Roundup: A ham-fisted trap for the Senate

While Government Leader in the Senate – err, “Government Representative” Senator Peter Harder continues his tour of sympathetic media (the latest being the CBC), crying about how the Conservatives are holding government legislation “hostage” and how he needs to have the rules of the Senate changed, he and his team have been doing everything they can to destroy what collegiality exists with the Senate through ham-fisted procedural moves of their own.

The bill in question is C-4, which is the stated repeal of anti-union bills passed by the Conservatives in the previous parliament, and naturally they would be putting up a fight, tooth-and-nail, to keep their old legislation. Not surprising, but also a doomed fight. The bill was on track to pass the Senate this week, when Harder’s deputy, Senator Bellemare, announced that they would be calling a vote on it before Thursday, claiming that they had the support of all senators to do so, when in fact they didn’t. Reminder: the bill was on track to pass, as the Conservatives had exhausted their abilities to delay it. By pulling this manoeuvre, Bellemare basically sabotaged the working relationship between the caucuses in order to maybe shave a day or two from the bill. Maybe. Rather than letting it go through, she (and by extension Harder) turn it into a fight over procedure and sour feelings. Why? So that they can turn around and whine some more to the media that the political caucuses in the Senate are not working with them and are being obstructionist, therefore “proving” that they need these proposed rule changes that Harder wants. Harder, meanwhile, gets to look like he’s the victim and just trying to be reasonable when he’s the one who hasn’t been negotiating with the other caucuses this whole time.

What gets me is just how obvious he’s being about it. Well, obvious to someone who knows what’s going on in the Senate, but most people don’t, and he’s keen to exploit the fact that the general public – and indeed most journalists – aren’t paying attention, and he can use that to his advantage. None of their actions make sense if they actually wanted a working relationship with other senators and to try and get those bills they’re suddenly so concerned with (despite the fact that they have done nothing so far to try and move them along), which makes it all the plainer to see that this latest effort has nothing to do with trying to get bills passed in the Senate, and more to do with changing the rules in order to advantage his position.

Good reads:

  • From the G7 meeting in Florence, Chrystia Freeland is calling on Russia to be on the “right side of history” with Syria and Assad.
  • In case you missed it in QP, there were new revelations about costs of transporting technicians and equipment to the Aga Khan’s island.
  • The government’s new budget bill will increase user fees and have them rise with inflation, and let some departments opt out of Shared Services Canada.
  • Said bill also will turn the PBO into an Independent Officer of Parliament, but also impose a few more restrictions to his mandate (which is very broad now).
  • Committee hearings into Rona Ambrose’s bill on sexual assault training for judges hears that Crown prosecutors need it too. (They also need far more resources).
  • Chrystia Freeland says she’s looking into reports of gay men being rounded up in Chechnya.
  • This SSHRC grant to Canada 2020 with an eye to promoting work and tracking how partnerships drive policy seems less the conspiracy that the Conservatives allege.
  • The government plans to speed up its approval process for pot producers, which makes sense considering the coming demand with legalization.
  • Apparently our foreign aid spending is on track for more declines under the current government.
  • Kellie Leitch says she would roll back marijuana legalization, which I think means she is now desperate for attention.
  • Erin O’Toole rolled out some new policy missives about Indigenous relations that seem more about imposing things than working in collaboration.
  • Paul Wells tries to decipher Marc Garneau’s secretive announcement about “new security measures” that he can’t say anything about.
  • Susan Delacourt looks at the way in which Rona Ambrose is putting partisanship aside on the issue of trade with the United States to present a united front.
  • My Loonie Politics column argues that the opposition is doing the government’s dirty work for them when it comes to the case for parliamentary “modernization.”

Odds and ends:

The majority of senators are calling on the government to turn the former US Embassy into a national portrait gallery.

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