Roundup: Absenteeism, transparency and outside auditors

It’s time to look at the absenteeism rates over in the Senate once more, and Senator Romeo Dallaire currently has the highest rate, largely because he’s doing research at Dalhousie on child soldiers and advising the UN – things he’s not declaring as Senate business and isn’t claiming expenses or time on. The promised review of absenteeism rules is still ongoing, but has become a bit of a backburner issue with the other things going on at the moment. And no, you can’t actually find out what the absenteeism rates of MPs are, because they don’t make that data available, whereas the Senate does (even if you do have to head to an office building during business hours to find out). As for the allegations of misspending, there are suggestions that they turn the investigation over to the Auditor General because it may be too much for the three-member committee to handle – though I know there has been reluctance to have the AG look at their expenses because he reports to them. Oh, and Senator Wallin’s travel claims are now being added to the list of things to be checked by the outside auditor – even though Harper himself asserted that her travel claims are not out of line, which he has not done for Senator Duffy.

Ira Basen looks at the relationship between Stephen Harper and Patrick Brazeau before Brazeau’s appointment to the Senate, and what it meant during the dying days of the Liberal government and the demise of the Kelowna Accord.

The NDP put a motion at the Justice committee to study the government’s compliance with a section in the Department of Justice Act to ensure that the minister has every piece of legislation Charter-proofed. It failed, but there was a very interesting exchange between Rob Nicholson and Irwin Cotler in the post linked – and even more curious is that Nicholson only refers to the Canadian Bill of Rights, and not the Charter.

The Liberals’ opposition day motion is to create a special Commons committee to look into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, since the government won’t call a full national inquiry or Royal Commission. (And no, this motion is not about the business of supply, which Opposition Days are supposed to be about).

Irwin Cotler wants the methodology and data on mentally ill accused that formed the basis for the government’s latest crime bill, which contains measures to crack down on said offenders.

Chris Selley takes apart Thomas Mulcair’s rhetoric about funding some religious groups doing foreign aid and not others – especially when Mulcair names a Catholic organisation as doing good work knowing full well that the Church is just as homophobic as the evangelical Christian Crossroads organisation, even if they don’t put it up on the website. Bob Rae let it be known that faith groups can do good humanitarian work, and that he accepts Crossroads’ apology and position that they also oppose Uganda’s anti-gay legislation.

Here is a look at the unspoken personal data breaches that happen constantly within the government, which he’s absolutely right about. I can personally vouch for the fact that a culture of personal responsibility with regards to records and data is largely absent in the government (and most corporations, one suspects). But the extent of how bad it is remains unknown, and would be shocking if we really knew.

Over in the Liberal leadership race, John Geddes looks at the exchange between Marc Garneau and Justin Trudeau about having coherent policy platforms. Trudeau also opened up his books to the media to show that his family inheritance is worth $1.2 million in order that there be no questions about family wealth.

And here are the three things you need to see from last night’s political shows. Well, really two, because the whole “parsing the State of the Union” stuff was pretty ridiculous.