Amidst the Conservatives’ planned filibusters and procedural gamesmanship as part of their campaign to demand that the National Security Advisor be hauled before committee to answer questions on the Atwal Affair™, Government House Leader Bardish Chagger is starting to play hard ball in return. When the Conservatives tried to filibuster in order to delay debate on the gun control bill after already delaying the debate by means of their vote-a-thon (for which they continue to blame the Liberals for their own self-inflicted discomfort, like a kid who keeps hitting himself in the hopes that it will persuade his parents to give him something they’ve denied him), Chagger invoked time allocation in order to get the bill moving to committee. And – scandalously! – she gave them a whole extra day of second reading debate. The horror!
Err, except no, that’s actually totally a fair amount of second reading debate for any bill, no matter what it is. Why? Because the point of second reading is to debate the broad merits of a bill. Do we agree with its overall aims, yes or no. It’s not about debating its intricacies, which is what committee study is for, and it’s more than legitimate for the government to want to move it to committee so that it can get proper study. That’s the way things should work, in a properly functioning Westminster parliament. But in Canada? No, we’ve developed this ridiculous culture where the parties insist on interminable days-long second reading debate, and by “debate,” we mean read twenty-minute-long prepared speeches into the record while nobody pays attention. It’s not debate, and it’s part of what we really need to address when it comes to fixing the broken culture inside the House of Commons. So it’s not actually a scandal that time allocation was imposed on this bill, and I would add that it’s not such a bad thing that Chagger is learning to play hard ball.
- Questions were raised about Justin Trudeau’s gift exchange with the Aga Khan during that Christmas vacation, and what happened to said gifts.
- Despite a request from Trudeau, the Pope is opting not to offer a person apology to survivors of residential schools for the role the Catholic Church played.
- G7 labour ministers are meeting in Montreal to discuss the issue of tech disruptions of the workforce.
- The Chief Science Officer is working with the Canada School of Public Service to teach civil servants about science communication and evidence-based policy.
- The Environment Commissioner coordinated audits of climate plans across the country, and (pre-2016). Only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were on target.
- If you’ve been bewildered by the Arctic surf clam issue and the accusations leveled at the government, here’s a good catch-up.
- The Coast Guard is being given the power to deal with private companies for icebreaking services while they work to renew their icebreaking fleet (eventually).
- Here is your look at travel junkets taken by MPs last year. (Don’t like junkets given by third parties? Give MPs a budget for international travel).
- A group of Liberal backbench MPs is looking to change fertility laws to allow for paid sperm and egg donations, and compensation for surrogates.
- Facing open criticism from his caucus, Jagmeet Singh backed down and reinstated David Christopherson’s committee position (thus avoiding a putsch).
- Paul Wells notes that Singh’s decision not to seek a seat is starting to show strain with how his caucus is working, and how it’s not cementing behind him.
- Stephanie Carvin explains the significance of the coordinated Western expulsion of Russian intelligence officers/diplomats.
- Colin Horgan explains the importance of your data being harvested by agencies like Cambridge Analytica, and how that was used in the last US election.
- Susan Delacourt talks with a data scientist who is providing some skepticism about Cambridge Analytica’s claims.
- Those stories about Jagmeet Singh’s past run-ins with Khalistani separatists are apparently having a catastrophic effect on NDP fortunes in Quebec.
- Colby Cosh looks at the state of carbon tax rhetoric in Alberta, and what is shifting as the NDP government there has not made it revenue neutral.
- Ian Capstick reflects on toxic partisanship and the effect it’s having on the mental health of those in politics.
- My column looks at the artificial drama and hysteria surrounding the Senate vote on the cannabis bill, and points to some of the incompetence at play.
Odds and ends:
Tristin Hopper digs into the more nuanced history of the Chilcotin War, for which Trudeau this week exonerated the chiefs hanged for it.
Here’s the story behind the #HereForCelina hashtag, after MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes was accused of “seeing racism everywhere” for calling attention to it.
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