Democracy Bootcamp BC 2015

February 26th, 2015 by Dan Allan

More than 125 educators from across British Columbia are set to gather in Vancouver today and tomorrow for Democracy Bootcamp.

Hosted by CIVIX at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Democracy Bootcamp BC 2015 will cover the basics of elections, voting research and trends, and techniques and tools to educate and engage students in our democracy. The conference is intended to improve the political knowledge and interest, and instructional capacity of classroom teachers, and enhance their delivery of the Student Vote program.

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Democracy Bootcamp BC is made possible with support from Elections Canada, Elections BC, the Vancouver FoundationVancity and the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue.

The schedule for the two-day event includes a federal politics panels hosted by Gary Mason, a pundits panel featuring Stockwell Day, Marcella Munro, Althia Raj and Scott Reid, a look inside election campaigns with Brian Topp and Jaime Watt, and discussions on social media and technology hosted by Twitter’s Steve Ladurantaye and Vox Pop Labs’ Clifton van der Linden

CIVIX has organized Student Vote projects in British Columbia during the last four federal and three provincial elections, as well as the recent local elections. During the last provincial election, more than 100,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from over 700 schools.

An Ontario Democracy Bootcamp is currently scheduled for April in Toronto, and Bootcamps in Quebec and Alberta are being planned for later this year.

The first Democracy Bootcamp was held in Toronto for Ontario teachers in April 2011. Videos of the panels are available here, and you can watch a video recap of the event here:

Follow us at @CIVIX_Canada and @studentvote to keep tabs on Democracy Bootcamp BC 2015. Please contact hello@civix.ca for more information.

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Bringing the Vital Signs Report to Student Vote classrooms across Toronto

February 26th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Rahul Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Foundation, recently met with a group of “budding city councillors” at a Toronto high school. These students were a part of a joint initiative between the Toronto Foundation and CIVIX, to bring the Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report into Student Vote classrooms across the city.

Coinciding with official election periods, students learn about government and the electoral process, debate the issues, and participate in a parallel vote on the official local candidates.

In the fall of 2014, 1,640 schools registered and 133,202 ballots were cast as part of the Student Vote program for the Ontario municipal and school board elections. Toronto’s civic elections were particularly exciting, and more than 30,000 students from across the city cast their ballots for mayor, council and school board trustee.

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To increase engagement, CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation partnered to bring the Vital Signs® Report into nearly 300 Toronto schools.

One of 191 Community Foundations in Canada, the Toronto Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that connects philanthropy to community needs and opportunities across the city.

Published annually by the Toronto Foundation, the Report identifies the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in Toronto. It aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate.

The Report and a specially developed classroom activity were distributed to registered Team Leaders in Toronto to accompany other Student Vote resources. Through the Vital Signs® Report, students learned about issues affecting their city in more detail, and encouraged discussion about how different candidates would address those questions.

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One participating teacher said the Toronto Vital Signs® Report, “fostered interest in municipal politics and inspired my students to advocate for issues affecting their community” and added that it “gave us a lot of knowledge about our city and also provided an important framework within which I was able to bring up issues that were a part of municipal politics.”

Teacher Alicia Roberge and her Grade 9 geography class at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute provided a great example of how Student Vote and the Report could work hand in hand to increase youth civic engagement.

Alicia’s students created a series of videos and presented their work to Toronto Foundation President & CEO Rahul Bhardwaj on November 27, 2014. You can watch a video recap of the visit here.

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“CIVIX was delighted to work with the Toronto Foundation last fall and have the opportunity to provide interesting research and statistics to participating schools in Toronto. We know it fostered great dialogue in classrooms about important issues facing our city. It was a valuable experience for all involved,” says Taylor Gunn, President and CEO of CIVIX Canada.

Overall, the partnership between CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation was successful in providing students with a greater understanding of the issues at hand in the municipal election. We look forward to working together again during the next Toronto election!

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Weekly Round-Up: February 20, 2015

February 20th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Leadership race updates

The PEI Liberal leadership convention kicks off this evening in Charlottetown! Wade MacLauchlan has been acclaimed as the new party leader and will replace the outgoing Robert Ghiz as premier. Many believe the the province could head to the polls this spring.

