A new book claims that then-Chief Justice Bora Laskin kept political leaders informed as to the status of the patriation reference in the days of the patriation negotiations with London, and now the Quebec government is calling it an erosion of the legitimacy of the court and wants the Prime Minister to turn over all of the records from the period. PMO says no, and the Supreme Court said it’ll investigate the allegations. But seriously – trying to undermine a branch of government for narrow partisan gain? Way to go, guys. Slow clap. Martin Patriquin puts this into perspective with the rest of the Quebec perpetual outrage machine.
The NDP were out first thing Monday morning to launch their pre-budget ad campaign, dubbed “Real things for real people.” No, seriously – that’s what it was. And it was all about all kinds of anti-austerity things they wanted to see – but had no costing figures to present either. Because it’s not like that’s what the first thing the media is going to ask or anything. It directs people to their website, which is full of all kinds of fun and specious dichotomies like “failed fighter jets or public transit” – because you can only have one or the other, apparently. I’m also still waiting to hear about what counts as a “real person” – clone troopers? Flesh “Gangers”? Soong-type androids? Lyekka? Cylons? How about childfree singletons that don’t live in suburbia? Yeah, genius move whoever thought up this particular gem.
In the past couple of days of Senate revelations, we find that Senator Pamela Wallin has an Ontario health card and not a Saskatchewan one, which raises the question about her residency – no matter that she spent 168 days in Saskatchewan last year. Wallin also apparently repaid a substantial amount in expense claims before this whole audit business started, which is also interesting news. Senator Mike Duffy, meanwhile, could actually end up owing $90,000 plus interest on his living expense claims rather than the $42,000 that was cited over the weekend. Oops. Tim Harper looks at the sideshow that is Senator Duffy’s non-apology and smells a deal made to save his job. Senator Cowan says that repayment doesn’t answer the questions – especially not the ones about residency, which means he may not be up to protect Duffy – or Wallin and Patterson’s – seats. And those Senators who’ve been silent on their residency claims are now being called before the Senate Internal Economy committee to explain themselves. Terry Milewski goes through the entire housing claims allegations and fixes an appropriate amount of scorn on the idea that two ticky-boxes are “complex” on the forms.
CIDA is funding a homophobic Christian group to do work in Uganda – you know, a country that Harper and Baird have called out for their government-sponsored anti-gay legislation, and one of the reasons why Uganda is no longer part of the Commonwealth? I have to wonder what John Baird thinks of this, considering how much he’s touted gay rights as part of Canada’s foreign policy – much to his credit. I can’t imagine he’ll be happy, but I also don’t imagine that anyone will take the blame except for the bureaucrats who “made the decision” when this gets brought up in QP today.
Senator Mike Duffy’s “neighbours” in PEI say that they never see him, and cast doubt on some of his other claims, like how much he’d allegedly spent in converting his cottage there into a year-round residence. Just to keep that particular story of residency requirements going (seeing as it could mean his removal from the job).
Are we back? It feels like we’re back now.
Despite the fact that we should definitely be planning now for the 150th anniversary of Confederation celebrations that will happen in 2017, both the federal and many provincial governments remain rather mum on the subject, with the federal government barely giving handwavey signals that they are thinking about said anniversary, with things like the Museum of History announcement.
A report on the death of a Canadian soldier by Israeli forces was quietly removed from the DND website, a move that the soldier’s widow believes is a political move by the government meant to shield Israel from criticism.
As the US gets to work on its cyber-security issues, Canada will need to play a part given how integrated much of our infrastructure is.
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.
Industry minister Christian Paradis said there was a “worrying trend” in oil sands development, which is why they’ve drawn their line in the sand about state-owned enterprises – err, barring any yet-undefined “exceptional circumstances.” Meanwhile, Alison Redford is pleased with the decision, but wants clarity around some of the conditions, especially when it comes to corporate governance. In case you were wondering, here is a timeline of the Nexen and Progress Energy takeovers.
Changes to medical marijuana regulations may end up putting the onus more squarely on doctors to make prescriptions rather than requiring Health Canada approval – which seems entirely consistent with Leona Aglukkaq’s unspoken mandate to divest Health Canada of any and all responsibility for anything.
Justin Trudeau said something a bit impolitic in an interview two years ago about how Quebeckers were tired of Albertan prime ministers and how having more Quebeckers in positions of power would be better for the country – all in the context of pandering to a Quebec audience while fighting for his seat against separatists, which is not wholly unexpected. But SunTV “revealed” it yesterday, and suddenly everyone lost their minds. Because we had nothing better to talk about, apparently. Also lost in the pile-on was the old Reform ad campaign about “no more prime ministers from Quebec, “ but hey, that’s all in the past, right? And it’s not like politicians in this country could ever be accused of regionalism, ever. Anyway, Trudeau refused to apologise, and simply declared it to have been taken out of context, for what it’s worth.
Over in the Commons finance committee, voting continues apace on the 3000+ amendments that Scott Brison introduced, and because the Conservatives and NDP on the committee voted to change their own rules, so that the amendments would be kept in the committee rather than going to the House once time elapsed, the voting continues in committee. Kady O’Malley has been liveblogging the proceedings diligently.
Poor Peter Penashue – under fire, and apparently barely able to recite talking points in the Commons, he attempted to fire back by calling his critics “rude” and “bullish” during QP yesterday. Because you know, it’s not like a) QP is never full of theatrics, ever; or b) it’s the whole point of QP to ask questions of ministers about their activities or lack thereof. Now, it may not be entirely fair to criticise him for not doing much in his role as Intergovernmental Affairs minister because, well, we all know that the real intergovernmental affairs work is handled by Harper in this government, and that Penashue needed a fairly benign role to be stuck into in cabinet because they needed a Newfoundland and Labrador presence in cabinet. That cabinets are federal constructs is a unique Canadian consideration going back to the days of Sir John A. Macdonald, and it has generally served us well. And as for most of the flights going to his riding, well, this government likes to send ministers out to do good news announcements on a constant basis, and he is the cabinet minister for that region, and if it wasn’t him, it would be a Senator from that region instead. But even though it really is starting to feel like a pile-on, he should nevertheless be able to answer a question in the Commons without either having to do it from cue cards of random platitudes, or to hit back at his critics for doing their job.
So, Justin Trudeau is officially in the race, and he announced on his late brother’s birthday. And since we had six days of swooning leading up to the announcement, I expect six months of snark to follow. Aaron Wherry liveblogged the night’s events here.
Stephen Harper has announced that Justice Richard Wagner is his nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
In an interesting interview yesterday, Maher Arar says that he identifies with Omar Khadr and the treatment he was subjected to in Guantanamo Bay, feels that the confession and guilty plea was likely false given the psychological torture and the fact that someone in that situation would sign anything for a shred of hope of getting out, and he is willing to talk to him about his situation.