In order to mark Earth Day this year, the Conservatives will be launching their public access portal to oilsands monitoring data. It won’t be entirely populated with data, mind you, and last I checked, the governance structure still hadn’t been entirely decided (which is kind of a big thing), but hey, they’re actually putting it out there, right? Meanwhile, the National Energy Board is putting out stronger pipeline regulations going forward.
Vic Toews says that lessons can be learned from the Boston bombings as far as Canadian security and law enforcement is concerned, and he’s sure that our police forces are re-examining their own plans to see what best practices they can employ. And hey, they’re pushing ahead with the anti-terrorism bill, so that means something – right?
After a much shorter voting marathon than we’ve become accustomed to, all of the amendments to Omnibus Budget Bill 2: The Revenge have been defeated, and it moves onto a one-day time-allocated third reading debate today. Remember when the government promised they’d be open to amendments and stuff? Yeah, good times.
The “temporary” measure of having prisoners in segregation double bunking – as in, two people in a small space for 23 hours a day – has been going on for two years in some prairie institutions. Yeah, this is going to end well.
Oh dear – it looks like the M-4 Unit – err, Julian Fantino didn’t get his duotronic databanks updated when he was given his new portfolio. As it turns out, he’s not familiar with the five principles of effective foreign aid that CIDA is committed to upholding.
With Harper off in India, and a number of other MPs back in their riding for Veterans’ Week activities, the Commons was a pretty sparse place, albeit not quite Friday sparse. Undeterred, Thomas Mulcair read off his first question about the extension of the deadline for the Nexen decision, to which John Baird, in his capacity as back-up PM du jour, mentioned that there were consultations going on as part of the complex decision making. Mulcair was up next, and asked quite simply who Baird would be consulting – but the cadence of the question was off, like he was still reading it off of a script he hadn’t previously read (though it was one of the rare moments when he spoke off-the-cuff in QP while not red-faced in anger). Baird, however, returned to his usual talking points about the “net benefit” test, and so on. Peggy Nash was up next and asked a pair of questions, in English and in French, about how in this time of fiscal austerity, Harper could have deigned to fly his own armoured limousines over to India. Toews responded that this was a judgement call by the RCMP, and he respected their decision. Bob Rae was then up for the Liberals, and in a rather impassioned display, wondered just what exactly changed on Friday that the government, which had been sitting on those Ashley Smith videos for five years, decided they now wanted to allow the investigation to proceed. Three times he tried to get the government to say something, to admit that they had been publicly embarrassed by those videos and had no choice but to let the investigation proceed unimpeded – but Baird simply resorted to the talking points about how they needed to do a better job of keeping people with mental illness out of prisons.
While considering the challenges posed by the new frontier of cyber-security and hacker attacks, Senator Pamela Wallin says that the government shouldn’t introduce more regulation, but should rely on businesses to report breaches and for people to educate themselves about staying safe from cyber-criminals. Um, yeah – good luck with that – which was pretty much the opinion of experts, who say that more regulation is pretty much necessary to force companies to do something about their cyber-security.
In a not un-related fun story that looks at the Order of Precedence, PostMedia wonders what would happen if we suffered a Cylon attack. As astute viewers of Battlestar Galactica will remember, Laura Roslin was 42nd in line when she became president after everyone else was wiped out in the attack. In Canada, there are 37 names on the list – err, except that this is simply the cabinet list. After that, there are provisions that would allow for the Queen or Governor General to ensure that there was a continuity of government.
Yesterday, everyone was up in arms about a fictional carbon tax. Today, it was that trade deficits sound scary. Thomas Mulcair started off QP by reading off a questions premised on the fact that when Harper took office there was a trade surplus (for which the Liberals applauded themselves), and now there was a trade deficit caused by an “artificially high dollar.” Harper shrugged and said that such a deficit existed for “complex reasons,” but hey, they didn’t want an NDP carbon tax! And after Mulcair hammered after the trade deficit, he then read off questions about unemployment, for which Harper touted his government’s job creation record and listed a number of programmes they implemented. Nowhere in this did anybody mention that we have a trade deficit largely because of weak global demand due to Eurozone uncertainty and slowing growth in the Chinese economy, coupled by a high dollar – but hey, the word “deficit” sounds bad, so we must capitalise on that rather than realising that a trade deficit isn’t actually what you think it is. Onward, Marc Garneau was up for the Liberals, asking about youth unemployment rather than the government trying to change the channel. Harper repeated his line about job creation. And when Garneau asked specific questions on making tax credits refundable and rolling back new payroll taxes? Harper answered with the accusation that the Liberals didn’t support their plans to lower taxes (which they loudly denied), and that the father of the carbon tax, Stéphane Dion, was sitting right behind him.
