Mia Rabson

  • Is our democracy on crutches?

    OTTAWA -- Two MPs forced to apologize within a week for racist and inappropriate comments, but with little suggestion they suffered anything more than some mild embarrassment for their words. A veteran NDP MP getting press coverage all the way to Japan after he blamed a non-existent "gitch glitch" for getting out of his seat during a vote. Humorous perhaps, but Pat Martin's antics did little to suggest Canadians should improve their perception of politicians.
  • Ottawa must respond to anti-Muslim prejudice

    OTTAWA -- The government's leader in the Senate was left Monday to defend herself and her party against allegations they are promoting hatred towards Muslims. A who's who of Ottawa women gathered at a downtown hotel to celebrate the fact the three major national political parties will all have women at the helm of their war rooms during the next campaign.
  • If women could only count

    OTTAWA -- There I was last week, sipping a coffee at my desk while trying not to go cross-eyed from reading the fine print of the government's anti-terror legislation when an email popped up on my screen. "Four reasons women should cut their credit cards today," screamed the headline.
  • Canada must embrace Muslim minority

    OTTAWA -- For the most part, Canada's commitment to multiculturalism and its protections of fundamental freedoms are sound. But there are times in our history when Canada has shamefully turned on certain people because of who they are or where they came from.
  • Parties, not taxes, should pay for ads

    OTTAWA -- In April 2013, Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin's office was inundated with phone calls and letters from constituents who were mad as heck. Although Martin's colourful antics -- like Thursday's excuse that cheap, too-tight underwear caused him to leave his seat during a vote -- often make people irate, it was not him they took issue with this time.
  • Satellite party offices cost NDP

    OTTAWA -- A secretive House of Commons committee this week issued bills totalling $2.75 million to 68 NDP MPs to repay what it decided were unlawful expenses for satellite party offices in Quebec and Ontario. It is the latest twist in a dispute over how MPs can use their office budgets, as the grey area between partisan activities and the work of individual MPs on behalf of their constituents grows ever larger.
  • Manitoba reserves the worst in Canada

    OTTAWA -- Last week Maclean's magazine ruffled a lot of feathers when it boldly proclaimed Winnipeg was ground zero for a racism problem in Canada that eclipses the issue in the United States. This week, The Canadian Press is reporting on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada documents that declare the quality of life on Manitoba reserves is worse than anywhere else in the country.
  • Manitoba Senate seats sit empty

    OTTAWA -- If a Manitoba senator retires in Ottawa, does anyone take notice? For five months now, since the resignation of Conservative JoAnne Buth in August, Manitoba has had just half its usual complement of senators sitting in the upper chamber in Parliament.
  • First ministers meeting without first minister

    OTTAWA -- Two weeks from today, Canada's first ministers will get together for their first meeting of 2015, at a hotel six blocks from Parliament Hill. Despite the location, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined his invitation.
  • Veterans critical for 2015 win

    OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper started off 2015 with an election-year bang, replacing his much maligned veterans affairs minister and one-time star candidate in a clear attempt at damage control with veterans. Julian Fantino, the former head of the Ontario Provincial Police, was shuffled out of Veterans Affairs and back into a role as an associate minister of defence. He was replaced by Erin O'Toole, an Ontario MP, veteran officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force and one-time Bay Street lawyer who helped start a foundation that raises money for veterans.
  • Horror on the Hill

    OTTAWA -- It was a sunny, mild day in mid-December, and the sounds coming from the Confederation Room on Parliament Hill were joyous. Parliamentary press gallery reporters and their children were on the Hill for the annual kids Christmas party. There was a clown, face-painting and lots of treats, and after a while, that jolly elf in the red suit made an appearance.
  • 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.


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