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Singh downplays prospect of a coalition

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TORONTO — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared to be walking back his comments on Monday, a day after he said he would “absolutely” work with the other parties to form a coalition government in the event of the Conservatives winning a minority next week.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Surrey, B.C., Singh said he would do “whatever it takes” to avoid a Conservative government, including working with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau if the Conservatives win.

“We’re not going to support a Conservative government,” Singh said on Sunday. “We’re going to fight a Conservative government, we’re going to fight it all the way.”

On Monday, Singh backed off those comments and urged Canadians to vote NDP in order to receive the best services.

“It’s not a question of coalition, it’s a question of our priorities,” Singh told reporters in French. “What I say for all Canadians is if you want to have someone who is working for you for climate change, it’s the New Democrats, if you vote for us, we’re going to fight for you.”

A spokesperson for the NDP clarified Singh’s stance later Monday, noting that he is running to be prime minister and a coalition government is just one of the options he would accept to ensure the Conservatives are not in power.

“Jagmeet will work with people who are willing to take the same priorities as his. As PM, as opposition, in coalition, in a minority agreement, in vote to vote,” said spokesperson Melanie Richer in an email.

While Trudeau has been pushing the idea that a vote for the Liberals is the only way to avoid Conservatives, Singh made it clear he hopes Canadians know there are more options.

“I reject that analysis,” he said. “Vote for a New Democrat, wherever you are, vote for a New Democrat. They’re going to make sure that your priorities are put front and centre. We can win and we can make sure that your life is better.”

Singh would not respond to whether he’d require any NDP MPs to sit in cabinet under a coalition, but has previously said he would require climate change action, national pharmacare, interest-free student loans, cuts to cell phone plans, affordable housing investments and additional taxes of the wealthiest Canadians to support any party’s minority government.

When asked about the prospect of forming a coalition with the NDP, Trudeau dodged the question and suggested the NDP would rip up the new NAFTA deal under this proposal.

Singh called that claim a “lie” and added his party would only require some of the trade protections in the agreement to be enforceable as a way of protecting Canadian workers.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters on Monday that a coalition with the Liberals and NDP would “lead to higher taxes, less jobs, more deficits and bigger household bills.”

“It’s the coalition Canadians can’t afford,” he said. “Only a Conservative majority government can prevent a government with Justin Trudeau as a spokesman, but the NDP calling the shots.”

Singh said the Conservatives will not fight for every day Canadians and are instead focused on offering tax breaks for the richest people in the country.

“With Conservatives what you get are folks that are going to offer you a couple dollars in your pocket, but what they’re really going to do is cost you more in the long run,” Singh said.

“That’s not what Canadians need right now. They need investments in housing, they need someone who’s going to take on the big cell phone companies and make sure that cell phone and internet prices are more affordable. That’s what you get when you vote New Democrat.”

According to the latest polling from Nanos research, the Liberals and Conservatives are deadlocked with around 32 per cent support with just a week to go before the election. The NDP sit comfortably in third with 19.2 per cent support.

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Alberta in for frigid winter, says Weather Network

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Nicole Estabrooks pedals down a snowy Calgary street on Nov. 5, 2019. Calgary has already seen several snowstorms since September.

Expect temperatures in Calgary to swing back-and-forth throughout a winter that’s slightly colder than average, the Weather Network warns.

According to the network’s seasonal forecast released Monday, it’ll be chillier than normal throughout southern Alberta over the coming months, but with periods of reprieve mixed in.

“We expect a colder-than-normal winter, but the pattern will break down at times,” said meteorologist Doug Gillham. “We have above normal temperatures forecast for the B.C. coast and at times that milder Pacific air will spread into Alberta.”

The same goes for precipitation this winter, when much of the province’s southern portion can expect above-average snowfall, especially in the Rocky Mountains, he said.

“It’s overall good news for skiers,” Gillham noted.

Average levels of snowfall are in the longterm forecast for Calgary, but that could mean more flakes than usual after it’s all said and done when factoring in storms that already hit throughout the fall.

Gillham said Calgarians are used to drastic weather shifts, with November proving to be no exception.

“Those back-and-forth swings are typical so you’ll see that this winter to some extent, but you’ll be frozen more often than you’re thawed and I think the temperatures will tip more to the cold side of normal,” he said.

“It’s a little bit more of a harsh winter than the average without being, likely, one of your more memorable and more severe winters.”

The Weather Network’s winter forecast predicts it will be a long, cold winter across much of Canada, especially in the southern parts of the Prairies. The trend of a deep freeze will be felt through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where meteorologists expect cold air to anchor down for the season.

But things are looking a little better in B.C., where temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal.

However, there may still be a two-week period where winter shows up out of the blue on the Pacific coast. Conditions will also likely be favourable in B.C.’s ski areas, despite the slightly higher temperatures.

From southern Ontario to southern Quebec, people can prepare for a winter that’s colder than usual and has much more precipitation than normal.

In Atlantic Canada, the Weather Network predicted it won’t be bitterly cold, but it will be a very stormy season.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will likely experience average winter conditions, which bucks a recent trend of warmer-than-usual winters in the Far North. In Yukon, a warmer winter is still expected.

Yukon and B.C. are the only parts of the country where spring could show up early in 2020, as the rest of the country should get ready for a harsh and prolonged season, according to the forecast.

Gillham said the seasonal prediction tries to answer questions of “how will the season be remembered?”

He compared the Weather Network’s forecast to pre-season hockey predictions, noting day-to-day weather is anyone’s guess beyond the seven-day forecast.

“It would be foolish to sit down and predict which games the Calgary Flames will win or lose through the course of a season, but often you have a good handle based on who’s coming back, maybe who you traded for,” Gillham said.

“Is this the year that you contend for the Stanley Cup, is this the year where you’re just fighting for the playoffs, or is this the year where you think you’re going to get a really good draft pick because you’re contending for the basement?”

—With files from the Canadian Press

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Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais leaves Conservative caucus

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Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais has left the Conservative caucus citing frustrations with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage and the “low importance” attached to Quebec voters by party leadership.

In a release issued Monday morning, Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, who represents Quebec, said he would be joining the newly formed Canadian Senators Group.

Andrew Scheer‘s beliefs about abortion and same-sex marriages led to a mass exodus of the Quebec vote that the party hoped to win with the excellent candidates who had been recruited for the election of 21 October,” read the release.

Dagenais said the Conservatives “wasted a unique opportunity” in the federal election – a result he said would only be repeated “if the current leader and those who advise him remain in office as is the case at this time.”

Because of this opinion, Dagenais said it would be “inappropriate” for him to remain in the Senate’s Conservative caucus. He said the recent announcement of the breakaway Senate group presented him with a “logical choice” to express his views “unreservedly.”

Dagenais said he would, however, maintain his membership of the Conservative Party of Canada as it’s “the only political party in the country that conveys his economic and national security values.”

Dagenais’ criticism isn’t the first that’s been issued about Scheer’s social conservatism. Scheer came under fire throughout the campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion.

One week after the election, former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay said the social conservatism question hung around Scheer’s neck “like stinking albatross” during the campaign. MacKay also compared Scheer’s election result to having a breakaway on an open net and missing the shot. He has since spoken in support of Scheer’s leadership.

Newly-elected Conservative MP Eric Duncan, who is openly gay, told CTV’s Your Morning earlier this month that the Conservative Party needs to rethink its approach to LGBTQ issues.

“I think we need to work on how we make ourselves a modern Conservative party, and that includes being more inclusive on that issue,” Duncan said.

Scheer has declined to take part in Pride parades and has yet to apologize for comments he made in 2005 comparing same-sex couples to dogs. However, in 2016, Scheer voted in favour of removing the Conservative Party’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. He has also said he would not reopen the issue of same-sex marriage.

Dagenais said in his release that he “disagrees with certain social values” of the current Conservative Party leadership, which prompted his plan to jump ship.

The Canadian Senators Group (CSG) was created in early November with more than 10 senators flocking to the group from various caucuses. At the time, freshly-anointed CSG Leader Scott Tannas said the group is united by their approach to work and regional representation.

“Our group is about funding an independent research bureau that will serve our group, provide us with facts,” Tannas said at the time.

“We’re not going to try to sell each other behind closed doors and come to a group position. We will be debating each other in many instances.”

The newly formed Canadian Senators Group said it was “happy to welcome” the “like-minded senator.”

The release also welcomed Senator Percy Downe, who has previously served under a Liberal banner, to the burgeoning Senate group.

This caused other Senate dominoes to fall, as Downe had joined the newly formed Progressive Senate Group Nov. 14. His departure cause the Progressive group to fold just days after members of the now-defunct Senate Liberal Caucus had created it.

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Ontario high school teachers vote in favour of a strike

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TORONTO – The union representing Ontario’s high school teachers says its members have voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation says the result gives it an “overwhelming” mandate to take job action if necessary.

The union also represents education workers who voted 92 per cent in favour of taking strike action.

The OSSTF is already in a legal strike position as of today, though it’s also required to give five days’ notice before a strike and has not yet done so.

Three of Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions are taking steps toward potential strikes as they negotiate with the government for new contracts.

Elementary teachers are set to start a work-to-rule campaign on Nov. 26 that they say will target ministry and school board administrative tasks but won’t affect student learning.

Catholic teachers voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike if necessary, although they are not yet in a legal strike position, while negotiations between the province and French teachers continue.

The Canadian Press

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