By kadyomalley - Friday, October 16, 2009 - 25 Comments
PCO — yes, that PCO — for fulfilling one of ITQ’s most oft-muttered wishes with this not-quite-complete-but-getting-there online archive of commissions of inquiry past, from the 1981 MacDonald report on the state of the RCMP to H.C. Cogston’s 1914 investigation into the decision to turn away ”300 Hindu passengers” of the Komagata Maru.
The Gomery report is there, of course — as well as a mirror of the now defunct commission website — but the PCO website also provides the sordid details on the underlying cause of unrest in the asbestos mining industry in early 20th century Quebec, as well as the official findings on contradictory accounts of a spat between Agnes McPhail and the inspector of penitentiaries and the results of an investigation into “defalcations” at the Department of Militia and Defence.
It all makes for fascinating reading, no matter how dated or obscure the topic — so dig in! Feel free to share any noteworthy tidbits you find in the comments.
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 3:07 PM - 36 Comments
Slightly less blue-rose-coloured numbers from Harris Decima, which polled from October 1 to 12 — and wouldn’t you like to see those day-by-day breakdowns? — with a 2.2 margin of error:
Bloc Quebecois (in Quebec): 41
There’s not much in the way of detailed tables to pore over just yet, alas — the first CP writethru didn’t even give the percentage for the Bloc in Quebec, but left it as a fun little math problem for the readers, not that ITQ is sitting here simmering with resentment at such blatant datahoarding or anything. Oh, wait, yes she is.
Anyway, we know that the Conservatives are up in Ontario, but by just four percent, sitting at 40 percent, compared to 36 percent for the Liberals which is a far cry from the fifteen point lead that has emerged in both EKOS and Ipsos’ findings. The NDP, on the other hand, doesn’t even make it into the standings, but ITQ would guess that they’re somewhere between 12 and 15 percent.
The west is — oh, it’s the west. It never changes, except for those occasional flurries of excitement when the NDP creep past the Liberals in Saskatchewan or British Columbia.
Meanwhile, in the Harris-Decimaverse at least, the Liberals are still ahead in Atlantic Canada, although not by much — a mere three point advantage over the Conservatives, with the NDP nipping at the Tories’ heels, although we don’t know where those three points put either party, since apparently, that just isn’t important enough to include in the story. And why should it be, really? ITQ looks forward to a brave new world of poll reporting where we just come up with new ways to say “ahead” and “behind”, and omit all those ugly numbers.
So, there you have it — not sure how much scope for speculation this provides, but have at it, commenters!
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:44 AM - 86 Comments
Conservatives: 40.7 (+1.0)
Liberals: 25.5 (-0.2)
NDP: 14.3 (-0.9)
Green: 10.5 (+0.8)
Bloc Quebecois: 36.1 (-2.6)
Undecided: 17.9 (+3.4)
Conservatives up! Liberals down (see, Colleague Wells told you they could find a different direction to take, all you the-only-way-left-is-uppers)! NDP, Bloc Quebecois even down-ier, although it’s worth noting that all changes are within the magical 2.1 margin of error, which is, incidentally, a tiny bit higher than usual for EKOS. That could be partly due to the growing population of Undecideds that was uncovered by this week’s surveyors; at this rate, if that number keeps rising, they may soon be able to describe themselves as ‘legion’. Or ‘destroyer of worlds’. Really, whatever works for them.
Anyway, as usual, the national numbers don’t tell us much about what’s really going on, since it’s all about the regions. So, what do the data tables reveal?
First, the regionals:
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM - 42 Comments
Jim Flaherty’s staff, that’s who!
According to lobby communications logs (and yes, ITQ wishes there was a slightly less clunky way to refer to it, but there just isn’t), earlier this week, Flaherty’s chief of staff Derek Vanstone and policy advisor Sophia Arvanitis met with a lobbyist for the Tim Hortons Advertising and Promotion Fund to discuss, of all things, the Ontario HST — something that federal Conservatives have been increasingly loath to laud, given the simmering disgruntlement that it has provoked on the part of their provincial PC cousins.
(Presumably, the subject didn’t come up when the prime minister dropped by Tim Hortons headquarters earlier this month to take credit for luring the company back to Canada with the promise of rock-bottom corporate tax rates.)
This being Ottawa, the coincidences don’t stop there, though: the lobbyist in question is Tom Trbovich, once the chief of staff to Brian Mulroney’s finance minister, Michael Wilson, who brought in the GST in the first place, and who was a senior advisor to Mulroney himself when the tax was first proposed in 1989. He left before it became law, but at least he can provide tea and sympathy to the current minister should the prime minister go ahead with what the NDP’s Nathan Cullen keeps insisting is his secret plan to induce an election by bringing in legislation to formalize the HST deal with British Columbia before the end of the year. (Seriously, does that make any sense to anyone at all? Because from the perspective of the government — or, really, any party other than the NDP, ITQ can’t think of a worse way to go down.)
