadians with activities that celebrate our democratic values and traditions.

We launched this year’s Rep Day program during Democracy Week and coordinated classroom visits with MPs James Bezan, Ralph Goodale, Ray Boughen, Geoff Regan, Leon Benoit, Mauril Bélanger and Nycole Turmel. CIVIX President Taylor Gunn also took part in a discussion on “The ABCs of Teaching Democracy” at the University of Ottawa.

Leadership races

Paul Davis won the Newfoundland and Labrador PC leadership race and will become the province’s next premier. The convention took an “unexpected twist” when the second ballot results showed that Davis and John Ottenheimer were separated by just one vote. Davis won on the third ballot and is expected to take over the premier’s office in “a couple of weeks.”

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton has entered the Ontario PC leadership race. McNaughton is the second candidate in the race, joining fellow MPP Christine Elliott.

Jim Prentice was sworn-in as Alberta’s sixteenth premier and announced his cabinet, prorogued the legislature and invited Donna Kennedy-Glans to return to the PC caucus. The legislature is set to return on November 17.

Election update

The 2014 New Brunswick provincial general election will take place on Monday! The latest polls still show that Brian Gallant’s Liberals hold a “significant lead” over David Alward’s Progressive Conservatives.

Will there be an early election in Manitoba? The earliest a provincial election can be held is October 2015, but opposition leader Brian Pallister is pushing for a spring 2015 vote. Premier Greg Selinger says he has no plans to change the fixed election date legislation and it is likely that voters will next cast ballots in April 2016.

Resignations

The House of Commons returned this week, but that didn’t stop two Members of Parliament from announcing their departure from federal politics:

  • Conservative MP Rob Merrifield resigned to become Alberta’s representative to the United States. Merrifield had represented the Yellowhead riding since 2000.
  • Liberal MP Gerry Byrne will leave federal politics to run in the next Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election. Byrne has represented Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte since 1996.

Two provincial politicians also announced their resignations:

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

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Canada’s Democracy Week 2014 – “Democracy: Own It.”

September 15th, 2014 by Dan Allan

Canada’s Democracy Week is here, and we’re excited to take part once again.

Canada’s Democracy Week is organized by Elections Canada and aims to connect Canadians with activities that celebrate our democratic values and traditions.

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The fourth annual Canada’s Democracy Week runs from September 15th to 21st and will encourage Canadians, particularly youth, to learn more about the importance of democracy and voting, and to become more involved in the democratic process.

This year’s theme is “Democracy: Own it.” Youth are encouraged to learn about how they can participate in the electoral process and how to get informed.

We launched the 2014-15 Rep Day program last week as part Canada’s Democracy Week. Rep Day connects schools with their local Member of Parliament for a dialogue about government, the electoral process, and issues that interest them. The program aims to help students develop a better understanding and sense of trust in the people and institutions within our democracy. We’ll have more details to share throughout Canada’s Democracy Week and the weeks ahead.

Rep Day

Additionally, CIVIX President Taylor Gunn will take part in a discussion on civic education titled “The ABCs of Teaching Democracy” at the University of Ottawa on September 16th. All are welcome to attend.

Youth aged 14 to 17 are also encouraged to get involved by participating in the National Democracy Challenge by submitting an image, a video or writing to win prizes. There is also a school prize and the Canadian school with the most submissions can win a Forum for Young Canadians student bursary. Student Vote Team Leader Sam Livingstone won for her blog post in 2012.

Visit the Canada’s Democracy Week website for more information, including a full list of events.

 

You can also read our Canada’s Democracy Week blogs from past years:

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Weekly Round-Up: September 12, 2014

September 12th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Alberta’s new premier

Jim Prentice defeated Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver to win the Alberta PC leadership and he will become the province’s 16th premier. Prentice received 77 per cent of votes cast, but the sizeable victory was “overshadowed” by lower voter turnout. Many party members expressed frustration with the new electronic voting system that was used.

Prentice and his new cabinet could be sworn in as early as next week, and there is much debate over whether unelected members could (or should) be appointed.

Rep Day is underway!

We launched the 2014-15 Rep Day program on Wednesday as part of Canada’s Democracy Week. Rep Day is a civic education initiative that connects schools with their local Member of Parliament, and visits were coordinated this week with MPs James Bezan, Ralph Goodale, Ray Boughen, Geoff Regan and Leon Benoit. Nycole Turmel will participate next week.

Rep Day

This year’s Rep Day program will run throughout the school year and interested schools are invited to contact us to take part and receive free curriculum resources. We coordinated 85 Rep Day visits during the last school year.

NB election update

The New Brunswick provincial election campaign is heating up with a little more than a week remaining until election day. Two New Brunswick leadership debates were held this week and jobs and the economy and the shale gas industry were the major issues. The official list of candidates has been released and advance polls open tomorrow.

Opportunities for students and educators

Are you an Ontario student with an interest in provincial politics? Grade 10 to 12 students can apply now for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament, and beginning on Monday Grade 7 and 8 students can apply for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario Page Program.

Time is running out for educators to apply for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario Teacher’s Forum and the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba Teachers’ Institute. Make sure you get your applications in today!

What we’ve been up to

Canada’s Democracy Week begins next week, and we are taking part in the ‘ABCs of Teaching Democracy’ panel on civic education at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday, September 16. The event is open to the public.

