Roundup: Returning to normal, cautiously

Things are slowly returning to normal here in the Nation’s Capital. After an impromptu ceremony with Harper and the Chief of Defence Staff at the War Memorial, ceremonial guards again keep vigil over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And later in the evening, the Hill once again opened to the public, with tours to resume on Monday. The police presence remains higher, but we are going about our business without hysteria. Corporal Cirillo’s body returned to Hamilton by way of the Highway of Heroes, where Canadians turned out in droves to line the overpasses to pay their respects as the convoy passed. Later in the evening, the RedBlacks game in Ottawa featured Harper and General Lawson in a ceremony to honour the two fallen soldiers this week. (And true to form, the RedBlacks lost again).

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Roundup: Warnings about changes to the CSIS Act

Stephen Blaney has confirmed that the government will table a bill next week to enhance CSIS’ powers to better combat terrorism, in order to enhance cooperation with our Five Eyes allies, and to enhance the anonymity for CSIS informants. Never mind that the Supreme Court ruled that those sources already have adequate protections, and the fact that the lawyer for Mohamed Harkat warns that the inability to cross-examine this kind of testimony is dangerous. Former Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier also warns that rushing into these kinds of changes could have longer-term human rights consequences. But terrorists!

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Roundup: Mulcair offers $15/day childcare

The NDP announced their national childcare plan, promising $15/day spaces across the country, with $5 billion over eight years intended to create 370,00 spaces by 2018-19, and one million spaces after the eight years, with the federal government paying 60 percent of the tab, the provinces 40 percent. The Liberals, of course, are pointing out that there would have been a similar programme a decade ago had the NDP not sided with the Conservatives to bring down the Martin government, as they had already done the hard part of negotiating deals with the provinces – something a hypothetical future NDP government would have to start over from scratch in a different fiscal reality. They also don’t think the maths work out in terms of per-space funds. The Conservatives are making doom sounds about the universal child benefit, which the NDP say they’re going to maintain, putting that much more of a hole in the fiscal picture. It’s not seen as a model that benefits all families, and there are better models of getting more women into the workforce using existing federal tax deductions that could be tweaked. Economist Stephen Gordon re-upped a previous post of his with regards to the problems with the Quebec model and how it tends to fail both vertical and horizontal equality tests, and also responds to some of the critics he’s heard from all yesterday.

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Roundup: 28 instances, fewer charges

The RCMP say they have disrupted or intervened in 28 instances where people have been involved in high-risk travel, be it people returning after fighting with radicals abroad or when they plan on heading over. No word on how many people have had their passports revoked, and there have apparently been no new names added to the no-fly list, and there have been very few charges under anti-terror legislation. The government will likely try to use this low figure to say that we need even more anti-terror laws, and yet it makes one wonder about the actual scope of the problem. Andrew Coyne wonders about the threat that ISIS poses to Canada directly, and if people should be shrugging it all off. (Spoiler alert: no).

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Roundup: The problem with political copyright changes

The government doubled down on their leaked plans to change copyright laws to give political parties unfettered access to using news clips in political ads, and accused media outlets of essentially “censoring content” by not broadcasting ads that have material that was taken without permission or compensation. Shelly Glover then went on to misquote copyright law expert Michael Geist to justify the position, leaving everyone to wonder just what exactly they hope to accomplish by picking this fight with the press and with broadcasters, especially after leaking a cabinet document to do so. Paul Wells parses the government’s reasons for this move, and what the unintended consequences will be.

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QP: Major network censorship!

Despite it being a Thursday, none of the major leaders were present in the Chamber for QP. Yay accountability! Megan Leslie kicked off by asking about radicalized Canadians who were not stopped before they left the country. Stephen Blaney said that there were 63 investigations underway covering over 100 individuals, and why didn’t the NDP support their anti-terrorism legislation. Leslie asked why they were relying on US intelligence for these radicals, but Blaney gave a non sequitur about supporting the mission in Iraq. Leslie turned to the Ebola crisis, to which Rona Ambrose assured her of all the ways in which Canada was contributing. Libby Davies carried on asking about the Ebola vaccine and reiterated the tale of the intellectual property concerns, but Ambrose assured her that the supply that was given to the WHO did not have those concerns and it was up to them to decide what to do with it. Davies quoted a WHO release stating that the commercializations of the vaccine was held by that U.S. company. Ambrose, somewhat exasperated, insisted that they were two completely different issues, and the intellectual property on the donated doses belonged to Canada. Ralph Goodale asked about the plans to stuff things like copyright changes into the budget bill. Kevin Sorenson insisted that Goodale wait until the bill was tabled. Goodale blasted the plans to change those copyright plans so that news clips can freely been used in political ads, calling it “expropriation without compensation.” Shelly Glover said she wouldn’t comment on rumours or speculation, but gave an excuse about networks censoring content. No, seriously. The round closed with Dominic LeBlanc giving the same question in French, and Glover repeating as well.

