Prime Minister suggests Electoral Reform isn’t necessary because Canadians are “satisfied” with his Government #electoralreform #cdnpoli

Prime Minister Trudeau indicated in an interview with Le Devoir that electoral reform might not be necessary at this time because Canadians are satisfied with his government.

“Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people dissatisfied with the government and its approach that they were saying, ‘We need an electoral reform so that we can no longer have a government we don’t like,'” Trudeau explained.

“However, under the current system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less urgent.”

The Liberal Party did campaign in the last election that the 2015 federal election would be the last fought under the first-past-the-post system.

The government has received criticism for setting up the parliamentary committee on electoral reform in order to put forth a system that would best advantage the Liberal Party of Canada, a ranked ballot system. The government has since conceded to the opposition and modified the committee membership to include all parties in the house of commons.

The United States, the United Kingdon and Canada are the last western democratic countries that continue to use the first-past-the-post voting system.


Government commits funds to the Experimental Lakes Area #cdnpoli #experimentallakesarea

The federal government is spending $1.7 million over the next two years on environmental research at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), the northwestern Ontario scientific facility once threatened with closure by the former government. Kenora Liberal MP Bob Nault announced $850,000 in annual, short-term funding for the former federal facility.

The additional $850,000 a year is on top of an existing Fisheries and Oceans Canada contribution of $250,000 toward the ELA’s annual budget, which now stands at $3.6 million.

Along with funding from the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, the ELA obtains its remaining $450,000 in annual funding from private sources. Matt McCandless, executive director of IISD-ELA, said the diversity of funding sources places his organization on more stable financial footing.

The ELA encompasses hundreds of lakes in a rectangle of Crown land between Ontario Highway 17 and Dryberry Lake as well as a field station on the north shore of Boundary Lake.

It is the only place in the world where scientists conduct whole-ecosystem experiments on near-pristine lakes in order to obtain results that can not be obtained via single-variable laboratory research.

During the federal election campaign in 2015, the Liberal Party promised to “make new investments in Canada’s world-leading IISD Experimental Lakes Area.”

Source: CBC

Special Committee on Electoral Reform to Reserve Time for Audience Participation #cdnpoli #electoralreform

The special committee on electoral reform is holding meetings over the summer in order to come up with recommendations for replacing the first-past-the-post electoral system.

The committee will met on the 6, 7th, 25th and 26th of July. It will meet again July 27th, 28th, August 22nd, 23rd, 29th, 30th, 31st and September 1st. The minutes don’t clarify where all those meetings will be held, and the chair of the committee is authorized to make changes as necessary.

The committee has decided there will be an open mic at each meeting with time set aside at each meeting for people to speak “on a first-come first-served basis”.

Canadians can also use the Twitter hashtags #ERRE and #Q to submit questions to the committee.

Finally, the committee is inviting Canadians to submit briefs, up to a maximum of 3,000 words, by October 7th. Canadians have until that date to make requests to appear before the committee.

For more information on the committee, visit the Parliament of Canada’s website.


Government Taking Veterans to Court Again #cdnpoli @kenthehr

The federal government is taking veterans back to court to try to block certain benefits for injured and wounded soldiers.

Six Afghan war veterans initiated a class-action lawsuit over pensions and other benefits. A peace agreement reached by the previous Harper government and the veterans expired Sunday. The two sides failed to reach an out-of-court settlement, and now government lawyers have informed the B.C. Court of Appeals that they will pick up the lawsuit where it left off.

The veterans have argued in court that the government has a sacred obligation to its injured soldiers and that the lump-sum payment wounded veterans receive under the New Veterans Charter — as opposed to the pension that was previously offered to veterans before 2006 — is inadequate compensation, as they receive less money over the course of a lifetime. They’ve also argued that it violates their rights — the right to life, liberty and security of the person — under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Government lawyers asserted that the federal government has no extraordinary obligation to those who have fought for the country, and therefore the litigation has no merit.

One of the veterans said “They have turned the Liberal election campaign into a lie. I sat at tables [during the campaign] with some of the people who are now in cabinet. Those ministers have been turned into liars by the Department of Justice,” he said, noting the election platform explicitly promised that no veteran would have to “fight the government” for the support and compensation they have earned.

