Roundup: Antiquated rifles and policy retreats

Yesterday on Harper’s Northern Tour, he dropped in on the search for the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition, and fired some of the vintage rifles used by Aboriginal reservists who comprise the Canadian Rangers. Apparently they use such old rifles because they don’t freeze up or jam in the harsh environment, though they keep saying they are looking for replacements.

Ahead of his annual closed-door “policy retreat” in Wakefield, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said not to expect any significant spending initiatives in the forthcoming Throne Speech, given that he wants to balance the books before the election, and so on. Oh, and he also has no plans to intervene in the housing market, for what it’s worth. Here’s a list of the invitees, and those of the past six years for comparison purposes.

The Liberals held a press conference yesterday to warn about possible “voter fraud” in the upcoming by-elections, and added that if there is enough cooperation, a robocall specific bill based on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer could be in place before those by-elections. The Conservatives tried to hit back by proclaiming that the Liberals engaged in “voter suppression” by listing “suppression cards” on their invoices. Err, except that those “suppression cards” were just negative campaign messages directed to identified voters of other parties. You know, the kind of thing that is standard fare in politics.

What’s that? The national shipbuilding programme is facing “major cost escalations” that will affect the number of ships we eventually build? You don’t say! It’s like experts haven’t been warning about this for years now, or that the industry itself didn’t warn that the funding envelope was insufficient back during the consultation phase.

Ed Fast assures us that the Canada-EU trade negotiations will “re-launch” in early September, and that we’re still “really close.” Paul Wells probably says it best here.

Pamela Wallin’s final expenses repayment tally is in, and Deloitte ordered her to pay back an additional $17,622 out of the $21K that required further consultation. That brings the total to $138,970.

There are concerns about the efficacy of the government’s recent law to crack down on crooked immigration consultants, given the low rate of investigation and conviction, as well as the fact that it tars legitimate consultants with the same brush.

The Communications Security Establishment Commissioner has concluded that the CSE may have illegally targeted Canadians for electronic surveillance over the past year, even though it’s against their mandate to do any domestic spying. The Commissioner is also slamming the government for not following through on repeated recommendations to amend the National Defence Act to fix the ambiguities in the legislation that govern the CSE.

Justin Trudeau has come out strongly against the proposed “Charter of Quebec Values” that would ban religious symbols and headgear, while Thomas Mulcair took a more cautious tone and said that he wasn’t going to respond to “trail balloons.” Maclean’s Martin Patriquin notes the similarities between this proposal of Marois’ and that of Vladimir Putin’s ban against “homosexual propaganda” in Russia.

The Liberals have shuffled their critic portfolios. Some of them are good choices, like Sean Casey in Justice, which is a well-deserved promotion, but putting Joyce Murray in Defence? My own opinion would have been to leave John McKay in that file, considering that he did great things with it, but these things aren’t my call.

Jesse Brown talks about how transparency has become little more than a buzzword as the RCMP have stopped responding to ATIP requests.

Economist Mike Moffatt looks at the problem of demand-side economics as a solution to the woes of the middle class, and why policy-makers need to beware of them.

Andrew Coyne shreds the calls for “balance” in the wireless telecom dispute, and says that our system has become so skewed in Canada that the interests of the consumer are not being considered in favour of those of competing producers who are looking only to protect their own interests.

And I’m sure we can all be glad that this Austrian competition between shirtless political leaders hasn’t hit Canada. Can you imagine Harper or Mulcair shirtless? *shudder*