Roundup: Divisions among Conservative senators

The union transparency bill has put real divisions in the Conservative senate caucus, and several of them are planning on voting against it, even more abstaining. These aren’t just the Red Tories either – one of Harper’s own appointees even spoke out against it yesterday, which is indicative that it’s a bigger problem for caucus unity, which is why Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, has been cracking the whip so harshly. Of course, the independence of its members is the whole reason why the Senate exists as it does – to provide a better check on the elected MPs when they’re up to no good for populist reasons, and this very problematic bill fits those parameters. John Ivison recounts a somewhat heated meeting between one of the MPs in favour of the bill and Senator Segal, one of the opponents.

Conservative MP Shelly Glover may have backed down in her fight with Elections Canada over her campaign expenses, but it means that she is now $2267 over her spending limit. It remains to be seen what the penalty will be, which could be something as simple as a compliance agreement, or the Commissioner of Elections forwarding it to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Pundit’s Guide breaks the issue down further here. James Bezan, however, plans to continue his court challenge against Elections Canada.

Susan Delacourt notes that all of the attention on the Grace Foundation may mean that what happened with the letter may be construed as partisan activity, and that could affect their charitable status with the CRA. Here is some more background about the organisation and the work that it does.

AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo met with Prime Minister Harper on Thursday regarding following up on their January meeting, but the slow progress and apparent lack of consultation means that Atleo predicts a summer of actions, in the form of blockades or protests. Meanwhile, Senator Lilian Eva Dyck did not take kindly to the memo from Hill security asking Senators not to engage with First Nations protesters on the Hill for National Aboriginal Day – especially as she was scheduled to speak to them.

Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has been diagnosed with cancer and has asked to be shuffled from cabinet in order to focus on his treatment and recovery. Last year he took a hiatus from cabinet after suffering a heart attack.

Senator Pamela Wallin’s travel claims have declined sharply over the spring quarter – no doubt because of all the scrutiny focused on her. Wallin also wants her hometown paper to know that she’s not a “fat cat” or a “cheater,” for what it’s worth. Senator Patrick Brazeau has also been continuing to claim housing expenses, even though he’s been on suspension since February. Tim Harper hopes that the outcome of the whole ClusterDuff/Senate expenses issue will mean greater transparency for all MPs, despite the fact that some MPs fear the cynical public will come around to bite them for their newfound transparency. Greg Weston is more cynical about the process, seeing as MPs left for the summer without many any actual changes despite the ongoing outrages – merely that they agreed to study the NDP proposal, and that the Liberals’ proactive disclosures won’t happen until the fall.

In a rather scathing piece, Andrew Coyne wonders if the Conservative grassroots has the self-awareness to realise where their party is going wrong, and have the will to make the changes that will put them back onto the path to start behaving in the ways that they used to claim they wanted to. Incidentally, that convention may not go ahead due to the flooding situation in Calgary. They’re expected to make a decision on Monday.

Here’s a look at how centralised messaging out of the PMO is hampering our online diplomatic efforts, and making Canada a laggard in “Twitter diplomacy.”

Liberal donors are being offered a chance to win a barbecue with Justin Trudeau, and in order to cover themselves off legally under contest laws, they valued it at $999.

Susan Delacourt finds similarities between Stephen Harper and Bob Rae – at least, the Stephen Harper of circa 1997, who was bright and engaging with the media,

And Steve Murray’s Unboring History project continues with a tale of the pirates of Newfoundland – no, really!