Sorry, went off on a wee bit of a tangent there. Anyway — look! Donuts! Lobbyists! The HST! Share and enjoy!
UPDATE – This isn’t really an update, but an admission: ITQ has tried to get over it, but she can’t — it really, really unsettles her that there is no apostrophe in Tim Hortons. (For the record, Red Squiggle doesn’t seem terribly impressed with it either.)
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 10:52 AM - 22 Comments
I know, it seems like so much longer, doesn’t it?
ITQ is just disappointed that the prime minister doesn’t seem to be planning to mark the occasion this time around, which is a break from tradition, at least as far as celebrating the anniversary of his first electoral victory. (ITQ’s live-ish blog of the 2007 festivities are, alas, lost somewhere in the pixelverse, but here’s her report from 2008.)
According to his official schedule for today, he’s just toodling around Alberta, posing for the cameras here, chatting with Edmontonian businessmen there. He seems to have some sort of announcement later this afternoon in Wabuman, but at the moment, there appear to be no plans for a grand ‘One Year Ago Today …’ speech, or even a closed-to-media-but-we’ll-tell-you-about-it-anyway party. Maybe he’s going to wait until he’s back in Ottawa next week, so he can buy a round for the Little Shop veterans who so successfully crushed Stephane Dion’s shifty green dreams of victory.
Anyway, congratulations, class of 2008! ITQ hopes you’ve enjoyed the last year of political antics and intrigue as much as she has. You haven’t always managed to Make Parliament Work, but you’ve definitely kept it interesting, which is really all that a Hill reporter can ask.
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 12:19 PM - 68 Comments
Oh, PORRD. What would Hill journalists do during break weeks without you? And look — your latest offerings are downright serendipitously on topic.
Okay, so back in April, at the behest of PCO, Ipsos Reid held a series of focus groups on the economy, particularly the government’s response to the recession, otherwise known as the Economic Action! Plan*. Although now somewhat dated — I mean, really, early April was so two probation reports ago, and isn’t that whole recession unpleasantness behind us now, barring the sudden eruption of The Election Nobody Wants? — the findings are still worth reading, especially when you consider what the Parliamentary Budget Office had to say last week about the update that the prime minister delivered last month:
Accountability loomed large in the discourse of many around the table. Most were aware that any Government efforts to stimulate the economy would likely result in significant government spending. Although few disagreed with this approach, most were of the view that sufficient checks and balances needed to be in place in order to prevent taxpayer money being squandered. In fact most agree that there is a need for the Government to be transparent, provide regular and timely updates on expenditures, inform Canadians on the intended results, and provide regular feedback on actual outcomes. [...]
Note to PCO: Y'all might want to consider spending a little less money advertising the Economic Action! Plan …
By kadyomalley - Friday, October 9, 2009 at 4:57 PM - 85 Comments
… and putting a little more time and effort into documenting how the money is actually being spent.
The Parliamentary Budget Office has analysed the most recent progress report — you remember, the one unveiled by the prime minister before a captive audience at a Saint John train yard – and, well, it’s not exactly what you’d call a rave review:
Content remains uneven in the GC’s Third Report, notwithstanding the additional data that have become available over the past three months and the additional time available to address previously noted shortcomings.
Many missing data correspond to implementation and outcome indicators that the GC collects as part of its standard due diligence process and should be readily available (e.g. risks, mitigation plans, uncertainties). Failing to include these data could hinder Parliament‟s ability to provide meaningful oversight of the economic stimulus package.
Of greater concern than the absence of readily available information is the regular shifting of titles and categories of stimulus measures. Some measures have been re-categorized or renamed between the GC‟s Reports. In particular:
- certain measures re-categorized under new titles and grouping names, such as environment-related initiatives (four discrete measures were presented in the First Report, but then aggregated under a new title in the Second Report).
- other measures seem to have been dropped from the Reports altogether, such as Maternity and Parental Benefits for the Self-Employed (included in Budget 2009, but not included in subsequent updates).
These changes to the titles and categories of initiatives render it challenging to track implementation progress through the three Reports (further examples are presented in Annex E). It could also hinder Parliament‟s ability to use these documents as budgetary oversight tools.
Finally, the GC‟s Third Report continues to place uneven emphasis across the stimulus package, failing to link the level of reporting with the risk and materiality of the initiatives. In general, smaller items in the federal stimulus plan (e.g. support for shipbuilding, enhanced work-sharing flexibility) tend to have adequate coverage, while larger items could benefit from additional disclosure (e.g. infrastructure).
As a result, parliamentarians are in a good position to provide oversight of many items contained in the stimulus package, but these represent only a small portion of the total stimulus funding and tend to be lower-risk (and less complex) projects.
