Weekly Round-Up: November 21, 2014

November 21st, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

By-election results

Two federal by-elections were held this week, and they were both won by the Conservatives: Jim Eglinski was elected in Yellowhead and Pat Perkins was elected in Whitby-Oshawa.

Provincially, Progressive Conservative candidate Glen Savoie was elected in New Brunswick’s Saint John East by-election. Savoie lost the riding by just 9 votes in September’s general election.

More provincial by-elections are just around the corner as Newfoundland and Labrador’s Humber East and Trinity – Bay de Verde ridings head to the polls on November 25.

Resignations and floor-crossings

Ontario will soon see a provincial by-election in Sudbury. MPP Joe Cimino announced his immediate resignation on Thursday, less than six months after he was elected in June’s provincial election. 

Ahuntsic MP Maria Mourani was first elected in 2006 as a member of the Bloc Québécois. Mourani was removed from the Bloc caucus last fall and has since sat as an independent. Mourani joined the NDP this week but will continue as an independent until she wins her seat as a member of the NDP in the next election.

BC local election results

British Columbia’s municipalities and regional districts went to the polls last Saturday for local government elections. Among many notable results, Gregor Robertson was re-elected for a third term as Vancouver mayor. Robertson was also the top choice of the city’s elementary and secondary students.

In total, more than 30,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from nearly 300 schools representing 87 local governments. You can access the complete results for each local government and school district and explore some of the great media coverage we received from across the province.

Early elections?

Manitoba’s premier has been under pressure to call an election and there is speculation that there could be an early federal election. In Prince Edward Island, the provincial government has made an early election a possibility by tabling a motion to recognize the authority of the lieutenant governor to dissolve the legislature outside of the province’s fixed election date.

Democratic awards

The 2014 Parliamentarians of the Year were presented this week, and Irwin Cotler took the top honour. Also acknowledged were Elizabeth May (Best Orator), Peter Stoffer (Most Collegial), Michelle Rempel (Rising Star), Nathan Cullen (Most Knowledgeable), Jason Kenney (Hardest Working), Brent Rathgeber (Best Represents Constituents) and Flora MacDonald (Lifetime Achievement).

Samara has released the shortlist for their Everyday Political Citizen project. The list of 350 nominees was narrowed down to 14 adult finalists and 10 youth finalists. CIVIX President Taylor Gunn is a juror, and educator Neeta Kumar-Britten was his pick for the shortlist.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: November 14, 2014

November 14th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

A new premier for PEI

Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz surprised many when he announced his resignation Thursday. Ghiz will stay on as premier until a new leader is selected in early 2015. Ghiz is currently the longest-serving premier in the country, having led his province since 2007.

Leadership races

Ghiz’s resignation has triggered a leadership race, one of many currently on the go across Canada. In Ontario, the Progressive Conservative Party leadership contest is now officially underway. Nominations close in January, and the new leader will be elected in May.

In Manitoba, embattled NDP Premier Greg Selinger has called a leadership contest for the party’s annual convention in March. In a move that has drawn criticism, Selinger will stay on as premier in the lead-up to the vote.

Fall economic update

Finance Minister Joe Oliver presented the federal government’s Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections on Wednesday. As expected, a budget surplus is projected for next year.

What Canada should do with a surplus? That’s the question we’ll be asking Canadian high school students as part of this year’s Student Budget Consultation program, which launches later this month.

By-election breakdown

Saskatchewan’s Lloydminster riding went to the polls for a provincial by-election Thursday to replace former cabinet minister Tim McMillan. Saskatchewan Party candidate Colleen Young was victorious, receiving more than sixty per cent of the vote.

On Monday, by-elections take place federally in Whitby-Oshawa and Yellowhead and provincially in New Brunswick’s Saint John East riding. By-elections in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Humber East and Trinity – Bay de Verde ridings are scheduled for November 25, but advance voting begins on Tuesday.

Student Vote Day in BC

British Columbia’s local government elections are tomorrow! It won’t just be adults heading the polls: more than 25,000 students will cast ballots as part of our first ever Student Vote BC local government elections program.

More than 400 elementary and secondary schools have registered to participate from 103 municipalities and regional districts. Results will be released following the close of voting on November 15.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: November 7, 2014

November 7th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Resignations and suspensions

It was a busy Wednesday on Parliament Hill. Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro resigned his seat just hours before a vote to suspend him from Parliament. Del Mastro was convicted last week of spending too much on his 2008 campaign.

Also on Wednesday, Avalon MP Scott Andrews and Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michel MP Massimo Pacetti were suspended from the Liberal caucus after allegations of harassment. They will both sit as independents in the House of Commons.

The caucus changes weren’t limited to just federal politics. In Manitoba, the “government revolt” continued when five ministers resigned from Premier Greg Selinger’s cabinet. Selinger appointed new ministers and has ignored calls for his resignation.

In Alberta, the Wildrose caucus is one member fewer as MLA Joe Anglin quit to sit as an independent. Anglin claims that the party is in the midst of an internal “civil war,” but MLAs passed a resolution asking leader Danielle Smith to withdraw her request for a leadership review.

