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Province’s refusal to fund private abortion clinics is a travesty of justice

André Picard

The New Brunswick government has ‘won’ its legal battle with the late Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

But it is, at best, a Pyrrhic victory. The cost being paid by the women of the province – and beyond – is painfully high.

That Dr. Morgentaler had to sue the province in the first place – to try and force them to pay for abortions at private clinics, as is the norm in all other jurisdictions – is disgraceful.

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Nine election changes Conservative senators didn’t seek

Josh Wingrove

There was what the Senate said, and all that it didn’t.

This week, a Tory-dominated Senate committee that had been “pre-studying” the controversial Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, recommended nine changes to the House of Commons committee that currently has the bill before it. It’s an exceptionally unusual situation, raising questions of what will happen if the House ignores the suggestions and then sends its final version of the bill to the Senate for approval.

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Even without charging Nigel Wright, the RCMP’s done a public service

CAMPBELL CLARK

The Prime Minister can feel relief that his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, won’t be charged with a crime in the Senate scandal. But he should keep the celebrations to a chastened minimum.

The RCMP has decided to drop its investigation into Mr. Wright, because what he did – writing a $90,000 cheque to secretly cover Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses – isn’t a crime.

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On pipelines, is Harper about to pull an ‘Obama’?

Shawn McCarthy

Is Prime Minster Stephen Harper prepared to “pull an Obama” and punt on the Northern Gateway decision in the face of implacable opposition?

The Prime Minister has been openly critical – verging on scornful – over U.S. President Barack Obama’s agonizingly slow process for deciding whether to approve TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which would carry oil sands bitumen to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Mr. Harper famously called approval of the KXL project a “no brainer.”

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What’s it like to work as a spy? ‘Crippling’ paperwork

Colin Freeze

The business model is antiquated, the mission is muddying and the burden of paperwork has grown “crippling.” The culture may have grown risk averse and middle managers may be setting the wrong goals. Worse still, the pool of customers is drying up – and some of those who remain give the product failing grades.

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Why the Conservative approach to diplomacy misses the target

Campbell Clark

Don’t pack away those tweed jackets just yet, John Baird.

The Conservative government has decided to make economic diplomacy its chief mission in international relations, issuing a Global Markets Action Plan last November that made trade Job One. One official told The Globe and Mail at the time that the message to diplomats was this: “Take off your tweed jacket, buy a business suit and land us a deal.”

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Liberals consistently lead polls in year since Trudeau became leader

Éric Grenier

Justin Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada one year ago this week. When that happened, his party moved ahead in national voting intentions. He has yet to relinquish that lead.

The latest polls give the Liberals about 36 per cent support and an eight-point advantage over the governing Conservatives. In 48 polls conducted since Mr. Trudeau became Liberal Leader on April 14, 2013, his party has led or has been tied for the lead in all but two of them. The Liberals are up five points on where they stood a year ago, eight points on where they were in the month before naming their new leader, and 14 points compared to the support the Liberals enjoyed in September 2012, just before Mr. Trudeau announced his intentions to run for the leadership.

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Harper’s dilemma: what to do with Rob Anders?

CAMPBELL CLARK

Rob Anders once again represents a peculiar conundrum for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

After 17 years as an MP, the controversial Mr. Anders lost his Conservative nomination over the weekend. Already, there’s speculation he’ll try to run again somewhere else, like the neighbouring riding of Calgary Rocky Ridge.

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How Flaherty’s death complicates Harper’s by-election decisions

GLORIA GALLOWAY

Stephen Harper not only lost a friend and a party mentor when Jim Flaherty passed away suddenly last week, he gained another hole in the federal political landscape.

It is a hole that the diminutive former finance minister filled in a very big way – one that presents strategic challenges for Mr. Harper as he tries to create the most advantageous narrative for his party going into the 2015 general election.

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Ontario’s dysfunctional government cries out for election

ADAM RADWANSKI

The first instinct is to consider it a grim prospect best avoided.

Nobody dreams of spending the early weeks of patio season aboard a campaign bus. Nobody relishes the prospect of vicious attack ads every time they turn on their television. And nobody can look at the way Ontario’s politicians have been presenting themselves and each other and seriously believe they’re ready to inspire us.