There’s more — much more, including examples of stimulus items that have gone missing, or that have been renamed and recategorized — in the full report, which is definitely worth reading.
By kadyomalley - Friday, October 9, 2009 at 1:41 PM - 146 Comments
It’s going to be a very long, and not particularly relaxing weekend for senior civil servants.
First, there was last night’s eyebrow-raising report from Canadian Press, in which “government insiders past and present” spoke out against the Conservatives’ alleged use of taxpayer dollars for partisan purposes. Not surprisingly, not one was willing to go on the record — and really, does anyone out there not agree that in this case, that “fear of reprisal” is entirely justified? — but the concerns that they expressed seem to be remarkably consistent:
A partisan government advertising campaign paid for by taxpayers raised alarms from the outset among senior public servants who serve Prime Minister Stephen Harper, The Canadian Press has learned.
The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office, has never been comfortable administering the website for the Economic Action Plan — and informed Harper of its misgivings at the time of last January’s federal budget.
Those misgivings were heard, but overruled.
While the story is being denied by both PCO and PMO, the extraordinary claim originates from several sources within the famously discreet Privy Council Office.
The fact the story is being aired at all — even under the cloak of anonymity — suggests just how far the Conservatives are stretching the traditional boundaries of partisan behaviour in Canada’s professional bureaucracy. [...]
In interviews with past and present government insiders, The Canadian Press was told the Tories are trampling the admittedly grey area between partisanship and policy.
More than one career bureaucrat said they’ve never seen anything so blatant as the current use of the office for self-promotion.
None would speak on the record, some for fear of reprisals, but many said it is a story that needs to be told.
“You have a political party that is not constrained by what conventionally would be perceived as overtly partisan actions,” said one former insider.
“I can tell you every funding program across the government is being politicized,” said another public servant.
“They do it for their own needs and they don’t do it to help people. Welcome to Stephen Harper’s world.”
The CP story ran last night. This morning, during the post-QP scrums, Martha Hall Findlay seemed to be suggesting that similarly senior civil servants have also been in touch with the Liberals:
Question: Okay. Individual came forward, who was it anyway? I haven’t had a chance to -
Martha Hall Findlay: Well, at this point I’m not going to disclose their names because out of protection for them at this point.
Question: But you actually spoke to someone personally.
Martha Hall Findlay: I have not spoken to that person personally but that person has spoken to members of our group, absolutely.
Question: Right. And then -
Question: Are you talking about a private conversation? Like what’s the source of all this?
Martha Hall Findlay: Well, we’ve already seen there have been a number of reports of senior civil servants. In this particular circumstance, to disclose their names would be I think very, very troubling for them. So we want to make sure that we are in fact protecting them.
Question: This is a -
Martha Hall Findlay: A process.
Question: — a civil servant who came to the Liberal caucus to talk to you about this?
Martha Hall Findlay: We have had – and they may not be the same people because we have had newspaper reports of senior civil servants actually making statements to members of the media. We also have had conversations internally with others who have raised the same concerns. But at this point it’s not fair to them to disclose who they are.
This, ITQ would humbly suggest, is exactly why in camera committee meetings were invented. If there are, in fact, witnesses who would like to come forward with information, but who are too afraid of retribution to do so publicly, that would be the perfect forum for them to air their concerns, securely protected by parliamentary immunity. She wouldn’t even gripe about not being allowed to liveblog it.
By kadyomalley - Friday, October 9, 2009 at 9:48 AM - 111 Comments
<GOB voice>Come on!</GOB voice>
Sadly, as the ever-vigilant Colleague Potter points out, that’s one way to describe the current dispute between our prime minister and our governor general over whether or not the latter can style herself as Canada’s head of state.
According to PMO — and at least a few constitutional lawyers — she cannot; that title belongs to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and Her Majesty alone.
According to the Governor General, she jolly well can. From a statement issued by Rideau Hall last week: : “As the representative of the Crown in Canada, the Governor General carries out the duties of head of state, and therefore is de facto head of state.”
Apparently, it all goes back to King George VI, who, in 1947, “”transferred all the duties of head of state of Canada to the Governor General,” although presumably, that could be revoked by a future monarch, although as far as ITQ knows, that hasn’t happened.
Meanwhile, last night, the GG’s official website appears to have undergone a major redesign; visitors are now greeted by an enormous photo of Michaelle Jean representing Canada at the United Nations. Unfortunately, none of the links seem to be working at the moment, and the site itself is painfully slow to load, but ITQ will keep clicking away — and will report back once she’s able to peruse the rest of the site.
