Roundup: Knee-jerk populist stunts

The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation has decided to lump themselves in with the group of civic illiterates who operate under the mistaken impression that a national referendum is a constitutional amending formula. In this case, they used a giant inflatable Mike Duffy to launch their lobby campaign for a referendum on Senate abolition. In other words, they want to spend a great deal of tax dollars for a useless, non-binding process that is little more than a case of populist knee-jerk reaction to the bad behaviour of a small number of individuals. How exactly this seems to fit in with their mandate of eliminating government waste is a little beyond me, especially considering that the Senate delivers a great deal of value for money – not that knee-jerk populists actually know enough about the institution to realise it.

Aaron Wherry looks into all the contradictory things said about that mysterious February 20th email as part of the ClusterDuff affair, that the PMO apparently couldn’t produce for the RCMP. Meanwhile, one of the three PMO staffers named in the court documents has left, and is apparently now working for Joe Oliver.

Paul Wells writes about the change in tone indicated by the cabinet shuffle, which is that Harper is going on the offensive again, and gave the appointment of Pierre Poilievre to the post of democratic reform as just that kind of example of someone looking for a fight rather than looking to make peace. Oh, and the combativeness that Harper praises in Poilievre could wind up backfiring on him in that new role as their own Senators start balking at the abuse being hurled at them by their own MPs. As the new minister of state for democratic reform, Poilievre will be introducing the long-awaited legislation to deal with fraudulent robocalling. Poilievre once co-owned a polling and campaign management company that did automatic dialling as part of their services, though he says he hasn’t had any financial interest in the company since 2005.

Something else Poilievre may want to consider drafting legislation about is to give Elections Canada the power to audit riding associations, which are currently something of an impenetrable fog of vague descriptions of spending, and no means of actually checking in on them – especially as there are millions of dollars tied up in said associations without any real accountability.

Michael Petrou notes Jason Kenney’s criticism of Justin Trudeau speaking to the Islamic Society of North America – and then finds that Kenney’s own speeches to the very same organisation have conveniently fallen into a memory hole, no longer on either the Citizenship and Immigration website, or his own personal one, despite having been on both previously.

Bureaucrats at HRSDC considered spending $15,000 on professional dumpster divers to try and locate the missing USB key with that missing student loan data. They also considered burning the garbage to try and contain the damage, assuming that’s where the USB key ended up.

Transport Canada refuses to answer the CBC’s requests for clarity when it comes to rail safety regulations.

Those striking foreign service officers are asking the government to go to binding arbitration to settle the dispute.

Despite that damning audit released in January, it seems that the federal government still can’t determine if Attawapiskat needs to repay any of its spending. Apparently the work is “ongoing” given all of the missing documentation, and the determination of whether or not they will require a forensic audit.

There are calls, including from former Prime Minister Paul Martin, to look into the reports that government scientists conducted nutrition experiments on malnourished Aboriginals in the 1940s and 50s. The department says they are looking into it.

The NDP are drafting new guidelines for cocktail fundraisers and issuing an apology to a female staffer after such an event at their last convention went off the rails and the staffer was sexually harassed by a party donor and then reprimanded for everything that went down.

And a new head of the Canadian Army took command yesterday – Lieutenant General Marquis Hainse.