Help Routine Proceedings expand

Hey, everyone! 2018 is the year I’ve decided to step things up, and launch a channel to provide even more content to you. But in order to do that, I’m launching a Patreon to help fund it. It will also help to me keep up the operation of this blog as well, because it’s been a labour of love up until now, and that’s two to three hours every day spent on doing the reading, the research, and the writing to create the content that everyone enjoys.

I’m hoping for great things in the coming months, and I want to thank everyone for your support.

Senate QP recap: Fisheries under the microscope

For the first ministerial Senate Question Period of the year, fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was the special guest star. Leading off as always was Senator Larry Smith, who first wished LeBlanc well given his cancer treatment, and then asked about the impact of the Phoenix pay problem on the Coast Guard. LeBlanc noted that this was a problem and he was working with the senior management of the Coast Guard on the problem, he acknowledged that it was an unacceptable situation that was costing them personnel that had a cascading effect on their capacity, which is why they were trying to deal with it. Smith asked if there was a timeframe to sort it out, and LeBlanc said that because previous timeframes have slid, they were simply continuing to do the work to deal with the most urgent cases and working toward stabilising the system. Smith asked if this message was relayed personally to the Coast Guard members, and LeBlanc said that he had every time he visited a Coast Guard facility. Continue reading

QP: Pipelines and weed puns

It was Justin Trudeau’s first day back since the Francophonie and since Castro’s death, and one just knew that it was going to be everyone’s preoccupation. Rona Ambrose led off on the subject of pipelines, the big announcement coming after the markets close, and she wanted assurances that he would ensure that any approved pipelines get built. Trudeau started off by reminding the Commons that strong environmental protections were fundamental to economic growth, and that was a principle he was following. Ambrose then moved to the Castro issue, wondering what he was thinking of when praising him. Trudeau reminded her that whenever he travels, he always brings up human rights and he did in Cuba as well. Ambrose repeated the question in French, got the same again, and then moved onto the allegation that Bill Blair was hitting up marijuana lobbyists for donations. Trudeau fell back to the talking points about the rules, and when Ambrose raised that he admitted to talking up investment at his own fundraisers, Trudeau wasn’t moved, and stuck to praising the rules that were being followed. Thomas Mulcair was up next, insinuating that there was someone with canola interests at a fundraising dinner. Trudeau noted the widespread concern about the canola restrictions and his government secured market access for all farmers. Mulcair asked about the Blair fundraiser in French, Trudeau gave the rules points in French, and then Mulcair moved onto the Kinder Morgan process, calling it a betrayal. Trudeau noted the consultations they had with all sides, and that they were in the balance between a party that wants blanket approvals and another party that wants all things shut down. Mulcair went another round in French, and got the same answer.

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Roundup: Begin Royal Tour 2016!

The Royal Tour has begun, which means we’re already being inundated with a bunch of ridiculous stories about “is it worth the price,” or treating the Canadian Royal Family as foreign curiosities when the Canadian Crown is a separate and distinct legal entity from the British Crown (well, unless you happen to follow the logic of the previous government, whose changes to the Royal Succession Act without going the constitutional amendment route put us on par with Tuvalu in terms of making our relationship with the Crown a subordinate one, but we’ll see if that survives the court challenges). Suffice to say, yes it’s entirely worth it because it’s a very small amount of money, and their touring for a week costs us less than it does for Obama to visit for an afternoon, they draw a lot of attention to a number of worthwhile causes that the Governor General never could, and hey, we’re a constitutional monarchy so it pays for us to act like one from time to time. And to all of those pundits who insist that it’s time that we “grow up” as a nation and “leave the Queen’s basement,” how’s that republic to the south of us doing when it comes to selecting a head of state? Yeah, I thought so.

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the arrival, along with a look at the symbolism of what Kate was wearing. The tour promises to focus on social issues like the environment, young families, and mental health issues. Sunday, they met with young mothers in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side battling addiction issues, before visiting the re-opened Coast Guard base at Kitsilano (which isn’t a dig at the previous government that closed the base at all). Later this week, they’ll visit the town of Bella Bella, which has managed to basically solve its suicide crisis.

