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Record number of public servants make jump to politics

Federal Elections signs along Highway 97 South through Vernon, B.C. in the North Okanagan, one of 42 federal ridings in which British Columbians will elect Members of Parliament on Oct. 19.

Jeff Bassett/Jeff Bassett


A record number of public servants wanted to run in the 2015 federal election, according to the Public Service Commission.

The commission's annual report, released Tuesday, reveals a total of 46 people working for Canada's federal bureaucracy requested permission to run as candidates. This compares to 20 in 2011 and 23 in 2008.

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To maintain the bureaucracy's reputation for nonpartisanship, public servants who want to run must apply with the commission or risk losing their jobs. The commission denied the candidacy of three people, saying "risks to political impartiality could not be adequately addressed."

In the end, 17 public servants officially became candidates in last fall's federal election and only two were voted in. The report does not identify who the two were, but it could be rookie Liberal MPs John Aldag of Vancouver (who was working at Parks Canada) and Angelo Iacono of Montreal (who worked for the privacy commissioner).


> Justin Trudeau says his $1,500-a-ticket fundraiser with Chinese businesspeople was just a way to promote foreign investment.

> The Canadian Forces says they are going to take the matter of suicide among soldiers more seriously.

> The Conservatives, meanwhile, say the military needs to take action on the antimalarial drug mefloquine, which has caused some psychiatric issues for veterans.

> The Liberals are going to spend $10-billion on an "interim" fleet of 18 Super Hornets, delaying a decision on what Canada will do for a full fleet of fighter jets.

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> Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Trans Pacific Partnership deal is dead without the support of the United States. It's still unclear what the president-elect will do about NAFTA.

> Canada's outgoing chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, says the legislation about holding a referendum is badly in need of an update.

> A Conservative senator has introduced a bill to protect reporters' sources from police.

> An "oversight" by Liberal whip Andrew Leslie means the 150 residents of Ottawa-Vanier who showed up for a town hall on electoral reform will not find their opinions counted on the public record.


Globe and Mail editorial board: "The simplest and best course of action would be for Mr. Trudeau's government to introduce legislation lowering individual donation limits. Dropping them to just $100 per person would price cash-for-access fundraising out of business for good. Mr. Trudeau should also turn over the enforcement of his Open and Accountable Government rules to the federal ethics commissioner and remove the proverbial fox from the hen house door."

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Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "It will cost billions to buy an interim mini-fleet of 18 Super Hornets, plus many more billions for a full fleet later. Will it be cheaper than the F-35s? Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, when asked, talked about how this plan would be the best for the military's needs. But will it be cheaper? Mr. Sajjan was at a loss. Let's hope the navy is not holding its breath waiting for the promised windfall." (for subscribers)

David Parkinson (Globe and Mail): "As Donald Trump fine-tunes his isolationist trade agenda, maybe Canadians should be thanking him. He may be about to grant Canada a four-year window to build crucial overseas market share while the United States cedes ground on the international playing field." (for subscribers)

Madeline Ashby (Ottawa Citizen): "Moreover, what is called for at the present moment is not a rejection of identity politics, but a deepening of relationships across multiple identities. Many on the global left have pleaded for greater intersectionality in their politics and organization: a recognition that people inhabit multiple identities and can find common cause at the intersection of those identities."

Paul Wells (Toronto Star): "But what's toxic to Trudeau's credibility is the way he combines the two projects, hobnobbing and fundraising. He could meet all the swells he wants, as long as he doesn't charge admission. In the meantime he and his ministers do what he bragged they wouldn't. A classic case of promising more than he feels like delivering."

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Compiled by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.

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