Roundup: A Liberal win in Labrador

The people of Labrador have spoken, and by a rather large margin have decided that Liberal Yvonne Jones should represent them in the House of Commons, rather than forgiving Peter Penashue and giving him another chance. The wisdom on the ground is that this was entirely a local race and had almost nothing to do with the national scene, Justin Trudeau’s leadership and whatnot. Penashue said he accomplished more in two years than any other MP anywhere, which is the kind of hyperbole we’ve come to expect from the guy who apparently did ALL THE THINGS for Labrador, and hence this defeat will be Labrador’s loss. The Conservative Party also issued a graceless statement which nevertheless tried to turn it into some kind of indictment of Trudeau’s leadership, claiming they lost twenty points since his leadership win (though no one has seemed to find any polls which had them over seventy percent), and claiming that majority governments don’t normally win by-elections (which is also not exactly true, considering how many they’ve won to date). Jones’ win means this is the first time that the Liberals have increased their seat count at the ballot box in over a decade (the only other time they’ve increased their count, of course, being when Lise St-Denis defected from the NDP).

Samara Canada has released a study that looks at the number of words spoken by MPs in the House of Commons. It’s a cute idea, but it ignores the words spoken in committee (where the bulk of work gets done), and highlights those members who pull House duty more often (such as Kevin Lamoureux, or Elizabeth May, who is only ever in the Chamber and almost never at committee as she is not a member of any). In other words, it looks largely devoid of the kind of context of how the business of the Commons operates.

Jason Kenney announced that convicted Palestinian hijacker Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad has been deported after some two decades of legal wrangling, and said that convicted terrorists will never be allowed in Canada again. One wonders if that rule applies to Nelson Mandela. Terry Milewski remembers his encounter with Mohammad years before the legal drama began. While Jason Kenney likes to talk about how this was about Mohammad filing endless appeals, it is more the case that we couldn’t find a country willing to take him until now. What? Kenney was omitting the facts for partisan gain? You don’t say!

The unaccounted for $3.1 billion in anti-terror funding shows that the way MPs handle expenses is broken. Wow – that’s a newsflash. Of course, what is likely to happen is that the opposition will bray that the Auditor General or Parliamentary Budget Officer needs new powers rather than, oh, doing their own homework, insisting that there be better, more consistent reporting methods and generally doing their actual jobs of holding the government to account. But they don’t. (This applies to the government backbench as well, who should be just as up in arms about this but are curiously silent).

The head of Library and Archives Canada has been taken to task by the Heritage Minister for taking private Spanish lessons on the government’s dime, though he says it’s because of conferences he attends in places like Spain and Puerto Rico, nor does he sound too apologetic. It also sounds like he’s not too popular of a character around LAC amid budget cuts and a somewhat draconian code of conduct being implemented.

What’s that? The employees who lost that personal student data at HRSDC didn’t know they were supposed to encrypt their USB drives and complain that the rules were unclear? You don’t say! The lack of training and the absence of a culture of personal responsibility for theses kinds of documents within the public service never ceases to amaze me.

The Senate continues to look at its residency rules for eligibility to sit in the Senate as it continues to get a legal opinion in the wake of the Senators Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin questions. And while it sounds like they’re trying to keep things so that both of the two Senators in question can stay, it could also be a convenient way to dump one or both if the continued focus on the audits turns into criminal charges laid by the RCMP on Duffy’s part, or Wallin’s if her travel expenses audit goes badly.

Economist Stephen Gordon takes apart Thomas Mulcair’s recent article in Policy Options about the oil and gas sector and questions Mulcair’s underlying assumptions regarding the sector – and exports in general – while showing why Mulcair has it wrong. Meanwhile, business professor Mike Moffatt questions the government’s assumptions and talking points when it comes to increasing the preferential tariff rates for Chinese imports, and why the notion that we’re no longer giving tax breaks to Chinese companies actually doesn’t bear out.

Paul Wells looks at research dollars being spent by the government, and while the dollar figures are increasing, the way they’re being targeted is negatively impacting the reputation of research being done here, which will be a costly failure in the longer term. Meanwhile, it looks like the government got some pretty damning results back from its focus group testing of the rebranding of the National Research Council.

And Justin Trudeau is asking Canadians to submit questions for him to ask the Prime Minister in Question Period. You know, like Preston Manning and Michael Ignatieff tried to do beforehand. It has been jokingly suggested that the only questions that have a chance of getting read are those that contain the words “Middle Class.”