In amidst the votes on the Estimates last night, a bombshell was dropped – Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber, lately called something of a maverick because he had become conversant and vocal about civically literate things like the roles of backbenchers, resigned from the Conservative caucus. What precipitated this was his bill on salary disclosures for public servants, which his own caucus gutted in committee. After what seemed to be a fairly brief period of consideration, Rathgeber decided that his party no longer stood for transparency and open government, and that enough was enough. The PM’s comms director tweeted shortly thereafter that Rathgeber should run in a by-election – which is a ridiculous position because a) he didn’t cross the floor, b) this was never an issue when David Emerson, Joe Commuzzi or Wajid Kahn cross the floor to the Conservatives, and c) people elect MPs, not robots to be stamped with the part logo once the votes are counted. As reactions continued to pour in, it does continue the narrative that not all is well in the Conservative party.
Despite a number of Conservative protesters in the background, Justin Trudeau took to the Centennial Flame yesterday and upped the ante on the transparency around parliamentary expenses and said that by autumn, all Liberal MPs and Senators will start posting their expenses online, whether any other party does or not. (On a side note, former Liberals MPs Rob Oliphant and Michelle Simpson did just that in the previous parliament). Trudeau also proposed opening up the Board of Internal Economy on the Commons side to make it public, which Tony Clement says he’s good with. Thomas Mulcair, however, doesn’t sound too keen and he keeps bringing up the Auditor General’s review of House of Commons expenses that apparently happened in an alternate universe because his version doesn’t match reality. (Mulcair keeps insisting it was comprehensive – it wasn’t, but focused on systems and administration – and that the Senate wasn’t subjected to the very same audit, when they were). Trudeau’s proposal would also see conversations with the Auditor General to make audits of both Houses expenses every three years, and how to go about designing comprehensive audits. Strategically, it also leapfrogs anything Mulcair has done on the file to date, as it proposes actual actions that can be taken immediately and independently of broader reforms, rather than promising Senate abolition, knowing full well that the unanimous consent of the provinces to make it happen will never actually be given. As for the protesters, Trudeau apparently wasn’t fazed, and notes he was highlighting open parliament.
It seems that Senator Duffy’s committee attendance record is pretty abysmal at 55 percent. He was there every day for when the chamber itself sat, but where the real work gets done – the committee – he apparently had better things to do. The suspended Senator Brazeau wants the Auditor General to also look at the rules around the eligibility of expenses. There are more questions about irregularities about expenses that Wallin charged to some campaigns and not to others in Elections Canada filings from the 2011 election.
Tim Harper takes not that Conservative leadership aspirant Jason Kenney has remained conspicuously silent during the whole ClusterDuff affair.
Here is more about the dispute with Elections Canada that could see Shelly Glover and James Bezan suspended from the Commons. It seems that they claimed certain expenses at a lesser rate because they were “reusing” them from previous campaigns, but Elections Canada says that gives incumbents an unfair advantage and won’t allow it, which would then put the pair over the spending limit. The Liberals want the House to decide on this issue as a matter of privilege. All of the opposition parties abstained from voting on Bezan’s private members’ bill last night as a protest for his still sitting in the House with the matter unresolved.
Curiously, the government plans to table legislation around safe injection sites on Thursday, despite there being only a few days left before the House rises.
Here’s a look at all the bills being pushed through the Commons with the late-night sittings and continual use of time allocation, as the government tries to get through its legislative agenda before the House rises for the summer (where there will likely be a prorogation).
The Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters has big problems with the government’s tariff changes, retroactive taxation and lack of a coherent message when it comes to things like the iPod tax.
An independent report has concluded that the E. coli contamination at the XL Foods plant last summer was preventable, and that there was a weak food safety culture and a relaxed attitude to safety protocols in the plant. So yeah, bit of a black eye for Gerry Ritz there after his handling of the Maple Leaf Listeria outbreak.
Here’s a look at how the riding redistribution in Alberta is likely to pit several incumbent MPs against one another as they try to claim the new ridings containing pieces of their old ones.
Peter MacKay warns of the divisive debate at the Conservative convention on the constitutional issue of future leadership votes, which threatens to split the old Progressive Conservative and Reform/Alliance wings apart once again.
In part three of his series on productivity, economist Stephen Gordon looks at the phenomenon of rising wages in Canada despite stagnant productivity growth.
And Laura Stone has lunch with Elizabeth May, who perpetuates a rather nonsensical notion that Harper “isn’t Canadian,” despite, you know, never actually having left the country until he became opposition leader. Never mind that she herself was actually born in the States. So, uh, way to go with that bit of name-calling and raising the tenor of political discourse.