Roundup: Threatening marathon votes

Because apparently this Jaspal Atwal issue refuses to die, the Conservatives have decided to spend today’s Supply Day motion demanding that the Prime Minister instruct the National Security and Intelligence Advisory to attend the public safety committee and give the MPs there the same briefing he allegedly gave journalists (on background). Or else.

That’s right – in order to overplay their hands, they’re openly threatening to force some forty hours’ worth of votes on the Estimates as consequence for defeating this motion – because that doesn’t come across as petulant or childish. And while they couch it in the fact that they have a responsibility to hold the government to account – which they do – they’ve also been demonstrably obtuse about this whole affair. The different versions of what happen are not impossible to reconcile – they are, in fact, eminently reconcilable. The PM has defended the facts put forward by the senior officials, and have stated that they did not put him up to it. Media outlets have since dribbled out versions of “reviewing my notes” and toning down some of  their reporting of what was actually said to show that it wasn’t actually as inflammatory as initially reported as (because by the point at which it initially happened, they were focused more on wedging it into the narrative they had all decided on rather than acknowledging what was happening on the ground if it didn’t fit that frame). Nobody has acted responsibly in this – the government, the opposition, or the media. And digging in to entrench the narrative that somehow we have damaged relations with India (not true, unless you’ve conveniently forgotten the fiction about how it led to new tariffs) and that the trip was some giant disaster (forget the investments or the constructive conversations with Indian officials) is just making it all worse for everyone.

The bigger issue, however, is the fact that this committee is not the venue for this conversation to happen, and MPs are kidding themselves if they think it is. We have the National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians to review this kind of intelligence data in confidence, and then issuing a report on what was said. Commons committees have been down this road before, and have actively damaged our national security and intelligence agencies because they can’t help themselves, and now they’re demanding the chance to do it yet again. There are proper ways to hold the government to account. This planned stunt and threat is not it.

Good reads:

  • While in Toronto, Justin Trudeau made comments critical of Putin’s re-election, and said that foreign interference in elections is the new reality.
  • Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie had previous contracts with the Liberals, but they didn’t go ahead with a pilot project he was involved in.
  • The Americans are signalling that the auto rules have nearly been solved in NAFTA talks, but it’s not quite smooth sailing just yet.
  • Service Canada will use gender-neutral language on forms and be more respectful of people’s chosen honorifics. And then the Conservatives melted down over it.
  • Conservative MPs rejected supporting plans for an independent election debate commissioner, decrying the “nationalization” of them.
  • The government plans a study of systemic racism in Canada, and says that they don’t want it to devolve into accusations of racism. (Good luck with that).
  • Farms that employ temporary foreign workers will be subject to surprise audits by Service Canada officials to ensure that those workers aren’t being mistreated.
  • The number of immigrants who became Canadian citizens fell during the Conservative years, mostly impacting those with lower education levels.
  • The PBO ran the numbers on suggested tweaks to equalization, and nope, Alberta still gets nothing, even with the tweaks that Jason Kenney is agitating for.
  • As part of their survey of Hill staffers, The Canadian Press looked at other forms of harassment, including bullying and exploitation.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments about expat voting yesterday.
  • The Liberals are keeping classy with fundraising emails saying that the Conservatives are taking orders from “Canada’s NRA.”
  • Here is the summary of Andrew Scheer’s on-stage interview with Paul Wells on Tuesday night.
  • After an “emergency meeting” with caucus on Monday, Jagmeet Singh has further clarified his opposition to political violence and attending rallies promoting it.
  • Philippe Lagassé weighs in on why it’s a bad idea to have a vote on a peacekeeping mission to Mali.
  • Chantal Hébert thinks that the Canada Summer Jobs grant attestations and now the gender-neutral language at Service Canada opens up a culture war.
  • Susan Delacourt looks to her research on campaigns to contextualize how the Liberals in particular used Facebook data in the last election.
  • Colin Bennett doubts that Cambridge Analytica’s services are all that useful, but notes Canada’s privacy laws exclude parties, so we can’t investigate.
  • Andrew Coyne makes his arguments as to why there’s no benefit to lowering the voting age to sixteen, and dismantles many of the arguments for doing so.
  • My column looks at better ways to engage sixteen-year-olds in the democratic process than giving them the vote.

Odds and ends:

Former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has been appointed as a non-permanent judge on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

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