By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
And so it has been nearly three years since we, the previously vulnerable people of this vast land, were freed from the tyranny of the most-accurate data. Nearly three years since Tony Clement took a stand against all those interested in a particularly reliable basis for understanding the demographics of this country. Nearly three years since the Harper government vowed that Canadians should not be made to answer questions that no one seems to have been interested in asking.
And yet, oddly, with the release today of the results of the National Household Survey, that tribute to personal freedom and individual rights, Thomas Mulcair seemed rather uncelebratory.
“Mr. Speaker, today we have begun to see the consequences of the Conservatives’ backward decision to kill the mandatory long form census,” the NDP leader declared this afternoon. “Experts at StatsCan have confirmed that the data in the Conservatives’ new survey is deeply flawed. It contains contradictory information and 30% of Canadian families did not even bother filling it out. That is five times more than the last census.”
It seemed here that Mr. Mulcair had decided to hate freedom.
“The Prime Minister is not just satisfied to make public policy based on flawed information, that is his goal,” Mr. Mulcair ventured. “We have been calling on the Conservatives to reinstate the mandatory long form census for over three years. Will the Prime Minister finally listen?”
To listen, of course, is one thing. To heed is quite another. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Dan Harris challenged the government on Friday on the subject of Marc Garneau’s not being invited to a celebration of the Canadarm. Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister, was rather dismissive in response.
This afternoon, Mr. Calandra took a moment to apologize.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael celebrates the season with the Opposition
The NDP held their annual holiday party in the Hall of Honour. Great lighting, booze bars, an oyster bar and food stations were spread over the Hall and and adjoining meeting rooms. It was one of the best parties held on the Hill.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:16 AM - 0 Comments
Shortly after Question Period concluded, the Speaker formally called for yelling. All those in favour of the motion were invited to yell yea. All those opposed were invited to yell nay.
Technically, one supposes, the members need not yell yea or nay. They could nearly say so aloud. But democracy is not for the quiet. And so on one side they yelled yea and on the other side they yelled nay, the NDP’s Peter Julian seeming to particularly enjoy this (holding his yell for an extra beat or two). The Speaker made a judgement as to who had yelled most and then, inevitably, at least five members of whichever side had lost stood to demonstrate their desire for a formal standing vote to be recorded for the sake of posterity.
With a few of these final formalities dispatched with, the Speaker called for the members—all those duly elected to be here given 30 minutes to report to the House to spend the next seven hours expressing their respective wills on Bill C-45, the second budget implementation act of 2012.
Out in the foyer, as the dull digital tone that now stands in for the ringing of actual bells chimed over and over, Bob Rae attempted to explain to a cluster of reporters what could be hoped to be accomplished by what was about to happen.
“Well, you know, we want to inflict, frankly, as much damage and make the government realize this is just a crazy way to do public business,” he said. “We’re happy to discuss navigable waters. We’re happy to discuss the tax credit policy of the government. We’re happy to discuss what their approach is to small business. We just think these things have to be dealt with in a way that respects the House and respects the democratic process. And we just don’t see that in the approach that’s being taken by the government. They are pushing any approach that’s being taken by any other parliament in the world much, much, much further. In fact, if you go back to many of the principles of parliamentary democracy, they’re opposed to this joining together of several measures in one bill. In some states in the United States, to do that is actually unconstitutional.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons is filling up—the Prime Minister seems to have brought a large stack of paperwork to keep him busy—and voting on C-45 will soon commence. We’ll be here until the end to observer all the sights, sounds, thrills and chills of democracy in motion (specifically the motion of standing and sitting down repeatedly).
3:43pm. The party whips have been duly applauded and the Speaker is now calling the first vote. Thomas Mulcair receives a round of applause as he leads the votes in favour.
3:45pm. If you’d like to follow along with the commentary from the floor, our list of MPs on Twitter is here.
3:47pm. Mr. Harper receives a round of applause as he leads the nays.
3:51pm. The first vote goes to the nays, 156-134.
3:56pm. Michelle Rempel, Pierre Poilievre, Randy Kamp, Mark Adler, Bob Rae, Vic Toews and Ruth Ellen Brosseau are using the time to sign Christmas cards. Greg Rickford is reading Sports Illustrated. Denis Lebel is going through some paperwork. Megan Leslie and Nathan Cullen are fiddling with their iPads.
3:58pm. The second notes goes to the nays, 147-134. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Dan Harris would like it noted that someone—he says it was a Conservative MP—shouted “go home” at him after he finished his statement to the House yesterday. (It is audible at the very end of this clip.)
Home for Mr. Harris is Scarborough, Ontario.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 1:36 PM - 0 Comments
An interesting exchange from the very end of yesterday’s debate on the budget.
Charlie Angus. Mr. Speaker, I had a great deal of respect for Jim Prentice. There was a man who stood up in the House and did not misinform people. He was a man one could say would never lie. Jim Prentice in 2009 stood up as part of the throne speech and said that the government would put a price on carbon. The present Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Montreal and said that the government would open a carbon trading institute in Montreal and “put a price on carbon”. Either they were making that up, they were lying or they thought the Canadian people were stupid, but that was the policy the government ran on: that it would put a price on carbon. I see the bobbleheads who are now repeating this misinformation, the lie about the so-called carbon tax, when the government had told the Canadian people that it was putting a price on carbon I would like to ask that hon. member, what happened to the commitment made by Jim Prentice, an honourable man in the House? Was that just cynicism on the government’s part or was he making it up?
Joy Smith. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the Prime Minister would never tax the public in any way, shape or form to that end. The fact of the matter is that I have never before been called a “bobblehead” and I take exception to that kind of analogy. I have had nine years of university. I have raised six children. I do not consider myself a bobblehead. I consider myself an intellectual person who works hard to raise the standard of everything I do, and I am saying great kudos to the government and our Prime Minister, who has protected this whole country from financial ruin when a lot of other countries have experienced economic downturns.
