CALGARY – Penn West Petroleum Ltd. has agreed to sell its properties in the Greater Mitsue area of central Alberta for $192.5 million cash.

Money from the sale will be used to reduce the Calgary-based company’s debt.

It’s the first major sale of non-core assets for Penn West since it announced two weeks ago that it was cutting its workforce by 400 full-time employees and contractors, suspending its dividend and cutting compensation for its directors.

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It also announced on Sept. 1 that it would sell a number of non-core assets, including the Mitsue properties, to reduce overhead costs. It said at the time that the Mitsue properties produced the equivalent of 4,500 barrels per day.

Penn West didn’t disclose the buyer but a second company announced about the same time that it has acquired properties in the same area that produce 3,300 barrels per day of crude oil and liquids.

Cardinal Energy Ltd said it would pay $129 million for its acquisition of light oil producing properties in the Mitsue area. It said CIBC and RBC would lead a syndicate of underwriters to provide $100 million towards funding the purchase, with the remainder coming from its credit agreements.

Penn West has said it’s aiming to keep its capital spending within cash flow generated from operations, despite the dramatic decline in oil and gas prices since the end of 2014.

It says the sale of the Mitsue properties will raise total proceeds from asset sales since June to $605 million.

Rock-bottom interest rates combined with sustained exuberance among buyers and an assist from a steady flow of foreign cash, according to experts, propelled the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets to new heights in August.

The country’s real estate association said Tuesday benchmark prices in those centres jumped 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, posting “by far” the biggest price increases among housing markets across the country.

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Aided by low rates, a shortage of detached homes in those regions compared to the number of interested buyers is driving the rapid price inflation, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

“Prices continue to rise in Ontario and British Columbia, where listings are either in short supply or heading in that direction,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said.

Subdued elsewhere

Price growth was more subdued in other markets, notably in areas hit by lower commodity prices. In Calgary, which continues to feel the effects of sharply lower oil, benchmark home prices were flat – the first time index prices have notched zero growth in four years.

Other markets outside the Vancouver and Toronto areas are also responding in kind to a mild slowdown in the economy, which has registered back-to-back quarters of contraction, or a technical recession.

MORE: ‘Best. Recession. Ever.’

The health of the country’s housing market has become a talking point in the federal election, the leaders from the three major parties promising reforms if elected.

MORE: Complete 2015 federal election coverage 

But outside of the country’s two biggest and priciest regions, sales data shows a balanced market, experts say.

Excluding the Vancouver and Toronto markets, the jump in national average prices would be cut in half, CREA said. “The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto.

Click here to view data »

Bubble behaviour?

“Overall, while most markets are responding logically to softening domestic economic conditions, Vancouver and Toronto continue to exhibit bubble behaviour,” David Madani, economist at Capital Economics said in a research note this week.

Several media reports in recent months have suggested a steady and rising tide of foreign cash is propping up price growth in big markets. Madani said that is only part of the story, while much of the demand remains from local buyers.

“While foreign investors are no doubt playing some role, we think this explanation is overblown,” the economist said. “Low interest rates and self-fulfilling expectations of higher prices continue to inflate actual prices independently of fundamentals,” he said.

“Over the longer-term, we still believe that these housing markets will experience major price reversals.”

WATCH: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suggests ‘potential tools’ the federal government has to step in and help regulate runaway housing prices.

©2015

TORONTO – The information commissioner is taking the Prime Minister’s Office to court, accusing it of refusing to release documents about four senators embroiled in scandal.

filed an access-to-information request to the Privy Council Office, the central bureaucracy serving the prime minister and cabinet, in August of 2013 asking for any records created since March relating to senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau or Pamela Wallin.

The PCO identified 28 pages of responsive records, but withheld 27 of those pages, releasing just two emails in which its staff discussed similar access-to-information requests.

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PCO claimed every single word on every single one of those 27 pages might jeopardize solicitor-client privilege, or reveal personal information, or third-party information, or details on secret deliberations.

went to the federal information commissioner, who found the complaint well-founded and recommended the prime minister release “a significant amount” of additional information.

