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A turning point? The debate on homegrown terrorists is about to begin

Campbell Clark

The prime minister’s use of the word terrorism Wednesday night hardened the idea of what had happened in Ottawa, though everyone had been thinking about it all day. As he asserted that Canada will redouble its resolve at home and abroad, his tone suggested that he saw this as a turning point, a spur for action.

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When the Prime Minister becomes a central character in story of a terrorism incident


At the centre of the news about a terrorist attack this week, there was, in a curious way, the Prime Minister.

Less than four hours after Martin Couture-Rouleau attacked two soldiers in a Quebec hit-and-run on Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood up in the Commons, answered a planted question and revealed that this was suspected terrorism.

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Republican Senate could force Obama’s hand on Keystone

Paul Koring

President Barack Obama may have again punted a Keystone XL decision – this time until after next month’s mid-term elections when Republicans hope to seize control of the Senate – but that doesn’t mean the controversial TransCanada project has disappeared from the political fray.

Far from it.

Albertans and other Canadians interested in the outcome of the long-running American political drama that is the Keystone XL project will be watching the election outcome closely. It could decide the fate of the project.

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Here’s evidence that supervised injection sites save lives

André Picard

In Vancouver this week, there have been 36 overdoses in people who inject heroin. There were no deaths.

In Montreal, in May, there was a similar spate of 28 overdoses among heroin users. There were 16 deaths.

In both cases, the drug being sold as heroin was actually fentanyl, a painkiller that’s many times more powerful.

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Mulcair looks to warm up his image with NDP's national child care plan


There will be kids. The Leader of the New Democratic Party will walk among them, looking fatherly. The announcement of a national child-care plan is his best opportunity to say “I care” to parents of young children, short of actually kissing babies.

The reinvention of Thomas Mulcair has begun. Or rather, it’s a new attempt to define him.

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The public-health case for legalizing marijuana

André Picard

“Legalization, combined with strict health-focused regulation, provides an opportunity to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use.”

That simple, no-nonsense, evidence-based conclusion on how to deal with the thorny issue of marijuana comes courtesy of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which has just published a new “Cannabis Policy Framework.”

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How Christy Clark is speaking out on foreign policy


There is no foreign-affairs ministry in British Columbia. However, there is a premier who has pointedly weighed into several touchy foreign affairs issues in recent months. It’s a candour rare in Canada where premiers largely leave such matters to the federal government.

Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark told the B.C. legislature that Ukrainians must be free from threats, intimidation and violence as they determine their political future. Ms. Clark, sounding like a foreign-affairs minister in the House of Commons, added that the dispute between the Ukraine and Russia is no longer diplomatic because Ukrainian territory has been breached in a violation of international law.

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As Canada sends jets to Iraq, five questions for our security chiefs

Colin Freeze

On Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the Conservative-controlled Parliament officially voted to send jet fighters to the Middle East, the legislature will hear from the country’s top domestic security officials.

Together, at the House national-security standing committee, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, and Canadian spy chief Michel Coulombe will attempt to explain why Canada is really fighting this war.

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Time for Trudeau to take a clear stand on military action against Islamic State


Hillary Clinton gave one of those speeches designed to offend no one, but she still didn’t help Justin Trudeau any. The Liberal Leader was sitting in the room when the former U.S. Secretary of State told an Ottawa audience that she believes military action against Islamic State is “critical.”

That might have caused Mr. Trudeau a little unease for a moment, but what it symbolizes should be a little more politically unsettling. Over the next year, he can expect a lot of heavy-weight world leaders to endorse Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s position – sending forces – and implicitly criticize the Liberal choice.

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Harper makes the case for a war – with limits and a dose of realism

Campbell Clark

Stephen Harper made the case for war with an unusual dose of realism. And though it didn’t mask all the flaws in the plan, it bolstered the credibility of his proposal: a limited mission, to prevent the worst.

The Prime Minister’s argument for sending jet fighters to Iraq rested on basics. Islamic State, he argued, is a threat to the region, and to Canada, one that will grow if it’s not confronted by force. Without that now, he argued, a bigger, broader war will come.

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Former U.S. ambassador says Harper and Obama need to work together on climate change

Shawn McCarthy

David Jacobson created a bit of a furor in Ottawa when he was U.S. ambassador - Barack Obama’s voice in Canada - and urged this country to up its game on climate change.

As a newly-minted banker, Mr. Jacobson was back in town this week for session on energy policy. And his message this time sounded more like Stephen Harper than Barack Obama, stressing how important it is for the two countries to march in sync on climate regulations to protect the competitiveness of industry.

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Harper phasing out role of federal envoy to U.S. Congress


Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not plan to appoint a new liaison to the U.S. Congress from his caucus, sources say, phasing out a role that saw former MP Rob Merrifield ‎emerge as one of Ottawa’s prominent advocates for the Keystone XL pipeline – and suggesting a larger role for the Alberta government in pushing for the project.

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Will students pay more for economics than English? University to find out

Simona Chiose

Are students willing to pay more for a degree in economics than in English? The University of Alberta could soon bet on the answer, part of a move by universities in the province to pass more of the costs of postsecondary education to students.

The plan, currently making its way through the university’s administration, would see fees rise by $150 an economics course for domestic students and $554 for international students. Professional programs at many Canadian universities charge higher fees already – the proposal extends differentiated tuition to an undergraduate major. Jobs for economics graduates in Alberta take months to fill and have starting salaries of over $90,000, said Lesley Cormack, the university’s dean of arts. Demand for spots has exploded and the department can’t keep up: economics professors command 35 to 40 per cent more than those in humanities and other social sciences.

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Failure to address mission creep fears could cost Harper in the future


Stephen Harper will have to decide how far he can wade into battle at a time when the public does not want to give him too much latitude.

He will have to reveal within days whether he’ll send Canadian fighters to join air strikes against Islamic State, or take up some other direct role in the fighting.

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Better health coverage needed for temporary foreign workers

André Picard

It’s apple-picking time so, the next time you savour the crunchy goodness of an apple or the sweet delight of mom’s apple pie, spare a thought for those who harvest our fruits and vegetables, many of them migrant farm workers from Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are about 40,000 migrant farm workers employed across the country each year under the seasonal agricultural workers program. (They are just a fraction of the 340,000 who come to Canada under the temporary foreign worker program, which has drawn a lot of fire recently.)

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Harper's rare advice for Republicans, conservative parties


Stephen Harper is famously scripted. News conferences are rare and tightly controlled. His answers in Question Period are deliberately repetitive and often aimed at not saying anything interesting at all.

While columnists and “Conservative insiders” regularly opine on the Prime Minister’s political strategy, the Prime Minister himself avoids the kind of punditry that he once performed on television before becoming a party leader.

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How Christy Clark has opened her door to labour leaders

Justine Hunter

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has long been cast as an enemy of organized labour. Her B.C. Liberal government has a history of contract-stripping and tough budget cuts that shrank the size of government. She was the minister of education who, 12 years ago, triggered a war with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation over class size and classroom support for special needs.

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Advocates demand more transparency from oil sands, environmental groups

Shawn McCarthy

When it comes to reporting on influence in politics, an old adage is ever apt: follow the money.

A recently formed group, Canadians for Responsible Advocacy, is attempting to do just that. But after trying to determine who is financing lobbyists on energy and the environment, the group is demanding greater transparency so it is clear exactly whose interests are being promoted.

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