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A referendum in Alberta poses the equalization question



Jason Kenney in Calgary, Sept. 15, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Politics Insider for Oct. 18, 2021: Alberta questions an ‘unfair’ system; Doug Ford looks safe; and a Liberal pledge

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Albertans will cast ballots today in a referendum to reject equalization, CP reports.

Jason Kenney says the referendum will give Alberta a bargaining chip to demand changes to the federal program: “The point of it is to get leverage for constitutional negotiations with the federal government about reform of the entire system of fiscal federalism, which treats Alberta so unfairly.”

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews estimated the provincial contribution at $20 billion a year in a public letter this week. It was signposted by the phrases “more unfair,” “clearly unfair,” “fundamentally unfair,” “lack of fairness” and “fight for fairness.”

Political scientist Jared Wesley, the lead on a recent University of Alberta survey on referendum voting intentions, said the poll suggested the Yes side remains in the lead. But he said a disturbingly high percentage doesn’t understand how equalization works (44 per cent), wrongly believes Quebec gets the most per capita (85 per cent), and fails to understand Ottawa does not need provincial buy-in to change the equalization formula (62 per cent).

“I don’t blame Albertans for being confused,” said Wesley. “They’ve been fed a lot of misinformation by governments in this province for a lot of decades, and that’s showing up in our research.”

Some Yes supporters worry that with Kenney’s low popularity numbers will boost the No vote.

Your correspondent wrote a defence of the system in Maclean’s in 2019.

Ford in good shape: Polling expert Philippe J. Fournier, writing in Maclean’s, has a look at the upcoming Ontario election, and finds the signs look good for Doug Ford.

The Ontario PCs should thus still be considered the favourites at this point in time, especially with a double-digit lead in the seat-rich GTA-905 region (41 per cent to 29 per cent for the OLP, according to Léger). However, as we will see below, these numbers suggest the PCs would need several close splits going their way in order to keep their majority at Queen’s Park. If the Ontario Liberals do climb back to the low-30s in popular support, the most likely outcome would be the PC winning a plurality, but not a majority of seats at the Ontario Legislature.

Clark goes after citizens: Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark used a controversial new election advertising law to try to silence at least three grassroots organizations, including two in his riding, the Star reports.

Clark filed a complaint with Elections Ontario last month, targeting two small community organizations in Kemptville, alleging they were “conducting unregistered third party political advertising” by sending out mailers and putting up lawn signs to oppose a proposed prison. Colleen Lynas, head of a non-partisan group made up of mostly retirees, said she was “stunned” when she was informed by Elections Ontario that Clark filed a complaint alleging they were “breaking the law.” Elections Ontario rejected the complaint but the complaint has critics worrying, in part because the law Clark tried to use is Charter-proof.

This summer, the Doug Ford government faced criticism when it forced through legislation invoking the rarely used Charter of Rights and Freedoms “notwithstanding clause” to enact spending limits on third-party advertising, capping it at $600,000 up to 12 months before an election. Any organization spending more than $500 on political advertising must now also register as a third party.

Who defends the Constitution? Also in the Star, Chantal Hebert considers challenges to the Constitution in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, and finds a lack of leadership at the federal level ready to speak up for the constitutional order.

At the same time, under their current governments, Ontario and Quebec have over the recent past both taken to sheltering pieces of legislation — dealing with minority language and religious rights and third-party election spending — from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the reach of the courts. A recourse that was long considered exceptional is in the process of being normalized. Even as he knows he has close to zero chance to secure the support required to remove the principle of equalization from the Constitution. Kenney still seeks to galvanize his voters against it for his own leverage purposes.

Passport promised: Bill Blair told Global he’s “very confident” that Canadians will have a national vaccine passport by the time the U.S. border reopens for non-essential travel on Nov. 8. Blair said he always tries to “overperform and under-promise,” but said work on the project is going “very, very well.”

Programs in the balance: Chrystia Freeland told CBC  that the government is pondering the fate of federal pandemic supports for individuals and businesses, some of which are set to come to an end this week: “We have to remember that all of us collectively in the whole world have been really bad at predicting exactly the course that the coronavirus would take.”

New faces: CBC has a good roundup of some of the rookie MPs elected Sept. 20.

Almost an MP: CBC has an interesting story about Bloc candidate Patrick O’Hara, who lost a narrow election after a recount, an experience he found devastating: “Anybody that sits here and tells you that they take a loss and they’re positive about it, I would call them out that they’re flat lying.”

