Roundup: A question of speaking fees

The desire to try and tarnish Justin Trudeau’s reputation took a somewhat bizarre twist yesterday as a New Brunswick charity decided to demand that Trudeau repay them for a speech they paid him for a year ago after the event they held flopped and they lost money. Odd that they asked nine months later, and that they are the party that wants to renege on a contract that they signed with the speaker’s bureau that Trudeau operates from, and that they seem to fail to understand that their failure to sell enough tickets to their event isn’t their own fault, but there you have it. (Also, as Scott Brison pointed out, they seemed thrilled by the event at the time). And never mind that this is all above board, that several other MPs and Senators also give speeches through the speaker’s bureau and that this has all been vetted by the Ethics Commissioner, and never mind the fact that Trudeau himself has been entirely above board and given an extremely high level of disclosure and transparency. These facts apparently don’t matter as the Conservatives have decided to characterise this as “millionaire” Trudeau “ripping-off charities.” And to make things all the more bizarre, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall decided to join the pile-on and both demanded that Trudeau return the same fee he was paid to speak at a literacy conference in Saskatchewan, and then insinuated that he used the funds to bankroll his leadership campaign (to which his office demanded an apology, citing that all of his campaign expenses were above board and cleared by Elections Canada – and Wall offered a non-apology in return). Funnily enough, that same literacy conference didn’t demand the money back and thought that Trudeau was worth every penny.

One of the most mind-bogglingly shameful aspects of Friday’s QP was Jason Kenney’s insistence that somehow private members’ business was government business – err, except that the two are actually antithetical. In this case, however, the government has adopted a PMB that they’re trying to speed through, and the NDP are objecting, and while Kenney kicks up a giant fuss, he has previously admitted that the bill would be largely symbolic. It also makes one wonder about the utility of the NDP filibustering the bill, since it would automatically be deemed adopted without amendment and reported back to the house after a certain date anyway, given the way the Standing Orders work around Private Members’ Bills (in order to ensure that they don’t end up in committee limbo indefinitely).

Maclean’s looks at Mike Duffy transition from television journalist to Conservative partisan fundraising star. They also provide an interactive timeline of his activities since his appointment.

Here’s a look at what the RCMP investigation into the Wright-Duffy affair may look like.

There are discrepancies between Senator Pamela Wallin’s timeline of events and those put forward by Senate authorities when it comes to her expense audits. Meanwhile, Senator Mac Harb is launching a suit in the Ontario Superior Court over his audit report, saying he was denied due process or a fair hearing by the Senate. Adding to the pile-on is former Senator Raymond Lavigne, who lost his appeal on charges of fraud and breach of trust, and he begins a six-month stint in prison.

Oh, look – another Conservative MP, this time Jeff Watson, is in a dispute with Elections Canada over his campaign sign expenses. Oh, but it’s Elections Canada’s fault because they have a “vendetta” against the Conservatives, or so one of Watson’s officials says. Because that’s a believable tale.

Having been shamed by the media, Rob Nicholson finally tabled the corrected data on recidivism rates by those found to be Not Criminally Responsible, but he maintains that he totally wasn’t trying to mislead parliament, and that he just totally didn’t know that the data was incorrect – despite the researchers behind the report telling him that they made a mistake and here are the correct figures.

Former Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk has been named the new head of the Canadian Space Agency. Some critics immediately came out to say that this puts the appearance of militarisation on our space programme. One could say that it makes a certain amount of sense given the number of projects that the Canadian Forces and National Defence have contracted out to the Space Agency, with RADARSAT and other satellite programmes.

MPs quietly approved an increase to their travel budgets, apparently blind to the optics of doing so at a time when Senate travel expenses are in the spotlight. Or perhaps they continue to feel that they are special because they’re elected, and that somehow they’re the only ones that do real work (which could very easily be contested).

It has been noted that former Reform MPs are opposing an NDP proposal to allow for e-petitions to the Commons, given that the Reform Party was big on similar kinds of proposals. Not that I personally think that e-petitions are a particularly useful thing, and that slactivism and the equivalent of Facebook likes are in fact not political engagement (in fact, they are far from it), so we shouldn’t be encouraging their proliferation.

It seems that the failure rate of citizenship tests has increased a fair amount across all categories since changes to the test were implemented, including the new study guide and new tests that ensured that the questions were better randomised to reduce cheating. With the increased failure rate comes the changes that allow for an automatic re-test before applicants are sent to a judge to re-apply.

Here is another recounting of Harper’s address to the UK parliament, with a bit more of the local colour.

A businessman with connections to prominent conservatives has agreed to surrender to American authorities after being convicted of money laundering.

In advance of the Conservative policy convention in Calgary, backbenchers and grassroots party members are coming out of the woodwork to air their grievances with the direction the party has been taking.

Here is a particularly good op-ed by a lawyer who has worked with the Senate on several occasions about the institution’s value, and why it is needed to balance out the Commons.

Susan Delacourt writes about the Prime Minister’s moods, and how his bad moods can come back to haunt the rest of the country.

And constitutional scholar Anne Twomey discusses the problems with Canada’s “bizarre” law to change the line of succession, which doesn’t actually affect the Canadian Crown.