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Roundup: Not an imminent threat

The heads of CSIS and the RCMP went to committee to say that while ISIS is not an imminent threat to Canada, we have to be vigilant about domestic terrorism threats. Well, sure. And then Stephen Blaney talked about arresting these people and throwing them behind bars, because you know, due process and stuff. Blaney also said that they won’t be implementing exit controls, because those belong to totalitarian countries – but they do share entry data with the Americans, which is a de facto exit control system because if one enters one country, they had to exit the other. But that’s not totalitarian. Incidentally, the government has also announced funding for a bunch of new studies on finding the root causes of domestic terrorism and radicalization. And here Pierre Poilievre assured us that the root cause of terrorism is terrorists.

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QP: No current vacancy

The days on the calendar running down, but crankiness among members ramping up, all of the leaders were present in the Commons, which was a little unexpected. Thomas Mulcair led off, asking about Quebec Supreme Court justice appointments and the possible attempt to use a backdoor to put Justice Mainville on the bench. Stephen Harper insisted that this was nothing to do with the Supreme Court, but about putting a good judge on the “supreme court” of Quebec. Mulcair pressed about whether the intent was to elevate Justice Mainville to the SCC, to which Harper reminded him that there was no current vacancy, nor a process to select a new one once a vacancy does become available. Mulcair then accused Harper of starting a war with the Supreme Court, but Harper mocked him for trying to launch into another conspiracy theory. Mulcair moved topics, and demanded that the Northern Gateway pipeline be turned town, to which Harper said that the NDP were against all resource development while they underwent environmental assessments and went through a rigorous assessment process. Mulcair listed the opposition to the pipeline, but Harper dismissed their opposition as ideological. Justin Trudeau carried on that line of questioning and pointed out the impacts a spill would have on that coastline, to which Harper accused the Liberals of holding a “deep hostility” toward the energy sector (really? Given their it boosterism for Keystone XL?) and insisted that they had a rigorous process.

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Roundup: A summit with underlying concerns

Stephen Harper’s Maternal and Child Health summit begins today in Toronto, with some luminaries in attendance like Ban Ki-Moon, the Aga Khan, and Melinda Gates. Critics are quick to say that our foreign aid dollars have not only been decreasing, but are being funnelled into this kind of cynical initiative that does more to fuel domestic concerns – after all, who doesn’t love an mom and apple pie issue like ensuring that infant mortality is reduced – not to mention those who criticise that these same programmes are not doing anything about reproductive health and access to safe abortions for women in developing countries. But on the other hand, we do seem to be making a difference and are visibly standing up for the issue, for what it’s worth. There are also concerns that the government is not being accountable for its Maternal and Child Health spending, that despite all of the data it’s putting out, it’s scattered and the dots don’t connect, making it hard to track or put together an overall picture.

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Roundup: Mulcair goes to the Stampede

Now that he’s in Calgary for the Stampede, Thomas Mulcair says that they should open up access to the oil sands – but not with new pipelines. Um, okay, because the ones that exist have all that much excess capacity, apparently. (Hint: They don’t really). And he wants more east-west pipelines, but there really, really isn’t enough pipeline capacity there, and it’s way, way more expensive to build such an east-west pipeline than it is to build one to the refineries in Texas, or to the west coast to sell it to Asia. Oh, wait – we don’t want to refine oil in Texas, we want to do it in Canada, where we don’t have refinery capacity in the West, and it would cost billions of dollars to build upgraders and refineries (and would come with a major cost in terms of carbon footprint). And while Mulcair may want the shuttered Shell refinery in Montreal to process oil from the West, assuming they can get pipeline capacity to it, well, no word on how he’d convince them to go for it economically. So…yeah.

Mulcair also appears to be tone-deaf on the “white hatting” tradition of Calgary, for what it’s worth, seeing as he decided to wear a white hat to oppose Harper’s black hat. Seriously. The National Post’s Jen Gerson recounts Mulcair’s day here.

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