Category Archives: Politics

Words of Wisdom For 2023 From Erin O Toole

Erin O’Toole, former leader of Canada’s Conservative party has a podcast called Blue Skies. A recent blog post associated with it featured an excellent opinion piece bemoaning the way Canadians have become accepting and complacent about the aggressive often violent language in current political discourse and the tone of division and distrust which seems to permeate it.  

Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

O’Toole expresses the hope that in 2023 he will see fewer profanity-laden flags and placards and signs about Justin Trudeau. According to O’Toole, they are a symbol of a kind of hyper-aggressive rhetoric he fears is normalizing rage and damaging democracy. 

O’Toole is dismayed at the way extremists on both the political left and right are treating one another like enemies. They refuse to even listen to opposing perspectives. They make no effort to persuade people to change their minds in a reasoned fashion. Instead, they resort to pandering to the views of those who already support them with attention-grabbing insults. This only leads to greater polarization. 

O’Toole suggests some sources of this polarization – the amplification of angry voices by social media, the influence of the American political scene and the frustration brought on by the pandemic. 

Mr O’Toole’s remarks reminded me of a Steinbach friend who was driving his grandson home from school one day during the convoy protests. The child saw an expletive referring to Justin Trudeau on a sign and asked his grandfather why adults were allowed to say things about the prime minister he had been taught were impolite and disrespectful. I remember going for a walk in the nearby community of Mitchell with a friend around the same time and seeing a similar profanity about the prime minister on a building there and thinking children see that every day. 

Erin O’Toole

Mr O’Toole says he made it very clear to his own children during the last election that the Prime Minister was “not his enemy” but his political opponent.

Ironically the former Conservative Party leader is a prime example of just how easy it is to forget one’s laudable goals of sticking to policy critiques rather than personal ones. It took only a minute to find a news article online from the last federal election campaign where Mr O’Toole slammed Justin Trudeau as “privileged, entitled and only looking out for number one.”

I give him credit for suggesting in his recent podcast he is having second thoughts about that kind of rhetoric.

Although Mr O’Toole says both politicians on the left and right have been extremists in their actions and words conservative politicians have an even greater responsibility to affect change because seeding division and disorder is contrary to the very foundational principles of modern conservatism. 

Edmund Burke

Mr O’Toole references the philosopher and economist Edmund Burke who he suggests provided the framework for the modern conservative movement. Burke warned that rash actions and disorderly conduct were not the hallmarks of true conservatives and that rage could quickly tear down things prudence and deliberation had spent centuries building. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre greet each other as they gather in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.  SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Although anyone who reads my column regularly knows I have never been a Conservative Party supporter I find Mr O’Toole’s advice both wise and timely and something I personally need to take to heart when I write about politics.

In the coming year instead of treating other Canadians who we may disagree with as enemies, and becoming outraged with them, we need to try our best to refrain from personal attacks and engage in reasoned debate and respectful interaction. 

Other posts………

Overheard While Standing in Line to Vote

Single Young Women Are the Problem

Mandatory Voting

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Filed under Canada, Politics

Come On Manitoba Let’s Get With the Program

I wasn’t surprised when the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba called a news conference recently to expose the provincial government’s ineptitude in distributing the new federal subsidy for daycare.  

Susan Prentice from the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba speaks about the fact that daycare fees in Manitoba have not changed by even a cent for most parents. The chart behind her shows how in contrast rates in Ontario and most of the other provinces have fallen considerably for all parents. photo by Ian Froese for the CBC

I wasn’t surprised to learn Manitoba wasn’t getting the federal dollars for daycare into parents’ hands because I have two granddaughters in daycare, one in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba.  My children in Saskatchewan noticed a substantial drop in their daughter’s daycare fees, as did all Saskatchewan parents, shortly after their province signed a childcare agreement with Ottawa, but….. my children in Manitoba have received no price reduction at all in the fees for their daughter’s care.

In September I was visiting my niece in Ontario who owns a private daycare facility.  She spoke positively about how the federal subsidy was lowering rates for all her clients.

