Roundup: The orgy of unforced errors

Word has gone out to Liberal MPs that there will be a mandatory caucus meeting first thing on Monday morning – a rarity given that mostly they wait until Wednesdays (especially as it makes it harder for those MPs who are from remote ridings to get there). The only thing that we know so far is that both Bill Morneau and the PM will be there, and the speculation is that it will outline the changes to their proposed tax changes based on consultations, but one can also assume that this is going to be about the ongoing self-harm that the government has been inflicting on itself over the various tax stories.

And what self-harm it’s been. On Friday, it was revealed that Bill Morneau forgot to declare that he also has interest in a company that owns a villa in France, and you can bet that the Conservatives took to this like a pack of dogs to fresh meat. This after the way that they refused to punch back against the gross distortions being promulgated about the proposed changes to the rules around Canadian-Controlled Private Corporations (CPCCs), or the refusal to provide real clarification around the CRA “folio” on certain employee discounts, preferring in each case to mouth the pabulum about fairness for the middle class. (Cute fact: the CRA “folio” has been up for months, was briefly discussed in the Commons finance committee last month, but only turned into a major crisis after a piece in the Globe and Mail. Because that’s now the Opposition Research Bureau, and it’s where the Conservatives take their daily outrage marching orders from, too lazy or incompetent to do their own research anymore).

And then there’s the added outrage over the fact that the government spent $221,000 on the cover of this year’s federal budget. Oh, how terrible and outrageous, and look at how plain the cover of Paul Martin’s budgets were, and then the Conservative chorus chimes in and makes these snide remarks about comparing the spending priorities between the two governments – completely ignoring the fact that they chose instead to spend even more thousands of dollars staging photo ops off of Parliament Hill to make announcements or give speeches where the Liberals will do it in the House of Commons, where they should be. Lindsay Tedds, mind you, offered up a sort of defence for why the Liberals may have chosen to go with this particular route on a budget design, which those in the throes of a paroxysm of cheap outrage, remain blinkered about.

So I guess we’ll see what emerges from that caucus meeting. Will they emerge with some better means of communicating their plans that won’t just involve more pat phrases about the middle class, and would maybe let them engage in some actual, authentic conversations that will push back against some of the nonsense being thrown around? Or will Trudeau lay down the law on his restless backbench and double down on the talking points that blandly say nothing at all, while they continue to let the Conservatives set the narrative using their own particular brand of spin, misdirection, and distortion? I guess we’ll have to see.

Meanwhile, here’s Colby Cosh raining down hellfire on that $210,000 budget cover, Chantal Hébert on the fire that Bill Morneau is taking, Andrew MacDougall on the Liberal’s inability to communicate their changes, and Paul Wells sees the continued litany of unforced errors as putting the government in danger of alienating the middle class that it so vocally venerates.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau addressed the Mexican Senate about gender equality and pushing back against the forces of isolation.
  • In NAFTA talks, the Americans have laid out impossible to meet demands about auto manufacturing, as well as some dairy demands which don’t look that bad – yet.
  • Canadian and Mexican negotiators remain committed to not walking out on NAFTA talks while the Americans start making unreasonable demands.
  • As federal and provincial health ministers meet next week, the issue of user fees will be on the table, especially regarding Saskatchewan and Quebec.
  • As would be expected, the immigration and refugee minister has denounced that “questionnaire” used by RCMP at the border in Quebec.
  • Proposed regulations on drugged driving have been released for consultation, but they’re already being challenged as problematic.
  • Other proposed regulations published will make changes necessary to allow the RCMP to set up a missing persons DNA database.
  • Here’s a look at the campaigning that Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh are engaged in around the two upcoming byelections.
  • Here’s a further exploration of that Terry Milewski interview with Jagmeet Singh and why some Sikhs are alarmed by Singh’s lack of response.
  • Paul Wells has a lengthy read about the responses made to the opioid crisis under two different governments, and the complaints about not going far enough.
  • Susan Delacourt looks at the demise of Sears Canada in the light of the ongoing political focus on the middle class.
  • My weekend column looks at the Independent Senators Group tightening their membership requirements and what that may mean for the Senate going forward.