UPDATE: The site seems to be back online, enormous splash screen photo and all. Under the heading “Represent Canada,” the governor general is described as “representative of the Crown and head of State.” It also helpfully provides a link to the aforementioned letters patent from King George in the explanation of her “role and responsibilities”:
Since Confederation in 1867, Canada has been a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign and Canada’s head of State.
The role of the sovereign has evolved over time. In 1947, letters patent signed by King George VI redefine the powers of the governor general and authorize the governor general to carry out the responsibilities of the Crown previously assumed by the sovereign, without having to refer to the sovereign. Since then, the governor general has represented the Crown in Canada and carries out nearly all of the duties of the head of State.
The governor general represents Canada during State visits abroad or when receiving Royal visitors, heads of State and foreign ambassadors. The governor general is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces.
Your move, PMO.
REPUBLICAN UPRISINGNEVER MIND, JUST AN IT SECURITY GLITCH UPDATE: Apparently, the newly refurbished site triggered a brief, but still conspiracy-fuelling, access ban for parliamentary users earlier today:
IT’S OFFICIAL: Colleague Potter posts the latest release from Rideau Hall announcing the relaunch, which has, we’re told, been in the works for “months”; there is no mention of the contretemps over her official status, as far as state-heading.
A labour economist, a bureaucrat and a cabinet minister walk into a room … – Liveblogging the EI reform bill at HUMA
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 3:36 PM - 11 Comments
It’s no blue-ribbon panel, but at least they’ll let us watch, right? Join ITQ as she liveblogs the gang over at Human Resources, where they’re about to kick off what could be a short and sweet — well, short, at least — review of the government’s proposal to tweak the employment insurance system to provide a few more weeks of coverage for long-term workers. On the witness list today is the minister herself, as well as Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti, United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir and Rosalie Washington.
Check back at 3:30 pm for all the action.
Good afternoon, committeephiles, and welcome to what is, ITQ has just been informed, the *second* meeting on the EI bill. The minister is here, surrounded by the usual throng of serious-faced officials, as is her erstwhile fellow blue-ribbon panelist Mike Savage, who will be leading the charge for the Liberals. Also up for the red team: Maria Minna and Raymond Folco; Yves Lessard and Josee Beaudoin are here for the Bloc Quebecois, and Yves Godin – of course – for the NDP. As for the government — well, just as ITQ was about to do a nameplate check, the chair gaveled down, so that may have to wait for a minute or two so she doesn’t miss a second of the minister’s scintillating testimony.
Okay, maybe “scintillating” isn’t quite the right word. Honestly, all she really has to do is recap the press release, but she has ten minutes to do so, and ITQ has every confidence that she’ll not only rise to the occasion, but work in at least one reference to the Economic Action! Plan, and possibly a warning to the opposition against bringing on that Unwanted Fall Election.
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 9:10 AM - 62 Comments
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 7:51 AM - 223 Comments
Hey Liberals! Aren’t you glad you weren’t actually able to bring down the government last week? And Tories — oh, come on, admit it: that ‘nobody wants another election’ talking point has to be starting to stick in your craw right about now. Not only are you firmly planted in just-possibly-depending-how-the-splits-go majority territory, but the Liberals have managed to drop below their 2008 election day support, which up until now was widely thought to be the absolute floor.
So, if you were sitting around the OLO conference room, trying to avoid making eye contact with Ian Davey and wondering if there’s any precedent for senior strategists crossing the floor, what part of today’s EKOS report would you find the most worrying — other than, you know, the numbers?
Gerard Kennedy and the Infrastructure Spending Sunshine Express: Liveblogging the Transport and Infrastructure committee
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 3:25 PM - 84 Comments
As promised, ITQ will be liveblogging the debate over at the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities committee this afternoon, so check back at 3:30 pm or thereabouts-ish — there’s a bit of routine in camera business first — for full coverage.
Greetings from the wilds of West Block, where ITQ is currently cooling her platform heels in the hall outside 209 WB, one eye firmly affixed to the most unwelcoming sign designating the interior as strictly off limits to media, which Gerard Kennedy assures her will be coming down as soon as they’ve dealt with the first bit of fiddly housekeeping business on the agenda. After that, it’s on to his matched set of motions, the first of which would invite a no doubt entirely willing Kevin Page to discuss the PBO’s efforts to track the government’s infrastructure spending spree, and the second to coax a perhaps slightly more reticent Gordon Landon — formerly the Conservative candidate in Markham — to tell the committee what he knows about how those spending decisions are made. Doesn’t that sound informative? We’ll see if Kennedy’s fellow committee members agree.
Well, the meeting has started; ITQ heard the sound of the gavel just as the door was closing. So, how long will she — and it is a she, not a we, for those of you who like to keep track of media attendance — end up standing out here, BlackBerry at the ready? According to the release from Kennedy’s office — posted earlier — it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to go through the report currently under discussion, but if there was going to be a filibuster attempt by members of a certain governing party — not that ITQ is saying there will, mind you — this would be the perfect juncture.