After an all-too predictable joking statement on the government legislating and end to the NHL lockout, and numerous Conservative statements on the fictional NDP “carbon tax,” Thomas Mulcair started off Question Period by citing things like the trade deficit while wondering if Harper would change his economic strategy. Harper spoke about the uncertain global economy, but gave no indication that he was willing to make any changes. Mulcair asked about the government cutting services during times of such high unemployment. Harper countered with the figure of three-quarters of a million net new jobs. Mulcair cited all of the instability in the European and American economies. Harper reminded him that Canada wasn’t the cause of that uncertainty, and hey, we’re the stable ones. Oh, Mulcair said, don’t get too caught up in “Fortress Canuck” when you should be protecting Canadian jobs. Better us than your tax hikes, Harper retorted, which was pretty much the same reply when Mulcair asked about whether or not he would meet with the premiers. Ralph Goodale was up for the Liberals, first asking about programmes to help young Canadians, to which Harper chided that while the NDP have bad ideas, at least they have some, unlike the Liberals. Goodale then asked a technical questions about financing cooperatives, but Harper ignored it and gave a rote talking point about the economy and lower taxes. Goodale closed off by asking about income inequality, to which Harper reminded him that they lowered the GST by two points for all Canadians.
Jason Kenney announced that the government is revoking the citizenship of some 3100 Canadians after an investigation showed that they were fraudulently obtained. The fact that a large number of those contacted about their pending revocation aren’t contesting the fact is probably an indication that there is an acknowledged problem, though I’m not exactly sure that we can take Kenney’s assurances that this will save us money in the long run at face value, since a lot of resources are going into these investigations while the backlogs aren’t getting any additional resources to be cleared. Also, apparently the department is also “rigorously” scrutinising any Iranian immigrants for any links to the regime there.
A Quebec superior court judge has ruled that the province has a right to its long-gun registry data, which has Vic Toews completely apoplectic.
As his showdown with the federal government over details of the budget cuts intensifies, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, obtained a legal opinion from a respected constitutional lawyer to try to pressure the Clerk of the Privy Council to giving up the information he’s requested. Page says he doesn’t want to have to take the government to court to get the data because it means that basically he’s lost – he won’t get the information in time for it to be useable, but at the same time, it’s a battle he needs to wage before the government treats him and his office with further contempt. Of course, this is all related to the ongoing contempt the Conservatives have been showing to Parliament over their refusal to turn over any of the requested financial data, no matter that IT’S THE FIRST DUTY OF PARLIAMENT TO CONTROL THE PUBLIC PURSE. But who cares about MPs doing their own jobs when they can (try to) get the PBO to do it for them and fight their battles for them?
The NDP made one last effort to kill the omnibus budget bill with a “reasoned amendment” that it not move to third reading. Not surprisingly, it was voted down, and the bill is now on its way to the Senate.
So, remember what I was saying yesterday about how the opposition – and the NDP in particular would be hammering away at the government in QP about the omnibus budget bill if they truly considered it to be the major priority and affront to democracy that it is? Well, it only took them until the end of the second round – a full 25 minutes into QP – to ask a pair of broad and general questions about the omnibus nature of the bill, and 38 minutes to ask a couple of substantive questions about a particularly troubling measure within it (and didn’t take the parliamentary secretary to task for her nonsense answer during the supplemental question, like they should have). Apparently this constitutes taking an existential threat to parliamentary democracy seriously.
What’s that? More problems with defence procurements that say they’re going to be one thing (in this case vehicular power transmission components) and turns out to be something else (13 armoured vehicles)? You don’t say! Meanwhile, the military says that Peter MacKay would have known the actual cost estimates of the Libya mission when he reported a much lower figure to parliament. I am shocked – shocked!
The RCMP Commissioner has sent warning letters out to provincial commissioners of firearms to warn against setting up backdoor long-gun registries. The problem of course is that he doesn’t exactly have the ability to meddle in provincial jurisdiction like he – and Vic Toews – would like to on this issue.
The Public Service Commission is investigating whether eleven employees were improperly hired at ACOA due to political interference.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the situation that MDA finds itself in while the government drags its feet on signing the contract for the next phase of the RADARSAT constellation.
Harper and his team continue to try and get Helena Guergis’ lawsuit against them dismissed.
The punitive measures that the Conservatives and NDP imposed on the Liberals around campaign financing retroactively on the 2006 leadership race continues to haunt some of the former contenders.
Here’s a bit of an explainer of what some of the latest “Pierre Poutine” revelations mean.
And Lisa Raitt talks about her battle with post-partum depression to help raise awareness of mental health.
One would have thought that with the Conservatives having rejected the NDP formal request to split the omnibus budget implementation bill that Thomas Mulcair would be on the warpath. But no – he instead started off QP by asking a fairly broad question about the bill and its large environmental component, and Harper answered with a general response about the need to “streamline” review processes. Mulcair then went to the issue of the demise of the Public Appointments Commission in said bill, and he got into a back-and-forth with Harper about the NDP voting to kill it (never mind that it was a non-binding motion rejecting the proposed commissioner). Matthew Kellway then got up to ask about the updated cost figures from the F-35s, and Julian Fantino got up for the first time in ages to assure the House that there is not only a Seven-Point Plan™, but rather a Seven-Point Action Plan™ for the procurement process. Bob Rae rose for the Liberals, and went after the government for their using the CRA to investigate charities they don’t like, never mind that ones they do like get hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign donations. Harper insisted that the CRA is an arm’s length agency and that charities have to operate within clear limits.