By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 0 Comments
After some fussing from the fussy David Christopherson over the fuzzy nature of the last federal election, Nycole Turmel returned to the fore to wonder aloud about the precise location and utility of some $3.1 billion in funding originally allocated for the purposes of preventing terrorist attacks.
“Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are saying that losing track of $3.1 billion is no big deal,” she reported. “The Prime Minister says there is a lack of clarity. The President of the Treasury Board says it was the Liberals’ fault.”
Across the way, Tony Clement, the president in question, furrowed his brow and appeared confused, perhaps not quite agreeing with Ms. Turmel’s account in his regard. (Perhaps he didn’t so much blame the Liberals, as merely note their complicity.)
“However,” Ms. Turmel continued, “let me read this quote: ‘One would think there would be some element of shame regarding today’s report, but there is none whatsoever.’ That was the Prime Minister talking about the Liberal boondoggle in 2005.”
And, in the interests of consistency, that previous rush to judgment should serve as the model now.
“So,” Ms. Turmel asked, “is the Prime Minister now ready to show some contrition?”
If he was, it was not obviously conveyed in words. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM - 0 Comments
At 2pm, the Speaker’s parade—a ceremonial photo op, a silly show of hallowed tradition—proceeded down the West corridor of Centre Block toward the House of Commons. Preceded by one marching guard and flanked by three more—To protect the Speaker from what? A sneak attack by the Queen?—strode the sergeant-at-arms, carrying the large golden mace that must be in place for the House to conduct its business, and the Speaker and his clerks in their three-cornered hat and robes. Once the official party was safely inside, the large wooden doors were shut and the official business of the nation began for another day.
Something like a dozen reporters had gathered at the gallery door, anxiously waiting for the House to be called to order. This was something like four times the usual attendance—the larger crowd here in anticipation that one of the duly elected adults sent here to represent the people of this country might stand up in his or her place without having first obtained the permission of the party leader he or she is supposed to support. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:20 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister is profoundly saddened.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come out swinging against New Democrat Alexandre Boulerice for the Quebec MP’s 2007 blog post that praised communists who opposed the First World War and cast the conflict as “a purely capitalist war on the backs of the workers and peasants.”
“I find the comments outrageous, inflammatory, unacceptable,” Harper said in Calgary.
NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer was also unimpressed.
Mr. Boulerice posted a reply on Facebook this evening to explain himself.
The story as reported by Sun news is inaccurate. I can assure you that I have the utmost respect for all our veterans and never criticized the role of the Canadian military personnel in WWI, nor in any other war. And we can always analyse the context of every conflict.The men and women who serve in our forces are doing a dangerous job, under difficult circumstances and deserve our gratitude.
My priority, as an MP, is to make sure that we take care of our veterans and we treat them with the respect they deserve.
For any who have been offended, I apologize. Be assured it was never my intention to in any way criticize Canada’s veterans.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 1:52 PM - 0 Comments
Boulerice offered no defence of his comments, but he did shoot back at Blaney on Wednesday. “I think Mr. Blaney yesterday, it was the last day to engage in partisan politics and to try and score points like that, with old stories,” said Boulerice in Montreal. “He is the minister who is making the largest cuts in support programs for disabled veterans.”
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole is profoundly saddened.
So perhaps Mr. Boulerice and Mr. O’Toole are in agreement that this shouldn’t have been brought up this week?
Meanwhile, Sun reporter Brigitte Pellerin says Mr. Boulerice didn’t insult soldiers and John Geddes explores the political history of World War I. If this discussion is to continue, it should at least include a debate about the Conscription Crisis.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 12:22 PM - 0 Comments
It’s fascinating to see controversy stirred up over an old blog post by NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice in which he called World War I “a purely capitalist war” and lamented how, at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917, “thousands of poor wretches were slaughtered to take possession of a hill.”
Conservatives, led by Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, have expressed outrage and demanded Boulerice apologize. So far, he hasn’t. For the record, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair had already released a statement praising the legendary efforts of Canadians soldiers in the landmark battle. [I've clarified this sentence since an earlier version might have left the impression Mulcair issued the statement only after the Boulerice blog became an issue.]