My anecdotal family evidence had me wondering why Manitoba daycare fees hadn’t been reduced like those in other provinces.  Now I know.  

Apparently, the Manitoba government wanted to be sure the federal money went to the neediest families. That’s admirable.  But they set the bar for what was needy at a level that meant few families could qualify.  

Then they failed to advertise properly, so most parents weren’t even aware they qualified, and finally, they made the red tape and paperwork for both parents and daycares so onerous that applying for the subsidy was a challenge. 

My member of Parliament Leah Gazan spoke to the House of Commons on November 30th about the importance of federal funding for daycare being used to improve wages and benefits for childcare workers, – From Leah Gazan’s Instagram page

The province also didn’t use the money to add more childcare workers, increase their wages, or improve their working conditions and benefits.  My member of Parliament Leah Gazan raised that concern in the House of Commons just last week. 

So…. most of the federal money Manitoba received to lower daycare fees and improve the quality of child care is sitting in the bank untouched, while in places like the Yukon they have already fully implemented a maximum $10 daily fee for all families, have created 236 new childcare spaces with their federal funding and have increased the wages of fully qualified childcare workers to $30.00 an hour.  

Some people have speculated Manitoba’s Conservative party didn’t want to make the Liberal leaders in Ottawa look good so they deliberately took steps to insure the daycare program the Trudeau government funded wasn’t successful.  

I don’t buy that, because as my family’s experience proves, Conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Ontario have successfully lowered all daycare fees.  In fact, it would probably be wise for the Stephenson government to consult with their politically aligned counterparts in other provinces, for guidance on how to make better use of the federal daycare subsidy. 

Image from the Toronto Star illustrating the labour shortage across Canada

The news is filled with stories about businesses and medical facilities and hundreds of Manitoba employers who are having trouble finding workers for vacant positions.

Many parents were forced to quit their jobs during the pandemic to care for their children. If we want to encourage them to return to work, we have to insure daycare in our province is affordable and high quality.  Doing so makes economic sense. 

I’d like to believe the daycare fee subsidy was ineffectively implemented in Manitoba due to a lack of planning and organization which can happen when you are trying to figure out how to administer a new program.

Political cartoon by Chuck Chukry speculating on why the province isn’t spending the federal daycare subsidy to reduce fees for parents

I’d prefer to discount the nefarious political motivations some social media sites have suggested for the botched rollout.  

However, now that the shortcomings of the Manitoba plan have been clearly exposed and other provinces and territories are providing models for more efficient and successful ways of lowering daycare fees and improving services for all families, we should expect our province to move quickly to make the necessary changes required. 

Hopefully, soon the parents of my Manitoba granddaughter will see the same reduction in daycare fees the parents of her cousin in Saskatchewan are already enjoying. 

Other posts………..

Kids of Career Moms Are Okay

I Shook Her Hand

Universal Child Care A Wise Investment for Canada

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Filed under Childhood, manitoba, Politics

Single Young Women Are the Problem

“These women need to get married,” said Fox television commentator Jesse Waters as findings from the exit polls in the recent American election were being discussed. Waters was referring to the fact that single women in the United States voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. Another finding from the exit polls was that young people voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Waters proposal for getting those single young women to vote Republican was to get them married to men. Marriage to a man would bring these radical women to their senses.

Political commentator Mollie Hemingway went even further. She blamed the lack of support for the Republicans among single young women on the Democrats. She claimed the Democrats support of abortion rights and LGBTQ rights had encouraged women not to marry men and have children with them.

Chart from the Washington Examiner

Writing about the voting patterns of American young women in the Washington Examiner another conservative political commentator said women’s independence and equality is to blame for the decline in the marriage rate and this is a bad thing for the country and its future. Is he suggesting we need to curtail women’s equality and independence?

Can you believe that in the year 2022 there are still people who think this way? It boggles the mind and is frankly pretty scary.