Manitoba’s NDP leadership race will be decided in two weeks. Premier Greg Selinger has become the front-runner after picking up more delegates last weekend than rivals Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald. Who will come out on top? The Winnipeg Free Press has “weighed the odds.”

On March 7, members of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP will gather in St. John’s for a leadership convention. The race has reportedly “hit the home stretch” with Earle McCurdy seen as the presumptive favourite.

Preparing for the federal campaign

There will be a federal election this year and for the first time in Canadian history there will be “three wise women” running the Conservative, NDP and Liberal campaigns: Jenni Byrne, Anne McGrath and Katie Telford, respectively.

Jason MacDonald, Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s director of communications is stepping away after 18 months on the job and will be replaced by Rob Nicol. What does the job entail? Andrew MacDougall describes a “day in the life” for the PM’s spokesman.

MPPs go back to work

Members of Provincial Parliament returned to Queen’s Park on Tuesday for the first time in 2015. There was a new face on the Liberal benches as Sudbury’s Glenn Thibeault was sworn-in after winning a by-election earlier this month. It was a “raucous first day” for Thibeault, as he faced heckling during his first provincial Question Period.

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod left the Ontario PC leadership race earlier this month to reportedly run for John Baird’s vacant seat in the House of Commons. However, MacLeod announced this week that she would not run federally and would finish her term at Queen’s Park.

Alberta election speculation

It looks more and more every day that Alberta could head to the polls this spring. In preparation, the Alberta Party offered not to run candidates in five Liberal-held ridings in a non-aggression pact that was ultimately rejected by the Liberals.

In another sign, long-time Calgary-Fort MLA Wayne Cao won’t be running for re-election, joining several of his other Progressive Conservative colleagues. Cao has represented the riding since it was created 18 years ago.

Budget day in BC

Tuesday was Budget Day in BC! Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled a budget that featured a budget surplus of $879 million. As per tradition, de Jong wore a new pair of shoes.

Want to share your input on the federal budget? Second semester classes can register now for our Student Budget Consultation program. Nearly 5,000 youth have already taken part from across the country.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: February 13, 2015

February 13th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Eve Adams crosses the floor

On Monday, a flurry of political moves began with Conservative MP Eve Adams crossing the floor to join the Liberal Party. Adams has served as the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South since 2011 and will run for the Liberal nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked about the floor crossing after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Who decides what questions get asked to the PM? David Akin explains in a great blog post.

Did you know that Stewart Campbell was the first-ever Canadian MP to cross the floor in 1868? Global News has put together a “brief history of floor crossing in Ottawa.”

Federal cabinet shuffle

The prime minister also shuffled his cabinet on Monday. Jason Kenney takes charge of the defence portfolio, former defence minister Rob Nicholson takes over foreign affairs (John Baird’s old portfolio) and Pierre Poilievre takes over as minister for employment and social development.

Nunavut’s new MLA

Voters in Nunavut’s Uqqummiut riding went to the polls on Monday to elect a new MLA. Pauloosie Keyootak was victorious, defeating James Arreak and Niore Iqalukjuak. Voter turnout was 79 per cent in Qikiqtarjuaq and 65 per cent in Clyde River. Full results are available on the Elections Nunavut website.

The seat became vacant in October 2014 when Samuel Nuqingaq was expelled from the legislature for unacceptable conduct.

Leadership races

The Manitoba NDP leadership will be decided in less than a month. Either Greg Selinger will stay on as party leader and premier, or he will be replaced by rivals Theresa Oswald or Steve Ashton. Oswald and Ashton have taken the early lead in delegates for the March 8 leadership vote, but the Winnipeg Free Press argues that it is “still way too early to count Selinger out“. The next few weeks will be very interesting.

In Alberta, the Wildrose Executive Committee will not let MP Rob Anders run for the party leadership. It is also looks like the province will see a May election, as the budget has been delayed until the end of March.

