Roundup: Voting down legislative stunts

Not one, but two opposition stunts were voted down in the Commons yesterday. The first was the NDP’s opposition day motion on Senate abolition, which they, the Bloc and Elizabeth May voted in support of, and was defeated 186-101. The other was the Bloc’s motion to repeal the Clarity Act, which only they voted in support of, the NDP “totally not whipped” into voting down, and it went to its defeat 283-5. Bob Rae called out the NDP for their “total incoherence” on their Clarity Act/Unity Bill position, and deemed the party to be an unstable coalition in the wake of their “orange wave” fortunes. And now, with these votes out of the way, one can hope that the opposition parties get back to their actual jobs of holding the government to account rather than to continue with stunts and grudge-matches, but that’s probably asking too much. Sadly.

Ruh-roh! It looks like Dean Del Mastro has missed 26 consecutive meetings of the Ethics Committee! Apparently he’s too busy “doing his job” to, err, do his job as a member of the committee, in which case perhaps Harper should either take away Del Mastro’s parliamentary secretary portfolio or have him taken off the committee, since clearly he’s not able to do both.

Oh dear – it seems that the F-35s can’t fly at night, can’t fly though clouds, can’t have their engines replaced in a couple of hours as promised, and have other maintenance and training problems. But I thought they were the right plane at the right price, and… Yeah, no, there’s no salvaging this one. Time to scrap the whole deal and just sign up for the Super Hornets already.

Peter MacKay says that the figures showing that private contracting at National Defence going up were in error – that stuff was coded to the wrong cost accounts, and that really, those costs are going down. Some opposition critics, however, remain suspicious as to the timing of these coding errors.

Here’s a look at why the NDP’s populist Air Passenger’s Bill of Rights bill is self-defeating.

Jason Kenney made a surprise visit to Iraq – the first Canadian cabinet minister to do so since 1976.

Paul Wells looks at the government’s bad luck in getting the courts to cooperate with its trying to rush the Senate reform reference.

Over in the Senate, Senator Patterson – whose expenses and residency have been questioned but okayed – says that their travel expenses should be opened up to the public. Funny, I don’t hear MPs clamouring to open their own travel books. It also appears that Senator Boisvenu has broken off his relationship with his assistant, or she’s been moved to a new office – or possibly both. Nevertheless, the Senate leadership has apparently woken up to the fact that it was inappropriate, and steps are being taken – as they should be. Meanwhile, the likely incoming Senator from Alberta, based on their previous “election,” Scott Tannas, says that the attention paid to Senate expenses are “sobering,” and that he too hopes the Senate’s expenses will be more transparent, and that he will keep up that spirit of transparency upon arrival one assumes.

Also in the Senate, as it seems that Senators look set to send the issue of the PBO’s role to committee to study the ambiguity of his mandate (as Conservative Senator Hugh Segal pointed out, the Privy Council Officer botched things by putting the PBO as part of the Library of Parliament), Senator Percy Downe is having a hard time getting CRA to release data on the “tax gap” to Kevin Page in order for him to write up a report about it, and when Page tried to come up with his own methodology, CRA still refused to respond. Gail Shea has since said that the agency is “considering” Page’s request, and will respond “in due course.”

In the Liberal leadership race, they announced a final figure of 294,002 members and supporters signed up to vote for the leader, of which “at least” 150,000 were signed up by Justin Trudeau. Trudeau’s people say that he’s not taking those numbers for granted, and that he’ll continue to ensure that those supporters actually turn into voters.

Here are the three things you need to see from last night’s political shows, including a preview of a report coming out later today about the rise in the number of Aboriginals in Canada’s prison system.

And over in Alberta, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge dismantles the arguments about the so-called “Freemen of the Land” movement, and their pseudo-legalistic nonsense jargon – and these passages from the ruling are pure gold.