To me it makes perfect sense why the vote was skewed along gender and age lines. If you are a single female parent struggling to get by you won’t vote for a party that wants to cut social services, take away your affordable medical plan and force you to have another child you can’t support financially.

If you are a young single woman who has just graduated from university or college of course you will vote for the party that wants to help you with your student loans, so you can start your career without crippling debt.

Although I couldn’t find particular statistics for single young women in Canada we have a definite gender divide when it comes to voting. The Liberal Party gets twice as many votes from women as the Conservatives do. Now why would that be?

Other posts……….

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

Mandatory Voting

An Important Day for Canadian Women

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Overheard While Standing in Line to Vote

Photo- CTV News

“Are any of them anti-vaxxer, anti-science people?”

“Would any of them ban books from schools?”

“Are any of them homophobic?”

I was standing in line to vote in Winnipeg’s municipal election on Wednesday when I overheard those questions being asked during a conversation between a couple of people standing right behind me. I’m not sure if the two were partners or just friends but they seemed to know each other quite well.

The man said he had decided which mayoral and city counsellor candidates he was voting for, but he hadn’t had time to research the school trustees running for office in our area.

The woman beside him said she had done due diligence and had looked up information about each school trustee candidate.

That’s when he asked the three questions above. Were any candidates anti-science, supporters of book banning or clearly against rights for the LGBTQ community?

The woman said she had checked out all the trustee candidates and those three things wouldn’t be concerning about any of them if they were elected.

The man breathed a sigh of relief. “Then it doesn’t really matter which one I vote for,” he said.

Photo by Mike Thom for Golden West

At first, I was a little dismissive of the fellow who was basing his vote on such narrow criteria but later I realized I was really no different when it came to my voting behaviour.

My major areas of concern in Winnipeg are homelessness, poverty and public safety. I voted for the mayoral candidate who I thought would address those concerns best.

I know in the last federal election my voting decisions were made with certain issues front and centre-respect for women’s bodies, respect for gender and sexual orientation choices, and respect for the scientific research about climate change and pandemics.

In the next provincial election, I already know that adequate funding for education, health care and housing will be my three top concerns.

Essentially, I am the same as the man I overheard at the polling station.

I found the conversation I listened to in the voting line on Wednesday very thought-provoking. I think it provided me with a snapshot of how many Canadians vote.

Other posts……….

Mandatory Voting

I Like This Photo

May 24th- An Important Day For Canadian Women

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I Like This Photo

In this photo from left to right- Governor General David Johnson- Prime Minister Paul Martin- Prime Minister Kim Campbell- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau- Governor General Mary Simon- Prime Minister Stephen Harper-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

I like this photo. It was taken at a ceremony in England where those pictured had gathered as part of the Canadian delegation that attended Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. At the ceremony, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was formally given the Order of Canada.

I like this photo of Canadian leaders because……….

It includes three women, when so often photos of government leaders are exclusively male.

It includes people of very different political persuasions and beliefs.

It includes people from different geographical areas of Canada- the west, the east, the north, and the south.

It includes people of different ethnicities and racial and cultural origins.

It includes people of various ages. There is an almost forty-year difference between the youngest and oldest.

It includes people who had very different professions before serving as national leaders- teachers, lawyers, writers, journalists, broadcasters, diplomats, professors and economists.

It includes people whose families came to Canada from many different places in the world as well as one person whose ancestors have been in Canada for 5000 years.

It includes people who all speak at least two of Canada’s heritage languages.

I could go on….. but suffice it to say that while we have a long way to go before the leaders of our country truly reflect the diversity of its population this photo proves that we are at least making a start.

And at a time when political leaders are regularly sworn at, insulted, harassed and vehemently criticized for totally inconsequential things, it is good to see these leaders set an example of decorum and respect.

Canadian comic Rick Mercer upon seeing this photo commented that “This is a cool picture. Not a lot of historic love in that room in any direction but yet they appear together and are civil, they might even be enjoying themselves.

If only we could all try to be civil and respectful towards one another our country would be a better place.

Other posts………..