Oh, please don’t let them have taken ITQ’s advice.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:47 AM - 58 Comments
ITQ looks forward to liveblogging the ensuing antics, although presuming that he’s already managed to “enlist” the support of the other two parties, he shouldn’t have too much trouble getting these motions through, although whether or not the second listed witness will show up is another question entirely:
Gerard Kennedy, Liberal Critic for Infrastructure, Cities and Communities is enlisting members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities today to shed light on long delays and partisan exploitation in infrastructure stimulus spending and promised job creation.
Mr. Kennedy is bringing forward two motions for action by the committee. The details of the meeting are:
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
3:30 p.m. *
Room 209, West Block.
*Debate on these motions will begin immediately following the in-camera portion of the meeting.
The motions are as follows:
That the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, be invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities at the earliest opportunity to discuss his knowledge and analysis of the Government’s infrastructure spending.
That Mr. Gordon Landon, York regional Councillor for the Town of Markham, be invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities at the earliest opportunity to discuss his knowledge of the practices of the Conservative Government in regard to riding level spending on infrastructure projects.
FloorCrossWatch: Uh, guys? It's supposed to be the Liberals who can't get their stories straight on this one
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:03 AM - 77 Comments
Way to step all over what turns out to have been your own agitprop, gang:
The Prime Minister’s Office sought Tuesday to distance itself from reports coming from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office about possible defections of Liberal MPs to the Conservatives.
Dimitri Soudas, a PMO spokesperson, said there was no truth to claims made to the Star by Kenney’s communications director, Alykhan Velshi, about three Liberal MPs interested in crossing the floor to the Conservatives.
Outside the main entrance to the Parliament buildings, Soudas called out to a Star reporter that Velshi’s information was “bulls—.”
He then in a conversation with the reporter could not explain why the communications director to the immigration minister would tell the Star about the potential floor-crossers if they didn’t exist.
Nor could Soudas explain why he was “outing” Velshi on Tuesday afternoon as the source of the tip to the Star. Soudas went on to explain that only the PMO knows certain information and Velshi wouldn’t have had the kind of facts the Star was seeking. [...]
It’s hard to see why the prime minister’s chief spokesperson would shut down what was turning out to be a surprisingly effective whisper campaign. The fact that it didn’t happen to be true is, of course, neither here nor there — honestly, when has that ever stopped them from allowing a rumour damaging to the Liberals to flourish and thrive in the hothouse that is the Hill?
ITQ’s bet, for what it’s worth and based on nothing more than her own observations, is that this was a turf war, pure and simple — as far as PMO communications, or at least Dimitri Soudas, is concerned, they’re the only ones who should be planting stories under the rubric of the unnamed government official. Of course, now that he’s made it fair game for another government official to publicly name said source if one of those stories turns out to be untrue, he’s going to want to be careful when and if — wait, scratch that ‘if — he does so in future. Particularly since this whole episode has likely earned him the quiet but fierce enmity of any number of ministerial staffers who would see his actions yesterday as not quite cricket, to put it mildly.
(And yes, we-the-media ought to be just as careful about taking anything he — or any other shy but oddly helpful Conservative operative — says at face value unless they’re willing to do so on the record, but for the most part, we already knew that, right?)
Oh, and possibly the saddest unintended consequence of all: Y’all wouldn’t believe how many Conservatives were popping the champagne corks and readying the
redblue carpet for three new caucus colleagues who, as it turns out, were never actually going to show up. It’s all well and good to wreak psychological torture on your opponents, but whipping your own people into a frenzy of excitement like that is just mean.
Hey, remember that Code of Conduct for MPs? – Liveblogging the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commish at Procedure and House Affairs
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:01 AM - 4 Comments
What’s this? A meeting to deal with ‘matters related to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons”? Why, that sounds like a job for … ITQ. After all, it is one of her favourite committees, after all. Check back at 11am for full coverage as Mary Dawson delivers a progress report on compliance with the code. No fireworks are expected — at least, not by ITQ, that is — but really, couldn’t we all use a bit of a refresher course on the ethical obligations of our elected officials? Check back at 11am for full coverage.
Man, I’d forgotten how small this committee room is — that, or I’ve been spoiled by the comparative glamour of the Railway Room. Also, it’s surprisingly full — I mean, not for an A-list committee, but for Procedure and House Affairs, more than two reporters showing up is cause for eyebrow raising and hasty consultations over what they could possibly be expecting.
Oh, there’s the whole gang back again. It seems like *ages* since ITQ has made it to a PROC meeting — probably because they’ve got a habit of going in camera for weeks at a time — but Chairman Joe is as jovial and good natured as ever as he gavels the meeting into action.
