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The Hill Times’ top 25 stories: Quebec as most ‘critical’ battleground, NAFTA redux, Phoenix debacle

By Beatrice Paez       

From an analysis of Independent Senators' voting record to why an ascendant MP chose to step back, here are some of our best stories of the year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland make their way back to Parliament Hill after announcing that they had reached an agreement in principle on the new NAFTA. The Hill Times file photograph by Andrew Meade

As we brace for what could be the nastiest election yet in 2019, we wanted to look back at some of the year’s biggest stories. In the lead-up to the big vote, we saw parties begin to signal which issues will define their campaigns, and where they’ll want to concentrate their efforts to expand their base.

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Feds funnel another half-billion dollars into fixing public service pay in 2019 budget

News
Here are six takeaways for public servants, politicos, media, and policy wonks from the Liberals’ final, pre-election fiscal plan.

Liberals propose national school meal program as Canada remains back of pack on children’s nutrition

News|By Jolson Lim
In yesterday’s federal budget, the government announced its 'intention to work with provinces and territories' toward the creation of the program, though no money was earmarked for it.

Ottawa allows Maduro loyalists to run Venezuelan Embassy despite calling his government ‘illegitimate’

Canada has also recognized a representative of interim president Juan Guaidó, who says the ‘complicated’ situation shouldn’t be ‘rushed.’

Tory MPs push for loosening rules to allow more partisan mail-outs

‘If it is slanderous or defamatory, then we will be held accountable for that, and we will be held accountable by our electorate, in whether they vote for us again,’ says Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen.

PSAC, Treasury Board inch closer in contract talks as election looms

News|By Emily Haws
Meanwhile, the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers filed for binding arbitration March 11 in hopes of striking its own pre-election deal.

NDP ‘under the gun’ to name candidates, say politicos, as they trail Grits, Tories on campaign slate

Nearly a third of the NDP caucus elected in 2015 have opted not to return to Parliament, part of the reason the party has only named 12 per cent of the candidates expected to run in 2019.

Liberals speed up deficit reduction track with help of buoyant tax revenues

News|By Jolson Lim
Big-ticket items in the last federal budget of this majority Liberal government include more than $6.2-billion to expand federal financing of rental construction, $1-billion for increasing access to drugs for rare diseas

Trudeau Liberals’ final budget features measures for skills training, rural broadband, border security

News
Whereas last year’s budget was largely pitched at women, this year, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s final budget is focused on skills training to help older workers and youth adapt to a rapidly changing workforce.

Feds pledge more than $4-billion in pre-election budget for Indigenous file

News|By Emily Haws
Advancing reconciliation was a key theme of the budget, which included money to forgive loans on comprehensive claim negotiations, to implement Jordan's Principle, and revitalize Indigenous languages.
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