Roundup: Vehemently denying the existence of a secret fund

The Conservatives are vehemently denying that there is a “secret” party fund in the PMO as CBC has reported – that there is only one party fund, and that the party uses it to reimburse the Prime Minister’s expenses when he engages in party business. Thomas Mulcair himself decided to show up for the first question in Friday QP – something he has never done – as a kind of stunt to impress upon the public as to just how big of an issue this “secret fund” is, even though party funds are not government operations and therefore not the domain of QP. (CBC is standing by their story, for the record). In fact, all parties pay for their leaders’ partisan activities, yet questions remain as to whether or not Nigel Wright had access to it as Chief of Staff. Senator Hugh Segal, who was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Chief of Staff between 1992 and 1993, said that in his day, they would simply bill the Fund or the Party for the expenses, not draw the funds directly.

Stephen Maher gives a broader narrative around transgressions that Brent Rathgeber made against party discipline that inevitably had consequences for his private member’s bill, and his eventual resignation from caucus. Here is a collection of the reactions to Rathgeber’s departure from a multitude of Conservative and former Reform Party voices. Andrew Coyne notes that much of what Rathgeber has said indicates the level to which MPs muzzle themselves, and it’s not only the whips or the leaders doing the worst of it.

After a lengthy debate and series of proposals and pushback from the military, the Prime Minister’s Challenger jet has indeed had a new paint job – all red, white and blue – but they assure us it was part of scheduled maintenance. Also, that it’s the same paint scheme as the Snow Birds, so it’s $50,000 well spent, right? Well, considering that the plane was used by the military when the PM didn’t need it, it might limit their ability to use it on some operations (like flying officers to and from Afghanistan). And it does smack of presidential envy…

While Harper takes said plane over to Europe for a G8 meeting, we’re being told not to expect a final deal on the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement anytime soon, as there are too many issues still on the table that remain unresolved. He’ll also meet with Her Majesty and address the UK Parliament while he’s there.

Senator Pamela Wallin has resigned from one of the corporate boards that she sits on – and as it happens, this board listed her as a resident of Toronto, not Saskatchewan.

NDP MP Craig Scott muses about a post-Senate abolition world. He might as well content himself with wondering what he’ll do with his new pet unicorn while he’s at it, because it’s about as likely to happen as Scott (a law professor) apparently can’t read the proper constitutional amending formula.

Two Quebec law professors are arguing that the Royal succession bill is unconstitutional – and they’re almost certainly right. But they also think that if succession is part of the constitution, it should be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which is almost certainly wrong. They also want to use this an excuse to kick start talks to abolish the monarchy, without also recognising that it would mean rewriting the whole constitution.

Speaker Scheer says that he doesn’t have to table the Elections Canada letter regarding Shelly Glover and James Bezan’s potential suspension from the Commons until their election filings are sorted. It sounds like the NDP are going to argue to let them keep sitting until the matter reaches the courts. Kady O’Malley has a timeline of events to help you keep track.

In his fifth piece about the productivity in Canada, economist Stephen Gordon looks at the way in which trade and methodology affect how we’re measuring productivity. To cap off the series, Erica Alini takes a closer look at the methodology issue and finds problems with the way Statistics Canada does their productivity measurements.

Susan Delacourt looks at the scandals going on in all levels of government, and the way in which human psychology responds to facts versus partisan loyalty and talking points, and how those can change once a reward is in the picture.

In her last column of the summer before going on book leave, Chantal Hébert entertains the conditions by which Stephen Harper may make a political exit.

And iPolitics imagines an NDP campaign to reinvent Thomas Mulcair according to one of five amusing archetypes.