Roundup: Farewell Canadian Crown, hello Crown colony status

The government did something well-meaning yesterday, but in the process, ended up doing something very, very bad. In what was no doubt a somewhat thoughtless attempt to circumvent the rules around constitutional amendments, they tabled their act to change the laws of succession for the Canadian Monarchy yesterday that evoked a moot section of the Statute of Westminster that basically said “whatever the Mother Country decides, we’re cool with.” And with that one fell swoop, the government of Canada has undone eighty-two years of Canada having an independent Crown, and has once again relegated us to the status of a Crown colony of Britain – and no, I’m really not being dramatic. (See the bill and the government’s nonsensical backgrounder here). You see, that section of the Statute of Westminster that they’re evoking – was repealed with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982. Oops. And by simply assenting to the UK change, it means that the Crown of Canada is not a separate corporate sole from the Crown of the United Kingdom – which means that Canada is not a sovereign country. And because the Office of the Queen – which the rules of succession are a Very Big Deal regarding – falls under s.41(a) of the Constitution – that means a constitutional amendment requiring the unanimous consent of the provinces. Yes, it’s a little messier and will take a little more time, but we’ve got at least two generations of heirs in order to get it right, and there is little reason that any of the provinces would object to such common sense changes. But hey, for the sake of expediency, let’s treat the constitution like it doesn’t matter! Which seems to be the modus operandi of the entire political discourse of this country of late – between this, the NDP’s “Unity bill,” and Bob Rae thinking that the Governor General should be involved in political meetings with the First Nations and denying royal assent on the Wheat Board bill, we have pretty much proven that civic literacy in this country is in complete and utter shambles. How many other mature democracies treat their constitutions like they’re relative documents that you can project your own interpretations onto as they suit your agenda? Unbelievable.

For those of us who’ve known for a while that there’s something the matter with Jim Flaherty comes confirmation that he is suffering from a rare skin condition, and the treatment creates some particular side-effects like the ones we’ve noticed.

Once again, PostMedia’s Stephen Maher gets results – a day after reporting on a “secret” business loan programme for Southwest Ontario, the government agreed to make the loans public.

Three Conservative backbenchers go rogue and want the RCMP to investigate abortions after 19 weeks as “murder” (never mind that there are no laws on the books that would allow for that, or that foetuses under 24 weeks are pretty much not viable, and late-term abortions count for less than one percent of abortions performed in this country). But hey, it’s red meat to that portion of the Conservative base, no matter how many times Harper has said that it will never, ever, ever be re-opened. And predictably, it’s a dogwhistle to Niki Ashton and the NDP base, for whom this is all a “conspiracy” by the government to “reopen the debate through the back door” – no matter how many times Harper says it’s not happening. “Oh, but he controls everything else in his caucus – why not this?” Except that he doesn’t, which makes me wonder how much more iron-fisted the control over the NDP caucus is than the Conservatives.

Paul Wells parses yet more of Thomas Mulcair’s constitutional rhetoric, and gives a defence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Aaron Wherry tallies the uses of Time Allocation and Closure for the past few decades, and while the current total is not yet a record, it’s certainly on track to become it.

Colin Horgan looks at the issue of decorum and how it comes up against the desire for “authenticity” that leads to the scripted branding in the first place. Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber points to some of the very real problems – too tightly focused camera angles that don’t give a true reflection of the Chamber, and the replacement of debate with scripted speech recitation. And he’s entirely right – if MPs were banned from reading scripts, they might actually have to pay attention to the debate, and be less inclined to goof off.

The Senate is cracking down on primary residences and demanding concrete proof – mailing addresses, tax returns, driver’s licences, that kind of thing. Because yes, it is a body that responds to criticism and is capable of policing itself as with its high-profile absentee issue, unlike the media caricature.

Pundit’s Guide has the numbers for the Liberal leadership race’s fundraising efforts, and surprise, surprise, Justin Trudeau is way ahead by a long shot. What is most surprising is that hot republican mess George Takach is in fourth place. Really? Okay then. Meanwhile, it seems like Saturday’s Winnipeg debate won’t be a debate after all, but a get-to-know-you series of interviews conducted by Harvey Locke, the candidate who narrowly lost in the Calgary Centre by-election. Because that’s scintillating television and showcases how they perform under pressure. (And on a related note, bring on the RuPaul’s Drag Race-style judging and eliminations! This race desperately needs them.)

Here are the three things you need to see from last night’s political shows, and I take them to task a little bit over not asking better questions on the constitutionality of the succession legislation.

And here is the “Haggis down!” incident from Wednesday’s Robbie Burns dinner on the Hill.