Mia Rabson

  • NDP in tough spot for 2015 election

    OTTAWA -- When Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault suddenly announced Tuesday he was ditching the federal NDP to run for the Ontario Liberal Party in a byelection, it caught even leader Tom Mulcair off guard. It is a disappointing end to a year few in the NDP will look back on with much fondness, and a blow to morale just as the party begins to ramp itself up into election mode.
  • The squeeze on access to government information

    OTTAWA -- When a promised interview with a senior official with a federal government agency was cancelled this week, it kind of felt like I was on the receiving end of that famous New Yorker cartoon. "No, Thursday's out," reads the line delivered by an executive on the phone. "How about never -- is never good for you?"
  • Election reform should serve voters' interests

    OTTAWA -- For at least the sixth time in 20 years, Canadian MPs took their seats in the House of Commons this week to talk about how they should be elected. And for at least the sixth time in 20 years, it seems pretty clear the kind of electoral system each party supports is directly related to the kind of electoral system that is most likely to deliver their party the best results.
  • We still need answers, but of a different kind

    OTTAWA -- Four years, millions of dollars, a judge's life in tatters and nobody involved in the inquiry into the conduct of Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas can say anything good has come of the proceedings. "Nothing," said Karen Busby, a University of Manitoba law professor. "The issues are not going to be resolved in this case."
  • Women's issues are just, well, issues

    OTTAWA -- Sexual harassment. Violence against women. Child care. Abortion. There is a clear trend this fall in the subjects dominating our national discussions, in that issues which have long been considered the purview mainly of women, are taking centre stage.
  • Tory politics based on fear, money

    OTTAWA -- It was the political party equivalent of a triple-dog dare. Finance Minister Joe Oliver, delivering a fall fiscal update that can really only be described as a pre-election road show, threw down the gauntlet to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, daring him to continue with a promise to undo Conservative income-splitting tax cuts.
  • Too many men still don't get the message on harassment

    OTTAWA -- It is as if the floodgates holding back stories of sexual harassment have been obliterated. Daily for more than a week more women have been going public with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, spillover from the firing of CBC Radio star Jian Ghomeshi.
  • Cutting through the fog

    OTTAWA -- In the wake of the Ottawa shootings last week, the elephant in the room is whether it was an act of terrorism or if it's being spun this way to further a political agenda. It took Prime Minister Stephen Harper less than 10 hours to decide, and say publicly, that what happened on Parliament Hill and at the National War Memorial was an act of terrorism.
  • The day it all changed

    OTTAWA -- "This changes everything." Liberal MP John McKay said this speaking to reporters a few hours after the unthinkable happened in Canada's Parliament buildings.
  • Make our child-care policy about education

    OTTAWA -- At three minutes before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, an email popped into my inbox from the federal Liberals. "National comprehensive child care would have been in place for nearly a decade if it had not been for the NDP," screamed the first line. It was less than a half-hour since NDP Leader Tom Mulcair began laying out his national $15-a-day child-care plan that will be a hallmark policy of his election strategy next fall.
  • Trudeau bungles military controversy

    OTTAWA -- It may not be his wetsuit moment as a politician, but when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau glibly suggested sending Canadian CF-18s to fight Islamist terrorists in Iraq was akin to men comparing the size of their manhood, he did nothing to help his case that he is ready to be the prime minister. The remark, at the beginning of a week of debates about whether or not Canada should join a combat mission in Iraq against the Islamic State, was perhaps the best but not only example that Trudeau was ill-prepared and uncertain on a critical military decision.
  • Will he or won't he?

    OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday took to a stage in a room full of business leaders in suburban Toronto with a little smile on his face. While his jovial mood may be unexpected for a man in the wake of three more polls telling him how badly he trails his opponent, Harper was upbeat because of a handful of zeros. Nine to be exact.
  • State of question period shows ill democracy

    OTTAWA -- If the state of democracy is only as strong as its institutions, then this week's question period put democracy on life-support. Question period has always been a theatre for politicians to make some of their best barbs.
  • Game on: It's election time on the Hill

    The next federal election might be a year away on paper, but nobody told that to any of the major parties running in it. "For all intents and purposes, the election has already begun," NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said this week at an NDP caucus retreat in Edmonton.
  • Parliament mired in crime-bill mess

    The people in charge of process and rules in Parliament are scrambling after the Senate ended up debating the wrong version of a crime bill passed by the House of Commons. In a rare error that appears to have happened once in the last 20 years, the version of Bill C-479, the Fairness for Victims of Violent Offenders Act, which was passed by the House of Commons, was not the version that made its way to the Senate for debate.
  • The love affair with Justin Trudeau

    For readers who are already convinced Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada are getting more than their fair share of attention, the events of recent days and those to come will do nothing to dispel those thoughts. National and local stories in the past week have been dominated by Trudeau. He visited Winnipeg the previous week, so he got coverage in our paper for that. On Aug. 16, his Ottawa home was broken into while his wife and kids slept, and a menacing note was left behind. The coverage dominated national stories, it prompted the question of whether Trudeau needs his own security detail.
  • Senator sending wrong messages to the masses

    OTTAWA -- Sen. Pamela Wallin is still waiting for results of an independent audit examining the validity of her expense claims while in the Senate. She is one of four senators whose spending claims are under scrutiny in a Senate scandal that has many Canadians questioning the purpose of the Senate in Canadian democracy, but the only one audit firm Deloitte has yet to finish investigating.
  • Elections Canada needs to open up

    OTTAWA -- An MP stands accused of trying to get taxpayers to help foot the bill for haircuts and tooth whitener. Two others are engaged in a battle with Elections Canada over whether they have to claim as election ads certain ads they erected before the election.
  • Nepinak's leadership gathering steam

    OTTAWA -- Some time before lunch today, a small caravan of motorcycles will make its way through the city towards Thunderbird House. They will carry with them the hopes of thousands of indigenous Canadians, plucked from the crowds on a journey that took them 11 days, spanned more than 3,500 kilometres and saw them stop in dozens of First Nations.
  • 'Transparency' gains popularity in Ottawa

    OTTAWA -- The editorial cartoon Friday in the Halifax Chronicle Herald proposes the best way to clear a room in Ottawa. In a sketch of a hallway in the Parliament Buildings, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is standing alone waving a piece of paper and calling, "Full disclosure of expenses! Who's with me?"
  • Party leaders need to stand by their ads

    OTTAWA -- Adrian Dix. Michael Ignatieff. Hugh McFadyen. Three political leaders from three different parties with at least one thing in common.
  • Fix Senate? Sure -- question is, how?

    OTTAWA -- Canada's Senate is a pretty easy target these days. Let's face it, the upper chamber is a pretty easy target most days.
  • Census replacement costs more, gets less info

    OTTAWA -- Canadians got their first glimpse of the new National Household Survey last week. As expected, the documents were stamped with a warning this new survey is less accurate than the old long-form census.
  • Ballot-box blunders 'not unique,' review finds

    OTTAWA -- Confidence in Canada's voting system was further eroded last week when an independent review uncovered more than 165,000 instances of mistakes made ensuring voters were actually eligible to cast a ballot in the 2011 election. The review, called after allegations were raised about voting improprieties in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre, did not find evidence of actual fraud or malfeasance. What it found was the kind of clerical errors that called into question the validity of the 2011 election results in the riding were "not unique."
  • Getting to the bottom of 'root causes'

    OTTAWA -- It's not entirely clear how one might go about committing sociology, but the prime minister of Canada apparently thinks doing so is a bad thing, at least when it comes to trying to figure out what motivates terrorists to kill. "I think, though, this is not a time to commit sociology," Stephen Harper said Thursday in the wake of the Boston bombings and the arrests of two men in Canada accused of plotting to blow up a Via Rail train.

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