Mandatory Voting

Stepping Back and Letting the Women Speak

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

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Filed under Politics

Senator Plett’s Statement Is Puzzling

Explaining his endorsement of Pierre Poilievre for Conservative Party Leader Senator Don Plett said, “we have a woke society out there that we need to move back to where we were in the days of, absolutely, Stephen Harper — but also in the days of Brian Mulroney and our very founding forefathers.”

Fathers of Confederation – by Rex Woods- from the Parliament of Canada website

I take it by founding fathers Senator Plett means the fathers of confederation who came together in 1867 to establish the Dominion of Canada.  It puzzles me why Mr Plett would want to move us back to where we were then. 

It was a time when women were not considered people but the property of their husbands and fathers. Women couldn’t vote, run for public office, or legally own land. It was illegal for married couples to use contraceptives and women couldn’t charge their husbands with physical assault. 

Children at the Brandon Residential School

Founding father Sir John A. MacDonald openly admitted to carrying out a plan to starve Indigenous Canadians so they would be forced to move to reserves, and during his term in office residential schools for Indigenous children were established.  Neither Indigenous Canadians nor Asian Canadians could vote at the time.

Mr Plett must know of MacDonald’s plan to annex Manitoba territory without granting it provincial status or representation in Ottawa.  Louis Riel prevented that. Riel is a forefather a Manitoban like Mr Plett should admire, although I doubt he would want to return to Riel’s tumultuous era in the Red River Settlement. 

Would Mr Plett like to go back to 1867 when less than half of eligible Canadian children attended school and having access to medical care depended on whether people had enough money?   Should we return to a time when it was assumed poverty was the result of some moral failing and any kind of support the poor received came only from the church?

My grandparents did not want society to return to the way it was in the past. – photo of my grandparents Margareta and Diedrich Peters by my aunt Mary Fransen

I am indeed indebted to my forefathers and foremothers who chose to come to Canada and start a new life here, but would I want to go back to where society was in those days as Mr Plett thinks we should?  Not for a second.  

My grandmother often told me how grateful she was that her granddaughters were living in a time when societal attitudes towards women and how they were treated had improved so much. My grandfather repeatedly said how happy he was about the educational opportunities afforded his grandchildren, Opportunities he didn’t have.  Neither wished for society to return to an earlier time. It puzzles me why Mr Plett does. 

What is also puzzling about Mr Plett’s statement is his condemnation of what he calls our current woke society.  According to the Oxford Dictionary woke means being aware of injustice, particularly in the area of racism. Does Mr Plett not realize the two prime ministers he praised in his endorsement both did something groundbreakingly woke during their tenure in office?

Panel by Cathy Busby called We Are Sorry– at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010

Mr Harper was the first Prime Minister to apologise publicly for the treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools admitting it was wrong and caused great harm. 

Nelson Mandela often expressed appreciation for Mr Mulroney’s support in ending apartheid in South Africa

Mr Mulroney is well-known for the landmark speech he gave at the United Nations in 1988 in which he denounced the apartheid regime in South Africa. 

Although I might critique Mulroney and Harper for many aspects of their political legacy it would be wrong to say, as Mr Plett implies, that they weren’t aware of the existence of racism or injustice. They both spoke out very publicly about it. 

 I was not surprised to hear Mr Plett endorse Pierre Poilievre but I was puzzled about the reason he gave for doing so. It didn’t make sense. 

Other posts……….

Looking Back Instead of Forward

A Television Series Senator Plett Should Watch

Getting Involved at the Human Rights Museum

The Long Wait and Forgiveness

Images of Apartheid

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A Sword Or A Shield?

Stacey Abrams’s photo from her website

“My faith should never be used as a sword to strike down another community. It should always be a shield to protect.”

In her campaign for the governorship of Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams keeps repeating the lines above. Abrams is the daughter of two pastors and is a woman who says her faith is fundamental to her life. She believes true faith should never be used as a sword to strike down a community.

