Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Liberals lead in 4th quarter fundraising as Conservative donors focus on leadership race

The Liberal Party raised the most money from contributors in the fourth quarter of 2016, though the funds raised by both the Conservative Party and the candidates vying for that party's leadership combined for more donor dollars, according to data published Tuesday by Elections Canada.

And among those Conservative leadership candidates, Maxime Bernier topped the list for the second consecutive quarter, increasing his total money raised to over $1 million.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

18 MPs called out for heckling in the House of Commons during fall sitting

"Answer the question, Pam."

It happens rarely, but sometimes the Hansard official transcript records the content of a heckle hurled across the aisle of the House of Commons during question period — as it did on Dec. 6, when Conservative MP Garnett Genuis was displeased with the response he was getting from Pamela Goldsmith-Jones over on the government benches.

"No, no, that's all talk. You're not doing it," NDP MP David Christopherson said on Dec. 13 in response to Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Pollcast: Question period is back next week, so how can it be fixed?

After taking questions directly from Canadians in town halls across the country for two weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returns to Parliament Hill next week to face opposition questions in the House of Commons.

To some, the town halls seem to be a better way of holding the prime minister to account than the daily theatre of question period. So does what happens in the House of Commons — unwatched debates, pre-determined votes, unanswered questions and all the heckling — matter?

Peter Milliken was the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2001 to 2011. He joins me to discuss the importance of what happens in Canada's Parliament, the role of the Speaker and how decorum in the House might be improved by the current Speaker, Geoff Regan.

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Justin Trudeau's dropping approval ratings typical of past prime ministers

Justin Trudeau's approval ratings have dropped to their lowest level since he became prime minister, according to a new poll. But an analysis of the popularity of his predecessors suggests Trudeau's sliding numbers are typical of a prime minister roughly 15 months after taking office.

The survey, published by Forum Research for the Toronto Star, found Trudeau's approval rating sitting at 48 per cent, down three points since December and 10 points since November, with his disapproval rating increasing to 42 from 32 per cent two months ago.

Those are the worst numbers Forum — or any other pollster — has registered for Trudeau since he became prime minister.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary well-timed as electoral tests loom

Justin Trudeau and his ministers will gather this week for a cabinet retreat in Calgary, site of a Liberal breakthrough in the last election that will soon be put to the test in a pair of byelections.

The Liberals won two seats in Calgary in 2015 — the party's first victories in the city in almost 50 years — and Trudeau's team will look to take advantage of its time there on Monday and Tuesday to build on that progress.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

French a major advantage for Conservative leadership contenders

Can a candidate for the Conservative leadership win the party's top job and become prime minister without speaking French well enough to order a plate of poutine in a brasserie?

Kevin O'Leary hopes so — and the poor performances in Tuesday's French-language debate suggest a few of his leadership rivals do, too.

Bilingualism isn't a requirement to win either office. But demographics, the electoral map and the party's history in Quebec suggest it is an enormous, and potentially decisive, advantage.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Pollcast: Kevin O'Leary, French debate shake up Conservative leadership race

The Conservative leadership campaign was shaken up on Wednesday when businessman and reality television personality Kevin O'Leary finally joined the race — just in time to miss Tuesday's French-language debate.

What impact will his candidacy have on a campaign in which none of the 13 other contestants have taken the mantle of the front runner?

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.

O'Leary faces many challenges. Name recognition, however, is not one of them — unlike some of his rivals. But O'Leary speaks little French and has just two months to sign up new members, while some of the other contestants, such as Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch, have already been at it for the better part of a year.

His lack of French was the reason he opted out of joining the campaign before the French-language debate. But apart from demonstrating the questionable linguistic skills of some of the contestants who participated, did the debate change the dynamics of the campaign in Quebec and outside of it?

To explain the significance of O'Leary's entry into the race, Conservative insiders Tim Powers of Summa Strategies and Chad Rogers of Crestview Strategy are back on this week's episode of the Pollcast.

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gloves come off in French-language Conservative leadership debate

The third debate of the Conservative leadership campaign held in Quebec City on Tuesday, the only official debate to be held entirely in French, featured some sharp exchanges between candidates, with much of the fire being directed at Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.

The debate also proved to be a serious challenge to the French-language skills of some of the 13 contestants taking part.

The crowd was clearly partial to the two local candidates — the loudest applause came when Bernier and Steven Blaney were introduced, while polite applause greeted the 11 other non-Quebec contestants.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Andrew Scheer leads endorsement race in Conservative leadership campaign

In his bid for the Conservative Party leadership, Andrew Scheer has the bulk of endorsements from current and former politicians.

But because of the rules of the campaign, the contest will be decided in favour of the candidate who can garner the broadest base of support nationwide. Seen through that lens, Scheer's endorsement advantage over Erin O'Toole, Maxime Bernier and Lisa Raitt narrows.

Scheer has 58 endorsements from current and former politicians at either the federal or provincial level. O'Toole has 23, followed by Bernier with 16 and Raitt with 13.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Pollcast: What the cabinet shuffle means for electoral reform

This week's cabinet shuffle signals the Liberal government's reaction to the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump as the new U.S. president. But will it also mean a change in direction on the troubled electoral reform file?

Maryam Monsef, the beleaguered minister of democratic institutions, was shuffled out of her portfolio to become the new minister of status of women. Her replacement is Karina Gould, the former parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development.

Joining me to discuss what the shuffle means for the future of electoral reform is the CBC's Aaron Wherry.

Note: I mentioned at the end of the episode that we'd have a regular episode later this week. Unfortunately, we had a scheduling issue with our planned guest and we weren't able to cobble together a show in time. So, this will stand as this week's episode!

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Poll suggests Canadians favour spending tax dollars on traditional rather than high-tech infrastructure

A newly published poll commissioned by the government suggests Canadians aren't as keen on investing in the high-tech "new economy" as the Liberals and have mixed views on increasing immigration.

The survey, conducted last summer, found most Canadians want the government to focus infrastructure spending on "traditional" projects like public transit.

It also found many Canadians were concerned terrorism was more likely to increase than decrease, with some blaming that on higher levels of immigration and a perceived lack of screening of refugees.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

1 member, 1 vote, a month of suspense: why the NDP leadership race will be different from the Conservative

The campaign to name the next leader of the New Democratic Party will be markedly different from the ongoing Conservative leadership race — and not only because the list of candidates for the job is expected to be much shorter.

Thanks to the rules of the NDP leadership vote, the winner will not necessarily need the same broad regional backing that is key to winning the Conservative title.

And whereas the final suspense in the Conservative race will only come at its end on May 27, the NDP campaign will finish in a flurry of activity as the results are announced, round by round, through October.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

5 provincial politicians to watch in 2017

With a federal government willing to meet with premiers and provincial and territorial ministers on a regular basis, federal-provincial relations are likely to continue to loom large while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in office.

Elections will be held in two provinces in 2017 as British Columbians and Nova Scotians head to the polls. And while no provincewide votes will be held in Alberta and Ontario, the premiers of these provinces will nevertheless have difficult political obstacles to tackle this year.

Though a third referendum on Quebec's sovereignty is very unlikely for the foreseeable future, a change of venue for one politician could bring that debate back to Ottawa.

With that in mind, here are five provincial politicians to watch in 2017.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

5 federal politicians to watch in 2017

Both the Conservatives and New Democrats will choose new leaders in 2017, but the Liberals will also have some important decisions to make, including how to handle the prime minister's ongoing fundraising controversy and whether to move forward with electoral reform.

Here are five federal politicians to watch this year.

You can read the rest of this article here.