I’m not sure how reflecting on the tragedy of thousands dying to capture a height of land would be inconsistent with acknowledging their military prowess in doing so, much less insulting to veterans. More interesting, I think, is the strangeness of how World War I can remain a politically fraught subject nearly a century on.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
If Mr. Boulerice does indeed oppose World War I, he would join the likes of Pope Benedict XV, Bertrand Russell, Helen Keller and Henry Ford in opposition. In Canada, World War I also precipitated the Conscription Crisis of 1917.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 6:55 PM - 0 Comments
Just before Question Period this afternoon, Costas Menegakis, the Conservative MP for Richmond Hill, stood in his spot along the back row of the government side and lamented for the NDP’s quibbles with a piece of government legislation.
“The NDP has proven once again that they will always put the interests of criminals first,” he reported, his words thus committed to the official record where they will remain in his name for eternity.
Was this uncivil?
A few spots after Mr. Mengakis, it was Ted Opitz’s turn. “Yesterday my NDP colleague from Scarborough Southwest said that his party will offer practical solutions,” explained the Conservative MP who had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court for the honour to stand in this place and say these words. “What he fails to mention is that the NDP solution is a new $21 billion job-killing carbon tax.”
This is mostly ridiculous, but is it uncivil?
Question Period then began. Soon enough, Bob Rae was on his feet, speaking loudly and wagging his finger at the Prime Minister.
“Mr. Speaker, it is clear after the Minister of Finance’s attack on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Kevin Page, that it is the Prime Minister’s intention to turn the taxpayers’ watchdog into his personal lapdog. That is the plan that the government has,” he declared. “Why is the government having to fire Marty Cheliak, Pat Stogran, Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley, Paul Kennedy, Adrian Measner, Munir Sheikh, Steve Sullivan and Remy Beauregard? Why is the name of Kevin Page being added to this list of people who are being thrown out of the bus because they had an independent opinion about something?”
Was that uncivil? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM - 0 Comments
After two proposed amendments were passed and one defeated, C-377 passed the House last night by a vote of 147-135. Five Conservatives voted against: Brent Rathgeber, Mike Allen, Patricia Davidson, Ben Lobb and Rodney Weston.
Russ Hiebert, the bill’s sponsor, insists the bill is constitutional, but the privacy commissioner still has concerns.
We believe that the amendments to the bill are a step in the right direction for privacy. However, we continue to have privacy concerns about the proposed legislation. For example, even with the amendments, the names and exact salaries of union officials earning more than $100,000 a year would be publicly disclosed. This is less privacy protective than the public disclosure requirements for registered charities in Canada, which Commissioner Stoddart has highlighted as model for balancing transparency objectives with protection of privacy.
The commissioner’s office also passes along her statement to the finance committee and a follow-up letter to the committee from the commissioner. The full transcript of the commissioner’s appearance is here.
The NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice, meanwhile, is generally unimpressed. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM - 0 Comments
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for…
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for parliamentarians to raise awareness about bullying and diversity. Pink cupcakes were served.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to the late NDP leader
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to mark the one-year anniversary of NDP leader Jack Layton’s death.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 9:54 AM - 0 Comments
Shortly before 1:30am this morning, the CP Rail back-to-work legislation passed the House.
Alexandre Boulerice led the NDP response here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have launched a website (mulcairsndp.ca) to compile their exposés of the NDP shadow cabinet.
The latest target is Alexandre Boulerice, whose support for Quebec Solidaire should apparently disqualify him from occupying a senior role in the NDP caucus.
See previously: Nycole Turmel and the sovereignists
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 5:45 PM - 0 Comments
While the Conservatives lament via news release, four Conservative ministers tweet their best wishes.
Jason Kenney Congratulations to MP Jinny Sims on her appointment as my new (NDP) Critic for HM Loyal Opposition. Jinny’s smart, articulate & hard-working
Lisa Raitt Congratulations to MP Alexandre Boulerice the new critic for the Labour portfolio from HM Loyal Opposition.
James Moore Congratulations to Pierre Nantel, new Heritage Critic for the NDP. Looking forward to the debates ahead.
Pierre Poilievre Congrats to Olivia Chow on reappointment to Transport file. As NDP critic, she is tough and smart.
See previously: How this works
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Here again is the roster for Thomas Mulcair’s shadow cabinet. What to make of it? Here are several observations.
-First, the obviously big promotions go to Megan Leslie (who stays with environment, but becomes a deputy leader) and Nathan Cullen (who becomes House leader). Both are confident, impressive, fresh-faced MPs who are quick on their feet and under the age of 40 (Mr. Cullen’s 40th birthday is in July). Very interesting to see them put not just in prominent positions, but positions of leadership. Your premature, baseless, futile, wild-eyed “next leader of the NDP” speculation probably starts somewhere here.
