Monday in the House, and most of the leaders were absent. Thomas Mulcair was present, and read off a pair of questions about the temporary foreign workers programme changes. Jason Kenney, the designated back-up PM du jour, stood up to insist him that Mulcair was wrong, and that these workers would be paid at the prevailing rate range, and only if Canadians were being paid at that same rate, and added that they need to ensure that the unemployed accept jobs in their regions. Mulcair transitioned the the lockout at US Steel, to which Kenney insisted that the question was pure demagoguery, and this was about a labour dispute. Chris Charlton stood up to ask the very same temporary foreign workers programme questions, to which Kenney gave her the same response, and brought up the many times that the NDP were begging him to allow more of said workers in their ridings. Marc Garneau led off for the Liberals, asking about the “payroll tax” of EI premiums. Kenney stood up to insist that the Liberals wanted more benefits without the increase in premiums, and that they wanted to repeal the GST cuts. For his last question, Garneau revisited last week’s theme of youth unemployment, to which Kenney insisted that no government has done more than theirs to help youth employment.
Vic Toews is all over the news right now, and quite possibly all over Question Period later today. Yesterday morning Toews was on The West Block and basically said that the RCMP “communications protocol” was put into place so that he doesn’t get ambushed by opposition questions in the House after the parliamentarians who had those meetings bring up things they discussed. Aww, muffin! Access to information documents also show that Toews tried to limit the RCMP’s apology to the families of victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. The RCMP ended up rejecting said revisions, saying they came in too late, but it appears to be a case of overreach, and likely an attempt to forestall any attempts of legal action that an admission that the RCMP could have done more to stop Pickton is likely to generate.
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?
Peter Penashue’s “inexperienced” former official agents says that the corporate donation was “unintentionally” accepted, that Penashue himself didn’t know about the donation, and that the last four or five days of the campaign, “all hell was breaking loose” trying to get money in before the deadline, so the rush totally explains all of the ineligible donations. So really, it’s nobody’s fault because nobody takes responsibility for the documents they signed off on, right? Well, maybe not. The former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, notes that as the Elections Canada investigative process continues, charges may yet be laid, though not in time for the by-election. The CBC’s David Cochrane looks at the whole affair from the local angle and wonders if Labradoreans want a cabinet minister or to re-elect someone who ran an incompetent campaign and blames others for mistakes that he was responsible for.
Buried in last week’s KPMG audit of the F-35 programme was the revelation that the government planned to contract out air-to-air refuelling of the jets, seeing as the systems we have in place are currently incompatible. When this was pointed out two years ago, the government said, “Oh don’t worry, we’ll adapt our systems.” By adapt, apparently they meant subcontract. And nothing says asserting sovereignty over our airspace than getting the Americans or some other private companies to do our air-to-air refuelling for us. Great job, guys!
The Supreme Court handed down a split 4-2-1 decision on witnesses wearing niquabs – basically saying sure, but only some of the time, and here’s some guidelines to think about. Emmett Macfarlane examines the split and comes down on Team Abella – the single dissent that said while we’d like to see more of a person’s face than less, on the whole it’s not as big of a deal as it would be to have people to choose to not testify at all.
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! iPolitics has obtained documents that show that Corrections Canada is changing their policy to allow for double bunking to be normal policy, and to eliminate rules around maximum capacity. Not only does this violate our international agreements on corrections policy and it’s been proven to be bad for correctional behaviour period, but it’s like an invitation to a return to the era of prison riots. Well done, Vic Toews!
Here is your rough guide to the remaining stages of Omnibus Budget Bill 2: The Revenge in the Commons.
Ruh-roh! New documents show that the government was being briefed about the cost overruns of the F-35 fighters in advance of the Auditor General’s report. How much of this is just bureaucratic ass-covering is a question, but nevertheless, it looks like they knew more than they were letting on.
Thomas Mulcair started off today’s QP by reading a question about how Harper, while over in India, spoke about how the fragility of the economic recovery, to which Mulcair wondered why Harper could only tell the truth about our economy while abroad. John Baird, yet again the back-up PM du jour rather than passing the baton to someone else along the front bench, first gave a shout out to Barack Obama’s win, and then extolled Harper’s economic leadership. Mulcair, however, decided that our economy was in crisis, and we were all headed for doom. Doom! Baird sighed and chastised Mulcair for “talking down the economy.” Rosane Doré Lefebvre was up next, demanding an apology from Vic Toews for his Ashley Smith comments yesterday, but Toews was very obviously sticking to his script, and spoke about how they were cooperating with the coroner’s inquest. Bob Rae, however, was unimpressed, and pressed on, wondering about other videos that hadn’t yet been released publicly, and whether those materials would be turned over, which eventually led to a call for a public inquiry. Baird and Toews both answered, each going back to the “cooperating” talking point, though Toews did consider the coroner’s inquiry to already be a public inquiry. Problem solved, apparently.
On the anniversary of the very first sitting of the Canadian parliament in 1867, it was a somewhat heated day in the Commons today during QP, and Vic Toews gave another gob-smacking performance. When the PM’s away, the ministers will balls everything up – or something like that. Thomas Mulcair started off by reading out a question on our impending nuclear agreement with India would include independent verification that the materials were used only for peaceful purposes. John Baird, once again acting as back-up PM du jour, assured him that the government takes nuclear non-proliferation seriously. Mulcair then asked why China was getting better briefings on agreements than Canadians were, to which Baird talked about how the FIPA was signed on the margins of another trade conference, and for his final question, Mulcair recounted his doomsday scenario of China buying up Alberta’s natural resources with nobody to stop them. Baird suggested that Mulcair was wearing his tinfoil hat, and touted the safe environment for Canadian investment that the FIPA would create. Peggy Nash was up next, trying to wrap the PBO’s latest report on spending cuts with the issue of Harper’s armoured limousines in India, but Baird deflected it with a defence of the RCMP’s recommendations. Bob Rae was up next, asking a pair of questions on whether Harper would meet with provincial premiers, given how he likes to travel abroad to meet other world leaders. Baird responded that he regularly meets with premiers of all stripes, and hey, look at all the good work they did together with the Economic Action Plan™! For his final question, Rae quoted the trade minister about the “opaque investment climate” in India, and wondered what we told them about the opaque climate in Canada, given that there is no clarity on what constitutes “net benefit.” Baird instead used the opportunity to recite a bunch of trite talking points about the jobs and the economy, and the fictional NDP “carbon tax.”
I expect tainted meat is going to get pushed off of the agenda today as news broke last night that the government is firing all non-Christian chaplains, in what is a clear violation of the Charter. Given the way they’re patting themselves on the back over their Office of Religious Freedoms, well, expect them to be hoisted on their own petards in QP today.
Speaking of tainted meat, Thomas Mulcair rather predictably called for Gerry Ritz’s resignation yesterday. XL Foods, meanwhile, has finally broken their silence and taken full responsibility for the outbreak.
Also not surprising, the NDP officially declared their opposition to the Nexen deal yesterday.
Omar Khadr was repatriated to Canada from Guantanamo Bay on Saturday morning. Vic Toews sent out a churlish press release to highlight the crimes that Khadr confessed to as part of his plea bargain (though there is doubt about the veracity of the claims), and to basically instruct parole officials about him. Khadr will serve the remainder of his sentence in the Millhaven penitentiary, and will now be subject to Canadian parole laws, rather than have no restrictions (as would have been the case had he served the remainder of his sentence in Guantanamo Bay). That parole hearing could come by next summer. Aaron Wherry reminds us what the Liberal government said of his predicament ten years ago.
Susan Delacourt looks into the grey area of privacy laws where political parties are concerned.