Roundup: Picking the overseers

The composition of the forthcoming National Security Committee of Parliamentarians has been brewing under the surface for a while now, given that the legislation has taken a long time to get through Parliament, but it looks like more consternation is on the way. The NDP have complained to the National Post’s John Ivison that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked for four names from their caucus for consideration on the committee, and that the PM would pick one, as is his right under the Act. The reason, according to the PMO, is to try and build a committee reflective of Canada – so essentially that it’s not all straight, white men looking at national security issues from that particular lens – and that would be a very easy thing to do. And the NDP’s one and only pick for their party’s representative on the committee, Murray Rankin, is just that – a straight, white man who happens to be eminently qualified for the role. And so Mulcair is, as he so often does, pitching a fit about it.

I’m a bit torn on the outrage here because as much as this is being spun as Trudeau having contempt for Parliament and being a Harper-esque figure in that regard, this is exactly how he drafted the legislation and how it passed, so unlike many of the tactics that Harper employed, he was upfront about his plans how he planned to achieve them. Now, granted, many of Trudeau’s plans and promises have been utterly boneheaded (see: electoral reform, “modernizing” the House of Commons, his “benign neglect” of the Senate, etcetera, etcetera), but he generally hasn’t tried to stealthily undermine the institutions or actively firebomb them. So there’s that. Also, this is how our system of government tends to work – a prime minister who enjoys the confidence of Parliament makes the appointment, and is judged on the quality of them both by Parliament and the electorate. And I get why he would want to ensure a diverse committee makeup, and not want to necessarily have to rely on his own party members to make up the more diverse members of the committee, but rather share that load between all of the parties. Nevertheless, there is something unseemly about not letting opposition parties choose their own representatives (though I hardly imagine that the members he chooses would be any friendlier to him and his agenda than one that the opposition party leader would choose). On the other hand, selection powers can be abused, and things done for ostensibly good reasons (like diversity) can have all kinds of unintended consequences. But in the meantime, this will start to look like yet another self-inflicted wound for Trudeau.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau had a call with Donald Trump yesterday to talk about Hurricane Harvey assistance; the US version of the readout also adds NAFTA as a topic.
  • Justin Trudeau told a union event in Montreal that the renegotiated NAFTA will be one that they can be “proud of” with respect to labour rights.
  • Mexico says that if Donald Trump moves to rip up NAFTA that they’ll walk away from negotiations. Canada isn’t saying if we would either.
  • Bill Morneau is scrambling to calm Liberal backbenchers facing heat over the proposed tax changes and the various myths being spouted about them.
  • Good news, everyone! The economy is growing faster than expected, and 50 percent faster than the United States! Now comes more talk of interest rate hikes.
  • Those “Proud Boys” who disrupted an Indigenous event in Halifax won’t be facing charges, but they are on probation and their career prospects are now limited.
  • CBSA is now quietly sharing data with US Homeland Security on American citizens who enter into Canada.
  • MP Darshan Kang resigned from the Liberal caucus after a former staffer from when he was an Alberta MLA came forward to say that she was harassed then.
  • Gerry Ritz did indeed retire as an MP and won’t be back when the Commons returns this month. No word on what prompted this move.
  • Maxime Bernier says he’ll shut up about Supply Management in his new role.
  • David Reevely has a conversation with Pierre Poilievre and recalls his lifetime in politics.
  • The Conservatives’ new status of women critic gave summer job grants to anti-abortion services in her community; Campaign Life Coalition approves of it all.
  • Andrew MacDougall takes stock of what Andrew Scheer got wrong with his shadow cabinet rollout.
  • Alheli Picazo takes a look at the science involved in changing hearts and minds when it comes to confronting “soft” bigotries and prejudices.
  • Robert Hiltz writes about the bizarre lack of condemnation from NDP leadership candidates on Quebec’s proposed niqab ban.

Odds and ends:

CBC has put together a series of “behind the scenes” videos of Parliament Hill.

Here’s a cool look at what the rail station that will soon become the temporary Senate did for Ottawa a century ago.

Programming note: I am taking next week off from the blog, since I haven’t taken any time off this summer and I am in dire need of some down time. See you in a week, more or less.

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