Roundup: The Meilleur problem

The feigned outrage over Madeleine Meilleur’s nomination as the new Official Languages Commissioner, combined with the disingenuous concern over the search for a new Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, is really starting to annoy me – particularly because of the way in which things are being spun, and the abject hypocrisy of it all. As for Meilleur’s surprise that this has become an Issue amidst a snake nest of partisans looking to stir things up and try and throw as much mud on the PM as they can, I have to say Oh, come on. You were in Queen’s Park. You know that they’ll play politics over this. Because seriously.

To start with, I will take note of Meilleur telling an interviewer that she had initially thought about applying to be a Senator to continue to contribute to public life now that she had resigned from Queen’s Park. While I continue to object to the self-identification process that this government has put into place (because why not try to get every narcissist in the country to hand in a CV?), the fact that she was told by the head of the selection committee that recent politicians were verboten in the “newly independent” Chamber is kind of infuriating. Why? Because the Senate is Parliament’s institutional memory. It’s a Good Thing to have some experienced political players in there, from both federal and provincial sides, so that they can be of use to Parliament as that institutional memory. That Trudeau seems keen to destroy that function of it is a problem.

As for Meilleur meeting with Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, I’m far less sold that this is somehow suspicious partisan work. They are contacts she had from their mutual time at Queen’s Park, and she was looking for ways to contribute, and hey, they’re people who would have some ideas. You realise that trying to make a Thing out of it is childish, right? Is the fact that she was once a provincial Liberal a problem for the job? Perhaps, if she didn’t have the qualifications for it. But by all accounts, she is more than qualified, which makes the partisan gamesmanship all the pettier. And to hear the party that appointed Vic Toews to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench rail on about how terrible this is, I have little patience for their arguments.

Meanwhile, as for the Conservatives’ demands that the process for the new Ethics Commissioner be turned over to a third party, I have a couple of things to say: one is that this is a democracy and not a technocracy, so stop trying to offload political decisions to outsiders; two is that you get to hold the government to account for the choices that are made; and three, demanding a retired judge make the selection, when the criteria specifies that the new Commissioner should be a former judge or head of a tribunal, you’re just creating a new conflict of interest because you’re asking said judge to appoint a former colleague. How is this any better? Seriously, do you people not stop to think for one second about your supposed attempts at being clever? Honest to gods, you people.

Good reads:

  • The White House served the 90-day notice of their intention to renegotiate NAFTA. Chrystia Freeland says she’s ready (but for what madness remains the question).
  • The government released a “technical paper” on their plan for a carbon tax on reluctant provinces, while sharpening their rhethoric about the costs of pollution.
  • Amarjeet Sohi says he wants to use infrastructure funds to mitigate future floods and other disasters.
  • Bardish Chagger moved a notice of motion about extending Commons sitting hours to midnight in June to start clearing more bills.
  • Boeing launched a trade challenge against Bombardier’s CSeries jet sales, and now the government is threatening to cancel their planned Super Hornet order.
  • There remain constitutional questions about the government’s mandatory breath sample legislation.
  • Not a surprise, but Russia is not happy with the government supporting Magnitsky-style sanctions legislation.
  • The bill making safe injection sites easier to open has now been given royal assent.
  • Canadian Forces personnel serving overseas will now get their salaries tax exempt for the duration.
  • Vic Toews wants to take the Ethics Commissioner to Federal Court to dispute her finding that he broke Conflict of Interest guidelines.
  • Senator Stephen Green talks to Kady O’Malley about his ouster and the changes he’s seeing in the Senate. Senator Larry Smith has no regrets about booting him.
  • Here’s a look at the point system of the Conservative leadership race, and how it and not sheer votes can swing unexpectedly for candidates.
  • Maxime Bernier says that he would make Kevin O’Leary an economic advisor and try to persuade him to run for a seat in 2019.
  • Jason Markusoff writes about the race to lead the planned new United Conservative Party in Alberta.

Odds and ends:

This week’s Ask Kady Anything looks at questionable vacations and MPs resembling cephalopods. No, really.

While the Alberta Progressive Conervative and Wildrose parties have opted to merge under the “United Conservative Party” banner, here are some alternatives to consider.