Roundup: Another day of the Senate doing its job

The Senate did its job, and sent the union transparency bill back to the Commons. Sixteen senators voted in favour of Conservative Senator Hugh Segal’s amendment, which raised the disclosure level in the bill (to the same level as the government changed Brent Rathgeber’s bill to, as it happens). Oh, and another six Conservative Senators abstained, which pushed the vote over. This has shown the rifts opening up in the Conservative caucus – MPs griping about Senators doing their jobs (because MPs of course never draft and then pass bad bills), and Senators in the caucus who are tired of being bullied into supporting bad bills. And in this case – a bill that was entirely dubious constitutionally – well, it was intolerable for most of them to support it, and yes, numerous Harper appointees voted for the amendment, including one of the “elected” Senators from Alberta. And while some Conservatives are grousing that this is just the Senate trying to justify their existence, it’s really just them doing their jobs. This shouldn’t be dramatic because the Senate is not a rubber stamp, and it never has been. Just because people expect them to be – out of civic ignorance – and are suddenly shocked that the system works the way it’s supposed to, it should be a reminder and a teachable moment. Instead we’re seeing complete butchery of civic literacy among the political talking heads, which is distressing to say the least.

Oh, and NDP Alexandre Boulerice’s response? “That this bill has finally been amended by the Senate proves one thing only: what we need is not a Senate that costs taxpayers almost 100 million dollars a year but a government that puts the public interest before blind partisanship.” This is the same kind of fanciful nonsense that has them talking about things like making the Senate a volunteer-run institution. He might as well be asking for unicorns and gumdrop rainbows, and talking dogs, and all the rest. In other words, he’d better not hold his breath waiting for a government that isn’t partisan.

Yesterday was also the last day the Senate sat before rising. Among the other bills it passed was a Private Member’s Bill that repeals section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, dealing with hate speech over phone and Internet. While this is being lauded as a victory for free speech, it nevertheless has people critical about the gap that it leaves for dealing with hate speech in ways that don’t involve criminal law.

Natural resources minister Joe Oliver unveiled new pipeline regulations yesterday including a billion dollar liability for companies to ensure that they can clean up after spills. It also applies other penalties, which Oliver says enshrines the “polluter pay” principle in legislation.

That über-problematic Sikorsky contract to replace our Sea King helicopters seems to be all that much worse, as it appears that we can’t levy late charges against the company itself – only if they actually deliver the promised helicopters, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Oh dear – Senator Pamela Wallin says that she has been denied a health card in both Ontario and Saskatchewan, as neither province can claim proof that she resides at least six months of the year there. That’s…actually quite awful, when you think about it. Later in the day, she suddenly said that she has a Saskatchewan one, but wouldn’t say for how long she’s had it. Curious indeed.

Peter MacKay has lost both a communications director and a chief of staff in the past couple of weeks, which could be an indication that the writing is on the wall as far as his staying in the job are concerned. I’ve also had it confirmed that Toews is on the verge of retirement, and now people are also talking about Flaherty. The shuffle would be a new face on cabinet indeed.

Shelly Glover’s sudden changes on her elections filings are baffling to her critics, including the official agent to Liberal candidates in the area in the previous election – especially, as they say, because the spending rules are clear and should have been followed.

Thus far, no charity or group has demanded that Justin Trudeau repay his speaking fees.

From yesterday’s National Household Survey data release, we find that fewer people are working from home, that young Aboriginal women are making definite strides with education, as well as some other labour and education statistics. Here’s an in-depth look at how the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme fits in with some of these labour statistics.

Here is an interesting look at the politics of natural disasters, and how it is playing out for Naheed Nenshi, Alison Redford and Stephen Harper. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau says that he’ll not only be at Stampede next week, but he’ll also be rolling up his sleeves to help volunteers clean up flood damage.

And here’s a look at some of the dynamics at play in the forthcoming Toronto Centre by-election.