In amidst all of the really bad takes on Governor General Julie Payette’s commentary the other night, I find myself more than a little horrified that the Conservatives have decided to play political games around this. More specifically, they are attacking Payette obliquely by directing their comments at the prime minister, who didn’t leave well enough alone when he said it was great that the GG stood up for science. And great that she did, but this was also in the context of there being a willingness to torque the comments into a bit of a scandal, and to blow them completely out of proportion.
So what did the Conservatives do? It started with a Members’ Statement before QP, where MP Ziad Aboultaif denounced the supposed attack by the PM on people of faith (which isn’t what happened), and was followed up by a Facebook post by Andrew Scheer who said much the same thing – entirely ignoring that Trudeau is a practicing Catholic who has been public about the value that he places on his faith.
But what irks me the most about all of this is that it’s an example where our elected officials keep being cute about our most vital institutions – the Crown – and politicising them in subtle ways. When the Conservatives were in power, it was aggressively giving things a royal re-brand (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of), but the manner in which it was handled, along with the abdication on the opposition benches of similarly owning the fact that this country is a constitutional monarchy, allowed the media to paint the exercise as a Conservative nostalgia for the days of colonialism, and to tar the whole of our monarchical institutions with a partisan taint. And I fear that Scheer is going down the same path here in trying to stir up controversy around these largely innocuous statements by the GG in order to try and whip up his base. It’s a very dangerous game, especially because Scheer and his entourage have proven themselves to be ham-fisted in pretty much everything that they do, and that increases the chances of this blowing up in everyone’s faces, and the very last thing we need to do is try to politicize the Crown or the GG in this country. So seriously – knock it the hell off. This is not something that’s worth scoring a few cheap partisan points off of. You’ll only hurt everyone in the process.
Meanwhile, Colby Cosh has made one of the only reasonable takes on the Payette comments in noting that we don’t have rulebooks for Governors General, so they should stick to principles about appearing to arbitrate impartially, particularly because of the powers she possesses. And he’s right. And I would also add that it’s why I find the furore overblown – the existence of climate change and evolution are not partisan issues in Canada, so she’s not actually crossing any partisan lines in her comments. My own weekend column delves further into that aspect, as well as the reminder that she’s not actually a figurehead like so many of the pearl clutchers seem to be demanding from their fainting couches.
- Mary Dawson finally comes out and says that Bill Morneau is the only minister who had indirectly held assets (not that this will stop the opposition questions).
- Dawson will also be looking at Kent Hehr’s use of parliamentary resources in campaigning for his father’s run for school trustee in the Calgary election.
- Bob Rae is starting to give us an idea of what is going on in Myanmar with the Rohingya, and he’s calling on people to engage with Myanmar’s neighbours.
- The government keeps issuing Orders-in-Council to give the Auditor General information he needs about fossil fuel subsidies, but he says they’re not enough.
- Two years since this government was sworn in, here’s a check in with the progress on mandate letters and why they matter.
- Check-ins include Chrystia Freeland, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Carolyn Bennett and Jane Philpott, Bill Morneau, Catherine McKenna, and Harjit Sajjan.
- There is sudden concern that senators will hold up the marijuana legislation (I haven’t heard this from anyone, and I wonder why this is suddenly coming up).
- Headway is apparently being made in the “TPP-11” talks, but likely not fast enough for there to be any announcement at the forthcoming APEC summit.
- Magnitsky Act sanctions have been slapped on 52 individuals from Russia, Venezuela and South Sudan.
- Manitoba’s environment minister continues the show of being obtuse about why there will be a national price on carbon – it’s more than just reducing emissions.
- Kevin Carmichael warns the government not to get too cocky about the current good economic growth figures.
- Susan Delacourt pays tribute to a polisci prof from her alma matter who kept her engaged for so many years after she graduated.
Odds and ends:
When Rebel Media asked Catherine McKenna a question at a press conference, she went after them for referring to her as “Climate Barbie.”