But the Prime Minister’s Office withheld the “vast majority” of the records and the information commissioner is now asking Federal Court to order the prime minister to disclose any records that don’t warrant being withheld under certain sections of the Access to Information Act.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

The Prime Minister’s Office “erred in fact and in law” in relying on the aforementioned sections of the act to withhold the records, the information commissioner said in the court application.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper deferred comment to the PCO, but a spokesperson there was not immediately available to respond on Monday evening.

Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy were suspended over their expense claims while Harb resigned.

Duffy, Brazeau and Harb have been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Duffy pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery at his trial, which is set to resume in November.

Brazeau’s trial is scheduled to begin March 29, 2016. He has already pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Brazeau is also facing a separate set of charges – assault and sexual assault – arising from an alleged incident two years ago in the western Quebec city of Gatineau and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

That trial resumes Tuesday when he is expected to testify in his own defence.

Wallin has been under lengthy RCMP investigation but has not been charged.

©2015

QUEBEC CITY – Premier Philippe Couillard was categoric Tuesday when discussing the future of school boards in the province.

He told reporters at the National Assembly that, while no decision has officially been made, it is looking increasingly likely that school boards will be abolished.

READ MORE: Quebec’s English school boards fight for survival

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Couillard said that the Jennings report on the future of school boards has been presented to Education Minister François Blais.

READ MORE: Quebec national assembly returns after summer break

“What we want to do is shift the centre of gravity of the system towards the school, the teachers and the parents,” said Couillard.

“The education project should be set up and imagined at the school level and the regional organization, or however we may call it, is going to be there to help the school and not direct the school.”

READ MORE: Can Quebec school board elections be saved? Should they be?

Though the province recognizes the importance of maintaining school boards for the English speaking population and the vital links those institutions play in the community, the Premier said there needs to be another way to maintain such relationships.

The Jennings report is set to be made public at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in Montreal.

WATCH: Quebec school boards fight for survival

©2015

A dangerous street race through a residential neighbourhood in Beverly Hills has residents outraged after it was caught on camera this past weekend.

However, L.A. Police now say the men involved may avoid prosecution due to diplomatic immunity.

Residents captured the two high-performance cars, a white Porsche 9/11 and a yellow Ferrari LaFerrari, tearing through a residential neighborhood at around 6:45 p.m. PT Friday afternoon in the 700 block of North Walden Drive.

Amateur video shows the two drivers speeding, running stop signs and barreling through four-way stops, and at one point almost hitting another vehicle as they race down crowded residential streets.

Eventually, the Ferrari was forced to pull into a driveway with smoke pouring from its engine block, either from the race or from repeated “burnouts”.

WATCH: Ferrari, Porsche tear through residential neighborhood in Beverly Hills

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“My boys were out in the street biking and it was very scary. They were passing the stop sign several times for a good 20 minutes,” Roya Levian, a witness, told CBS 2 in Los Angeles.

READ MORE: Father of injured Surrey boy says drivers treat residential streets like a racetrack

Freeland journalist Jacob Rogers says he attempted to confront the drivers after they had pulled into the home, but the men claimed they were protected by diplomatic immunity.

“He told me verbatim, ‘I could have you killed and get away with it,’” Rogers told NBC Los Angeles. “I told him, ‘the press is allowed to be here on the sidewalk on a public street.’”

“He said, ‘F*** America’ and threw a cigarette at me.”

Police confirmed in a press release that the men are of Qatari descent and may in fact be protected by diplomatic immunity.

Police say they’ve taken the complaints from residents and are working with the U.S. State Department to determine what course of action to take.

Meanwhile, residents just want to feel safe walking down their own streets again.

“God knows if they could like hit one of us or something,” Joe Nouri told KTLA-5 News.

©2015

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is funding up to 400 more midwife-assisted births.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said Tuesday that an additional $1.8 million in funding will see the number of births with midwives increase to about 2,774 this year.

Hoffman said continuity of care for women and babies is so important and this gives women a safe option for delivering their babies.

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“I’m a firm believer in the right health care services delivered in the right place by the right health care professional, and that’s exactly what midwives provide,” said Hoffman.

Alberta has publicly funded midwifery care since 2009.

Nicole Matheseon, president of the Alberta Association of Midwives, said more and more women want the continuous, personalized care that midwives provide.

“Now more expectant mothers have the opportunity to decide what’s best for them – giving birth in a hospital, in a birth centre or at home,” said Matheseon.