-That’s a rather large number of people with titles: 78 out of a caucus of 102. Granted, the Conservative cabinet numbers 39 and the Prime Minister named another 28 parliamentary secretaries, so the sides are somewhat close to even. Put the two teams together and they represent just less than half of the House.
-The shadow ministers of finance, justice, human resources, transport, aboriginal affairs, public works, industry, immigration and the environment—nine of the top files—are women.
-All of the elected leadership candidates—Niki Ashton, Paul Dewar, Mr. Cullen, Robert Chisholm, Romeo Saganash and Peggy Nash—were placed in prominent spots. Of the 13 NDP MPs who endorsed Brian Topp, 10 of them—Charmaine Borg, Jean Crowder, Libby Davies, Chris Charlton, Yvon Godin, Francoise Boivin, Jinny Simms, Jasbir Sandhu, Kennedy Stewart and Alexandre Boulerice—were put in critic roles. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
The text of a new letter from NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice to the elections commissioner.
I am writing to again follow up on our previous letters regarding allegations of voter suppression during Canada’s 41st General Election.
We have received anonymous correspondence from people telling us they worked for Elections Canada on Elections Day and witnessed suspicious activity. We heard a number of accounts about voters turning up at wrong polling stations, or people showing up at the correct polling station complaining they had been sent to a wrong location some miles away. We believe that your temporary elections staff with firsthand experience could provide invaluable assistance to your investigation and urge you to follow up with as many as possible, particularly in ridings where complaints have been received.
Furthermore, as this issue has unfolded, our offices have been flooded with accounts of events that occurred on or near Election Day. We have received personal accounts about misconduct on Election Day from ordinary Canadians looking to speak out. These many unsolicited letters, emails and phone calls are a testament to the scope of this issue.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP’s Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice have written to the commissioner of elections to lay out what allegations of voter suppression the NDP is looking into.
Voter suppression is an unacceptable practice that violates sections of the Elections Canada Act. Any individual or campaign that aided or abetted these voter suppression calls designed to disrupt Canadians from exercising their right to vote should be fully investigated. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to ensure that the people or parties responsible for these dirty tricks are held to account and charged accordingly.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 5:55 PM - 27 Comments
“Is that all you’ve got?” he cried again a second later, in case Alexandre Boulerice hadn’t heard him the first time.
The Heritage Minister did not clarify what precisely he found lacking in news that, as The Globe and Mail put it this morning, “the RCMP is probing allegations that members of the Quebec construction industry tried to use Conservative contacts all the way up to the Prime Minister’s Office in a bid to influence the choice of a new president of the Montreal Port Authority.” But if Mr. Moore didn’t think that much was worth a query or several, he was no doubt mollified as the range of the opposition’s concerns this day became clear: everything from ethical lapses to alleged failures by this government in regards to conditions on native reserves, firearms licensing, international climate talks, asbestos exports, employment insurance, food safety and poverty.
Foremost among concerns this afternoon was Peter MacKay’s fish story. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM - 10 Comments
For months he has been the subject of indignation and accusation. He is said by his opponents to have frivolously and flagrantly spent public funds, drawn from an account approved by Parliament for entirely unrelated reasons, on various trinkets And he is said to have subsequently avoided taking responsibility for himself, remaining in his seat while others were sent up to explain his actions away.
But now he stands accused of intervening to have the word “sure” removed from the official record of his testimony before a parliamentary committee. And so he stood, rising immediately after Question Period to solemnly proclaim his innocence on this count and to call on the Speaker to investigate.
“These baseless and outrageous allegations form a serious breach of my privilege,” he declared, “which is impeding my work as a member of this House and as a minister of the Crown.”
Mr. Clement stopped just short of demanding a full public inquiry with subpoena powers, but a police raid of the Hansard office seems in order. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 7:06 PM - 13 Comments
The Scene. Adherents to the faith of smaller government take note, for the Harper government has successfully identified and eliminated one of the prime inefficiencies standing between us and true freedom.
“This government cannot say how many jobs were created after having spent $47 billion of Canadians’ money,” lamented the NDP’s Peter Julian this afternoon of the government’s trademarked action plan. “The program was so badly monitored that no one knows if it was effective.”