What can be done about low youth voter turnout? CIVIX President Taylor Gunn took part in a video interview for The Globe and Mail about the Student Vote program and how to encourage youth civic engagement.

Taylor was also announced as a juror for Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen project. You can browse through all nominees and submit your own nomination.

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

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Journée du représentant : Des élèves rencontrent leur député

September 10th, 2014 by CIVIX

Le programme de la Journée du représentant 2014-2015 commence aujourd’hui et se déroule dans le cadre de la Semaine canadienne de la démocratie.

CIVIX, qui coordonne les Journées du représentant avec des députés et des écoles secondaires, lance son programme aujourd’hui avec la visite du député de Selkirk-Interlake, James Bezan, à l’école Warren Collegiate de Warren, au Manitoba. Des rencontres sont également prévues au cours de la prochaine semaine avec les députés Ralph Goodale, Ray Boughen, Geoff Regan, Leon Benoit et Nycole Turmel.

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La Journée du représentant est un programme d’éducation civique qui permet d’établir un lien entre les écoles et les représentants élus dans le but d’engager un dialogue sur le gouvernement, le processus électoral et les enjeux qui intéressent les jeunes. Le programme a pour objectif d’aider les élèves à mieux comprendre le rôle actif que jouent ces personnes et les institutions qu’elles représentent dans notre démocratie, et de favoriser un sentiment de confiance à leur égard.

CIVIX assure la prestation du programme de la Journée du représentant avec le soutien d’Élections Canada et est fière de lancer l’édition 2014-2015 de son programme pendant la Semaine canadienne de la démocratie.

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La Semaine canadienne de la démocratie a pour objectif de susciter l’intérêt des Canadiens pour des activités qui célèbrent nos valeurs et nos traditions démocratiques dans les collectivités de partout au pays. La quatrième édition de la Semaine canadienne de la démocratie se tiendra du 15 au 21 septembre et invite tous les Canadiens, et particulièrement les jeunes, à se renseigner sur l’importance de la démocratie et du vote, et à participer davantage au processus démocratique.

Lors de la dernière année scolaire, CIVIX a orchestré 85 visites dans le cadre de la Journée du représentant avec 66 députés représentant huit provinces et quatre partis politiques. Les commentaires des participants étaient élogieux et CIVIX prévoit étendre la portée de son programme pour l’année en cours.

Randy Kamp takes part in Rep Day

« Il s’agit d’une occasion unique pour les jeunes de rencontrer leur représentant dans le contexte plus intime d’une salle de classe. Cet échange permet de donner un “visage humain” à la politique. Il se révèle d’une efficacité redoutable pour éveiller leur curiosité, bien plus qu’un manuel scolaire ou un reportage dans les médias. Enfin, nous souhaitons que cette activité fasse de nos jeunes de futurs citoyens plus engagés et d’ardents défenseurs de la démocratie », explique Diane Ballantyne, enseignante à l’école secondaire du district Centre Wellington à Fergus, en Ontario.

Le programme de la Journée du représentant 2014-2015 se déroulera tout au long de l’année scolaire et les visites auront lieu pendant les pauses parlementaires. Les écoles intéressées sont invitées à communiquer avec CIVIX pour s’inscrire au programme et recevoir les ressources pédagogiques gratuites qui les aideront à préparer la visite d’un député.

Notre carte interactive permet de localiser toutes les écoles qui ont participé au programme l’an dernier. Vous trouverez des photographies des visites de l’an dernier sur notre page Facebook.

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Rep Day: Connecting Students and MPs

September 10th, 2014 by Dan Allan

CIVIX is coordinating Rep Day visits between Members of Parliament and high school classes, and the 2014-15 program began during Canada’s Democracy Week.

Rep Day

Rep Day is a civic education initiative that connects schools with their local MP for a dialogue on government, the electoral process, and issues that interest them. The program aims to help students develop a better understanding and sense of trust in the people and institutions within our democracy.

CIVIX is delivering Rep Day with support from Elections Canada.

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Canada’s Democracy Week aims to connect Canadians with activities that celebrate our democratic values and traditions in communities across the country. The fourth annual Canada’s Democracy Week ran from September 15-21 and will encourage Canadians, particularly young Canadians, to learn more about the importance of democracy and voting and to become more involved in the democratic process.

During the last school year, CIVIX coordinated 85 Rep Day visits with 66 Members of Parliament representing eight provinces and four political parties. The feedback from MPs and schools has been extremely positive and CIVIX hopes to expand its reach this year.

Randy Kamp takes part in Rep Day

 “I think it is a very valuable opportunity for young people to meet their representative in a small classroom setting. It puts a ‘real face’ on politics. It engages them in a way that a textbook or news clip cannot. And, ultimately, hopefully, it will encourage them to be more engaged citizens in their democracy in the future,” says Diane Ballantyne, a teacher at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus, Ontario.

The 2014-15 Rep Day program will run throughout the school year with visits coinciding with Parliamentary break weeks. Interested schools are invited to contact CIVIX to take part and receive free curriculum resources to help guide the visit.

 

Want to see Rep Day in action? Watch a clip of Niagara West-Glanbrook MP Dean Allison’s Rep Day visit to Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School:

You can view all participating schools from last year on our interactive map. Photos from last year’s Rep Day visits can also be found on our Facebook page.

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