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QP: Overwrought cheap outrage

The Prime Minister having met with the Chinese Premier earlier in the day, he and the other leaders were now ready to go. Rona Ambrose, mini-lectern on desk, gave an overwrought tale of a single mother worried about losing her house and reading about the moving expenses of PMO staffers. Justin Trudeau noted that the rules were followed, and the PMO overall was smaller than in the Conservatives’ day. Ambrose launched into a somewhat misleading tirade about all of the things they government cancelled for families (conveniently ignoring the enhanced benefits that they replaced those programs with), and Trudeau thanked her for reminding Canadians about their helping the middle class. Ambrose went again another round in French, got the same answer, and Jason Kenney took over to lament policy changes in Alberta to denounce a “job-killing carbon tax.” Trudeau reminded him that he’s in Ottawa, not Alberta, and that farmers were pleased with the settlement of the canola issue with China. Kenney then gave one last go at trying to declare ISIS to be a genocide, and Trudeau chided him for political grandstanding on such an important issue. Thomas Mulcair got up next, and accused Trudeau of being a dictatorship apologist with respect to an extradition treaty with China. Trudeau noted that this was about a dialogue that allows them to bring up difficult cases, and they would not bend their principles for anyone. Mulcair went another round in French, got the same answer, and then moved onto the Site C Dam in BC. Trudeau noted the commitment to a renewed relationship with Indigenous communities, and when Mulcair pressed, Trudeau kept insisting that they were respecting and consulting.

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Roundup: Dominion Day wrap-up

For Dominion Day, none of the leaders said anything too egregious, even if the campaigning was in full swing.

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Senate QP: What about labour trusts?

For what was likely to to be the final QP of the parliament — for realsies this time — unless the Senate Liberals are able to come up with some new procedural tricksyness to delay C-377 further. There were only two statements today — Canada Day and the museums in Montreal over the summer — and after speeding through Routine Proceedings, Senator Cowan rose for QP. He led off noting the government studiously avoided answering questions yesterday, and how Bill C-377 could turn mutual funds and TFSAs into “labour trusts” and triggering disclosure obligations. Answering for the government, Senator Carignan evaded, saying it was important to pass the bill and noted unions posting on Twitter that they were working with the NDP in preparation for the election. Cowan noted that had nothing to do with his question, and demanded an answer on “labour trusts.” Carignan continued to evade, noting mandatory union dues. Cowan was not swayed and wanted an answer on the issue of the expert testimony on how the legislation would catch those funds. Carignan said that he was there to answer questions and not play “interpretation games” — which is ridiculous because it was a legitimate question about the substance of the bill. Cowan tried asking a different way — would they be okay with people’s private information going online if they were caught up in a “labour trust” interpretation, at which point Carignan babbled about legal opinions. Cowan, at the end of his patience, said that Carignan’s refusal to answer meant that he was okay with people having their financial information being made public. Carignan retreated to his mandatory union dues talking points. Senator Moore rose on a supplemental, asking if Carignan was okay with his own mutual funds and TFSAs being made public under the bill. Carignan went on a homily about the time he had Quebecor shares that he had to sell. Moore tried again, and got no answer.

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Roundup: Voices from the past

A number of has-been pro-life (and homophobic) former Liberal MPs sent out an open letter to Justin Trudeau decrying his decree that a woman’s right to choose is a Charter issue and not a matter of conscience. They decried it as “anti-democratic,” never mind the fact that this was the policy voted on by the party’s membership during the policy convention before Trudeau won the leadership. Oops. The pedigree of these former MPs is also worth mentioning, as several of them quit the party to join the Reform Party, while others left over the same-sex marriage issue. Not surprising, most Liberals simply shrugged off the whole thing, while Trudeau tweeted out a fairly decent comeback.

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Roundup: Investment rules and an eye on joint ventures

Those new foreign investment rules unveiled by Harper along with the Nexen and Progress Energy decisions will likely have an impact beyond the oil sands – but it’s clear as to how just yet. What it will likely do is involve state-owned enterprises in more joint ventures and having them become minority shareholders to conform to the new rules. Economist Stephen Gordon looks at the economics of investing in the oil sands and why there is a need for foreign investment (and why most of the fears about foreign state-owned enterprises are overblown).

Oh, and those theories that Harper put these markers around state-owned enterprises as a marker for future trade negotiations with China? Paul Wells wonders about the logic of that considering that Canada-China FIPA that’s sitting there, unratified…

On the F-35 file, certain critics say that the promised industrial benefits (currently pegged in the $9 billion range, down from the $12 billion originally stated) aren’t likely to materialise, which is a ticking time bomb for the government. To date those industrial benefits have amounted to less than $500 million.

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Roundup: Avoiding the House – again

Jim Flaherty will be delivering the fall economic update today – you know, while the House isn’t sitting. And he’ll be doing it in Fredericton. Which, as it so happens, is also not the House of Commons. Because, as this government’s history shows, they totally respect Parliament and what it stands for.

MPs are talking about how there will be a higher onus on Elections Canada during the next election to make sure that the kinds of errors creeping into the system – as demonstrated in the Etobicoke Centre case – don’t keep happening.

The Hill Times profiles parliamentarians who have military experience.

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