Weekly Round-Up: March 20, 2015

March 20th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Vice-regal renewal

On Monday, the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson suggested that Stephen Harper extend David Johnston‘s post as governor general with an election on the horizon. Canada’s head of state traditionally serves a five-year term and Johnston was slated to end his in early October, just ahead of the scheduled federal vote.

The prime minister listened. On Tuesday, it was announced that Johnston would stay on for two more years as his constitutional expertise might be required following an election that could result in a minority government. You can learn more about the role of the GG by watching our video.

Premier popularity

According to the latest quarterly survey from Angus Reid Global, Canada’s most popular premiers are Brad Wall (with 64 per cent approval) followed Jim Prentice and Stephen McNeil (tied with 43 per cent approval). Greg Selinger, who survived a leadership challenge earlier in the month, is at the bottom of the list with just 22 per cent approval.

Provincial election speculation

Speaking of Premier Prentice, many pundits are expecting “an early provincial election to be called later this month with a 28-day campaign ending with a vote in late April.” Unfortunately, Edmonton Sun columnist Lorne Gunter thinks the imminent Alberta campaign “will be a snoozer.”

New P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan has been “on the hot seat” for his first three weeks in office, and recently the debate has focused on including non-MLAs on legislature committees and the state of the economy. An election call is expected at any time and, like Alberta, the province could be casting ballots this spring.

Leadership race updates

Ontario Progressive Conservatives will elect a new leader in May, and the campaign has “taken a nasty turn” with allegations that candidate Patrick Brown ‘shortchanged’ the party by underreporting his fundraising numbers.

Alberta’s Wildrose Party will select a new leader later this month, and the three candidates “fought over floor-crossings and robocalls” at a radio debate on Tuesday.

In memoriam

Canada lost Nova Scotia MLA Allan Rowe and former Newfoundland and Labrador MHA Melvin Woodward this week. Rowe had represented the Dartmouth South riding since 2013, and was previously known as an anchor on Global TV. Woodward had served as Minister of Labrador Affairs, director for the Bank of Canada and was a founding member and head of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce.

Registration is open for Student Vote Alberta

Want to bring the upcoming Alberta provincial election to your classroom? Registration is open for the next Alberta Student Vote program! The project is made possible due to financial support received from Elections Alberta and Alberta Education.

This will be the seventh Student Vote project conducted in the province. In the last provincial election, more than 85,000 students cast ballots from 761 schools. You can watch a video recap of the 2012 program here.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: March 13, 2015

March 13th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Leadership races

It was confirmed on Sunday that embattled Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger would remain on as Manitoba NDP leader. In a tight leadership race, Selinger defeated former ministers Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald during the second round of voting.

The Newfoundland and Labrador NDP also elected a new leader last weekend. On Saturday, Earle McCurdy beat out Mike Goosney and Chris Bruce for the party’s top job. The province will hold a provincial election this fall.

In anticipation of an April provincial election, Alberta’s Wildrose Party will elect a new leader on March 28. Rules for the race were confirmed this week, as were the three candidates: Drew Barnes, Linda Osinchuk and Brian Jean. You can learn more about the candidates here.

Elections and by-elections

The Alberta legislature resumed this week for the first time since the mass defection of Wildrose MLAs in December, but many expect the session to be cut short by an election call. The decision to issue the writs will ultimately fall to Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell and he was interviewed this week about the possibility of an early vote.

Many believe that Prince Edward Island could also be headed towards a spring election and The Guardian has a handy map of candidate nominations.

Quebec’s Richelieu riding went to the polls on Monday and Parti Quebécois candidate Sylvain Rochon came out on top with 36 per cent of the vote.

Explaining transfer payments

Have you always been too embarrassed to ask about transfer payments? Thankfully, the Mowat Centre has an explainer on why the payments exist, how they work, and why they matter. You can also learn more about transfer payments through our Student Budget Consultation video on ‘Expenditures’ with Finance Minister Joe Oliver.

Elections office updates

Elections Ontario released their post-election report on Tuesday. The report makes several recommendations for future elections, and also highlights the Student Vote program we ran in nearly 1,700 schools across the province.

After significant delays and inaccurate data on election night, Elections New Brunswick announced last week that they would be scrapping electronic vote-counting software for future elections.

