International cooperation minister Julian Fantino has announced a new business-focused international development policy, and said that it’s not CIDA’s business to keep funding NGOs forever. There’s no word on what kinds of programmes will be cut in order to make this shift in focus, but Fantino says that no, they’re not getting into the mining industry.
Campaign Research polling company has been censured by the industry body for their reprehensible calls into Irwin Cotler’s riding alleging that he’s about to retire.
Bill C-398, the latest iteration of the attempt to reform Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime – which aims to get cheap generic medicines to developing countries – was defeated in the Commons last night by seven votes.
In the wake of the three by-elections, Pundit’s Guide crunches the numbers. While I disagree with the aggregation of the three events into a single grand number (for the same reason that I will remind you that the national “popular vote” numbers are a fallacy), the voter share breakdowns seem to indicate that the Greens were eating into the Conservative vote in Calgary Centre and Victoria, which further problematises the already dubious “unite the left” propositions. Because seriously – bundling both the Liberals and the Greens with the NDP as the “left” is too facile of an understanding of some of the issues the parties stand on, and one of the reasons why these “vote splitting” arguments annoy me. Colby Cosh gives his post-mortem of the Calgary Centre vote.
The government unveiled new emissions regulations yesterday for passenger vehicles a few years into the future – never mind that regulations are a far more costly way of controlling greenhouse gas emissions than simple carbon pricing. Meanwhile, Aaron Wherry gets a response from Preston Manning about his thoughts on carbon pricing – apparently he wants complete cost accounting, but that includes things like paying for the volume of land flooded by hydro projects as well as oil sands development.
There were almost a couple of surprising upsets in last night’s trio of by-elections. Almost, but not quite. The Greens were running a surprising close second in Victoria, while the Liberals were very competitive with the Conservatives in Calgary Centre, until finally the Conservatives pulled ahead. But while it was a hold in all three ridings, it did signal that there are rumblings in the political realm across the country. The Conservatives and the NDP did poorly in two of the ridings where they were incumbents, and nearly lost them. In Calgary Centre, the NDP were virtually non-existent, running a distant fourth to the Greens, who had strong showings in two of the three ridings. And for the Liberals to run a close second in Calgary, their best result in 44 years, is a signal that the Conservatives aren’t tending to their base, and that the Red Tories in the party are restless. And throughout it all, there will be the weird paradox of Justin Trudeau being both blamed for the loss in Calgary Centre, and praised for energising the voters and getting them that best-in-44-years result.
The big news from yesterday morning was that Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has accepted the position as governor of the Bank of England to start in July. He’ll remain in his current post until June in order to ensure a stable transition. John Geddes sees the inevitability of the decision. Paul Wells looks at the growing phenomenon of the “international mandarin class.” Andrew Coyne looks at Carney’s ambition, and notes that when he returns to Canada five-and-a-half years hence, he’ll be far enough away from his old job that any political ambitions he may have will be more palatable. Stephen Gordon looks at some possible successors at the Bank of Canada. And here’s a look at what the British press is saying about Carney’s appointment.
It’s by-election day in Calgary Centre, Durham, and Victoria! While Durham is expected to be a Conservative hold, and Victoria likely to stay NDP (though the Greens are really pushing for a second seat there), all eyes will be on Calgary Centre. Over the weekend, at the final debate, Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt was making bizarre statements, like only a government MP could help you if you lost your passport while in Mexico because they could go across the hall to the minister’s office – which is patently not true (especially since you would go to the nearest consulate for non-partisan, civil service assistance). But then again, Crockatt has made a campaign of saying terribly wrong things about our political system, so why should she change now? (Recall this particular post after one of her very wrong statements early in the campaign. Yeah, this is a problem).
In the wake of the Trudeau apology, Aaron Wherry digs up some great moments in regional politics history, like the “no more prime ministers from Quebec” ad that the Reform Party launched – and Harper defended. Peter Armstrong wonders if Alberta has become the new Quebec. In this clip, Paul Wells makes some additional observations of the context of the interview that Trudeau said the aforementioned comments. And yes, Conservative Party headquarters has a big binder full of controversial things that Harper has said in the past. One wonders if the Trudeau camp is now compiling their own, so as not to be surprised when the next impolitic quote is dredged up.
