Roundup: Treating LeBreton with justifiable suspicion

As expected, Marjorie LeBreton tabled her motion to call in the Auditor General to conduct a “comprehensive audit” of the Senate and senators’ expenses. So far so good. The Liberal senators said that sure they’d support it – when it comes up for debate. You see, the Senate rules say that motions need 24 hours before they can be debated unless they get unanimous consent to bypass said rule – and the Liberals weren’t going to give it, because they wanted time to study said motion. It’s pretty vague, and nobody knows what a “comprehensive” audit entails, or even if the AG’s office is able to handle it. But oh, the Conservatives cried – the Liberals are trying to block it! Um, no – they’re just following the rules, and they’re justifiably suspicious of anytime LeBreton tries to push things through with unanimous consent – like the Duffy audit report. Turns out it was hiding all kinds of goodies that the media ferreted out, and that report got sent back to the committee in that rather exciting evening when Duffy got tossed under a bus. Had LeBreton gotten her way and passed the reports unanimously in one fell swoop, well, that may not have happened. Senator Cowan, the Liberal Senate leader, is also concerned that LeBreton is trying to use the AG as another distraction from the ClusterDuff questions, since none of their new rules or the AG would have stopped the whole issue of Wright writing the cheque to Duffy in the first place. Cowan explains more about the dynamics here.

The Senate Ethics Officer has suspended her probe into Duffy’s activities in order to make way for the RCMP, who are looking into things (though they haven’t yet confirmed whether or not they’ve begun an official investigation).

Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen denies that she was in contact with the PMO with regards to the “whitewashing” of the Duffy audit report, but rather, that her desire to go easier on him seems to be motivated by the fact that it’s difficult to pass judgement on colleagues.

What’s that? The Prime Minister’s staff occasionally puts out partisan tweets on his Twitter feed – and the feed that’s not the official PMO feed! Oh noes! Will the scourge of a partisan prime minister never cease! (And for that matter, will all MPs need to have separate partisan and non-partisan Twitter feeds of their own to differentiate their work? Yeah, didn’t think so).

Oh dear – Conservative MPs Shelly Glover and James Bezan could be suspended from the Commons if a judge rules against their dispute with Elections Canada over campaign expense claims that might put them over the limit. Oh, but it’s just an “accounting dispute” (where did we hear that excuse before?) and nothing to worry about, so they continue to insist. Too bad “accounting” is the difference between being over or under the spending limit.

The government is moving ahead with regulations that would fine stores $25,000 per day for keeping unsafe products on their shelves.

The bill to give the RCMP enhanced disciplinary powers has now passed the Senate and awaits Royal Assent – but in light of Bob Paulson’s scathing attacks at the Senate committee, it now makes some people wonder if perhaps it doesn’t give senior Mounties too much power.

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux is putting forward a Private Members’ Bill to ensure that the party leader always voice their political ads. Somehow I’m not confident that this is going to pass.

It turns out that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigated Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese a number of times in 2011 over information that was leaked to him. Or not, in those cases were it wasn’t an actual leak, but they treated it as though it was. Oh, but they’re investigating the leaks, not the journalists – err, except for those times when there weren’t actual leaks. Pugliese explains more of what happened here.

Cabinet has until mid-2014 to decide whether or not to sign an initial contract for four F-35 fighter jets for delivery by 2017, or delay and drop the plan entirely. But it sounds like they’re setting this up to be a cabinet decision and not the process being set out by Public Works that they’re doing all of this independent options analysis for, which has people worried that this will become a political decision with no expert input into the process.

On the Canada-EU trade file, things are now down to the contentious agricultural issues, like meat exports and supply management. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale says that things are back on track with regards to her province’s participation in the process.

The Industry Minister, Christian Paradis, has declined permission to allow Telus to take over Mobilicity, which could mean the smaller telecom carrier might go bankrupt.

In part two of his six-part series on productivity, economist Stephen Gordon looks at the kinds of capital that contribute to productivity, and how two generations of growth in only certain kinds of capital, as what Canada has been doing, are unsustainable.

And here is a look at the party constitution resolutions coming up for debate at the Conservative caucus, some of which look to be like the grassroots are pushing back against the control by the centre, while others look to be opening up the east-west divisions in the party once again.