Her response is motivated by the fact that she is running against Republican Brian Kemp, the current governor of Georgia, who has been an advocate of passing and endorsing the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) which would allow people who work in areas like public health, child welfare and criminal justice to use the right of religious freedom to refuse service to people from the LGBTQ community.

Abrams has said that act will never cross the finish line if she is elected governor. She also wants to put protections in place so that LGBTQ people workers in Georgia can no longer have their employment terminated on the basis of their sexual orientation, as is currently the case.

Brian Kemp photo from Wikipedia

Interestingly her Republican opponent is also a man of faith who grew up as Abrams did in the church and believes that being elected Governor is part of God’s plan for him. Brian Kemp thinks allowing people with strong religious beliefs about same-sex relationships to discriminate against people from the LGBTQ community is simply protecting their religious freedom.

While Abrams says it is her faith that calls her to shield the rights of the LGBTQ community, Kemp says it is his faith that makes it important to allow people the freedom to choose whether they want to respect those rights.

Two candidates for governor. Both claim to have a deep Christian faith but have diametrically opposed ideas. Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I would agree with Abrams’ point of view.

Like both Abrams and Kemp I grew up in the church and it has played a huge role in my life. But sometimes the very fact that those who wish to use faith as a sword identify themselves as fellow followers of Jesus, makes me truly consider whether abandoning my church affiliations entirely wouldn’t be the most honest thing to do.

Other posts……….

Tolerating Other Christians

Bible Verses in the House of Commons

First Officially Affirming Church in Steinbach

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A Boy Named Tommy Douglas

In 2004 in a nationwide survey Canadians voted that Tommy Douglas was the greatest Canadian of all time. It was thanks to his efforts that Canada instituted a universal health care system.

A Boy Named Tommy Douglas is written by Beryl Young and Illustrated by Joan Steacy

British Columbia author Beryl Young has written a new picture book that introduces kids to Tommy Douglas. I received my copy a few weeks ago and it quickly became a favourite of my granddaughter’s. I couldn’t read it to her enough times. Consequently, I know Tommy’s story by heart now.

His motivation to achieve health care for all Canadians stemmed from his own experience with the medical system. As a young boy, he injured his knee and his parents were told the leg would have to be amputated.

Tommy’s leg was saved by a kind orthopaedic surgeon

A well-known orthopaedic surgeon suggested an alternate surgery that might save Tommy’s leg but Tommy’s parents said they couldn’t afford his fees. The doctor agreed to do the surgery for free if his medical students could watch the procedure. Tommy’s leg was saved.

Tommy’s experience made him realize that health care should be available to everyone, not just those who could afford it.

Tommy Douglas entered politics for the express purpose of instituting free health care for all Canadians

When Tommy grew up and became a politician universal health care for citizens was his personal crusade first provincially and then federally.

In her lively picture book, Beryl Young tells Tommy’s story in a way that is accessible to children and readily engages them. The author helps young readers understand what a hero Tommy Douglas really was. The illustrations by Joan Steacy are bright and colourful and really bring the story alive. The book has received a highly recommended review from The Canadian Review of Materials.

I ordered my book through McNally Robinson Booksellers

Other posts……….

Beryl Young What An Inspiration!

Show Us Where You Live Humpback

Giving A Child Away

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Filed under Canada, Health, People, Politics

Letting Others Speak For Me

I have written many times before about why banning abortion is the wrong and most ineffective thing to do if we truly want the abortion rate in North America to continue its decline and if we truly care about children and the mothers who birth them.

So my readers will already know that the recent Roe v Wade ruling in the United States has left me heartsick and troubled. I find myself unable to speak about it without a great deal of anger, so I am going to let three others do it for me.

