While in Whitehorse yesterday, Stephen Harper made it official – Parliament will be prorogued, and come back in October. Not sure when yet in October (though the Hill Times is saying October 21st), at which point they can return with a Speech From the Throne, and a reset of their agenda – which, let’s face it, they badly need by this point as they’ve pretty much exhausted their plans previously. Now, before you start getting angry about prorogation, remember that this is the kind of routine, normal agenda-resetting prorogations that are normal and as indicated, even necessary in the life of a parliament. It’s not being done to avoid a confidence vote, or otherwise thwart the will of the House, so put the placards away. Here, Kady O’Malley has three reasons not to freak out over this prorogation. Are we good? Apparently not, since the opposition parties are now going with the rallying cry that Harper is avoiding accountability for the Senate scandals in Parliament, and so on. Um, okay – I’m not exactly sure how much he could actually answer regarding those Senate spending issues since the Ministry doesn’t control the Senate and can’t actually answer for them under the rubric of ministerial responsibility that governs QP, and they’ve already pretty much hashed out the Wright/Duffy revelations to death, so I’m not exactly sure what “accountability” we’re missing out on. But hey, don’t let the facts spoil a good narrative. Oh, and Harper also said that he has no plans to retire anytime soon and will lead the party in the next election, so there’s that for all the pundits who’ve spent the summer theorising otherwise.
On the subject of Harper’s northern tour, it seems that Harper has decided to stop answering questions in both official languages, which makes it harder especially for French reporters to get the same answers that Harper gave in French for their own programming, let alone getting a chance to ask their own questions. Michael Den Tandt writes about how Harper’s actual good narrative about the North is getting lost in his own spin.
In other Arctic related news, Harper’s Far North strategy has suffered from a lack of political will and direction, and then gets caught up in bureaucratic red tape and turf wars. So, well done there. We’re also apparently barely even trying when it comes to the issue of Arctic shipping, while Russia is years ahead of us in terms of infrastructure and mapping.
Access to Information documents show that in the lead-up to the November 2011 G20 summit, the Privy Council Office and Environment Canada supported carbon pricing, and says that Canada would be willing to support other countries in implementing this proposal – despite the vigorous protests to the contrary from the government of the day.
In other ATIP revelations, Canada would be on the hook for a third of a $650 million computer reprogramming centre (to be shared with the British and Australians) if we go ahead with the F-35 purchase.
Economist Stephen Gordon looks at income stagnation and inequality, and finds that it’s really not the middle class that’s the problem, but the lowest quintile where the real problems lie.
Recently appointed Alberta Senator Doug Black thinks that the Senate should more clearly define what is “Senate business.” Well then I guess it’s a good thing that the Senate can do that, isn’t it? All they need is the will to actually go ahead and do so, as opposed to the political direction of party leaders or the Prime Minister.
And Senator Lillian Eva Dyck talks about the value of the Senate, and ensuring that she keeps an accounting of the work that she produces as a Senator, much as she would have when she was a professor. It’s a great interview, so do watch the video piece.