CBC’s Aaron Wherry has a column wondering if the Liberals and NDP might be wise to co-operate as Liberals and NDPers did in 1985 when Bob Rae sought to avoid the “day-to-day blackmail bullshit.” It doesn’t sound like it will happen though.

For now, this all seems to be entirely hypothetical. The Prime Minister’s Office said Friday that Trudeau will speak with the other party leaders next week, but an NDP source says they haven’t yet heard from the government about any plans for how Parliament will work. The same source says the party thinks the last Parliament worked well without a formal accord.

Flags up: In the Globe, Andrew Potter makes a good argument for raising the national flag again.

Ministry of Public Anger: In the Star, Susan Delacourt has a column about nasty election protests, and the government’s plan to take on hate speech.

(Steven) Guilbeault says the protests were ample proof of the need to get more accountability out of the tech giants and to rein in hate speech on the internet, which Trudeau’s team has already tagged as big priorities for its first months in office. Whether it’s Guilbeault or someone else in charge of these files, they will be at the top of the to-do list for the minister of heritage.

Shemozzle warning: In the Post, Chris Selley has a column warning that the Liberals’ plan to clamp down on hate speech will have undesirable consequences.

There is no question that the Liberals’ imagined regime would lead to absurd outcomes, many of which would dismay Liberals. The party caught a glimpse of its potential future during the campaign, when Twitter flagged a video posted on Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s account as “manipulated media.” Partisans were aghast: “Not us, you lunatics, the other guys!” If the Liberals create an actual legal obligation for Twitter or Facebook to police its content along those lines, you can be 100-per-cent certain their opponents will be flagging every unkind thing they see, and their partisans would be doing the same in return, and a famous shemozzle would ensue.

Very old: An ancient Indigenous knife unearthed during the renovation of Centre Block will be returned to the stewardship of the Algonquin people who live in the Ottawa region, CP reports.

The knife, shaped from Onondaga chert quarried in Ontario or New York state thousands of years ago, is not the first Indigenous artifact found in the parliamentary precinct. Shards of pottery and a shell bead were found on Parliament Hill in the 1990s.

— Stephen Maher

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Megan Thee Stallion Is A Sexy Nurse In New Video For Christmas Song With Jimmy Fallon & Ariana Grande



Megan Thee Stallion Is A Sexy Nurse In New Video For Christmas Song With Jimmy Fallon & Ariana Grande

This holiday season just got a lot jollier, thanks to Jimmy Fallon and two of his special helpers – Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion.

Mariah Carey got another challenge to her title of Queen of All Christmas Music. Days after Elton John and Ed Sheeran decided to drop some holiday cheer with their new single, Jimmy Fallon decided to get in on the fa-la-la fun….and he wasn’t alone! The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon host recruited Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion for “It Was A… (Masked Christmas),” a holiday song that could have only come during this time of COVID.

As Jimmy and Ariana sang about wearing masks and waiting for boosters, Megan Thee Stallion appeared as a sexy nurse ready to give them their shots. Check it out above!

Jimmy alerted the world to his new song on Monday (Dec. 6) afternoon. “Guys. I can’t believe I’m typing this but – I’m dropping a new single and video tonight with [Ariana] and [Megan],” he tweeted, along with the single’s artwork. “I am so damn excited!!!” replied Joan Grande, Ariana’s mother. “You are so incredibly cute,” responded Ariana. “Thank you mama!” On Ariana’s Twitter page, she wrote how making the song was “the most fun ever. Love you !!!! both so much.” Megan responded with, “Love y’all.”

Ariana Grande is no stranger to Christmas songs. She’s released two holiday EPs – 2013’s Christmas Kisses and 2015’s Christmas & Chill – and in 2019, she joined Idina Menzel for “A Hand for Mrs. Claus,” off of Christmas: A Season of Love. The following year, Ariana teamed with Mariah and Jennifer Hudson for “Oh Santa!”, a song from the Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special Soundtrack. In fact, “It Was A…(Masked Christmas)” isn’t even Ariana’s only Christmas song for 2021. Kelly Clarkson featured Ms. Grande on “Santa,’ Can’t You Hear Me,” from Kelly’s When Christmas Comes Around…

(Charles Sykes/Amy Harris/Shutterstock/Weiss Eubanks/NBC)

As for Mega, the closest thing she’s come to for a Christmas song is “Savage Santa,” a remix of “Savage” for an episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden. It oddly kind of worked, with Megan rapping some Christmas-themed lyrics along to the “Savage” beat. Hopefully, James Corden doesn’t get too jealous that Megan with playing reindeer games with Jimmy instead of him.

