Roundup: Convenient committee travel

While there is supposed to be a special sub-committee of Finance where environment critics can study the environmental portions of the omnibus budget bill, that has entirely been made problematic by the fact that environment committee – which means the associated critics – will be travelling this week as part of a study on the National Conservation Plan, and they’ll be in Alberta and BC. But it should be noted that this plan was approved weeks ago, so it’s entirely possible the timing of this was not a deliberate ploy (giving full benefit of the doubt).

Parliamentary watchdogs and auditors are starting to collaborate and work together more – much to the chagrin of senior public servants and the Treasury Board, who grumble that these agents of parliament are just looking for trouble to justify their existence.

Poor Peter MacKay – after equivocating within an inch of his life on what he knew about the costs of the Libya mission when he went public about them, he now blames the opposition and media for the controversy. Because nothing he says or does is ever his fault.

BC Premier Christy Clark has also joined in on the criticism of Thomas Mulcair’s take on oil sands development and his warnings of the “Dutch disease.” (And how many people crying about the “Dutch disease” and our “petrodollar” take into account the fact that the Americans have slowly but surely been devaluing their own currency to manage their debt?)

More analysis that the Liberals held more in camera meetings than the Conservatives? Don’t be fooled, says Kady O’Malley, who points out that top-line numbers don’t reveal that committees do go in camera for legitimate reasons – like picking witness lists and drafting reports, and the Liberals drafted a whole lot more reports than the current Conservative majority. Add to that, most of the previous in camera meetings were done by unanimous vote, not under opposition protest. And a reminder about why committees go in camera and what the alternatives might be (which aren’t really good either).

The president of the Canada West Foundation and one of the staunchest defenders of “Triple E” Senate “reform” has now backed away from his position, and actually sees more harm than good in the government’s current “reform” plans. This is big news in conservative circles, and should hopefully prompt some re-thinking of a flawed (and rather boneheaded) attempt to kludge together some reforms that will only make the system worse and will have no added democratic benefits in the long run.

And if you haven’t yet, watch Elizabeth May’s speech in the House on Friday about the omnibus budget bill. It’s probably one of the best denunciations of it to date.