Roundup: Ideological purity, backlogs, and penalties proposed

It was the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa over Friday and Saturday, and in it, Preston Manning said some pretty interesting things about how conservatives should distance themselves from those who cross the line – like Mr. “Lake of Fire” from the Wildrose in Alberta, or Tom Flanagan and his child porn comments. And yes, this is a pretty big departure from the Reform Party of yore, as Chris Selley notes. Also at the conference was US libertarian hero Ron Paul, and Aaron Wherry writes about Paul, Jason Kenney, and the notion of ideological purity as put forward in a conference like the MNC.

The Parole Board has finally hired new staff to deal with the backlog of pardon requests it is sitting on after a the government decided to start making them harder to get – because apparently they can make people continue to pay their debt to society after they already have and turned their lives around, and because one high profile case set the course for everyone else whose offences were not on the same scale. Meanwhile, the Correctional Investigator is disturbed by the dismissive attitude at Correctional Services Canada in response to his report on aboriginals in the prison system. Of course, the narrative will be that they apparently have some vested interest in the “status quo,” which makes no sense. Rather, it’s likely a sense of institutional fatigue of trying to deal with a situation with no success, of having few resources to deal with the issue, and not enough expertise to try and make the difference that is necessary, at which point that sense of dismissal is likely them throwing their hands up in the air saying that they give up.

Alison Crawford looks at the issue of assisted suicide, some twenty years later, and how the conversation is evolving.

Oh dear – the Canadian Forces want to expand the army base out in Petawawa, but have neither the funds nor the personnel to do so.

Conservative MPs Candice Bergen, Michelle Rempel and Joan Crockatt discuss women in politics, and their dislike of the notion of quotas for more women in politics. In another International Women’s Day story, here is a look at some of the challenges of getting more women experts on TV news shows like The Agenda.

Thomas Mulcair is headed to Washington for the next few days for a number of meetings with officials there.

Evan Solomon thinks that there needs to be more penalties for Senators caught breaking the rules, other than paying back any improperly claimed expenses. Solomon of course seems confused by those who haven’t broken the letter of the law nevertheless paying back questionable expenses, and despite Senator Boisvenu breaking off his improper relationship and said assistant being moved to another office, apparently that’s not penalty enough. One has to wonder just what he’s proposing to be penalty enough – fines? Suspension without pay? Expulsion? Part of what needs to be kept in mind is that part of the Senate’s power is its independence and its ability to remain free of the kinds of coercion that might be applied to MPs by their caucus overlords – never mind that when these very same kinds of things happen in the Commons, we don’t seem to have the same level of vitriol applied as when it does in the Senate. Not to suggest that they should be breaking rules willy-nilly, but it bears reminding that the Senate leadership is taking these incidents seriously and they are putting in new rules to ensure that these kinds of incidents won’t be allowed in the future. Nevertheless, perhaps one should articulate a more clear position of just what kinds of penalties they want on the table so that we can have a proper discussion about what is actually being proposed and what the consequences might be, rather than leaving it as an open question.

The Globe and Mail has a sit-down conversation with Laureen Harper.

Over in BC, former NDP premier and federal Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh calls the debate over the “ethnic vote scandal” nauseating, sanctimonious, and holier-than-thou, and correctly points out that all parties do it, and the real problem was the attempt to get taxpayer-funded bureaucrats to coordinate with party operatives.

And here’s a look at the Queen signing the Commonwealth Charter – which implicitly supports GLBT rights across the Commonwealth. (As a reminder, here’s my piece about what the Charter means for the Commonwealth as a whole).