By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
“You know, there’s two schools in economics on this,” Mr. Harper once said, “One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I’m in the latter category. I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”
“I give you my word: As long as I will be prime minister … there will be no new taxes,” Mr. Harper had said two years before that.
Perhaps that was merely a commitment to refrain from inventing entirely new taxes that had not previously existed. But otherwise it is to wonder if the Prime Minister was a touch disappointment when he opened the budget book last Thursday and found that, not only hadn’t the Finance Minister eliminated all taxes, but he’d seen fit to budget for several increases in the cost of civil society. If he was heartbroken to read as much, it is surely a testament to Mr. Harper’s commitment to party loyalty that he has not yet gone rogue and pronounced the budget to be unworthy of his support.
As it is, it must have been rather odd for the Prime Minister to have to stand in his place this afternoon and defend such a document.
First for the opposition this afternoon was David (Furious D) Christopherson, the NDP deputy whose floppy hair has a way of bouncing in time to his indignation. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 5:41 PM - 0 Comments
David Christopherson, in furious form, stood to recount the events of Friday morning.
“Last week, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who once described EI as… ‘lucrative‘ defended her new quota system by describing the unemployed as… the bad guys.’ ”
At least in so far as Diane Finley had in fact spoken the phrase “bad guys,” Mr. Christopherson was correct. It is merely in the entire context of those words that the New Democrat led the House astray.
The official opposition had been pestering the minister on Friday morning about a report that quotas had established for inspectors charged with rooting out fraud of the employment insurance system. In the midst of this, Ms. Finley—on two occasions—suggested the New Democrats were on the wrong side of this matter. “Mr. Speaker, with respect to the employment insurance program,” she said, “it is very important to note that, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys.”
Perhaps this was a prepared line—an attempt to turn an attack around. Perhaps Ms. Finley came up with this in the moment in a fit of frustration. Either way, the New Democrats have apparently decided to see Ms. Finley’s oversimplification and raise her a distortion.
“Law-abiding out of work Canadians deserve better than to be treated like criminals,” Mr. Christopherson declared. “Why is the government cutting EI just when people need it to the most?”
Here John Baird was provided an opportunity to be reasonable. “Mr. Speaker, my friend from the NDP has it all wrong,” he scolded. “The minister made no such statements. He is flat-out wrong.”
A few moments later, Nycole Turmel stood to read the charges against Ms. Finley en francais. “Tell the truth!” protested a voice from the government side.
Perhaps for the sake of not being too blatant about all this, each of the men and women on the opposition resisted the urge to yell back, “you first!” Continue…
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, November 8, 2012 at 4:53 PM - 0 Comments
But NDP MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, countered that the government knew the timing meant the committee reviews would be limited. “I think our House leader nailed it right when he said it’s a charade,” Mr. Christopherson said. “The government is trying to give the impression they are acquiescing to the opposition’s request for a more detailed scrutiny of the budget implementation bill, but they are doing it in such a way that, in reality, it’s not going to happen in a way that can have any kind of impact,” he said. “It’s all a charade, it’s all a game. It’s unfortunate because it leaves Canadians with the impression that this government is being transparent and accountable, but the reality is they are not. By having control of all the committees, through their majority vote, they are able to manipulate this process in such a way that it looks like something good is being done, but in reality it’s not really happening, which is sort of the trademark of this government, isn’t it,” Mr. Christopherson said.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP David Christopherson used his members’ statement yesterday to chide Conservative MP Lawrence Toet.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Conservative member for Orléans and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Public Works did not talk about their ridings; they talked about the official opposition. The member for Elmwood—Transcona has only made one statement in the House since we returned. What did he do with his precious, limited opportunity? He also parroted the PMO’s blatantly misleading lines about the NDP. If that member does not want to talk about his great riding, I am proud to tell the House some of the fantastic things going on in Elmwood—Transcona.
For instance, Transcona is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. This coincides with the annual Hi Neighbour Festival, also celebrating its own 40th anniversary. These celebrations have allowed people in Transcona to reflect on the famous Canadians who have also come from the area, including Terry Fox; Olympic speed skater, Susan Auch; sports commentator, Rod Black; and of course our own Bill Blaikie. We on this side of the House take great pride in celebrating the centennial. Shame on the member for kowtowing to the PMO—
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 1:41 PM - 0 Comments
With the public accounts committee’s F-35 study seemingly about to be halted, Liberal committee member Gerry Byrne and committee chair David Christopherson seem to be at odds. On Tuesday, Mr. Byrne used Question Period to query Mr. Christopherson (it’s a little known fact that committee chairs can be asked questions during QP). Mr. Christopherson seemed not to appreciate the gesture and is now lamenting for Mr. Byrne’s behaviour.
“Mr. Byrne has chosen that because he can’t get the rulings he wants, that he is going to hold whatever tantrums are necessary to convince the world that he’s right and the rest of the world is wrong,” Mr. Christopherson told reporters after the in-camera meeting. “And on this matter, in my opinion, Mr. Byrne has been a dishonourable crybaby and because he doesn’t have enough talent to come up with procedures that will let him win, he starts to argue the rules are unfair,” Mr. Christopherson said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 6:03 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister has a special gift for making his government’s policies sound altogether banal, utterly and profoundly unremarkable.