There are currently 94 midwives practising in the province, an increase of 163 per cent in the past five years.

©2015

UPDATE 9 P.M. MT: Remains of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette found, Amber Alert dropped

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CALGARY – Devastated by the murder of her close friend, the godmother of abducted two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, missing since the early hours of Monday morning, made an emotional plea for the young girl’s safe return Tuesday.

“We miss you, Hailey, and we can’t wait–we can’t wait to have you come home and we can have your snuggles and your laughs and just hear your voice,” said Rebecca Harrington, who said she’s close friends with both sides of the family. “Your dad loves you very much–loves you more than anything in the world, sweetheart. And we can’t wait for you to come home.”

Hailey’s dad, 27-year-old Terry Blanchette, was found murdered in the family home in Blairmore, Alta. on Monday morning. One person has been arrested in relation to his murder and his daughter’s disappearance.

MORE: Man arrested, Amber Alert continues for Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

“She’s the most energetic kid you’d ever see,” said Harrington. “She’s running, she’s laughing, she does a scrunchy-face…she scrunches up her nose and gets so excited,” she said.

“Her dad was the highlight of her life. That kid had everything she needed.”

Terry Blanchette with daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

Courtesy Facebook

Terry Blanchette with daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

Courtesy Facebook

Terry Blanchette with daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

Courtesy Facebook

Terry Blanchette with daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

Courtesy Facebook

Harrington said she received a call from Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, in the early stages of the investigation. She said she started to hear rumours of murder, but “didn’t want to think the worst.”

“I got a call from Amanda, his sister, she called to tell me personally Terry had been murdered and Hailey was abducted,” said Harrington.

“I dropped to the floor and my life just–they mean so much to me. I wasn’t sure what to do.”

Watch below: Video coverage of the abduction of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and murder of her father

Amber Alert continues as crews search for Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

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Amber Alert continues as crews search for Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

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Alleged murder, possible abduction and the search for Hailey continues

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Harrington said Blanchette was the “most outstanding single dad” she’s ever seen.

“He stepped up. He had a full-time job. He had two days off a week, and those two days were days for Hailey,” she said. “Any extra money went to her…he always put himself last.”

“I’ve seen such a change in the past two years that it’s incredible to see how he has evolved.”

Blanchette had a minor criminal history, including assault and theft, according to Calgary court records. Most recently, he pleaded guilty to assault and theft under $5,000 in July 2013 and paid a fine.

READ MORE: What we know so far about Terry Blanchette and daughter Hailey

Harrington said she’s heading to be with Blanchette’s family. She said Dunbar is in Crowsnest Pass with her mother, doing “as best she can.”

“It’s scary. I’ve talked to her on the phone…it’s her daughter; it’s her baby. Her baby is missing and she doesn’t know why…the father of her child, dead–all in one go. And no one can say anything. No one has answers.”

Harrington said Blanchette and Dunbar were separated before Hailey was born, but got together briefly for their daughter’s sake.

“From then on out, it was quite a rocky relationship but they did it for Hailey. They wanted to make it work for her. They didn’t want her to have separated parents. They wanted their daughter to have her mom and dad but it just didn’t work. But for them, Hailey is their number one.”

Harrington said the couple had shared custody of Hailey.

The Amber Alert was dropped Tuesday night.

TIMELINE: Abduction of 2-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

With an interview from Global’s Tracy Nagai

©2015

Toronto goes a little bit crazy at film festival time. Fans go ga-ga over the big stars in town, said stars do some serious partying and strange things happen. We can’t recount every weird occurrence from 40 years of TIFF – and there are plenty of them – but these are some of the highlights.

2015: Crowd hates the hug

Sir Patrick Stewart sure seems like a friendly and approachable star, but there are limits.

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One presumed superfan learned that — to her likely embarrassment – after making an overly intimate request.

At a press conference for Green Room, where Stewart plays a neo-Nazi gang leader, a woman stood up and said, “Since I’ll probably never get to do this another time, Patrick, can I have a hug?”

The request wasn’t as cute as she thought. After a second of stunned silence, the crowd booed her down and Stewart moved on to another question.

