Roundup: All those arcane rules

A new parliamentary report says that arcane rules are keeping MPs from doing their jobs when it comes to scrutinising the estimates. It’s good that they acknowledge that, and I’m still working my way though reading the report, but some of those rules aren’t that arcane and were more recent additions in order to keep the opposition from bogging down the business of government (this being the “deemed” rule whereby estimates are “deemed adopted” if they pass a certain date on the calendar). And MPs have always had the ability to change those rules whenever they decided it was time to start taking the estimates process more seriously, so this tone of them being the poor victims of traditions dating back to the Magna Carta really reads hollow to me, sorry to say. There are also calls in the report to strengthen the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which is all well and good, but a) good luck getting this government to agree to it, and b) we should be careful not to make it tempting for MPs to simply fob off their responsibilities of scrutinising the estimates to him more than they already are.

Uh oh – when Christian Paradis was minister of Public Works, he had the department roll out the welcome mat for firms from his riding. Apparently the Ethics Commissioner have him a talking to about the fact that while it’s all well and good to represent your constituents, as a minister there are limits. But like Paradis said, these are all just learning experiences, right?

Tobi Cohen profiles some would-be immigrants whose applications have been struck down arbitrarily when the backlog was “deleted” as part of the omnibus budget bill.

Here’s a look at the proposed riding changes in Nova Scotia, where some MPs are complaining that communities within the ridings will be cut in half, as the boundaries commission looks to balance the growth of Halifax while trying to keep the populations of the ridings in balance.

Here’s a look at how all of those doctors are interrupting ministerial press conferences to protest cuts to refugee health care. Bal Gosal has been hit twice already, but if you’re Gosal, well at least people remember that he’s in cabinet, right?

It seems that our foreign aid in Kandahar is slowly becoming for naught, as screw-ups and jobs not done properly are turning our legacy there to ash. Worst of all is the Dahla Dam, which was supposed to be our signature project, but work wasn’t done properly or sustainably, and now it faces serious problems as it’s not providing the water for the irrigation canals that it’s supposed to. CIDA, meanwhile, has washed its hands of the affair.

This speech on the House of Lords reform in the UK is equally applicable to the plans for Senate “reform” here in Canada, and pretty much all of the points can be made here just as well – that those who propose change don’t look at it in the holistic sense of what it means for Parliament as a whole, rather than a chamber in isolation. (Hat tip to James Bowden for finding this).

Here is the style ranking of current and would-be political leaders at the Calgary Stampede. Apparently Thomas Mulcair got it right, while Justin Trudeau and Bob Rae fell flat.

And Scott Feschuk parses the Prime Minister’s triumphal Stampede speech from last week – and it’s a fantastically worthwhile read.