It was a day of procedural shenanigans in the House, with the government trying to tie up the debate around the Brad Butt privilege issue, while in committee, the NDP were continuing their filibuster around the issue of holding cross-country hearings on the elections bill. In the end, closure came down and the Butt issue went to a vote, majority ruling not to send the matter to committee (most Conservatives insisting that his apology was enough and that he really didn’t mean to mislead the House – though nobody had explained how exactly that was the case), and the NDP got concessions on the elections bill at committee – more hearings would be held, but only in Ottawa, while the party decided to hold their own hearings across the country on their own.
The Conservatives are trying to push the narrative that the Liberals don’t have an economic agenda but just want to push pot. As “proof,” they point to the fact that Trudeau’s chief financial officer and senior advisor, Chuck Rifici, plans to open a medical marijuana operation in rural Ontario. You know, under a programme that the Conservatives designed and implemented. When this was pointed out to Blaney’s office, they simply responded with “The statement speaks for itself.” Um, okay. Never mind that the community getting this new operation – which is RCMP approved – will see jobs being created. You know, jobs that this government keeps talking about. And it’s a $1.3 billion industry that’s good for the economy! But – but, Justin Trudeau! (The cognitive dissonance – it burns!)
The Bloc Québécois has expelled one of its few MPs – and it’s only woman, visible minority, and Montreal representative in caucus – over her criticisms of the Quebec “Charter of Values.” Maria Mourani ran for the leadership of the party and lost to Daniel Paillé, who doesn’t have a seat, and her expulsion leaves them with a caucus of four white male MPs. And it’s too bad, because Mourani was one of their best MPs. I doubt, however, that she will join up with the NDP as some have speculated, because she remains a sovereigntist. Meanwhile, an Ontario hospital is releasing ads targeting doctors in Quebec who are from religious minorities, trying to attract them to move to Ontario instead. Justin Trudeau writes that he knows that Quebeckers are better than the divisive politics that Pauline Marois proposes with the “Charter.” Paul Wells traces more of the roots of this particular “Charter” and the anxieties that lay behind it, while Andrew Coyne says that Quebeckers can no longer content themselves that this legislation isn’t offensive – but that the rest of Canada can’t pat themselves on the back either, given that in Ontario, Dalton McGuinty won an election on very nearly the same grounds. Michael Den Tandt looks at how this latest move could backfire on Pauline Marois.
Word has been given – Parliament shall resume on October 16th. That means that about three-and-a-half weeks of sitting days will have been missed, as the week of the 14th was supposed to have been a constituency week owing to Thanksgiving. Also factor in that there is an APEC Summit in Indonesia the week before, so that also affected the timing of an October return. Mind you Harper could have simply prorogued and still returned on September 16th as planned, but what can you do? (Well, withdraw confidence in the government, if you really want to be technical about it).
So, it’s been a busy day. Going into the meeting, the AFN had a list of eight demands. But then a number of Chiefs decided to boycott – in particular, the chiefs from Ontario, Manitoba, the Yukon, and one from Saskatchewan. (You may be pleased to know that the Grand Chief of Northern Quebec quite properly articulated on TV that it was improper to demand that the Governor General be at the table). And so, despite the boycotts and the protests outside, the meeting took place. And out of the eight items, they apparently made some solid progress, so says the PMO and Atleo. But Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence? She’s still not satisfied, and she’s going to keep up her liquid diet. You see, she attended the Governor General’s ceremonial meeting at Rideau Hall, and then walked out – apparently it was “too much of a show” for the person who has created for herself a media circus, and she didn’t feel the honour of the occasion. Oh, and there was something about an improperly handled wampum belt, but nobody seems to be able to figure that one out, but really, it all pretty much amounts to the next round of political Calvinball.
The big news yesterday was the Auditor General’s report, and most people were talking cyber-security and problems at Veterans Affairs, but the report also highlighted the problems the government has with its long-term fiscal sustainability. More specifically, approving big spending items without doing any kind of analysis on the long-term impact on the state of the nation’s finances – you know, stuff the Parliamentary Budget Officer has been trying to get information about. Gosh, it’s a good thing that we have MPs to scrutinise the estimates and public accounts to catch this sort of thing – oh, wait…
The Security and Intelligence Review Committee’s report also came out yesterday, which pretty much trashed the no-fly list.
Yet another report that came out yesterday was that of the Correctional Investigator, and it highlighted the problem of self-harm that is growing in the prison system. Yeah, we really do need to do something about the problem of mental health in the prison population, and somehow I doubt that cutting chaplains contributes to that solution.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is off on his summer retreat with business and policy leaders, talking about finance stuff all candidly and off-the-record like. But just what are they talking about? Well, some rather intrepid ATIPing by the Globe and Mail shows that last year, they talked about things like raising the retirement age, lowering wages, anti-union “right-to-work” legislation and two-tier healthcare. You know, all kinds of imported American Republican ideology that’s served that country so well.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded her visit to Canada. The take-away message: “Yay trade!” Duly noted.
What’s that? The government is likely under “enormous pressure” from the US to buy the F-35 fighters? You don’t say!
The NDP have release their “report” on their “consultations” on the omnibus budget bill around the country. Their condemnation comes from having panels stuffed with representatives from sympathetic groups, and by avoiding Alberta or any regions whose economies are dependent on resource extraction. Funny how that happens. Meanwhile, they’re also promising some 200 deletion amendments at report stage of the bill in the Commons, which on top of Elizabeth May’s 50 substantive amendments and the 200 deletion amendments she’s working with the Liberals on means that there could be 30 hours or so of votes, depending on what the Speaker rules to be in order or how he groups them.
It cost $47,000 for Peter MacKay and company to put on the photo op with the mock-up F-35 when the government announced they initially were going to be buying those planes.
The NDP wants to charge the deputy minister of DND with contempt of parliament over his testimony on the F-35s. And while this drama unfolds in the Public Accounts Committee, Liberal MP Gerry Byrne charges that the NDP has been doing a lot of in camera cooperation with the Conservatives in order to try to stick it to the Liberals. Sigh.
An American expert following the F-35 debacle asserts that the government’s response doesn’t go far enough. You don’t say! And that General Natynczyk still thinks they’re the best jet for our air force, no matter what anyone says? Get out of town! Meanwhile, here are some of the references around how this was or was not just an “accounting error,” the lifecycle being assessed – which former Assistant Deputy Minister Alan Williams calls “a distortion” – and while Peter MacKay assures us that there’s all kinds of documentation to back this up, the Auditor General repeatedly said there was not. And Andrew Coyne goes to Treasury Board guidelines to take apart MacKay’s argument.
It cost the public purse $2.3 million for Elections Canada to investigate and take the Conservatives to court over the In & Out affair, for which they paid out a meagre $52,000 in fines.
Here’s a good examination of the meaning of the government’s decision to dismantle the National Roundtable on Energy and the Economy, and the negligible savings to the treasury that will actually result.
The government has also cut all funding to the National Aboriginal Health Association, which will close in June.
Also, cuts to the Canadian Space Agency will likely impact on future projects that Canada will be able to participate in.
Hat tip to Aaron Wherry for finding the speech by John Diefenbaker in 1949 about the role of the Official Opposition, and how they were having the very same doubts about the estimates process and the role of the Public Accounts Committee back then as they are now.
So many communities tried to host a Diamond Jubilee party that the special fund has been “oversubscribed.”
And the NCC is going to start putting up plaques with the statues of the Fathers of Confederation and early prime ministers up on Parliament Hill, so that people know who they actually are and what they accomplished. Which really is long overdue, really.