2011: Clooney’s caustic response

It’s not just the fans who ask silly questions either. Nobody looks to TIFF interviews for hard-hitting media questions, and every year brings fresh headlines of “Actor X responds to reporter’s dumb question.” In 2015, Legend star Tom Hardy captured headlines with his blunt response to a query about his sex life.

But perhaps the most stinging reporter rebuke came in 2011 when George Clooney humiliated a People magazine writer for a silly softball question. Paul Chi asked Clooney what was harder: directing movies or conducting a fairly public Hollywood love life.

Clooney clearly didn’t appreciate the question and embarrassed the hapless reporter with the following exchange:

Clooney: “What’s your name?”
Reporter: “Paul.”
Clooney: “What’s your last name, Paul?”
Reporter: “Chi.”
Clooney: “Everyone remember Paul Chi and his hard-hitting interview. Go back to your editor and tell them you asked that question, Paul.”

2007: Where there’s smoke, there’s ire

In the movie The Game, Sean Penn’s character lights up a cigarette in a fancy San Francisco restaurant, only to be told that it’s illegal in California. His response: “F—k California!”

Life imitated art in 2007 as Penn carelessly smoked through a press conference in the Sutton Place Hotel, despite the provincial ban on smoking during indoor events. Penn took plenty of criticism, and the province’s minister of health promotion admonished TIFF organizers to remind stars about Ontario smoking laws.

Despite the uproar, Penn escaped unpunished. The hotel was fined $600.

2004: Ed Harris explains violence … sort of

You’ll rarely see a press conference go from “lighthearted” to “painfully awkward” to “finished” as fast as this one. In case you couldn’t figure out that the film A History of Violence is about, well violence, actor Ed Harris made a clumsy attempt to explain.

1991: Premiere not a priority for director

The Fisher King isn’t among director Terry Gilliam’s best-received films, and it seems the auteur himself wasn’t too jazzed about it back in 1992. Or at least there was a more entertaining show in town.

Festival organizers were frantic when the director disappeared just before the premiere. He was eventually found at the SkyDome enjoying a Blue Jays game.

In his defence, the Jays were looking pretty good that year, just one year away from their first World Series win. And can you expect a Monty Python member and the creator of Brazil to behave in any rational way?

1987: Giant hassle

TIFF has morphed into a world-class festival that attracts major names, but the biggest star – literally – came to town back in the late ‘80s.

Pro wrestler Andre the Giant came to TIFF in 1987 to help promote The Princess Bride, but his sheer size created headaches for festival personnel. At 7’4″ and weighing over 500 pounds, the French heavyweight couldn’t fit into an average theatre seat, and needed a custom-built one for the movie premiere.

Then-theatre manager Don McKellar, who would go on to a distinguished directorial career, recalled that Andre required a seat exactly twice the size of a normal one.

©2015

MONTREAL – The Impact will end their brief Western road swing on Wednesday in San Jose without striker Didier Drogba and some other key players.

With a stretch of four games in 10 days set to begin against the Earthquakes, head coach Mauro Biello opted to send Drogba, Ignacio Piatti, Justin Mapp, Marco Donadel, Laurent Ciman and goalkeeper Evan Bush home for extra rest.

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A team spokesman confirmed Tuesday that those players would not be available.

Drogba (toe), Piatti (calf) and Mapp (foot) are also recovering from injuries, which factored in Biello’s decision.

Ciman, meanwhile, is serving the second game of a two-match suspension.

The six players, who have accounted for 14 of the club’s 34 goals this year, left California for Montreal on Monday.

The Impact played to a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles on Saturday.

“We have a huge week coming up at home against three conference teams,” Bush told reporters after the Galaxy game.

“Looking at the results from the league, results are still going our way. I think that if we can win a few more games, we will be solidly in the playoffs.”

READ MORE: Costa Rican attacking midfielder Johan Venegas joins Montreal Impact

Montreal (9-11-5) is in a good position to make the Major League Soccer playoffs for the second time in its history.

The Impact are sixth in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season and have games in hand on their closest rivals.

Following Wednesday’s clash with San Jose (11-11-6), Montreal will play consecutive home matches against New England, Chicago and D.C. United.

READ MORE: Whitecaps crowned Canadian champions with win over Montreal Impact

The Impact players are riding high after back-to-back positive results.

Drogba scored a hat trick in a 4-3 home win over the Fire before Montreal held the Galaxy — the league’s highest scoring team — off the scoresheet.