Of this, Mr. Julian can claim the authority of the auditor general, who apparently found no attempt by the government to determine precisely how many jobs it “created” (in the messianic parlance) with its billions in bridges, roads and hockey arenas.
But just because the government can’t—indeed, won’t—add, doesn’t mean Mr. Julian can’t subtract. “We now know that 72,000 full-time jobs were lost last month thanks to the policies of this government,” he asserted with his next breath. “Now that the truth is out, when will this government put aside bogus and unsubstantiated job claims and take real and immediate action to create jobs here in Canada for Canadian families?”
Jim Flaherty would at least stand to respond to this. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM - 31 Comments
Maybe it is just the season—as soon as the clocks are turned back each fall, Ottawa is suddenly made even darker and colder than usual—but the daily insulting of the public’s intelligence seems particularly dreary of late. For sure, it has been worse. And it may yet get worse. But has it ever seemed so witless? Has it ever felt so leaden? Is it just us or is it getting dim in here?
There is much to be said—with expletives and otherwise—about the government’s recent penchant for shutting down debate. But it is surely more than that.
It is, no doubt, certain practicalities: the temporary status of the two opposition leaders, the prolonged nature of certain disagreements or the lack of some tangible new gazebo-based outrage to focus on, for instance. But it is also the collective and universal decision that sound economics, study and evidence are not particularly necessary when formulating public policy. It is the rote demagoguery. It is general neglect. It is smug disregard. It is the willingness of grown men and women in business attire to stand and allow themselves to be used to read scripted banalities and invective into the official record.
It is not all bad, of course. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:22 PM - 6 Comments
As to the NDP’s concern, the government’s position seems to be that the official opposition is completely wrong. From Gary Goodyear’s answers during QP this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP is flat wrong again. It is quite unfortunate that whoever is helping the member did not do his or her math before the NDP members decided to go on with these tactics. The fact is that in 2007, 2008 and 2009 funds were drawn from government resources, just like we said in the budget, and then from subsequent public accounts. I would recommend that the member consult the public accounts…
Mr. Speaker, I would highly recommend the member give up his day job. The Public Accounts of Canada are certified by the Comptroller General and the Auditor General. The facts are very clear. The funds for the Perimeter Institute are consistent with the government’s commitments. The question here remains. Why has the NDP chosen to attack this world-class institution to score cheap political points, and then be flat wrong? That member should apologize to the Comptroller General of Canada for an insulting attack.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 31, 2011 at 1:49 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice has dispatched a letter to Tony Clement for the purposes of clarifying the government’s accounting, specifically as it relates to a budget line for grants to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The full text of the letter below.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 4:27 PM - 3 Comments
Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport, responding this afternoon to the NDP’s Alexander Boulerice, who asked if the government would allow a parliamentary inquiry into the G8 Legacy Fund to proceed.
Mr. Speaker, there already has been an inquiry into it. There has been an exhaustive review by the interim Auditor General. If I could quote a truly great Canadian, “The facts have not changed.” Everyone could take a moment now to recognize that truly great Canadian, ladies and gentlemen, the honourable member for Calgary East.
The member for Calgary East is Deepak Obhrai, who was, until yesterday, the Conservative MP assigned to handle questions about the G8 Legacy Fund when John Baird is absent from the House.
Today’s round of Legacy Fund questions after the jump. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 1:28 PM - 7 Comments
Two of Thomas Mulcair’s supporters announced yesterday that Mr. Mulcair will announce his candidacy for the NDP leadership next week.
Interviewed on Tuesday, Mulcair supporters said the former Quebec cabinet minister and multi-term MP would perform better in an election campaign than Mr. Topp, who is not as experienced in front of the cameras.
“Mr. Topp is a candidate who doesn’t have much charisma, which would be a problem in the event of a televised leaders debate,” said New Democratic MP Tarik Brahmi, a supporter of Mr. Mulcair who represents the riding of Saint-Jean south of Montreal. Mr. Brahmi added that Mr. Topp, who has the endorsement of former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, “is the candidate of the apparatchik.”
Mr. Brahmi is, by my count, the ninth Quebec MP to side with Mr. Mulcair, but Mr. Topp now has the support of Alexandre Boulerice, perhaps the most prominent (so far) of the NDP’s Quebec newcomers. (It has been Mr. Boulerice’s job each afternoon to provide the en francais mocking of Tony Clement after Charlie Angus has done so in English.)