Welcome to the team, Amélie!

We are very excited to welcome Amélie Laurin-Gravel to the CIVIX team as Communications Coordinator.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: March 6, 2015

March 6th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Leadership races

Two provincial political parties are holding leadership conventions this weekend: the Manitoba NDP and the NL NDP. Manitoba premier Greg Selinger faces off against challengers Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Chris Bruce, Mike Goosney and Earle McCurdy are in the running for the party’s top job.

The Ontario PC Party is in the midst of their own leadership race and Patrick Brown has reportedly sold more party memberships than opponents Christine Elliott and Monte McNaughton. “This isn’t your old-fashioned convention,” and the National Post details how the process will play out.

The PEI PC chose Rob Lantz as their new leader last weekend over James Aylward and Darlene Compton. The final tally has been kept secret, but the vote reportedly went to a second round.

Elections and by-elections

Next on the agenda in Prince Edward Island is a provincial election that many expect will be called this spring by new Premier Wade MacLauchlan. The latest polls show the Liberals have “maintained their lead” over the PC. It was also announced this week that the Island Party will be running candidates.

There is also election speculation running throughout the province of Alberta, and Premier Jim Prentice expects that the upcoming budget “will be so radical it will likely trigger an election.”

Voters in Quebec’s Richelieu riding head to the polls on Monday for a provincial by-election to replace Parti Québécois MNA Élaine Zakaïb.

Democracy Bootcamp BC

We gathered 130 British Columbia educators in Vancouver last week for Democracy Bootcamp! The two-day was designed to improve the interest, knowledge and instructional capacity of teachers to teach democracy and citizenship in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election and the Student Vote program.

Looking for a recap of the great panels, presentations and discussions? Attending teachers blogged about their experiences herehere and here.

What else we’ve been up to

We partnered with the Toronto Foundation to bring the Vital Signs® Report into Student Vote classrooms across the city last fall. Students learned about issues affecting their city in more detail, and encouraged discussion about how different candidates would address those questions.

Last week, we released our video recap of Toronto Foundation President & CEO Rahul Bhardwaj’s visit to a Grade 9 class at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute. You can watch it here:

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

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Weekly Round-Up: February 27, 2015

February 27th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

PEI’s new premier

Wade MacLauchlan was acclaimed as PEI Liberal leader last weekend and was sworn-in as premier on Monday. MacLauchlan will also serve as finance minister, replacing Wes Sheridan (who “quietly resigned” as MLA on Tuesday).

MacLauchlan is the province’s 32nd premier, replacing the outgoing Robert Ghiz. A provincial election call is expected soon, and The Guardian says a spring vote is “a virtual certainty.”

Leadership races

Prince Edward Island’s Progressive Conservatives (the province’s official opposition) are also about to elect a new leader. The party gathers in Charlottetown tomorrow and will choose between James Aylward, Darlene Compton and Rob Lantz. A record number of votes have already been cast in advance polls.

Alberta’s Wildrose party met in Calgary last weekend to “plot their election strategy.” The party had initially planned to elect a new leader in June but have decided to move up their leadership vote so a leader is in the place in case there is a spring election. Former MP Brian Jean became the first candidate to enter the race on Wednesday.

In the Ontario PC race, Patrick Brown received an endorsement from the Great One, Wayne Gretzky himself.

Both the Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba NDP also are in the midst of leadership races that culminate next month.

Early election calls?

In addition to possible early elections in PEI and Alberta, there is still speculation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper might call an election this spring. The federal NDP has told riding associations to be ready for a snap vote by April 1, just in case.

“Changes are ahead for the federal election,” regardless of when it takes place, according to an interesting Q & A with Elections Canada’s chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand. It is also being reported that the Green Party could be excluded from leaders’ debates for the upcoming election.

Democracy Bootcamp BC

More than 125 educators from across British Columbia have assembled in Vancouver for Democracy Bootcamp! The professional learning conference is intended to improve the interest, knowledge and instructional capacity of classroom teachers to teach democracy and citizenship in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election and the Student Vote parallel election program.

Democracy Bootcamp BC 2015 is made possible with support from Elections Canada, Elections BC and the Vancouver FoundationVancity and the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue. Learn more here.

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


“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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