Dan Harris. Mr. Speaker, following up on the point that my colleague raised, Mr. Prentice made his comments in response to the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne actually did say that the government would put a price on carbon, and that price was $65 a tonne. If we take the total output, that would actually mean a $45 billion tax on carbon, which is more than double what the entire Conservative caucus is saying we are pitching. How do we square that circle?
Joy Smith. Mr. Speaker, how I square that circle is that we are living in the year 2012 and the Prime Minister has never, ever said anything about putting a tax on carbon. It is the NDP carbon tax that would raise groceries. It is the NDP carbon tax that would increase gas prices. That is—
Royal Galipeau. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I both ran in 2008 against a carbon tax. The party that ran on the carbon tax was relegated to a reduced caucus in the opposition. They are now stuck in the third corner. It is true that we talked about carbon trading with the United States. The United States would not trade. We cannot trade with ourselves, so that is the end of it.
The problem for Mr. Galipeau and Ms. Smith is that their party and government now consider “carbon trading” to be the same thing as a carbon tax. And while Mr. Harper didn’t talk about putting a tax on carbon, he did talk about putting a price on carbon. And so far as the Conservative party and the Harper government are now concerned, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon.
(There could be a discussion to be had about whether cap-and-trade should be pursued in Canada if the United States is not willing to do likewise—something Mr. Galipeau seems to suggest—but it’s a discussion that has been rendered moot by the Harper government’s primary arguments that putting a price on carbon is a carbon tax and a carbon tax is a terrible thing.)
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 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
A joint statement from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino (the Conservative MP for Vaughan) on the shooting in Scarborough last night.
“Our Government was very saddened to hear about this shooting in Toronto last night. We condemn this brazen shooting and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
“Canadians are concerned about violent crime, that’s why over the past six years our Government has introduced tough-on-crime legislation, like the Safe Streets and Communities Act, to keep dangerous criminals and gang members off the streets and out of our communities. We have also taken steps to ensure our border is open to legitimate travel and trade but closed to criminals and gun smugglers.
“Our Conservative Government has introduced mandatory minimum penalties for all serious firearms offences. We call on the Opposition to support victims and our actions to improve the safety of Canadian families. Canadians can count on us to stand up for victims and to continue strengthening our justice system so that those who commit serious crimes, particularly with firearms, serve serious jail time.
“Illegal guns and the criminals who use them have no place in our society. Our Government is committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians comes first in Canada’s justice system.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
Parade gathers politicians, leadership hopefuls and Mulcair Bears
Politicians were out for Toronto’s annual gay pride parade.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Twice this week—see here and here—Stephen Harper saw fit to lament that a precursor to the NDP hadn’t supported World War II. A Conservative backbencher, Scott Armstrong, was sent up before QP this morning to directly attack JS Woodsworth and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird then repeated the citation in response to an NDP question about extending this country’s mission in Afghanistan (both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Baird invoking Hitler by name).
It is true that Mr. Woodsworth, leader at the time of the CCF, the party that would become the NDP some 22 years later, opposed Canada’s involvement in the war. Mr. Woodsworth was a pacifist. But he was also the only member of the CCF to oppose the declaration of war. Indeed, he was the only MP in the entire House of Commons who opposed the motion. Major James Coldwell, who would soon thereafter succeed Mr. Woodsworth as leader of the CCF, supported the declaration. As apparently did a young CCF MP named Tommy Douglas.
This is not the first time a Conservative has raised Mr. Woodsworth’s vote as something the current NDP needs to answer for. Here is Jason Kenney, then of the Canadian Alliance, raising the issue in 2003. At the time, Mr. Kenney was advocating for the use of a “credible threat of force” against Iraq.
Meanwhile, Mr. Harper’s reading of history inspired something of a Twitter meme yesterday and the NDP duly sent up Dan Harris before QP today to inform the House of the highlights. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 6:16 PM - 0 Comments
At the outset of his campaign, Thomas Mulcair brushed aside a comparison to Tony Blair and instead invoked Gary Doer and Lorne Calvert. One of his supporters, NDP MP Dan Harris, explicitly refuted the comparison to Britain’s Labour party.
Thomas Mulcair, who has officially joined the NDP leadership race, wants to transform the party to appeal to more Canadians, but he’s not moving rightward like Tony Blair, the former British Labour leader who famously sought a “Third Way,” his supporters say.
“The Third Way would be a compromising of our values and principles just to open the door” to more people, said Dan Harris, a first-time MP from Scarborough-Southwest who was in Montreal Thursday backing Mulcair’s candidacy. Blair embraced privatization and hiked tuition fees, Harris said. Mulcair, on the other hand, “is trying to talk about the economy and to be fiscally responsible and (say) that we are going to live within our means. I don’t think Tom is going to compromise our values.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 61 Comments
The New Democrats sent up backbencher Dan Harris just before Question Period yesterday with the following.
Mr. Speaker, when in opposition the Conservatives were outraged by an arrogant government that hid from the opposition by invoking closure. Now they have done it nine times since the election. The Minister of Public Safety once said: “For the government to bring in closure and time allocation is wrong. It sends out the wrong message to the people of Canada. It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid.” The Minister of Canadian Heritage decried: “…the arrogance of the government in invoking closure again.” The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration once called it “…yet more unfortunate evidence of the government’s growing arrogance.” One more quote. “The government is simply increasingly embarrassed by the state of the debate and it needs to move on.” That one was from the Prime Minister himself. These out of touch Conservatives came here to change Ottawa. Instead, Ottawa changed them. In six short years they have become everything they used to oppose.