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NDP facing an election without a quarter of its caucus as Rankin ponders retirement

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New Democrat MP Murray Rankin said today he’s still thinking about whether to run for his party in this year’s federal election — despite having said he intended to make a decision about his future by early January.

“I’m one of those people in the yet-to-be-nominated, yet-to-confirm category,” Rankin told CBC News.

“I’m thinking about it. It’s four more years. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’ve got to figure out with my family whether … taking me into 2023 of my life is something I want. All those things have to be sorted out. I am definitely thinking about it right now.”

Rankin said that he will make a decision within the next month, despite having told the Canadian Press last year that he would make the decision by early last month.

If he decides to join other NDP MPs and leave federal politics before the fall campaign, he’ll leave behind a party facing down an election cycle without a quarter of its current caucus.

Tom Mulcair gave up his seat in Outremont after he was ousted as party leader. Kennedy Stewart, the former NDP MP for Burnaby South, stepped down to launch a successful run for mayor of Vancouver.

Both of those seats go to byelections Feb. 25. Party Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping to secure the seat in Burnaby South for himself.

Sheila Malcolmson, the former MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, gave up her seat to run as a B.C. MLA in Nanaimo, an election she won last month.

Erin Weir, the former NDP MP who now sits as a party of one representing the defunct CCF, was kicked out of caucus by Singh a year ago after sexual harassment allegations were made against him.

The ones not running again

Another six NDP MPs have announced they will not run in the next federal election: David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre), Fin Donnelly (Port Moody-Coquitlam), Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona), Hélène Laverdière (Laurier-Sainte-Marie), Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou).

Robert Aubin, the MP for Trois-Rivières, has said he is pondering a choice between carrying on in federal politics or making a run for mayor in Trois-Rivières.

Rankin, meanwhile, has accepted a job — an unpaid one, he told CBC News — as the B.C. government’s representative in its Indigenous reconciliation process with the Wet’suwet’en.

The news that Rankin has yet to commit himself to running in the fall comes as his party continues to struggle in Quebec, scene of the ‘Orange Wave’ that propelled the party to the Official Opposition benches in 2011.

Over the past month, three polls have put the NDP below the 12.2 per cent of the vote the party captured in Quebec in the 2008 federal election, when Mulcair was the province’s sole NDP MP. The party stands at 13.8 per cent support nationally in the CBC’s Poll Tracker aggregate of federal polling.

A recent Nanos poll found that just six per cent of Quebecers pick Singh as the best person to be prime minister, well behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (44 per cent), Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (18 per cent) and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier (10 per cent).

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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