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Whether tainted blood or thalidomide, be wary of government’s vague promises

André Picard

The tainted blood scandal – for those who have forgotten – is one of Canada’s most shameful public health debacles. Between 1980 and 1990, more than 20,000 recipients of blood and blood products were infected with HIV and hepatitis C due to a series of administrative and political blunders and cover-ups. When the full story finally emerged and the lawsuits were settled, taxpayers were on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation.

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Big banks uneasy with Conservatives’ consumer-code plans

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 taken a consumer-friendly approach to telecommunications, broadcasting, cross-border shopping and credit cards.

It’s enough to make bankers uneasy, as their sector is next.

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Canadians support the mission against Islamic State, but not for the reasons the government wants

CAMPBELL CLARK

For the Conservative government, it’s not enough for Canadians to believe Islamic State should be stopped by military means. The Tories insist the mission is necessary to stop a direct and present danger to the security of Canadians here at home.

But that might be harder to sell than they realize.

Canadians don’t seem to see it that way. A poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found more respondents believe the mission will make Canada more dangerous (38 per cent) than safer (19 per cent.)

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Extending Iraq mission to combat Islamic State boosts Harper’s image

CAMPBELL CLARK

For Stephen Harper, this week’s debate on extending the mission to combat the Islamic State is like pushing a button that lights an applause sign across half the political spectrum. But the issue itself isn’t likely to drive voters on election day – so the way the leaders handle the issue will be more telling than their party’s vote.

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Ontario dismisses distributors group as lobbying heats up for Hydro One

Simon Doyle

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

The Ontario government is throwing cold water on a proposal by a distributors group to split up and sell half of Hydro One Inc. as unions step up their opposition to privatization and last-ditch lobbying efforts intensify.

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Harper’s economic halo is hard to dim

CAMPBELL CLARK

Where did the economy go? Opposition politicians in the NDP and Liberal Party came into 2015 thinking that, with an oil-price collapse and sudden fears of layoffs, they had a golden opportunity to beat up Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reputation as an economic manager. They have not made a dent.

Instead, the national political conversation has been dominated by terrorism, the military mission against the Islamic State, and lately, the niqab.

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TransCanada pushes local in lobbying for Energy East

Simon Doyle

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

Taking a page from Keystone XL, TransCanada is making an effort to get into communities earlier with meetings and information about its Energy East project, having started that process nearly a year-and-a-half before it filed its regulatory application.

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In Manitoba, NDP’s battle has just begun

ADAM RADWANSKI

For months, Thomas Mulcair had to step carefully around the only province in which his party holds power, for fear of having to publicly choose sides in the Manitoba NDP’s civil war.

Now that provincial New Democrats have settled on keeping Premier Greg Selinger as their leader, albeit by the slimmest of margins over one of the former ministers who challenged his rule, the federal NDP Leader can more aggressively try to raise his profile – something he badly needs to do in Manitoba, as elsewhere. But he may not much like what he finds there.

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Ottawa too slow to fill long-vacant chair of Copyright Board, lobbyists say

Simon Doyle

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

Lobbyists for Canada’s cultural industries are suggesting the Conservative government appoint one of their favoured candidates to chair the Copyright Board, a federal regulatory tribunal that oversees royalties of about $500-million per year.

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No matter what the question is, Tories have an answer: terrorists

CAMPBELL CLARK

When you ask Conservative cabinet ministers about health care, or the public finances, there’s now a common answer: Jihadi terrorists are out to get us.

The latest was Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who shifted from fiscal matters in a speech Friday to tell listeners “there’s a war being conducted by international terrorists, by jihadist terrorists, and we have to be strong.”

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Governments need to plan for expensive orphan drugs

André Picard

Ontario announced last week that it will pay for the drug eculizumab for the treatment of some sufferers of the ultra-rare disease atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The decision is, by all accounts, the right one.

The genetic disease aHUS can be debilitating – requiring hours daily of dialysis and frequent blood transfusions – and life-threatening. Drug treatment can stabilize the condition and give sufferers some semblance of normality.

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Taking sides in Iran nuclear deal makes Harper’s uneasy position more uncomfortable

CAMPBELL CLARK

When Benjamin Netanyahu amped up his dispute with Barack Obama, it placed Stephen Harper in an uncomfortable position.

Mr. Harper has made staunch support for Israel a signature piece of his foreign policy, and has usually echoed the Israeli prime minister’s warnings about Iran. But if he publicly sides with Israel, he’ll be siding against his most important ally, the U.S.

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Why Harper would want the fewest TV debates he can get away with

Campbell Clark

There’s an episode of the TV political drama the West Wing where an adviser to the Republican contender attends a meeting to negotiate the format for presidential debates, agrees to nothing, then steps outside speak to the press. The point of the charade was to dispel the notion his candidate was reluctant to accept debates.

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