Well, this is annoying — my earpiece isn’t working, which is making the very softspoken Commissioner Dawson exceedingly hard to hear. Hmph. Luckily, her staff has passed out copies of her speech, which is why ITQ can inform you that she’s giving a fairly positive report on compliance, although she thinks the committee should consider freeing her up to explain when she decides *not* to launch an investigation.
Hey, there’s a watcher from Natural Resources here! What, oh what, about today’s meeting could possibly have attracted the interest of *that* ministry — oh, right.
So, who all wants to talk about hockey? – Liveblogging Michael Ignatieff's the Dryden/Garneau post-tactics scrum
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 9:20 AM - 28 Comments
Due to an unexpectedly cordial and uneventful Ethics committee meeting, ITQ is heading to the Foyer — yes, the Foyer, not the fourth floor hallway as originally scheduled — to wait for Michael Ignatieff to show up for today’s exercise in masochism as he meets with the media following the usual morning tactics meeting. Check back at 9:30ish for full coverage!
You know what the best part is about hanging out in the Foyer on the Ignatieff stakeout? Gossiping with random colleagues and cabinet ministers about potential floor-crossers. Not that any of us seem to know much more than what was in the Toronto Star this morning, mind you, but since when has that stopped us from rampant speculation?
Breaking news! It’s *not* Michael Ignatieff who will be joining us this morning, but Ken Dryden and Marc Garneau, who are looking just the tiniest bit apprehensive as they approach the map.
Bet y’all the networks will run this one live, so feel free to liveblog along in the comments. The more the merrier
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 8:45 AM - 5 Comments
That’s right, it’s time for one of ITQ’s very favourite rituals: election of committee chairs — that time-honoured tradition that is currently underway in meeting rooms across the precinct, which means she has to be a wee bit selective in deciding which ones to cover.
So, why did Ethics make the cut? Well, because there’s a rumour afoot of a plot to oust the incumbent chair, Paul Szabo, which means that this morning’s get-together could involve more than the usual pro forma vote to re-elect. Oh, and what with the latest controversy over ministerial fundraising by certain Toronto crown corporations, it might be fun to find out what will be on the committee agenda this fall. Anyway, check back at 9am for full coverage.
Yay! Committees are back! This is totally more fun than having an election.
Greetings, fans of seemingly routine business with the potential to careen wildly off the rails! In mere minutes, the (re)inaugural meeting of one of ITQ’s perennial favourite committees will get underway, which is why she’s staked out a front row seat in the Railway Room. Not that there was much competition, mind you — so few of her gallery colleagues appreciate the subtle intrigue of a good old-fashioned chair wrangling.
Up for the government today, we have most of the usual suspects from the last iteration of this particular committee: Bob Dechert, Pierre Poilievre, Greg Rickford and Patricia Davidson. On the other side of the table, Paul Szabo — who doesn’t get to take his usual seat until and unless reelected — as well as Borys W., and Sukh Dhaliwal; Carole Freeman and Luc Desnoyers on Team Bloc Quebecois, and Bill Siksay as the lone representative for the NDP.
It’s all smiles at the moment — lots of intracaucus fraternizing going on – although the aura around the Liberal contingent has a distinctly glummer hue.
Does anyone else remember Murder at Midnight — one of those characteristically grisly game that was a staple of the now-known-as-tween year sleepover? That’s how I imagine the Liberal caucus right now — suspicious and stuck in the dark.
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 7:34 AM - 59 Comments
… those rumours of potential floorcrossing by disgruntled Liberal MPs, first hinted at obliquely by at least one columnist a few days ago, are starting to pick up momentum, if only through repetition. If this latest bout of existential crabbiness continues according to the established timeline, some sort of crie de coeur petition to the leader, signed by at least half the caucus, should leak out sometime before Friday, and if things get really, really bad — like, Stockwell Day bad — we could see the formation of a breakaway sect by mid-October. C’mon, wouldn’t that be fun?
(Note to rebels-in-waiting: Remember to hold out until you have at least twelve MPs on side — that way, you can ask the Speaker to grant you official party status, and yes, you can almost certainly count on at least two, and very possibly three of the other parties supporting your claim, if only to make things that much worse for the Liberals.)
Oh, take heart, OLO: at the very least, this will definitely boost attendance for the leader’s post-tactics scrum. (And don’t even think of cancelling it at the last minute — that’ll definitely make it worse.)
Full disclosure: As ITQ mentioned in an earlier comments thread, she had actually heard Ruby Dhalla’s name last week, although it now sounds as though that’s the one name not being floated by Conservative pot-stirrers, Dimitri Soudas’ exclamation-point-festooned email to reporters notwithstanding. Other than that, she hasn’t heard much in the way of specifics, although the idea of a threesome is oddly familiar — wasn’t that supposed to be in the works during The Madness last December?
