When I saw the initial tweet, I can’t tell you how hard my eyes rolled, precisely because this sort of shtick is David Akin’s specialty – asking non-sequitur questions at inappropriate moments to try and generate a different headline, oftentimes to manufacture outrage (and oftentimes to the detriment of other reporters who had serious questions to ask when questions were limited). And some of the reactions to said tweet were pretty great too.
So here in Beijing, I just asked PMJT if China was still the country he most admired. Short answer: no. Strongly hinted most admired may now be the UK. pic.twitter.com/TNFeCBXbxi
— David Akin 🇨🇦 (@davidakin) December 5, 2017
Denmark has PR. Not a safe answer.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) December 5, 2017
But reading Trudeau’s response, it was a bit of a warning klaxon for me, because of how this has been quietly playing out over the course of the past couple of years in the ways that Trudeau and his government has been trying to “reform” the way that business happens in the House of Commons – you know, to “modernize” the way that it functions.
…As we look at electoral structures, which is one of the questions that was specifically asked, we’ve had a certain level of discussions around electoral and democratic reform in Canada that leave me looking to the mother of all parliaments. Obviously, the U.K. does a significantly better job than us in programming legislation and getting that through the House. I think there is issue to admire on that. On the other hand, we were glad to adopt the prime minister’s question period model from the U.K. I think there’s lots to draw on when you look at our democratic structures from the mother of all parliaments.
The two key takeaways there are programming legislation, and prime minister’s questions. This isn’t the first time that programming motions have come up – back in the spring, the opposition filibustered the government over a proposal to include programming motions as part of Bardish Chagger’s “discussion paper” on suggested changes to procedure, and it seems that Trudeau hasn’t given up on the notion. I know that some people like programming motions because it helps create more orderly debates, and helps to move legislation though the chamber a lot more swiftly. But that’s partially why I’m not a huge fan of it, because creates the default assumption that the Commons is there to process legislation instead of holding government to account. Granted, we’ve gotten a bit dysfunctional in our parliament because opposition parties (and the NDP in particular) have an inability to let debate collapse in a reasonable timeframe which brings up the need for time allocation, and programming motions are just that – time allocation for all stages of a debate as it gets tabled. We should be trying to get parliament back to a better state of debate rather than resorting to programming, because that will help snuff out what little life remains in our parliament – it will make the speeches that much more rote and pro forma rather than having a miniscule chance for actual debate. As for PMQs, Trudeau’s grand experiment with it here has not proven to be that illuminating, and has instead created a perverse incentive for the Conservatives to instead bombard him with the same question eleventy times than to use it productively, and even when backbenchers do ask varied questions, they get mere platitude responses rather than substantive ones. It’s not like the UK’s, and so I find Trudeau’s response to Akin far more dubious as a result.
- In Guangzhou, Justin Trudeau said the world is at a “pivot point” and could fail if countries don’t do more to help their populations benefit from globalization.
- Trudeau, incidentally, also plans to push for gender equality when Canada hosts the G7 summit next year.
- Unsurprisingly, the government is making only very careful statements about Donald Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
- The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in the Comeau case around interprovincial alcohol barriers, which could be big for internal trade barriers.
- John Geddes, meanwhile, exposes the Conservative hypocrisy with demanding free trade for booze between provinces, but not supply-managed dairy.
- If you need an example of provincial protectionism, Saskatchewan wants to ban Alberta licence plates from job sites in their province. Confederation, everyone!
- The government may be looking to push back expected delivery of 88 new fighter planes until 2026, pushing the life of our aging airframes even further.
- Australia, incidentally, offered us their used fighters the day after Boeing filed their trade complaints, setting off the end of the Super Hornet purchase.
- Lobbying commissioner-nominee Nancy Bélanger says that she applied for the Information Commissioner job, but when encouraged to cross-apply, got this job.
- The Procedure and House Affairs committee recommends MPs not be docked pay for maternity leave, and that infants formally be allowed into the Chamber.
- Here is the tale of Lucie Laperle, one of the veterans photographed with the PM after the apology to LGBT Canadians, and how she was mistreated at the time.
- Chris Selley notes that if Kent Hehr can’t to provide a better defence or refutation as to what he’s accused of saying to Thalidomide survivors, then he needs to go.
- Andrew Coyne (quite rightly) condemns the procurement problems in Canada as being about regional job creation and not actual procurement.
Odds and ends:
Fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc has been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but is confident that treatment won’t affect his attendance.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) November 30, 2017