Roundup: Security and intelligence day

Apparently it was security and intelligence day yesterday. An anti-terrorism bill being debated, shuffling the Director of CSIS, appointing a new member of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee (which the NDP are opposing), and oh yeah – a foiled terror plot on Canadian soil. So yeah – busy day. And in case you’re wondering, no, there was no prior knowledge of the terror charges before today, so it was nothing more than a coincidence that they were made on the day that the government set aside to deal with the anti-terrorism bill.

The other big story of the afternoon – amidst all of that excitement – was that the Federal Court dismissed the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s request for clarity on his mandate. While the judge in question decided that it’s not an internal matter for Parliament, he also couldn’t rule on a hypothetical request for the production of documents. Which of course means that when the future Parliamentary Budget Officer takes the government to court over its refusal to turn over documents, well, then he or she may have an actual case. It just can’t be in the abstract. Of course, the NDP are declaring victory, because they say that the government will think twice before refusing to turn over documents. (You say that now…)

While Brent Rathgeber writes that he has a couple of concerns about the Trudeau motion on changing the Standing Orders around Members’ Statements – that making equal on a party basis would give smaller parties greater say – he needn’t worry. On Friday, when the Liberals announced the motion, they specifically said that they would keep the distribution by parties, but keep the rotation alphabetical within that allocation. Oh, and now Bruce Hyer has joined the fray and is pointing the fingers at his former party – the NDP – for denying him a speaking slot at one point as well, in case anyone had any ideas that things were truly different in that party.

With the launch of the online portal for (partial) oil sands monitoring data, the government insists that the levels being reported are not a cause for concern.

Meanwhile, the NDP’s Earth Day stunt was to table a series of Private Members’ Bills to each restore some chunk of protected waterways under the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Here’s a hint, though – tabling a bunch of bills that will never see the light of day is a stunt and deserves to be called out as such. Anyone treating it seriously needs to give their head a shake.

The Toronto Star has obtained briefing notes for the government going into the January meeting with First Nations leaders amidst the Idle No More protests, and finds that the federal objectives going into the meeting were about achieving “meaningful consultation” with the First Nations and removing barriers to resource development. Of course, part of that is what the government sees as the kinds of economic means to help provide opportunities and fight the poverty endemic to those remote communities. It also bears mentioning that some of the demands of the First Nations going into the meeting – that the Governor General be present for one – were never going to happen (ever, because the government of the day exercises Crown powers under our system of government).

As use of electronic health records increased to some 56 percent uptake across the country, it’s estimated to have saved some $1.3 billion over the past six years.

It seems that the government has spent some $20 million of infrastructure funds on Christian schools across the country, many of whom forbid *gasp* homosexual conduct among their students and staff. And then we get into the whole “balancing of rights” argument…

Faced with a media backlash, the government won’t require soldiers to repay the “overpaid” hardship and hazard pay thanks to that “administrative error.” Their rates are being reduced going forward, mind you, but at least the government has decided not to be petty about it.

For everyone passing around that “student disproves austerity” story, economist Stephen Gordon demonstrates why that doesn’t apply to Canada.

Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish is resigning, meaning that following his replacement, Stephen Harper will have appointed six of the nine justices on the bench. Not that it’s a big ideological deal, as we don’t have partisan justices in Canada the way they do in the States.

And here are the three things you need to see from last night’s political shows, including some analysis of the VIA terror bust, and Brent Rathgeber talking about the forthcoming Speaker’s ruling.