By kadyomalley - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 5:47 PM - 94 Comments
The latest Globe and Mail/CTV poll reveals what are likely to be some seriously panic-inducing numbers for the Liberals, not so much because they’re doing so badly — which they are, of course, but they’ve got to be almost inured to that at this point — but because the Conservatives are doing so darned well, especially in Ontario:
Canada (with differences from a Sept. 3-6 poll are in brackets) (MoE 3.0):
- Conservatives: 41 per cent (+6)
- Liberals, 28 per cent (-2)
- NDP: 14 per cent (none)
- Green Party: 9 per cent (none)
- Bloc Quebecois: 9 per cent (-3)
Quebec (MoE 6.3):
- Bloc Quebecois: 40 per cent (-9)
- Liberals: 33 per cent (+10)
- Conservatives: 15 per cent (-1)
- Greens Party: 8 per cent (+1)
- NDP: 4 per cent (-2)
Ontario (MoE 5.0):
- Conservatives: 46 per cent (+5)
- Liberals: 30 per cent (-9)
- NDP: 16 per cent (+5)
- Green Party: 9 per cent (same)
The West (MoE 5.7):
- Conservatives: 58 (+15)
- Liberals: 18 (-6)
- NDP: 15 (-7)
On the other hand, the Liberals can at least comfort themselves with the Quebec numbers, which suggest that the party’s death-star like implosion may have been ever so slightly preemptively exaggerated.
Also, the obligatory poll obsessive gripe: “The West”? Seriously, Strategic Counsel? How is that 58 percent supposed to be even the least bit meaningful when it includes Alberta? And where’s “The East”, otherwise known as Atlantic Canada? Other than that oddity in breakdown methodology, these results are in line with what we’ve seen from other polls taken over the last week or so, but still, it would be interesting to see what the numbers are in British Columbia and Saskitoba, rather than lumping it all into one big amorphous blob.
UPDATE: Yay! The Globe and Mail has put up the full data tables, which include, among other fascinating tidbits, the fact that Strategic Counsel apparently interviewed just 125 respondents in all of Atlantic Canada — that’s four provinces, and a total of 32 seats — for a weighted sample size of 74, the results for which have been omitted entirely from the regional breakdowns.
They are pundits, hear them roar! – Liveblogging Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant at the Justice committee
By kadyomalley - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 3:15 PM - 57 Comments
Join ITQ for full coverage of what is likely to be a standing-room only affair as the Mark Steyn/Ezra Levant Travelling Freedom of Speech Roadshow pops by Parliament Hill for a special hearing on Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Code. The antics get underway at 3:30 pm, so check back for all the liveblogging action.
Greetings, fans of liberty! Or foes, for that matter, or those who haven’t quite made up their mind on the issue — really, the welcome mat is out for all. We’re all about the diversity of opinions here at ITQ, right?
ITQ can report that the room is filling up slowly but surely — a litle bit more slowly than she expected, to be honest, but there’s a good turnout of media types — particularly from her fellow Maclean’s colleagues — and the witnesses are both present and accounted for.
As for the MPs on deck for today, we have Brian Murphy, Ujjal Dosanjh and Dominic LeBlanc for Team Liberal; Serge Menard and Marc LeMay for the Bloc Quebecois, and Joe Comartin rounding the bench off for the opposition; over on the government side, it’s Brent Rathgerber, Stephen Woodworth, Rob Moore, Rick Norlock and Daniel Petit, with Ed Fast in the chair.
Gosh, this is going to be interesting, isn’t it?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a witness so rosy-cheeked with ebullience and excitement as Ezra Levant since — actually, possibly ever.
And with that, Ed Fast gavels the committee into business — apparently this is the first of an unknown number of hearings slated to be held on the subject of Section 13 — and warns us all to turn off all cell phones and basically behave like good little audience members.
With that, he hands the microphone over to Ezra Levant, who can’t grab it fast enough — he’s just so pleased to be here, you guys. Especially at a multipartisan committee, because, as he notes, free speech is not a partisan issue.
Onto the prepared remarks — somehow, ITQ suspects that the full text will be available within minutes, so she’s just going to cover the highlights before we get to the good part — the Q&A session.
By kadyomalley - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:35 AM - 56 Comments
… commemorating ministers get cryptic:
MINISTER CLEMENT MARKS SPACE MILESTONE
OTTAWA, October 5, 2009 — The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, will be on Parliament Hill today to commemorate a significant space milestone for Canada. Canadian Space Agency President Dr. Steve MacLean will also participate in the announcement.
Date: Monday, October 5, 2009
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Commonwealth Room
Centre Block (west wing)
So, is there another “significant space milestone for Canada” that took place on this particular day in history? Because if there isn’t, it seems all but impossible to hold this event without eventually mentioning the name of the person whose accomplishment is ostensibly the source of celebration, even if he is now a Liberal MP and his party’s industry critic.