The plaintiffs agreed to drop their lawsuit if the government provided timetables for implementing Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr’s mandate letter, which included pensions for injured veterans among other key promises.

Hehr has so far been frustratingly noncommittal as to the schedule of some of his top priorities, Donald Sorochan, lawyer for the veterans said.

The Liberal platform in the last election explicitly promised to restore the pension benefit. “We will re-establish lifelong pensions as an option for our injured veterans, and increase the value of the disability award,” the platform reads.

The 2016 budget did allocate more than $4.6 billion over three years to boost support for veterans, namely reopening service offices, increasing the disability award and boosting the earnings loss benefit for injured veterans and expanding access to the permanent impairment allowance — but it was silent on pensions, the biggest sticking point.

Government Introduces Plans to Reform the Electoral System #cdnpoli

The Liberal government introduced a motion to create a special committee that will examine the options for electoral reform and will report back to Parliament on December 1st.

The committee would consist of 10 voting members: six Liberals, three Conservatives and one New Democrat. One Bloc Québécois MP and Green MP Elizabeth May would be members of the committee, but not allowed to vote.

The committee would be asked to “identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting.”

Options would be judged on the basis of five principles:

1. Effectiveness and legitimacy

2. Engagement

3. Accessibility and inclusiveness

4. Integrity

5. Local representation

The committee would invite every MP to conduct a forum on electoral reform in his or her riding and file a report on the discussion by Oct. 1. And the committee itself would conduct a “national engagement process,” including written and online submissions.

The New Democratic Party has criticized the process. They say an electoral system that creates “false majorities” is now reflected in the false majority in the make-up of the committee considering alternatives to first-past-the-post. They have suggested the committee should proportionally reflect the national popular vote in last year’s election: a 12-member committee including five Liberals, three Conservatives, two New Democrats, one Bloc MP and one Green MP.

The Conservative Party is insisting that the question be put to a national referendum before any new system of voting be adopted.

The Liberal Party campaigned in the last federal election that 2015 would be the last election using the first-past-the-post system.

Government posts $7.5B surplus for 11 months of 2015-16

The federal government ran a budgetary surplus of $7.5 billion over the first 11 months of its fiscal year 2015-16. This puts the government well ahead of its deficit prediction. The Finance Department’s latest monthly fiscal monitor, released Friday, suggests the government will have to post about a $13-billion deficit in March to match the Liberals’ 2015-16 projection of a $5.4-billion shortfall.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the expenses and revenues in the final month of a fiscal year could lead to significant changes in the numbers .

The new figures will feed into the ongoing debate of whether the previous Conservative government left the public books with a surplus when the Liberals took power last fall. The Conservatives insist Ottawa was on track for a small surplus in 2015-16, while the Liberals argue it was not the case.

Experts such as Canada’s budget watchdog have released predictions that suggest the Liberals’ have been overly prudent in their projections. The parliamentary budget officer’s analysis challenged the government’s shortfall prediction for 2015-16, saying Ottawa will instead have a $700-million surplus.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told the House of Commons that the PBO report confirmed two things: “first, the Liberal budget does not add up; and second, good news, the Conservatives did leave a surplus.”

Liberals to Discuss Issue of Whipped Vote on Legislation for Doctor-Assisted Death #cdnpoli

The government is backing away from a decision to whip the vote on legislation regarding doctor-assisted death. Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc had announced that Liberal MPs would be forced to vote for the legislation, as the matter relates to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Instead, MPs will make a decision of whether to make it a whipped vote when they meet in caucus.

The Supreme Court ruled that Canadians should have the right to doctor-assisted death, and gave the government one year to draft legislation to that effect. With the election and change in government, the new government asked and received an extension from the court to draft the legislation.

The crux of the issue is not whether to allow or not allow doctor-assisted death in Canada, the court has already decided that. The issue that the government is facing is what the legislation will look like.

The Conservative and New Democratic Parties will allow a free vote on the issue.

Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned during the Liberal leadership race and the last federal election that he plans to let his MPs have more say in the House of Commons by allowing them to vote their conscience more often. He indicated three scenarios where MPs would be expected to vote with the party; on commitments made in the party platform, on matters of confidence and matters related to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then Liberal Party leader Trudeau announced all Liberal MPs would be expected to vote with the party to protect abortion rights for women.