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In Tories' push for ‘fair’ elections, there's no such thing as neutral

Campbell Clark

There are no neutrals in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa.

When he sent out a junior minister, Pierre Poilievre, to attack the Chief Electoral Officer last week, it had been a long time coming. Where most Canadians think of Elections Canada as the neutral referee for the country's voting, Mr. Harper and some of the Conservatives around him have decided it is biased against them.

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How border agents are told to deal with native protesters

KATHRYN BLAZE CARLSON

It was 10:32 p.m. on the eve of a series of Idle No More protests when the updated Canada Border Services Agency briefing was circulated.

Sent to agency management on Jan. 4, 2013, the briefing said major protests were expected the next day, Saturday, in several regions, with the largest slated for the Cornwall crossing in Ontario. Other demonstrations might have a “limited impact” on border crossings elsewhere in Ontario, the Pacific region and the prairies. A CBSA situational report submitted earlier in the day predicted the sun would shine on demonstrators at the Cornwall crossing, but that a windchill of -15 – coupled with requirements around identity documents – might dampen turnout.

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Canada’s most ‘scientific’ premier?

Ivan Semeniuk

Before becoming a politician, Yukon’s premier Darrell Pasloski was a pharmacist. John Hamm, premier of Nova Scotia from 1999 to 2006 was a family doctor. Frank Miller, briefly the premier of Ontario in 1985, was a professional engineer.

None of them could be called scientists but all three are examples of provincial first ministers with professional backgrounds that called for a significant amount of science education.

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40-year-old health report was prescient about today’s challenges

André Picard

“Good health is the bedrock on which social progress is built. A nation of healthy people can do those things that make life worthwhile, and as the level of health increases so does the potential for happiness."

Those are the opening words of the report titled A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians.

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Jim Flaherty was the glue that bound the Conservative Party together

CAMPBELL CLARK

There is a particular kind of shocked grief in political circles – Jim Flaherty was a conservative family tie.

It wasn’t just that Mr. Flaherty was part of the glue that bound the Conservative Party together, a leading figure of the blue Ontario Tories that were one of the two major streams, along with Reformers, into the modern party. Mr. Flaherty’s personal ties are wound deeply through a generation of Tories, especially in Ontario.

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Why Keystone has Democrats fighting Obama

Paul Koring

It seems impressive.

Eleven U.S. senators – all of them Democrats – write a no-nonsense letter to their president telling him that they want Keystone XL approved and they want it done now.

“Bring this entire process to an end no later than May 31, 2014, … and (find) the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest,” the 11 said in their letter to President Barack Obama released Thursday.

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Partisan Conservative senators helping to rush elections bill through

CAMPBELL CLARK

Now is just the time for some sober second thought. But the Senate of Canada doesn’t seem up to the job.

The government is rushing its elections bill through the House of Commons, over the objections of opposition parties, who are loudly screaming that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are trying to rig the system for the 2015 vote. There’s a situation that calls for checks and balances, for someone to slow things down.

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Harper's cuts to CBC less than a Liberal prime minister's

Stuart A. Thompson

A series of cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are hitting home this week as the broadcaster launches a series of town halls in preparation for a stark new reality: less funding, the loss of NHL broadcast rights, and a new way of doing business.

But a review of federal funding shows cutting the broadcaster's funding is a longstanding Canadian tradition. Every prime minister for the past 25 years has left the CBC with less funding at the end of their tenure than when they began, even when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the Treasury Board of Canada, which was collected by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

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With Redford gone, how Alberta-B.C. relations are holding up

Ian Bailey

Alberta’s interim premier is looking for more than a placeholder approach to relations with his province’s western neighbour, British Columbia.

David Hancock is filling the gap between last month’s abrupt end of the Alison Redford era and the beginning of an era to be named once the Alberta Progressive Conservatives elect a new leader in September.

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Appointment of new envoy a sign Washington wants to do business with Ottawa

CAMPBELL CLARK

After more than eight months when the United States didn’t have an ambassador in Ottawa, Bruce Heyman has finally arrived with a let’s-do-business message and a little bit of ebullience about Canada.

At a time when there’s frustrations for Stephen Harper’s government over the Keystone XL pipeline, and perhaps a new flaring of the perennial sense that Washington doesn’t care about Canada, the new envoy seems chosen expressly to counter that through background and style.

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