Roundup: An involuntary nomination

The outcome at the Status of Women committee was not unexpected, had as much sulking and grousing as was to be expected. In a public and not secret vote, the Liberals and NDP members of the committee rejected the Conservatives’ choice of Rachael Harder to chair the committee, and when the Liberals nominated Karen Vecchio in her place, Vecchio tried to back out but was overruled, and those same Liberal and Conservative members voted her in.

And then the bellyaching began. A sour press release was issued about how this was somehow about “bullying and intimidation” of some poor young woman (which is a ridiculous characterisation), but that they would accept the democratic will of the committee. And the pundit class took to Twitter to decry how bizarre it was that a woman was being forced to take the chair of a committee that she didn’t want. I’m not exactly sympathetic to these cries, because this is what happens when you try to pull a stunt for the sake of being a provocateur, as Scheer is trying to do, but you don’t have the votes to back it up. Oh, and then they tried to wedge this into the frame of it being a distraction from the tax proposals, when it shouldn’t need to be said that this was a distraction of the Conservatives’ own making, owing to their particular tactical ineptitude.

Meanwhile, Liberals took to tweeting about how this would have made Harder Andrew Scheer’s “spokesperson” on the committee, which is bizarre and wrong – the chair is the committee’s spokesperson. It’s baffling that they would try to spin it in this fashion. Then again, one shouldn’t be surpised given how badly this whole affair has been for people describing how things work in Parliament. And it shouldn’t surprise me, and yet here we are, that not one journalist writing about this story, nor any pundit commenting on it, remarked about the fact that it makes no sense to put your critic forward as committee chair. None. The chair’s role is to be neutral, to run the meeting, arbitrate rules disputes and to ensure that witnesses and questioners stay within their timelines. They’re not supposed to vote unless it’s to break a tie, which shouldn’t happen very often given the numbers at play. Why would you want your critic – your point person in holding the government and in particular that associated minister, to account – to be hobbled in this way on committee, is baffling. It’s utterly incomprehensible if you follow the basics of how parliament is supposed to work. And yet nobody saw fit to call Scheer out on this fact. These details matter.

Good reads:

  • At the First Ministers’ meeting, possible taxation levels on legal marijuana was discussed, while some First Nation leaders groused they weren’t included enough.
  • The Conservative Supply Day motion on extending consultations on the proposed tax reforms was defeated on a free vote.
  • As has been telegraphed for days, and made explicit in both Commons and Senate QP today, Bill Morneau is planning changes to his tax proposal.
  • The Environment Commissioner’s new report says that many departments haven’t done the necessary work for climate change adaptation or mitigation.
  • A report from the Correctional Investigator and Ontario’s Child Advocate looks at how Correctional Services is failing young inmates.
  • The terror suspect from Edmonton was ordered removed from the US before he made a refugee claim in Canada, but it wasn’t for any criminality.
  • So far, half of the mostly Haitian asylum seekers who crossed the border this summer have had their claims rejected.
  • The interim Chief Electoral Officer thinks the Liberals’ new political fundraising bill could use a few more teeth.
  • The Commons health committee has passed a few amendments to the marijuana bill, but legislation and regulation on edibles will likely be another year out.
  • Jim Carr says that he is keen to get the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline built in order to get oil flowing to China.
  • Japan is keeping an eye on NAFTA talks while they try to get a renewed TPP ratified without the United States being involved.
  • As the “Magnitsky” bill nears passage in Parliament, Russia is threatening “countermeasures” against Canada.
  • The government still hasn’t found a coordinator for its counter-radicalization programme, and they’ve been looking since 2015.
  • Niki Ashton blames “sexism” for not giving her enough leadership coverage. No sour grapes there.
  • Chantal Hébert looks at the tough blow that Charlie Angus was dealt with his loss.
  • Susan Delacourt wonders if Jagmeet Singh’s win isn’t a herald that people of colour will face the same “glass cliff” that women have in political leadership.
  • Stephanie Carvin talks about the need to use facts to keep from letting confirmation bias from dominating our national security issues, and letting us fight terrorism.
  • Stephen Gordon looks at how tax hatred (not mincing words) has made it difficult to have a proper policy discussion, like we’re trying to have now.
  • My column calls out the hypocrisy of Jagmeet Singh not bothering to win a seat in light of what Jack Layton bashed Michael Ignatieff with in 2011.

Odds and ends:

If you were curious about that “non-controversial and uncomplicated” bill tabled yesterday, it’s all about fixing spelling and terminology errors in existing legislation.

2 thoughts on “Roundup: An involuntary nomination

  1. If NDP braintrust realizes Singh’s victory is a longshot in any of the pending by-elections plus none of ther current MPs will either resign nor it a lock Sngh would win the subsequent by-election if they dd, better PR to say he doesn’t want it then he des, but can’t?
    Plus a knock on him at Queen’s Park was that he was too parochial so his outsized desire to represent a Brampton riding might just genuine (is he even willing to look at one beyond just Brampton East)?

  2. “Why would you want your critic – your point person in holding the government and in particular that associated minister, to account – to be hobbled in this way on committee, is baffling.”

    The Conservatives’ motives for promoting Rachael Harder as Chair of the Status of Women Committee, or their wisdom in pursuing that strategy, were irrelevant to the Committee’s decision not to elect her. They did so because of her views on abortion.

    We therefore saw the long arm of the Prime Minister snake down to a) reject an Opposition Committee Chair nominee b) impose another (against her desires) with views closer to that of the Government. See here for a good summary: http://nationalpost.com/opinion/liberals-and-ndp-bar-pro-life-candidates-and-now-want-to-control-the-oppositions .

    In effect, the Government gets to choose all Chairs, on all committees, even those whose Chairs are to be from the Opposition. Isn’t that something that anyone claiming a commitment to democracy and due process should criticize?

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