By-election update

Del Mastro’s resignation will result in a 2015 by-election (depending on the timing of the federal election), but there was other by-election news from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The province’s Opposition Liberals continued their “run of by-election victories” with Rex Hillier‘s win in Conception Bay South. Two more NL ridings will head to the polls later this month as the by-elections to replace former Premier Tom Marshall in Humber East and former cabinet minister Charlene Johnson in Trinity-Bay de Verde will both be held on November 25.

Municipal elections

Elections were held in 72 Prince Edward Island municipalities on Monday. Most notably, Clifford Lee was re-elected as mayor of Charlottetown.

British Columbia local elections are just a week and a day away! The Globe and Mail has created a handy ‘voters’ guide’ with Vancouver party platform summaries and you can watch our two minute primer on the role and composition of local government. More than 400 schools have registered for the BC Local Student Vote program. You can view them all on our map.

Opportunities for youth

Have you always dreamed of becoming a Page? Grade 7 and 8 students have until November 15 to apply for the Ontario Legislative Page Program. Post-secondary students from across the country can apply for the Senate Page Program.

Why should Canada vote? Your answer to that question (as a video, image or piece of writing) could win you a great prize if you enter the National Democracy Challenge before the end of next week.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 31, 2014

October 31st, 2014 by Dan Allan

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

Ontario municipal election results

Ontario went to the polls for municipal and school board elections, and you may have heard that John Tory won in Toronto, Jim Watson was re-elected in Ottawa and Bonnie Crombie was chosen as Hazel McCallion’s successor in Mississauga. But who would the province’s elementary and secondary students have elected?

In total, 130,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from 1,170 schools in more than 200 municipalities. You can access the complete results for each municipality and school board, peruse some of the great media coverage the program received from across the province and watch our video highlights to see Student Vote in action.

Party leadership update

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is “putting her leadership on the line” by asking for a leadership review at the party’s annual general meeting next month.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger could also face a leadership review after reports of a potential caucus mutiny. Selinger announced that he would stay on as leader after an “uneasy truce” was reached.

Doug Ford’s mayoral bid was unsuccessful (except in the Student Vote), but he is now said be to considering a bid for the Ontario PC leadership.

By-election breakdown

The Alberta PC won four provincial by-elections this week. Premier Jim Prentice secured a seat in the legislature with his victory in Calgary-Foothills, Health Minister (and former Edmonton mayor) Stephen Mandel was victorious in Edmonton-Whitemud, Education Minister Gordon Dirks won in Calgary-Elbow and Mike Ellis held on to win a tight race in Calgary-West.

The provincial by-election in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Conception Bay South riding is set for November 5. Advance voting opened on Wednesday and more than 600 ballots were cast, up from the 429 advance ballots cast during the 2011 provincial election.

What we’ve been up to

In addition to the Ontario civic elections, we’re also running the Student Vote program for British Columbia’s local government elections. Nearly 400 schools have registered to take part and Student Vote Day is just two weeks away.

Need a primer on BC’s local government system? We just posted a new video illustrating the role and composition of the province’s municipalities and regional districts.

Democratic contests

There’s still time to enter two great civic-minded contests! Nominate someone you know for Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen contest and make your submission to the Elections Canada National Democracy Challenge.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 24, 2014

October 24th, 2014 by Dan Allan

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


Our work is centred on democratic engagement, and Parliament is truly the heart of Canadian democracy. We were shocked and saddened by the tragic events in Ottawa and our condolences go out to the family of Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

Student Vote Day

More than 1,600 schools are taking part in the Student Vote for the Ontario municipal and school board elections! More than 100,000 Student Vote ballots are expected to be cast from across 254 municipalities across the province and results will be released after the official close of polls on Monday evening. Check out some of the great media coverage the program has received here.

A new federal political party

The next federal election is less than a year away and Canadians will soon have a new political party to vote for. Jean-François Fortin (formerly of the Bloc Québécois) and Jean-François Larose (newly defected from the NDP) will become the first two MPs for Forces et Démocratie. Once registered, the party would be the sixth currently represented in the House of Commons.

Leadership race update

MLA Rachel Notley was elected as the new leader of the Alberta NDP. Bernard Drainville plans to run for Parti Québécois leader. MPP Lisa MacLeod has formally entered the Ontario PC leadership race.

By-election breakdown

CAQ candidate François Paradis won the by-election in Quebec’s Lévis riding. New Brunwick Premier Brian Gallant has called the by-election in Saint John East for November 17. Advance polls have opened for the four Alberta by-elections in Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-West and Edmonton-Whitemud.

Municipal mayhem

Ontario isn’t the only province in the midst of municipal elections. Nominations have closed for local elections in PEI and BC, which are both scheduled for next month. (Speaking of which, there is less than a week remaining to register for our British Columbia local elections Student Vote project!)

In Manitoba, municipal and school board elections generated some interesting results on Wednesday. Most notably, Brian Bowman was elected as the first Métis mayor of Winnipeg. Voter turnout in the city also reached its highest level since 2002.

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

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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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