Then again, after what happened to those local Liberal MLAs at the Action! Plan announcement last week in Saint John, Garneau should probably consider himself fortunate if he makes it into the room without being stopped by security. (ITQ kids, of course: as a parliamentarian, any attempt to block him could be seen as a breach of personal privilege. Of course, that doesn’t mean they have to let him speak.)
Of course, it’s always possible that the minister actually plans to pay tribute to Canada’s first ‘space tourist’, although it’s not clear how Guy Laliberte’s sight-seeing trip can be considered a milestone for the Canadian space program, since he plunked down his own money for a ticket on a Russian spacecraft.
By kadyomalley - Friday, October 2, 2009 at 2:19 PM - 78 Comments
Now here’s the death-defying Liberal plunge we were expecting to see:
Conservatives: 37 (-)
Liberals: 27 (-2)
NDP: 17 (+1)
Green: 6 (-2)
Bloc Quebecois (Quebec only): 41 (+6)
Okay, that two point drop is within the margin of error, but still — it’s not exactly an encouraging trend for the Liberals, although once again, ITQ notes that the Conservatives don’t seem to have been able to harvest the spoils from this, the September of Ignatieffian discontent. So far.
As Angus Reid points out, that would produce “virtually the same results” as the last election, at least if you go by share of the vote, although it’s not clear whether it would be the same parliament, or just the same numbers with a bit of seat shuffling.
I’ll post the regionals — with plus/minus — in a second, but it’s worth noting that the Liberals actually went up in Quebec; it was the Conservatives that sank by seven points, but since that doesn’t fit into the narrative, expect that to be roundly ignored by we-told-you-so-ing columnists.
Anyway, expect an update soon, but feel free to feast on the entrails in the comments in the meantime.
UPDATE: As promised, the regional breakdown, with changes from last week:
Conservatives: 42 (+5)
Liberals: 23 (-6)
NDP: 28 (+5)
Conservatives: 61 (-)
Liberals: 18 (-)
NDP: 11 (-6)
Conservatives: 50 (+3)
Liberals: 13 (-9)
NDP: 29 (+11)
Conservatives: 44 (-)
Liberals: 30 (-)
NDP: 16 (+1)
Green: 8 (-2)
Bloc Quebecois: 41 (+6)
Conservatives: 14 (-7)
Liberals: 27 (+1)
Green: 8 (-3)
Conservatives: 32 (+10)
Liberals: 34 (-23)
NDP: 28 (+7)
Green: 5 (+4)
From which we can reasonably conclude that Denis Coderre’s resignation as Quebec lieutenant came as particularly unwelcome news to erstwhile Liberal supporters in every region other than Quebec. Oh, and Ontario, which apparently dozed through the last week of political intrigue and excitement on the Hill.
Funny, it doesn't feel any different up here: Liveblogging the (first) afternoon of official opposition on the Hill
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM - 62 Comments
Join ITQ for an afternoon of wandering betwixt Chamber, Foyer and everywhere in between as she soaks up the atmosphere on this, a day that could, at least in theory, go down in history — or at least make the year end parliamentary highlight reel. Check back after 3pm for all the action from the post-QP scrums, and stick around for full coverage of wherever ITQ finds herself next. It’s like a Throne Speech, only without the red carpet!
(Okay, so actually, it’s more like the exact opposite of a Throne Speech. Picky, picky, picky.)
Greetings, confidence-in-the-government-holders and those aren’t so sure! ITQ is once again coming to you live from the Foyer, although it’s not clear whether the post-QP scrums will be postponed until after the vote later today. The NDP, we’re told, will be biding its time until then, presumably to preserve some semblance of suspense over their symbolic absence/abstention/whatever gesture of parliamentary disobedience on which they eventually decide.
Meanwhile, the Liberals — ever distractable hummingbirds that they are — appear to have all but lost interest in their motion; bringing down the government, it seems, is so *last week*. Instead, spinners and staffers and MPs alike are whirling from gaggle to gaggle with their latest alleged proof of government-funded funny business — the new logo for the Olympic hockey team, which bears a haunting resemblance to the Conservative Party logo.
Oh, here’s Paul Szabo, obligingly expressing concern and just the right degree of outrage over the latest controversy to hit Lisa Raitt and her former employer, the Toronto Port Authority
By kadyomalley - Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:35 PM - 64 Comments
As promised, a spin-off post for the bonus questions, which can be found, in all their PDF’d glory, here:
First up, we have the latest data on one of Colleague Wells’ most favourite polling metrics, direction of the country/government, which reveals — pretty much exactly the same thing that it revealed when EKOS asked the same question back in July, as it turns out: