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Canada will soon get a new electoral map — and it may have a blue tint



The federal Conservatives are likely to gain the most once Canada’s new electoral map is set in place later this year, says the pollster who ran the numbers for the Liberal war room in the last three general elections.

As the country moves from 338 electoral districts to 343, new seats are being created mostly in parts of the country that have tended to vote Conservative. And a handful of existing ridings currently represented by New Democrat or Liberal MPs are turning more ‘blue’ with new boundaries. Overall, of the existing 338 ridings, 271 will see their boundaries changed.

“I think when you add up the numbers there, the new map does look like it will benefit the Conservatives,” said Dan Arnold, who became the chief strategy officer at Pollara Strategic Insights last year but, before that, was the director of research in Justin Trudeau’s PMO and the polling director for the Liberal Party in the 2015, 2019 and 2021 general election campaigns.


“By and large, it’s only minor changes. It’s not going to be a dramatic shift. But there are elections where a couple of seats can be decisive. So I do think, all things being equal, the Conservatives would probably rather fight the next election under the new map than the old map.”

Three of the next electoral map’s five new seats are going to be in Alberta, where the Conservatives have dominated for decades. The Conservatives currently hold 31 of 34 seats in that province.

British Columbia is getting one more seat, a seat that is being carved out of southern B.C.’s interior, a region that tends to vote Conservative.

And while Ontario gets one more seat, Toronto itself loses a seat, dropping from 25 to 24. The Liberals currently hold every seat in Toronto.

Then there are a handful of existing districts that may become more Tory blue with the new riding map.

The Winnipeg riding of Elmwood–Trascona is a good example. The riding was the long-time seat of NDP giant Bill Blaikie and has been held since 2015 by his son Daniel, also a New Democrat.

But the riding is now set to get a new western and southern boundary. The riding will more than double in geographic size and is set to consist of most, but not all, of its original mostly urban section — where residents tend to vote New Democrat — as it adds a large rural component from the current riding of Provencher, a riding which has a long history of voting Conservative. The majority of the rural polls about to be folded into Elmwood-Transcona voted Conservative in the last several general elections.

Blaikie is one of several MPs unhappy with the proposed new boundaries to have appealed to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Neither MPs nor the commissions that drew up the new riding maps can, by law, alter boundaries for partisan considerations, but the law does allow for riding boundaries to be adjusted or remain the same in order to preserve what are called “communities of interest.”

Blaikie, in his appeal to the Commons committee, argued that the voters in the rural areas that are proposed to join his riding do not share the same interests as the urban dwellers in the original part of Elmwood–Transcona.

“I think it is a reasonable goal of the redistribution process to try to have urban ridings and rural ridings, without the split, where possible,” Blaikie testifed at the committee’s meeting Feb. 2. “I think that’s a significant division when it comes to communities of interest.”

The Ontario commission, if not the Manitoba commission, appears to have bought Blaikie’s argument on urban-rural splits and communities of interest. It has, for example, taken the Ottawa ridings currently held by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and a neighbouring riding held by the Liberal MP Jenna Sudds and essentially handed most of the rural voters off to Poilievre while keeping the Liberal-leaning residents in a smaller, more urban riding. Poilievre’s riding of Carleton becomes much bigger, more rural and more Conservative, based on historic voting patterns. Sudds’ current riding of Kanata-Carleton becomes the riding of Kanata, a geographically much smaller and more urban riding but also, again based on historic voting patterns, more Liberal riding.

Similarly, the Ontario commission took the Toronto-area riding of Pickering-Uxbridge and divided it up along urban-rural lines. The southern half of Pickering–Uxbridge, currently held by Liberal Jennifer O’Connell, becomes the riding of Pickering–Brooklin, picking up some polls from the northern part of the riding of Whitby. And while those northern Whitby polls tended to vote Conservative, Pickering–Brooklin, because it is now more urban, should be more favourable to O’Connell’s re-election chances.

But the rest of the former riding of Pickering–Uxbridge, the northern rural half, moves to a new riding to be called York–Durham that contains a much higher proportion of rural areas versus urban or suburban areas and, as a result, would likely lean Conservative based on previous voting patterns.

Trying to keep  “communities of interest” together when re-drawing riding boundaries is a concept that may appear sound, but can be much trickier to implement, said Michael Pal, a University of Ottawa law professor who specializes in electoral law and who once served as a member of a riding redistribution commission.

“The commissions have a lot of tough choices to make,” Pal said. “Communities of interest [are] basically groups, identities that are relevant to people. It could be urban versus rural, it could be linguistic minorities, could be racialized minorities. And so the commissions are supposed to take those factors into account in trying to keep communities together, or at least not to divide up their voting power in a way that’s harmful to those groups.”

Blaikie’s attempt to keep large numbers of rural voters out of his urban riding has sound political logic to it. By and large, in English Canada at least, the more urban a riding is, the more likely it is to lean New Democrat or Liberal. The more rural it is, the more likely it is to lean Conservative.

That said, Arnold, the former Liberal pollster, does warn caution.

“I do think there’s a bit of a tendency at times to overanalyze some of these smaller shifts. The next election will be very different than [the last one]. A lot of other factors are going to impact things,” Arnold said. “So just because a riding looks a little bit more favourable to a given party doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to win that riding in the next election campaign.”

The system of independent provincial commissions re-drawing riding maps has been in place in Canada since 1964. After each decennial census, Elections Canada makes a recommendation on the adjustment of the number of seats to be added to the House of Commons, a recommendation which must be approved by the House of Commons.

After that, though, it’s up to three-person commissions in each province to re-draw existing maps to account for those new seats or redistribute existing seats based on population shifts.

The head of each provincial commission is a judge appointed by the chief justice of each provincial court. The other two members of each provincial commission are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and tend to be academics or retired civil servants. So far, at least, the Canadian system of re-drawing electoral districts has avoided the gerrymandering controversies of the United States where state legislatures get to re-draw electoral maps and often do so to obtain a partisan advantage for the party in control of that legislature.

The “final reports” of each provincial commission are put forward after public consultations and after an initial report is tabled with a first draft of new riding boundaries.

Blaikie and other MPs who do not like the boundaries in the final reports are fighting an uphill battle, says Pal.

“Overall they don’t have much success, but sometimes they have,” Pal said. “Usually, most of the changes have happened in advance and the MPs often had a chance to speak in the public consultation process, as well.”

In fact, MPs normally never end up voting on new boundaries. Each provincial commission will consider the complaints or suggestions by MPs but, at the end of the day, the final decision is made by those independent commissions.

“So that’s one of the great things about the Canadian system — the representation order goes into force and the House doesn’t actually have to vote on it because you’d imagine if they did, that would be another chance where we might worry about gerrymandering,” said Pal.

The commissions are expected to make their final decision in April. And, by law, the new boundaries would then be in effect for any general election that occurs seven months after that final decision is made.


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Canada: Fatal stabbing in Vancouver leaves city shaken – Hindustan Times



Mar 28, 2023 01:16 PM IST

An Indo-Canadian has been arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder. The victim has been identified by the Vancouver Police Department as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt

Toronto: The city of Vancouver in British Colombia was left shaken after a person at Starbucks cafe was fatally stabbed, with an Indo-Canadian arrested for that alleged murder.

Canada police at the site of a stabbing incident in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Picture for representational purpose only). (AP)

Canada police at the site of a stabbing incident in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Picture for representational purpose only). (AP)

The incident occurred on Sunday, around 5.40pm and followed a brief altercation outside the outlet between two men.

The victim was identified by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on Monday as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt. Meanwhile, Inderdeep Singh Gosal, 32, has been charged with second-degree murder.


Police continue to seek additional witnesses to the crime. “We believe this homicide was witnessed by dozens of bystanders, and there may be people with information who have not yet come forward,” VPD Sergeant Steve Addison said, in a release.

“We particularly want to hear from anyone who was present in the moments before the stabbing, or anyone who has cell-phone video of the incident.”

Investigators don’t believe the victim and suspect knew each other. The release added that the “the circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing remain under investigation”.

A police constable patrolling the area was flagged down “moments after” the stabbing occurred. The suspect was arrested at the crime scene. Officers attempted to save the victim’s life but he did not survive and succumbed to the injuries sustained after being rushed to hospital.

Raw footage of the incident posted online have gone viral throughout Canada, as they show the victim lying outside the Starbucks, surrounded by his own blood, and also the alleged murderer, walking in and out of the glass doors to the establishment. Another video shows Gosal being arrested and taken into custody by police.

Schmidt was the city’s sixth homicide victim of this year.

The apparent random act of violence attracted criticism of the law and order situation in Vancouver, among the major cities in Canada. Filmmaker Aaron Gunn tweeted, “Things are not getting better. They are still getting worse.”

Get Latest World Newsalong with Latest Newsfrom Indiaat Hindustan Times.


    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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Is femicide in Canada's Criminal Code? – CTV News



Advocates are pushing for the term femicide to be added to Canada’s Criminal Code, saying it would help raise awareness on the issue.

In 2020, a report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability found that one woman or girl is killed every two and a half days in Canada. Femicide refers to homicides that target women and girls because of their gender.

Understanding the violence females face specifically, advocates are hoping for more awareness of femicide at the federal level.


“It’s really important that we name femicide,” Jennifer Hutton, CEO of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, Ont, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “There are some unique traits about femicide. It’s really about men’s violence against women.”

Hutton believes femicide should be in the Criminal Code to prevent tragedies through better understanding.

“Until we name it, then how can we change it?” she said.”When it’s a separate part of the Criminal Code, then we have better data to track it, so we know just how prevalent it really is.”

Femicide can include instances when a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner, a non-intimate partner, or in an armed conflict. The term can also include women who are not the intended victim, but are killed in the femicide of another woman, too.

For Indigenous women and girls, Hutton says they are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women and girls.

Hutton is partnering with Jenna Mayne, who hosts the podcast “She is Your Neighbour” focusing on femicide in Canada.

“We hear from survivors, we hear from family members who have lost women to femicide, and we hear from experts,” Mayne said. “I think these stories are difficult to hear, but they’re so important to hear too.”


To listen to the full interview click the video at the top of this article. 

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Grocery rebate coming in federal budget 2023



The 2023 federal budget will include a one-time “grocery rebate” for Canadians with lower incomes who may be struggling with the rising cost of food, CTV News has confirmed.

According to sources, the new measure will be unveiled in Tuesday’s federal budget and will help nearly 11 million lower-income Canadians.

The new measure would see eligible couples with two children receive a payment of up to $467, a senior would receive $225, while a single person would receive $234 dollars.

The benefit will be rolled out through the GST rebate system, once a bill implementing it passes in the House of Commons, according to sources. This move is essentially re-upping and re-branding the recent GST rebate boost.


The amounts expected to be offered are exactly what the Liberals offered through last fall’s doubling of the GST credit, a boost that was estimated to cost $2.5 billion and got all-party backing. It’s not expected that there will be a requirement to spend the rebate on groceries.

According to Statistics Canada’s latest inflation report, food prices rose 11.4 per cent year-over-year in January, nearly double the rate of inflation of 5.9 per cent and up from 11 per cent the previous month.

The increased cost of food has been the focus of a parliamentary study that’s seen grocery CEOs, including Loblaw chairman and president Galen Weston, grilled over grocery profits.

“I’ve been talking with Canadians from coast, to coast, to coast over the past many months hearing directly concerns around affordability, around the high cost of food, of rent, of so many different things. That’s why a big part of the budget will be focused on measures to help Canadians in targeted ways,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill on Monday.

“Groceries will certainly be part of it but, there’s other things as well that we’re going to continue to do to be there for Canadians…I look forward to a great budget tomorrow.”

The NDP had been calling for the Liberals to double the GST tax credit. Reacting to the news, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this measure “looks very much like… what we’ve been asking for, for a long time.”

Both Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland have been hinting for weeks that the 2023 budget would include targeted affordability measures to directly help those feeling the pinch of inflation the most.

“This support will be narrowly focused and fiscally responsible. The truth is, we can’t fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the effects of inflation or for elevated interest rates,” Freeland said last week in a pre-budget speech signalling her priorities. “To do so would only make inflation worse and force rates higher, for longer.”

On Monday afternoon, the finance minister took part in a long-standing tradition of picking out a new pair of shoes to wear on budget day.

This year, Freeland opted for a pair of black heels that were on sale at Canadian retailer Simons, from the store’s in-house brand. She placed them in a reusable tote bag after purchase.


With the economy expected to continue slowing in the months ahead, potentially leading to a recession, Freeland is facing calls for the massive fiscal document to include a plan to promote economic growth.

Amid Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes, inflation cooled to 5.2 per cent in February. That’s down from 5.9 per cent in January, after 40-year record highs over the summer, reaching 8.1 per cent in June.

“What Canadians want right now is for inflation to come down and for interest rates to fall. And that is one of our primary goals in this year’s budget: not to pour fuel on the fire of inflation,” Freeland said in her pre-budget positioning speech.

At the same time, she signalled the 2023 federal budget will still be prioritizing “two significant and necessary investments”: the $46.2 billion in new funding included in the $196 billion federal-provincial health-care funding deals, and new measures to boost Canada’s clean industrial economy.

It’s the latter that government officials have signalled will get some attention in tomorrow’s budget, with several news outlets reporting there will be sizable—30 per cent, according to Reuters— new clean technology-focused tax credits to generate growth in the electrical vehicle supply chain and in critical mineral extraction and processing.

The November 2022 fall economic update had telegraphed that these kinds of credits and investments were ahead.

“Tomorrow…we’re bringing forward a budget that is focused on affordability and supporting Canadians… and creating great jobs for the middle class in a clean and growing economy. Those are the focuses that we’ve been laser focused on over the past many years,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Monday, fresh off of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, where the green economy was a central piece of discussion.

Canada’s clear focus on the clean transition comes in part out of a need for these sectors to remain competitive in the face of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers billions of dollars in energy incentives south of the border.

The Canadian Press has also reported that Tuesday’s budget will include an increase to the withdrawal limit for a registered education savings plan (RESP) from $5,000 to $8,000; and a plan to go after hidden or unexpected consumer fees known as “junk fees” that inflate the overall cost of a product or service.

Finance Canada officials, who for some time have been parsing the stacks of pre-budget submissions from various industries and sectors, will also have to factor in the Liberals’ commitments to the New Democrats, with key planks of the two-party confidence deal due to come to fruition this year.

“We still want to see confirmation of the dental care expansion to include seniors, people living with disabilities and kids 18 and under. We really want this budget to save money for people, and that’s something really important for us,” Singh said.

With this budget, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called on the federal government to lower taxes, end “inflationary” spending, match new spending with savings, and improve housing affordability.

“He wants to take away everybody’s money, centralize it in his own hands, and promise that it will trickle down through his mighty bureaucracy… And there will maybe be a few little drops that get down to the people who actually earned it in the first place,” Poilievre levelled at the prime minister during Monday’s question period. “Will he cap government spending and put an end to the inflationary deficits, tomorrow?”

The fall economic statement issued in November 2022 projected the federal deficit at $36.4 billion in 2022-23, down from the $52.8 billion forecast in the April 2022 federal budget. Freeland also forecasted that federal coffers could be back to balance by 2027-28.

The 2023 federal budget is coming just ahead of a two-week break in the House of Commons, allowing Liberal MPs to then descend on their ridings to promote it to their constituents before coming back to the capital to work on getting the budget implementation legislation passed through the minority Parliament.

With files from CTV News’ Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos, and’s Michael Lee and Spencer Van Dyk 


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