Roundup: The moral panic of campaigning Senators

The Toronto Star has a look at Senators who were reimbursed by various campaigns for work they did during the last election, which seems a bit curious because it’s not unusual that Senators campaign – they just can’t bill the Senate for those expenses, as Mike Duffy did. Not that it’s stopped the NDP from making a giant fuss about it, as though it’s a bad thing that party members help out in a campaign. “Oh, but they shouldn’t campaign at all!” they cry. “They’re on the taxpayer’s payroll!” Um, so are MPs, who also fundraise and do campaign activities outside of writ periods of all sorts. And some of them go to fundraisers while they should be in Ottawa as the House is sitting. And leaders? Well, they’re the worst when it comes to missing House duty for fundraisers and campaigning. They’re also on the public dime. It’s a kind of hypocritical and nonsensical argument that seems to ignore the fact that *gasp!* senators are also party members and partisans! You know, the way our system of government works, where you have governing and opposition parties in both chambers! In other words, the NDP is trying to create a moral panic, which should be paid little heed unless it can be proved that any of the Senators who campaigned billed the Senate for their expenses. And I have little doubt that none of them other than Duffy – and possibly Pamela Wallin – did.

Justin Trudeau is promising to “raise the bar” when it comes to transparency and accountability, and will apparently be laying out some proposals in the coming days. He also corrects the media assumptions that he supports the status quo on the Senate – saying that the full comments he made went unreported – but adds that trying to push reform now in the wake of the expenses scandal is simply pandering, and that because true reform would require constitutional negotiations, it’s a process that will likely wind up in failure and acrimony. (Here’s a look at the last time Senate reform almost happened, with the Charlottetown Accords, only to go down in defeat in a referendum).

Also from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Meeting, where Trudeau had spoken, was the fact that not all of the country’s mayors are impressed by the $53 billion-over-ten-years infrastructure promise that the government made during the last budget, seeing as it isn’t going far enough to address the infrastructure deficit in the country.

Jason Kenney is introducing new rules that would give would-be immigrants an automatic second chance at writing their citizenship exams if they fail the first time, rather than make them face months and months of delays to appear before a judge to convince them that they’re worthy of citizenship. Mind you, if they fail the second time, they will still need to go before a judge and restart the process – including paying the fees all over again.

In advance of a potential summer of First Nations unrest, The Canadian Press speaks to AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo about the progress on files with the government – and there does appear to be some progress being made on the things they agreed to in January – but there remains lingering discontent over the very same things that were bubbling over in December and January, and anything could still happen over the summer.

The bill that would make it illegal to wear a mask during an illegal protest has now passed the Senate despite opposition. One now wonders how long before it becomes subject to a Charter challenge in the courts.

Access to Information documents show how present-day RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson had concerns about the excessive secrecy in the security certificate process back in 2009.

The government has chosen an off-the-shelf design for our replacement Joint Support Ships, at long last. It now remains to be seen if they’ll wind up being built in the Vancouver Seaspan shipyards first, or if they’ll be delayed for the construction of the new icebreaker, as the yard capacity limit reaches bottleneck.

It seems that Peter MacKay’s office ordered an investigation of the Canadian Forces National Intelligence Service over a supposed leak after a journalist published something that came from a US Navy press release. And on four separate occasions, said journalist said that the information came from a press release – and yet the witch-hunt continued. All of which brings into question the competence of MacKay and his staff. Cripes.

As yesterday was the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony, royal historian Carolyn Harris suggests that her successor – likely Charles – have a separate Canadian coronation, possibly as part of a coronation tour among the realms, in order to highlight the distinct Canadian monarchy. It’s an idea that I can certainly get behind.

And Michael Den Tandt offers an alternate-universe speech in which Stephen Harper is contrite about the whole ClusterDuff affair, while Scott Feschuk imagines a conversation between Stephen Harper circa 2005 with Stephen Harper of today, with over these very same ethical issues. Poor Stephen Harper circa 2005.

Shameless self-promotion alert: I had two different media appearances this weekend. The first was a Skype chat on CTV News Channel, in which I talked about Mike Duffy and how the whole ClusterDuff affair is playing out in the Senate. The second was my very first radio piece, which was a comment feature on CBC Radio One’s “Day Six,” all about the way that Question Period should be in the wake of last week’s good performance on Tuesday.