For nearly 50 years, women have had the right to make their own decisions about their bodies. Today, that right was stolen from us. And while we may be devastated by this injustice, we will not be silent. We will not sit back as the progress we have already won slips away. Tomorrow, we will continue to fight — for our daughters and granddaughters, and for ourselves — until all women can decide our own futures once again.- Dr Jill Biden- First Lady of the United States

We want those feeling the pain of today’s wrongful Supreme Court decision to know that you are not alone. God has not abandoned you and neither will we. We will do what we always do when the law loses its love. We will grieve with you and offer space for lament and mourning. We will work with you until the rights of every person are honoured in this land. We will stand with you in protest. We will kneel with you in prayer. And we will maintain our commitment to educate people about abortion access and safe medically supported reproductive healthcare. Now and always, we remain firm in the knowledge that all are beloved of God, and this cause is right and holy.

-Rev. Dr John C. Dorhauer President United Church of Christ

There are days when I can’t live in this country. Not the whole thing at once, including the hateful parts, the misogyny, the brutal disregard of the powerful for the powerless. Sometimes I can only be a citizen of these trees, this rainy day, the family I can hold safe, the garden I can grow. A fire that refuses to go out.

-Barbara Kingsolver- best-selling author of the Poisonwood Bible and Pulitzer Prize nominee

Other posts………

Canada is TRYING to Do The Right Thing About Abortion

Abortion and Summer Jobs

Sex-Selective Abortion

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Filed under Politics, Religion

Mandatory Voting

Should voting be mandatory?  In the recent Ontario election, only 43% of eligible citizens showed up to cast their ballots. It is one of the worst turnouts in a century for any federal or provincial Canadian election. Sadly, however, it is just part of an alarming downward trend in the number of people who care enough to vote in our country. 

What can we do about it?  Twenty-two countries in the world including Greece, Belgium, Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore have compulsory voting.  Citizens have to vote, or they pay a penalty. Should we be thinking about doing that in Canada too? 

When Canada became a country in 1867 only white men over the age of 21 who owned property could vote. Many people fought long and hard to get the vote for different segments of Canada’s population- women, Indigenous people, young people, incarcerated citizens, those who weren’t property owners, and those with intellectual disabilities. Now that every resident finally has suffrage why are so few using it? 

Perhaps Canadians don’t think their individual votes are important given the current first-past-the-post model of our elections.  Justin Trudeau in his first campaign for prime minister promised to reform our electoral system so citizens would feel their ballot made a difference.  Regrettably, he did not follow through on that promise. 

Perhaps people aren’t voting because of the poor quality of some of the candidates running.  But with all the no-holds-barred animus directed at politicians these days who would want to enter the political sphere and expose their families to the kind of toxic venom that is bound to come their way?  

When the trucker convoys were out in full force with their obscene Trudeau epithets splashed all around I kept thinking that the prime minister’s children were seeing those signs too. Why would quality candidates consider entering the political field when they know it means they and their families are going to be the objects of derision and hate? 

In 2015 former American President Barack Obama suggested that enacting compulsory voting in the United States would counteract the enormous impact of money in American politics and would diversify the voter pool.  

In a recent article in the Toronto Globe and Mail Andrew Coyne said mandatory voting would eliminate voter turnout as a factor in the way campaigns are carried out.  He feels much of the poisonous bile that is currently a part of politics is rooted in strategies by various parties to affect voter turnout either by riling up their own supporters or depressing their opponents’ supporters. 

I voted in the most recent provincial election and I can’t remember an election when I haven’t voted

Some proponents of compulsory voting say it would promote political stability and make people take elections more seriously. Of course, the biggest plus is that it would improve voter turnout. When Australia implemented compulsory voting less than half of its citizens were going to the polls. Now 80% do. 

I think other strategies could be implemented to improve voter turnout like making online voting an option and spending more time in school teaching young people about voting responsibilities. In Los Angeles, they have tried to get citizens to the polls by entering the name of everyone who votes in a draw for a huge cash prize. 

Compulsory voting has critics who say it violates people’s freedom of choice and forces even completely uninformed voters to cast their ballot.

Compulsory voting may not be the best answer to getting more Canadians to participate in the election process, but higher voter turnout is definitely something we should be encouraging and promoting so democracy can work the way it was meant to in our country.

Other posts………

Thanks for Voting

Canadians Need A Civics Lesson

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

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Filed under Canada, Politics