Megan recently spoke with HollywoodLife about her new “Hot Girl Enterprises” Cash By Cash Capp apparel collection, which would make for a great stocking stuffer this holiday season. “We called this collection ‘Hot Girl Enterprise’ for a reason – because it captures my sexiness and sophistication,” she said in the EXCLUSIVE interview. “I’m always working on being the best version of myself, and that’s the message I want to send to all my Hotties with this drop.”


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Adele & Rich Paul: How They’re Feeling About A Potential Engagement & Marriage



Adele & Rich Paul: How They’re Feeling About A Potential Engagement & Marriage

Adele and boyfriend Rich Paul are reportedly ‘in love’ and are starting to think about their future life together, a source tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.

Adele, 33, is head over heels for boyfriend Rich Paul, 39, and apparently, things are heating up between the couple. “Adele and Rich are in love,” an insider revealed EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife. “They both find each other great driven people that really work hard. That is something that inspires both of them. She is so charming and lights up any room she is in, and he lets Adele be Adele. The success of him being an agent is to let his clients shine while he is in the shadows so to speak getting everything else done.”

The source went on to reveal that the sports agent, with whom Adele has been pictured a lot lately, also “finds commitment very important,” and that the couple are considering their future –while trying to stay grateful for their present, of course. “They would welcome [the idea of marriage] but there is literally zero rush for that to happen and is not on the horizon as they are really enjoying being boyfriend and girlfriend and getting to know each other more and more each day.

Adele & Rich Paul (Allen J Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock).

The source went on, “They make it simple for each other and they want to be in that sort of relationship right now before they take it to the next level. It is nice to think about, but they are currently happy with where things are at this moment.”

Another insider also recently spoke with HL about how “connected” the pair has been in the past few months they’ve been dating. “Adele is having such an amazing time with Rich, they really have connected over each’s sense of humor, and they really admire each other’s work ethic,” the source revealed. “They allow time to spend together and also give each other plenty of space so they are not overbearing with each other.”

Adele & boyfriend Rich Paul
Adele & boyfriend Rich Paul (Beretta/Sims/Shutterstock).

Another insider also discussed the couple’s upcoming holiday plans on Nov. 5. “Coming into the holiday season, she is really looking forward to making more and more memories with Rich,” they revealed. “It is not a honeymoon phase type of situation; it is two people that have clearly found the right person and it genuinely just works.”

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Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Reunite At Virgil Abloh’s Star-Studded Memorial — Photos



Kim Kardashian, Kanye West

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were two of many celebrities who attended fashion designer Virgil Abloh’s memorial at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago on Monday.

Kim Kardashian, 41, and Kanye West, 44, appeared in the same place at the same time this week when they both showed up to Virgil Abloh‘s memorial at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL. The exes, who filed for divorce in Feb., were photographed separately at the ceremony for the late fashion designer, who died of cancer at the age of 41 on Nov. 28, and seemed to try and not pay attention to cameras. They both wore black outfits and sunglasses and were seen walking at the location as onlookers surrounded them.

In addition to Kim and Kanye, others stars that were seen at the memorial included Rihanna and her boyfriend A$AP Rocky, Drake, Frank Ocean, and more. Tyler the Creator delivered the eulogy and Lauryn Hill gave a performance.

Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kanye West in Feb. 2021. (Beretta/Sims/Shutterstock)

Before her appearance at the memorial, Kim has been making headlines for her outings with Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson. The two were seen holding hands on at least one of the outings and it’s been reported that they’re casually dating. A source previously told us that Kanye was “put off” by their speculated relationship and the pics of them holding hands and does “not like it.”

Kanye was really put off by Kim holding hands with Pete and he did not like it at all. He asked Kim to ‘please refrain’ from showing public display of affection with anyone until their divorced is finalized. He told her that it doesn’t look good for their family and it doesn’t look good for her, or in the ‘eyes of God,’” the source EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at a previous event. (Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Kim and Pete were first spotted together after she hosted SNL and did a sketch with him that included an onscreen kiss. “They were having a good time — you could see that there were sparks,” another source EXCLUSIVELY revealed about their time on the set together. “You can tell they became quick friends while she was on the show.”

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