Roundup: The PBO and parliamentary fixes

In this week’s Maclean’s, Aaron Wherry talks to Kevin Page about his new job at the University of Ottawa. In a separate but related piece, he talks to parliamentary scholar Donald Savoie about the PBO, and Savoie says some very cogent things about the office – that it is unnecessary because it allows MPs to fob off their homework onto someone else who can be seen as more “pure,” but it simply creates a new unaccountable personality that caters to the media rather than forcing parties to do the serious work of scrutiny and policy that they should be doing. Savoie’s solution is that parliament work to fix its own mess around the estimates process than work to fix the Parliamentary Budget Office, and it’s a position that I think is eminently more sensible if we want responsible government or the Westminster system to mean anything.

Not that it’s a big surprise, but the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner won’t look into Justin Trudeau’s speaking fees to unions (which, let’s face it, was a pretty spurious complaint seeing as he’d already had the events cleared).

Senator Bob Runciman, who has made a career of working on the issue of mentally ill offenders, says that he was “offended” by the suggestion by the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers that there was little difference between treating the mentally ill in prisons and in a forensic hospital.

Canada is starting to see an increase in gay refugee claimants from Russia, not that it should be a surprise given the way that they are re-criminalising homosexuality in that country. Meanwhile, John Baird is not in support of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics because it won’t help Russians who deal with those laws 365 days a year.

Here’s a look at some of the kinds of public diplomacy that our embassy in Washington DC has been engaged in. Cue the howls out outrage that we spend money on diplomacy.

Prime Minister Harper says he has no plans to change the telecom rules in order to prevent Verizon from entering the Canadian market, saying he favours increased competition.

Here’s a look at how Public Works cracked down on the use of USB drives after HRSDC lost that student loan data.

The NDP have shuffled their shadow cabinet of critic portfolios.

An analysis of Harper’s Senate appointments shows that academic credentials impress him less than life experience – though both go a long way in a deliberative and investigative body like the Canadian Senate.

Oh dear – Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro was urging the city of Peterborough to apply for certain cultural programmes – except those programmes no longer exist. Oops.

For a brief moment yesterday, Jason Kenney was styled on a press release as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism – you know, the job that is supposed to belong to Tim Uppal. The title was removed minutes later, but Kenney’s name remained on it, making one wonder what role Uppal actually will have if Kenney gets to keep his fingers in the multiculturalism pie.

Justin Trudeau has sold his Montreal home and is now renting one in the Rockcliffe neighbourhood in Ottawa, where he grew up. It’s a move that has a lot to do with logistics as he travels the country for his leadership duties, and can see his family more when he’s in town on parliamentary business.

One of those ACOA employees in PEI found to have acted improperly with certain staffing decisions is getting a promotion.

A Quebec Liberal MNA is resigning his seat to run federally in Bourassa to replace Denis Coderre.

Canada lost a luminary in biomedical research, Tony Pawson, this week. Here’s a look at why he was so important to science.

Susan Delacourt looks at the government’s need to cool the housing market and how that flies in the face of their sloganeering – but how renters may be part of the economic puzzle that they should be contending with.

Philippe Lagassé argues the relevance – and complexity – of the Crown in its role at the centre of governance.

And iPolitics gives us the hopes and fears of journalists and politicians in the slow news days of summer.