It was the Parliamentarian of the Year Awards last night, and a hearty congratulations to Elizabeth May for taking the top prize. Other winners include Kirsty Duncan (Hardest Working), Bob Rae (Best Orator), Peter Stoffer (Most Collegial, once again), Stephen Harper (Most Knowledgeable), Michelle Rempel (Rising Star), and Niki Ashton (Best Represents Constituents). A lifetime achievement award was presented to Preston Manning. In advance of the awards, Paul Wells sat down with previous winners to discuss the importance of the award. (And here are some more photos from the party – because it really is one of the best events on the calendar.)
The other big news out of yesterday was the amount of faux outrage because David McGuinty deigned to call MPs out for being provincial when it comes to the narrow interests that they’re promoting. The horror! Were the remarks impolitic? Yes. Were they an offence that merited his resigning his critic portfolio? Hardly, and yet that’s what happened. Let’s see how much more faux outrage the Conservatives can try to milk out of this today as well as they try to shore up their chances in the Calgary Centre by-election.
With Stephen Harper off answering audience questions at the Canadian American Business Council’s fall policy conference, and John Baird over in the United Arab Emirates discussing the Gaza situation with his counterparts, it was up for grabs as to whose turn it was to be back-up PM du jour. So when Thomas Mulcair got up to read a pair of questions on Harper and Jim Flaherty contradicting each other’s deficit rounding error numbers, we found out that Tony Clement was the day’s designated hitter, who informed the House that it was their objective to balance the budget by 2015, and the NDP wants to raise taxes. Mulcair moved onto a question about why Harper wasn’t meeting with premiers in Halifax, what with the “fiscal cliff” looming and all, by Clement reminded everyone that the NDP wants to raise taxes. Peggy Nash tried to press after why Harper wasn’t meeting with the premiers, but this time Ted Menzies got to respond, reminding her that Harper meets with the premiers regularly. Bob Rae was up next, asking about a Calgary infrastructure project that was to have benefitted from an arrangement with P3 Canada, only to have the rules changed once the project was completed (and incidentally, this happened a year ago, and in the scrums afterward, Rae openly admitted that yeah, he’s asking these questions because there’s a by-election in Calgary Centre and god forbid there be politics in the House of Commons). Menzies accused Rae of having incorrect information, but did congratulate him on his concern for Calgary, and only wished that the Leader of the Official Opposition felt the same. For his final question, Rae asked about the situation in Gaza and working toward a cease-fire, to which Peter MacKay responded with a reaffirmation of the right of Israel to defend itself.
The provincial premiers are meeting in Halifax to talk about the economy, and yet, Stephen Harper won’t be there – despite insisting that the economy is his favourite topic and the one thing that all Canadians really care about instead of any other pesky political problems. Funny that.
New refugee laws come into force next month, which mandate mandatory detention for “mass arrivals” – basically refugees that arrive on boats. Never mind that this has proven to be a costly failure in Australia, Jason Kenney still insists it’ll be a deterrent for false asylum seekers – even though it’ll make things worse off for legitimate refugees.
Northern Gateway environmental hearings have added an additional ten weeks in BC, seeing as a lot of people want their say on the project.
Big city mayors (minus Toronto and Montreal) were meeting in Ottawa yesterday, where they asked the federal government for $2.5 billion in matching annual funds for infrastructure, and talked a lot about gridlock. And while yes, infrastructure is a big deal, I just worry about the gridlock excuse because when you build more roads, you only get more gridlock. Of course, municipalities need to start talking about capping their borders and focusing on intensification so that mass transit becomes more feasible and cost-effective and people have an incentive to use their cars less, but I don’t hear too much discussion around that.
The government is spending $4 million on the ad budget for its Responsible Resource Development™ campaign – a fairly Orwelling branding exercise about how great it is that they’re promoting resource extraction industries while gutting environmental regulation. This $4 million is above the $5 million ad budget already allocated to Natural Resources Canada.
Peter Penashue’s former official agent isn’t willing to take the blame for all of the campaign spending overruns and curious donations, but he does seem to admit that there were some mistakes made in any case.
European negotiators are in town to make a final push toward completing the Canada-EU Trade Agreement.
The Privy Council Office was also interested in monitoring ethnic media – but they don’t seem to have been concerned about how the minister or Prime Minister were perceived.
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.