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Canadian Blood Services is closing clinics – and this is great news

André Picard

In recent days, Canadian Blood Services has announced that it was closing three permanent blood donor clinics, discontinuing mobile blood donor clinics in 16 communities and axing its bloodmobile program.

This is great news.

Blood collections facilities are being trimmed because less blood is needed. Less blood is needed because it is being used more appropriately and because of advances in surgery.

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Tighter ethics rules put chill on lobbyists’ dinners with politicians

Simon Doyle

Simon Doyle is a reporter based in Ottawa who specializes in lobbying and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sdoyle333.

It’s been a tradition for lobbyists: Companies buy a table at a dinner event in Ottawa – such as the popular annual Politics and the Pen gala in March – and invite esteemed politicians and government staff to join them.

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Harper is not funding science, he’s subsidizing business

André Picard

Last December, the federal government unveiled its $1.5-billion science and technology strategy. In the foreword to the document, with the flowery title “Seizing Canada’s Moment: Moving Forward in Science, Technology and Innovation,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this:

“The success of our economy, the prosperity of our communities and the well-being of our families depend on advancing cutting-edge science, technology and innovation in Canada.”

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Public transit and the rush-hour commute now federal issues

CAMPBELL CLARK

Milton, Ont., used to be a small town outside Toronto. Now it’s a sprawling suburb of new subdivisions, Canada’s fastest-growing community. The big issue, as in towns around it, is the commute.

Traffic bottlenecks at James Snow Parkway by 7 a.m. Gridlock on Highway 401 used to start in Mississauga, but now stretches back another 20 kilometres to Guelph Line. The GO Train station’s parking lot is packed. Residents want more trains.

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Copyright changes help negotiators heading into new round of free-trade talks

Simon Doyle

Simon Doyle is a reporter based in Ottawa who specializes in lobbying and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sdoyle333.

The Conservative government has quietly given Canadian negotiators some new leverage, as they head into a new round of trade talks with a potential free-trade bloc that would rival NAFTA.

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Banking sector to step up lobbying after budget changes

Simon Doyle

Simon Doyle is a reporter based in Ottawa who specializes in lobbying and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sdoyle333.

Lobbyists for the banking sector will be getting in early with their comments after the Conservative government released a host of new legislative amendments and regulatory changes in its 2015 budget plan.

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Tories' pre-election budget means money for all

CAMPBELL CLARK

Tuesday is a happy day for Stephen Harper’s government. Governments of all stripes love to announce money for things. When an election is coming, budget day is like the start of political Christmas.

It’s easy to guess the Conservatives will soon follow Tuesday’s budget with a daily sprinkling of funding announcements. They’ve already been doing that for months at an accelerated clip.

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What the Iraq mission needs is some transparency

CAMPBELL CLARK

The Canadian Forces mission to train Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq has been a mystery.

You might think it simple to explain what military advisers are doing there, helping Kurdish fighters prepare for battles with Islamic State militants. Yet there have been shifting stories and odd secrecy.

The Globe and Mail’s Mark MacKinnon found that the one place along peshmerga front lines that’s inaccessible to a reporter is where those Canadian advisers are serving, and where one of their own, Sergeant Andrew Doiron, was killed in a friendly-fire incident.

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Boomers’ impact on our health care system has just begun

André Picard

Canada’s Baby Boom began in 1947 and continued through to 1965. Since then, the demographic bulge has been moving, slowly, steadily and predictably along – a bit like a rabbit swallowed by a python.

Along the way, Boomers have reshaped society not only demographically, but culturally, politically and economically. But their impact has just begun.

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Ontario’s cap-and-trade plan gives environmental lobbyists new leverage

Simon Doyle

Simon Doyle is a reporter based in Ottawa who specializes in lobbying and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sdoyle333.

Lobby groups are using Ontario’s cap-and-trade announcement this week as a springboard to pressure other provincial governments on the environment as first ministers develop a new energy strategy.

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Manslaughter acquittal illustrates Quebec's naturopath dilemma

André Picard

To regulate or not to regulate?

That is the question legislators must grapple with when trying to decide what to do about the proliferation of so-called complementary and alternative practices.

The dilemma lawmakers face is well-illustrated in a criminal case that ended last week in Montreal.

Mitra Javanmardi, a naturopath, was acquitted of manslaughter and criminal negligence in a case that dates back many years.

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Nurses push Ottawa to enhance caregiver tax credit as part of seniors agenda

Simon Doyle

Simon Doyle is a reporter based in Ottawa who specializes in lobbying and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sdoyle333.

The Conservative government has been hearing out some of the Canadian Nurses Association’s proposals for targeted measures on seniors care in advance of the budget.

While few surprises are expected in Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s budget on April 21 – and the Conservatives are disinclined to major federal health initiatives – industry lobbyists haven’t yet taken health off the table. And a group representing physicians is also increasing the pressure, as the election gives Conservatives and their challengers a reason to court the seniors vote.

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From Americas summit sidelines, Harper could take stand on Cuba

CAMPBELL CLARK

In some ways, Stephen Harper heads to the Summit of the Americas in Panama as the hemisphere’s odd man out. But it probably won’t matter at this summit; it might even afford him an opportunity.

There’s something of a chill over the Prime Minister’s relations with his closest neighbours, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The Latin America strategy he once touted as his diplomatic priority is mostly forgotten. But most of the hemisphere’s major nations are absorbed in their own problems, anyway. At this summit, the focus will be on the meeting of Mr. Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, whose nation will be represented for the first time, after last December’s historic agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.

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