Éric Grenier at ThreeHundredEight.com has updated leadership endorsement rankings for the Ontario PC and Parti Quebecois leadership races.

Job opportunities

You can still apply for our Stakeholder Relations and Fundraising Manager and Communications Coordinator positions.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: February 6, 2015

February 6th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

John Baird resigns

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced his resignation on Tuesday in an emotional House of Commons speech. In twenty years of public service Baird has served at both Queen’s Park as an MPP and in Ottawa as an MP, holding multiple ministerial portfolios at both levels of government. Independent MP Sana Hassainia and NDP MP Alexandrine Latendresse also announced this week that they would not be running for re-election.

Ontario overview

Voters in Sudbury elected Ontario Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault as the riding’s new MPP. Thibeault had previously served as the NDP MP for the federal riding of Sudbury, which has been vacant since his official resignation last month. Full by-election results are available on the Elections Ontario website.

Also in Ontario, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli dropped out of the PC leadership race on Wednesday and endorsed Christine Elliott. Lisa MacLeod will reportedly drop out of the race later today and is said to be considering a run for Baird’s soon-to-be-vacant federal seat.

More signs of a spring Alberta election

In Alberta, “a flurry of political moves” continues to point to an early election call by Premier Jim Prentice. MLAs continue to announce that they will not be running for re-election and the candidate nomination process is moving ahead at full steam.

However, columnist Lorne Gunter argues that Prentice should hold off on a writ drop due to the “little matter of democratic integrity.” The two leading opposition parties are without permanent leaders, and the province has a fixed-date election law that calls for a spring 2016 vote.

Manitoba’s NDP leadership race

The Manitoba NDP leadership convention kicks off a month from now in Winnipeg. Greg Selinger (the current premier) and MLAs Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton are competing for the job of party leader and premier.

How will the winner be selected? The Winnipeg Free Press has a great breakdown of how the “complicated leadership election system” works.

Party leaders are people too

Which federal party leader would be the best CEO, or survive in the wilderness? Abacus Data (who also helped us with this year’s Student Budget Consultation) released the results of their amusing poll intended to explore what underlying perceptions Canadian have about Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. A new EKOS poll also shows that Harper has taken a small lead over the Liberals nationally.

CIVIX is hiring!

Interested in joining our team? We are hiring a Stakeholder Relations and Fundraising Manager and a Communications Coordinator. Apply today!

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

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Weekly Round-Up: January 30, 2015

January 30th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Parliament returns

The Second Session of the 41st Parliament resumed on Monday as MPs returned to Ottawa after the winter break.

What’s on the House of Commons agenda? The Globe and Mail has a list of “five issues to watch”, and our friends at Samara have put together a very handy “legislative lowdown” with more on what to expect.

By-election breakdown

The Sudbury provincial by-election is less than a week away! Voters in the Nickel City will vote to replace Joe Cimino, who resigned as MPP in November after less than six months on the job. The latest poll shows that Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault is ahead by “a healthy margin.”

The Nunavut riding of Uqqummiut is also in the midst of a by-election. After a complaint about his eligibility, candidate Sandy Kautuq was removed from the ballot. Three candidates remain, and the winner will be determined on February 9.

Alberta election speculation

Will Alberta head to the polls this spring? Premier Jim Prentice has hinted at a snap election call, and blogger Dave Cournoyer predicts the could will fall in mid-April or mid-May. A number of Progressive Conservative MLAs have announced their retirements, putting pressure on the governing party to nominate a full slate of candidates.

Two of Alberta’s top parties, however, will be without leaders if the writ drops this spring. The opposition Wildrose don’t elect a new leader until June 6 and the Liberals will be without a leader after Raj Sherman’s resignation. Both parties insist that they will be ready this spring, if necessary.

Leadership races

Outgoing MP Rob Anders may not be allowed in the race for Wildrose leader, but former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Derek Fildebrandt is considering a run.