“You try to avoid saying that we are sending messages,” Bush said.

“It’s more of a message to us, that we can come on the road and get results. It’s a big confidence builder. We have another game Wednesday, another important game that I think we are able to go get points there.”

READ MORE: Montreal Impact fire head coach Frank Klopas, name Mauro Biello as interim

Montreal is 1-0-1 since Biello took over as head coach after Frank Klopas was fired two weeks ago.

The Impact will likely start Dominic Oduro up front at Avaya Stadium and Johan Venegas should fill Piatti’s central attacking midfielder role.

In the back, Hassoun Camara could make his return from a knee injury after not playing for the Impact since April 22.

Eric Kronberg, a native of Santa Rosa, Calif., should get the start in goal.

Notes: Montreal is 2-0-1 all-time versus the Earthquakes in MLS. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has a league-best 99 goals since 2010. He has 13 goals this season. Piatti leads the Impact with eight goals. Montreal and San Jose split their two meetings in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2013.

©2015

WEST LAWRENCETOWN, NS – Parents and area residents in Lawrencetown are still in shock tonight over what is believed to be the abduction attempt of a young boy.

The 10-year-old boy was standing at a school bus stop around 7 o’clock this morning at the intersection of the Lawrencetown Road and Maple Drive. A truck went past him, circled at the Community Centre down the road and returned, parking at the Lawrencetown Grocery store across the street from the bus stop.

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“The passenger jumped out and started waving at the boy to come to the truck,” said RCMP Corporal Greg Church. “The boy pretended to ignore him and then a few seconds later, the white male driver – believed to be in his twenties as well – got out of the truck and yelled at the boy to ‘come over and get in my truck’. That’s when the boy became extremely frightened and ran to a nearby home,” said Church.

The boy contacted his dad, who went to his school – Atlantic View Elementary – and told the principal what happened. The principal contacted the RCMP, then shared the news with parents.

“Parents have been alerted through through our voice messaging system and a letter is going home this afternoon,” said Jim King. “Stock Transportation – our bus carrier – we’ve alerted our drivers as well, to be on the lookout for this vehicle.”

The young boy gave what police say is an absolutely amazing description of the black half ton Chevrolet truck, thought to be a 2003 model. “He is a car and truck enthusiast,” said Cpl. Church. “It has a red painted gas cover cap that’s on the outside of the vehicle. Also, there’s a red painted pinstripe going down the side of the vehicle. On the top of the vehicle, he said there were five amber marking lights.”

Jim King said the boy knew what to do because teachers at Atlantic View Elementary work with the students in a program called ‘Stranger Danger’. “We have lots of conversations in class about what to do, if you’re feeling unsafe and also what to do in a situation like this, and thankfully he did the right thing,” said King.

The situation has upset families and other residents in the area. Bill Nielsen, the grandfather of a Grade 2 student said, “It’s a scary situation. My grandson’s here and I’m very concerned about him. He wasn’t approached today, but somebody was, and that’s frightening.”

Another man, who would only give his first name as Frank, said,”I’m shocked to hear it … and I hope they catch them – whoever they are.”

If you have any information you are asked to contact RCMP or CrimeStoppers. The investigation is continuing.

To anyone that even tries to bully Johnny Depp’s kids, be warned – he will destroy you.

RELATED: Johnny Depp on ‘Black Mass’ red carpet

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Depp was on the panel during a press conference to promote his latest film Black Mass debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie follows Whitey Bulger, an Irish-American gangster who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family.

In one scene, Depp’s character Bulger tells his son how to fight on the playground and for Depp, that was a piece of advice he took with him to the real world.

“If someone tried to bully my kid, if they didn’t destroy the little booger, I would,” he said.

So to all of the school bullies out there: don’t even think about laying a finger on Lily-Rose or Jack John.

Depp believes his methods were formed after listening to some advice his mother gave to him when he was a child:

“I remember when I was a kid you know, I was little maybe six or seven years old, there was some little horror at the school who was kind of needling me or whatever. And then I told my mom or something and my mom you know… coming from nothing but hillbillies. My mom said to me, ‘All right here’s the deal, the next time anybody puts their hands on you pick up a brick and lay them out.’ And I’ve taken that advice ever since.”

