It’s hard to know where to start with the constant revelations on the Senator Mike Duffy file yesterday, because they were coming pretty fast and furious, but the biggest news was that he “voluntarily” left caucus because he had become a distraction. One adds the quotation marks around “voluntary” because word is that the other members of the Conservative Senate caucus were signing a petition to have him ousted, so the writing may have been on the wall. He still wants back in, once everything is sorted and he is somehow vindicated, but considering how he and his lawyers refused to cooperate with the Deloitte auditors, and the fact that he was allegedly making that deal with Nigel Wright in order to make his expenses outrage go away, well, the desire to see his name cleared doesn’t seem to have been top of mind the past few months.
In the wake of the rather damning internal report at Elections Canada about the problems that have plagued the last election (but which no doubt have been cumulative over successive elections), the agency has agreed with its recommendations but says that it will likely take political cooperation from all sides in order to implement the needed changes – especially as it will cost more to hire more staff and get additional resources. The former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, doesn’t see that as a problem because everyone knows that the system needs to be fixed. Elsewhere, the Conservatives are gloating while a Liberal campaign worker from the 2008 election was charged with failing to file election returns. Meanwhile, it seems that the party’s treatment of Michael Sona has created a rift in the local Conservatives in Guelph.
Business groups are referring to the somewhat ham-handed way that Jason Kenney is responding to the outcry over temporary foreign workers as a political solution that will hurt the economy. And it is a political problem that is divorced from the actual problems that exist within the labour market. Tim Harper lays out the way in which the government is once again engaging in poor policy around this issue because of the way in which it has played out to its anxious base.
The Auditor General released a report yesterday, and it was a bit of a doozy, at least with regards to the revelation that some $3.1 billion in anti-terror funding is not properly accounted for. Not that it’s actually been misspent, but the recordkeeping is a bit sloppy, and some of it was victim to a “whole of government approach,” according to Tony Clement. Among other issues the AG cited – that our search and rescue infrastructure is headed for total systems failure, that they need to crack down on EI overpayments, problems with expense claims by the Old Port of Montreal, and that there are problems with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as it is beset by conflict with other federal departments over documents. John Ivison says the report is like ‘manna’ for the NDP, and I can hardly wait for the number of times that Thomas Mulcair gets to say “failure of good public administration” over the next several days.
At long last, the budget implementation bill was tabled yesterday, and at around 125 pages, it’s far less of the omnibus bills that the government was so fond of last year. Not that it’s too unexpected, given that the budget itself was a pretty thin document, and so Flaherty’s joke is that this one is a “minibus.” It does have a number of measures including the tariff changes, the attempt to revive the National Securities Regulator, integrating CIDA into Foreign Affairs, and taking things like Winterlude and Canada Day back from the National Capital Commission.
After allegations were made that the Supreme Court of Canada somehow intervened during the patriation of the Constitution, the Court’s investigation has turned up no documents to suggest that this is the case. Not that there was anything that they could really be expected to find – phone records from 1982? And every justice on the bench at that time is now deceased, so it’s not like they could ask any of them. This, however, is not good enough for either the PQ government in Quebec, nor Thomas Mulcair, who seems to think that the Supreme Court is somehow covering something up. No, really, though one is left to wonder how much of this is yet another attempt to pander to nationalists in Quebec. And thus we can add another institution that Mulcair has “respect” for – the Senate, the Crown and now the Supreme Court. So much respect…
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?
The Conservatives launched their attack ads against Justin Trudeau this morning, poking fun at his “striptease” for charity, his Movember moustache – for charity – and using a carefully edited clip in which he says that “Quebeckers are better” – err, except that the actual context of the clip was that he was quoting his father. The Canadian Liver Foundation put out a statement to thank Trudeau for the thousands of dollars he helped as part of the “striptease” segment. Paul Wells muses about attack ads, and the Liberal tendency to promise not to use them – until they do. Jon Kay ridicules the amateurish ads for being just that – amateurish, nothing like a genuine attack ad, and opens up the Conservatives for worse counterattack.
And so, it is done. Justin Trudeau has won the Liberal leadership, and lo, the party is reborn. Or something like that. To be fair, the fact that he won with some 80 percent of the vote share on the first count is quite remarkable, and Trudeau made a very important – and forceful – point during his speech that the era of the “hyphenated” Liberal – be they Chrétien-Liberals, Martin-Liberals, Turner-Liberals, or what have you – ends here and now. And considering that his leadership team was of a new generation that eschewed those former battles, it does send a strong signal that it’s the case, and perhaps the party will stop fighting with itself for a change. Perhaps. Meanwhile, the Conservatives wasted no time at all in putting out a congratulatory statement with a little dig about his experience in it. I write about what his election by means of the “supporter” category means from a civic literacy and accountability perspective. Leslie MacKinnon looks at how Trudeau became leader from what was an unlikely start. Michael Den Tandt wonders if Trudeau’s popularity may be his undoing, with the dangers of peaking early and not engaging the party’s veterans and loyal core support. John Ivison looks at the belief that Trudeau can single-handedly resurrect the party. John Geddes takes note of three key themes from the speech, and what they may portend for the future of the party.
So, it’s the NDP’s policy convention. So far, there’s been discord with the party’s socialist caucus, who has been agitating against changing the party’s constitutional preamble, and others who want them to forgo hearing from US Democrat speakers in favour of keeping the focus on their policy discussions, of which they only managed to pass six of the 102 on the docket yesterday. John Ivison writes more about that crack in the party unity, and how Mulcair has taken to quoting Joseph Stiglitz (who addressed the convention yesterday, and spoke about inequality – in America). Chantal Hébert writes about the leap of faith it will take for some party members to follow Mulcair’s path to what they hope will be electoral victory.