The Progressive Conservative leadership race is now less than a month away. The race will have three candidates: Darlene Compton, James Aylward and Rob Lantz

In other news, Jean-François Lisée has withdrawn from the Parti Quebecois leadership race, BC Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver will seek the party’s leadership, the Manitoba NDP will allow mail-in ballots during their leadership vote (where Steve Ashton is reportedly the “one to beat“) and the Ontario PC held their second leadership debate in London.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: January 23, 2015

January 23rd, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Election speculation

It may be hard to believe, but it has been nine years since the 39th General Election (and the second federal Student Vote). Stephen Harper won a minority government in 2006, and later this year he will run for his fourth term as prime minister.

When will Canadians head to the polls? The election is scheduled for October 19th, but Elections Canada will be ready if the writ drops early. Whenever the vote is held, many expect the campaign to be one of the “longest and most expensive” in Canadian history.

PEI’s premier-in-waiting

It’s now official: the next premier of Prince Edward Island will be Wade MacLauchlan as no other candidate entered the race by Tuesday’s deadline. MacLauchlan will take over as Liberal leader and premier next month, replacing the outgoing Robert Ghiz.

MacLauchlan’s first challenge will likely be to determine an election date. Many believe that the province could head to the polls this spring.

Leadership races

PEI’s Progressive Conservatives are also in the midst of a leadership race. Darlene Compton is the most recent entrant to the race. Compton is not currently an MLA, but lost her 2011 bid for election by just eight votes.

Manitoba’s NDP are holding a leadership vote in March. The party will “re-think” their decision requiring all delegates to cast ballots in person this weekend after criticism from northern party members.

Democratic awards

On Wednesday, our friends at Springtide Collective held their first annual ‘Better Politics Awards’ to recognize individuals who have had a positive influence on Nova Scotia politics.

The MLA winners were Chris d’Entremont for Legislator of the Year, Maureen MacDonald for Most Knowledgeable MLA, Geoff MacLellan for Most Open MLA, Sterling Belliveau for Most Collaborative and John Lohr for Rookie of the Year. There were also three Public Interest Champion winners.

Job opportunities

The fine people at Samara are hiring an Assistant to the Directors. Applications are due on February 4.

Elections Alberta is recruiting Returning Officers and Election Clerks for the next provincial election. Learn more here.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: January 16, 2015

January 16th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Upcoming elections

Most election prognostication is focused on this year’s federal vote, but several provinces could also be headed to the polls in the near future.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis must call an election this year, and this week he conducted a review of the number of seats in the legislature. Davis will present legislation to reduce the number of seats by 10, bringing the total to 38. Davis is also planning for a fall election, likely in October or November.

Speculation mounts” that Alberta Premier Jim Prentice will call a spring election, and his Progressive Conservatives are quickly moving to nominate as many candidates as possible. The party doesn’t have to hold the election until the spring of 2016.

The next PEI election is also scheduled for 2016, but many expect the party to drop the writ soon after a new leader is chosen in February.

Leadership races

Alberta’s Wildrose Party needs a new leader and outgoing MP Rob Anders is said to be interested in the job.

In Prince Edward Island, Keith Kennedy is trying to obtain enough signatures to join the Liberal leadership race. Wade MacLaughlin is the only official candidate so far. Also in PEI, the Progressive Conservatives will be using mail-in ballots for their leadership vote. Both parties elect new leaders next month.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s NDP will choose its new leader in March. Earle McCurdy is the only candidate so far.

By-election breakdown

The provincial by-election in Sudbury, Ontario will take place on February 5. There will be six candidates in the race, including John Turmel. Turmel holds the world record for being a political candidate, and this will be his 85th run for office.

Nunavut’s Uqqummiut by-election is set for February 9. Elections Nunavut has confirmed that four candidates are running to fill the vacant seat.

Federal budget delayed

Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced that the federal budget would not be released “until at least April” to allow more time to assess the impact of oil prices on the economy.

Want to share your input on this year’s budget? There’s still time for Canadian youth to take part in the Student Budget Consultation. The program allows students learn about government and public policy and watch videos from Oliver, Thomas MulcairJustin Trudeau and Elizabeth May. Educators can sign up here.

Great opportunities

Want to take part in the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme? Apply now for this great opportunity.