RELATED: Amber Heard tells mom ‘never make eye contact with the media’

The movie had its first screening Monday night, but will be hitting theatres September 18.

©2015Entertainment Tonight Canada

QUEBEC CITY  – The Quebec legislature resumes sitting Tuesday after its summer break.

READ MORE: #LiftTheBan: Student video asks Quebec government to reconsider budget cuts

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Premier Philippe Couillard‘s governing Liberals and the Opposition Parti Québécois have promised less political partisanship during the daily question period.

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The session will play out against the backdrop of what could well be protracted contract negotiations between the government and public-sector unions.

READ MORE: How are this year’s Quebec student protests different from 2012?

The Liberals have 70 members in the 125-seat national assembly, compared with 29 for the PQ and 20 for the Coalition Avenir Quebec.

Quebec Solidaire has three seats, there is one Independent and two ridings are vacant.

READ MORE: Almost 3,000 subsidized family daycares threaten to strike

Quebecers are expected to next go to the polls in the fall of 2018.

WATCH: Quebec politics in action

Couillard mulls legalizing Uber-type taxis

00:31

Couillard mulls legalizing Uber-type taxis

02:00

Mulcair meets Couillard in Quebec City

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Ontario and Quebec will take lead on climate change: Couillard

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Focus Montreal: Quebec premier Philippe Couillard

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One-on-one with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard

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Couillard lays out 4-year plan




©2015

T-minus 26 days until the federal election — but who’s counting? — and campaigning continues apace.

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We’ve been doing our best to keep up with the electoral spin cycle. And we’ve been consistently deluged with reader queries on everything from when, where and how to vote; to the practical implications of the feds’ new health care transfers formula (spoiler: too early to say).

Here are a few of the questions we keep getting. Send us your pressing election question using the form below.

“What are the NDP and the Liberals going to do about ISIS?”

– Eric, health care worker in Alberta

Both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have slammed the Conservatives’ actions in the Middle East, where Canadian troops have been engaged in a bombing mission against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper, for his part, argues Canada needs to be there — that pulling out would mean Canada’s burying its head in the sand when it comes to international terror threats that could target this country as well as others.

So what would the opposition parties do differently?

Mulcair has pledged to get Canada’s military out of Iraq and Syria “immediately.”

Trudeau has said he wants to end Canada’s bombing mission but keep troops there to train the Iraqi military.

“What are the parties’ views on a Universal Pharmacare Program for Canada?”

– Valerie, single working mom of a university student in Orleans, Ont.

The NDP has promised to sit down with the provinces and hammer out a universal drug coverage program if elected. Last week Mulcair pledged $2.6 billion over four years, which in all likelihood wouldn’t cover the feds’ share of the cost: Canadians spend a total of $30 billion a year on prescription drugs, of which about $18 million is either covered by private insurance or out-of-pocket payments.

The Liberals have promised to sit down with the provinces and talk about how to make drugs cheaper, but haven’t said how they’ll do that.

The Conservatives like the idea of coordinating bulk purchases to lower the cost of drugs overall, but don’t like the idea of a national drug coverage program.

“Why is it that all the focus is always on families?  What about those of us who are single and have to pay ALL the bills on one income?  What tax breaks or programs are there out there to help us single people out??”

– Shawna, Regina

We get this question a lot.

And it’s true: One phrase campaign-watchers keep hearing is “working families.”

For one thing, it’s good politics. Kids are adorable. Families tickle the interpersonal-obligation parts of our limbic systems and remind us we haven’t called in ages.

But there’s also an economic argument in favour of targeting underprivileged families, says Wilfrid Laurier University economist Tammy Schirle.

“There’s a very good case to be made for the parties to think about issues of poverty, especially child poverty, and how they might shape policies to help those kids who need it the most,” she said.

“These are early investments in kids that can pay off huge dividends in the long run.”

So what about Canadians with no children to get child benefits, no spouses with whom to split incomes?

There are precious few programs specifically targeted at single, working-age adults, period. But chances are you fit into a group targeted by a different political promise — whether because of your income, employment or housing status, health or (dis)ability. There’s no shortage of promises, but we have a handy link for you here.

Tell us your story and send us your questions. We’ll do our best to get a coherent answer.

©2015