Do you know an awesome Ontario teacher worthy of recognition? Nominate them for an Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) Teaching Award.

Registration for the Ontario’s Legislative Assembly Teacher’s Forum is open! Educators can sign up here.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: January 9, 2015

January 9th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Cabinet shuffle

The year in Canadian politics got off to a busy start with Monday’s federal cabinet shuffle. Erin O’Toole replaces Julian Fantino as Veterans Affairs minister, and Fantino becomes the Associate Minister of Defence. The current government now has 40 ministers, tying it for the largest federal cabinet in Canadian history.

Election speculation

We’re now officially in an election year! October 19 is the fixed date for this year’s federal vote, but there is a some speculation that the election could be called early. The 30 new ridings to be added this year will also “add another layer of unpredictability”.

There’s no need to wonder about the date of Manitoba’s provincial election. To avoid conflict with the federal election, Manitoba voters will now head to the polls on April 19, 2016. The election was originally set for October 6.

By-election breakdown

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has called the provincial by-election in Sudbury for February 5.  Wynne had said that the riding should have a new MPP by the time the legislature resumes on February 17.

Voters in Nunavut’s Uqqummiut riding will vote in the territorial by-election set for February 9. The seat has sat vacant since October, when MLAs voted unanimously to expel Samuel Nuqingaq from the legislature.

Leadership races

Lorraine Michael announced this week that she would be stepping down as Newfoundland and Labrador NDP leader. A leadership vote is expected in March.

In Manitoba, deadline day for the NDP leadership race has “come and gone”. There are three candidates in the race: current Premier Greg Selinger, Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton.

There is some other party leadership news to recap from over the holidays: Heather Forsyth was named interim Wildrose leader, the PEI Liberals are poised for a “coronation” of Wade MacLauchlan as party leader and premier, PEI PC leadership candidates have pledged to also run for MLA, and Conservative MPs have begun to “take sides” in the Ontario PC leadership race.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: December 19, 2014

December 19th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

A ‘Wild’ week in Alberta politics

The last week before the holidays is usually light on political news but 2014 has proved to be the exception. Alberta has already had a busy political year – Jim Prentice is the province’s third premier in nine months – and the past week has only made things more interesting.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith led a “mass defection” of MLAs to join Prentice’s Progressive Conservative caucus this week. Joining Smith in crossing the floor are Rob Anderson, Gary Bikman, Rod Fox, Jason Hale, Bruce McAllister, Blake Pedersen, Bruce Rowe and Jeff Wilson.

It was initially reported that the two parties might even officially merge, but many in the Wildrose have “pledged to remain.” The party will begin the process of selecting a new leader in January.

Sudbury shake-up

The Nickel City also had an action-packed week. On Monday, former Ontario Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier announced that he would not run for the party’s nomination in the upcoming Sudbury provincial by-election in favour of an appointed candidate.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault would be leaving federal politics to run provincially for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals. Both Sudbury by-elections will take place at some point in 2015.

Retirements

Thibeault was not alone in announcing their exit from federal politics. Longtime Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies will not run for re-election, and Senate Clerk Gary O’Brien will retire in February 2015.

Leadership races

The Manitoba NDP leadership campaign is now officially underway! MLA Theresa Oswald will reportedly launch her campaign later today, and current-premier Greg Selinger also plans to run.

Leadership candidates – including Selinger – will be required to pay a $2,000 entry fee and gather signatures of support. There’s more bad news for Selinger: new numbers from Angus Reid show that the premier’s approval rating is just 17 per cent.

What we’ve been up to

We’ve had a busy year! We ran Student Vote parallel election programs for the Ontario provincial electionOntario’s municipal and school board elections and British Columbia’s local government elections. We’re currently in the midst of our third federal Student Budget Consultation program.

In the past week alone we have coordinated twenty Rep Day Member of Parliament classroom visits in high schools across Canada. Participants this week included Speaker Andrew Scheer, Bal Gosal, John McCallum and Rathika Sitsabaiesan.

On behalf of all of us at CIVIX, best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. We’ll see you again in 2015!

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

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