“We will continue to do our best to try and put some resources into helping people find jobs,” Mr. Harper said this afternoon, under questioning about his government’s proposed changes to employment insurance. “At the same time, for those who still cannot find work in their seasonal industries and seasonal parts of the economy where people have difficulty finding work, there will, of course, be employment insurance as a safety net for those people.”
But if Diane Finley’s smile did not assuage the opposition parties, what chance do Mr. Harper’s words? From the other side of the House, there is worry that seasonal workers will be particularly impacted. There is fretting that the unemployed will be compelled to take lower paying jobs. There is fear that those without work will be deprived of EI benefits. There are concerns that the Harper government didn’t consult with the premiers. There is even dismissal of the Conservative plan for more and better emails. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 5:26 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Nathan Cullen held in his left hand the budget bill. Or at least a reasonably thick stack of papers that one might’ve presumed was the budget bill. Give or take a couple hundred pages.
“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have introduced a so-called budget more than 400 pages long, 70 acts, more than 753 clauses amended and one Parliament being asked to vote blind,” the NDP House leader lamented, “gutting environmental protections, ripping up the Fisheries Act and eliminating entire laws. Asking a single committee to review this bill would mean that it would not get the scrutiny that it deserves. Will Conservatives work with New Democrats, respect Parliament and agree to split the bill?”
This was now a contest of who could sound more reasonable. James Moore, leading the government side this day, opened his right hand as if to massage the nation’s collective shoulders. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly after 2 p.m., David Christopherson, the fussiest New Democrat, called to order this emergency meeting of the standing committee on public accounts. Around the table sat seven Conservatives, four New Democrats (only three of whom were officially participating in the proceedings) and one Liberal.
Mr. Christopherson proceeded to read aloud the specific standing order of Parliament—106(4) for those of you scoring at home—that allows for four members of any committee to request an emergency meeting of that committee, as had occurred in this case. He asked to make sure that everyone in attendance was in agreement that this is what had happened. There was unanimous agreement—or at least no one audibly objected—and so Mr. Christopherson moved on to explain that there were two motions before the committee.
Here is approximately where the trouble started. Or rather where this place’s latest testament to the vitality of our democracy began. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly before Question Period, the NDP’s David Christopherson stood to note that the Conservatives had not yet come forward with legislation to enhance the chief electoral officer’s investigative powers, as unanimously suggested by the House. Mr. Christopherson then lamented for the chief electoral officer’s committee appearance tomorrow.
To make matters worse, Conservatives are now playing games with the Chief Electoral Officer. Mr. Mayrand asked to come before Parliament and report on his investigation into allegations of coordinated voter suppression by Conservative operatives, but the Conservatives used their majority to force Mr. Mayrand to testify tomorrow on budget day when almost every journalist on the Hill will be locked up in a room without even their Blackberries.
At some point around the time Mr. Christopherson was suggesting the Conservatives had used their majority on the procedure and house affairs committee in this way, Conservative MP Joe Preston, the chair of the committee, loudly voiced his objection.
Mr. Preston stood after QP and apologized “unreservedly” for his “very inappropriate” comments.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. On the second question of his second day, the new leader of the opposition seemed to find the right key of indignation.
“Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives are so confident that the F-35s meet the operational requirements, they should be willing to table the full list in the House today,” he ventured. “Even when they are rigging the process, they cannot get a plane that meets Canada’s needs. It is way over budget, and they do not even have any guarantee of proper industrial benefits for Canada, one of the leading aerospace countries in the world.”
The indictment thus read—and today Mr. Mulcair opted to use the House’s small, portable lecterns—the question was then tabled.
“When are the Conservatives going to show some basic competence with public money,” Mr. Mulcair wondered, “and have an open, transparent, public competition to replace the CF-18s?”
The New Democrat members felt strongly enough about this to stand and cheer. Standing in for the Prime Minister, Jason Kenney rose and offered a rambling, somewhat hesitant, series of sentences, a rhetorical smorgasbord of the government’s finest charges and assurances. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, she recounted, Mr. Harper had said that only the Liberal party had been involved with American firms to facilitate its telephone campaigning. Alas, she explained, it turned out the Conservative party—or at least some of its candidates—had done likewise. Would the Prime Minister admit that he was wrong? she wondered. And, furthermore, would he admit that the Conservative party had made fraudulent calls?
The Prime Minister was unmoved. “Mr. Speaker, I gave clear answers regarding the activities of the Conservative party of Canada,” he professed. “All this information has been available to Elections Canada since the beginning. Now is the time for the opposition, which has spent millions of dollars to make hundreds of thousands of phone calls, to give all its information to Elections Canada.”
Ms. Turmel tried again. Mr. Harper, switching to English, repeated himself.
“Of course,” he assured, “I answered questions very clearly about the activities of the Conservative party of Canada. Those calls are all very well documented. All that documentation is available to Elections Canada, and has been available since the beginning. What is not available is all of the information that is coming from the opposition, the NDP in particular. There is a complete lack of transparency on the hundreds of thousands of calls that they made. They should give that information to Elections Canada.”
If the government’s implication was not obvious as yet, the Prime Minister’s dutiful parliamentary secretary made matters clear a moment later. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 12:21 PM - 0 Comments
In yesterday’s update, I also neglected to mention David Christopherson, who endorsed Thomas Mulcair on Friday.
Here are the latest standings. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM - 0 Comments
He chopped and swiped with his hand. He pumped his fist and jabbed his finger. He raised his voice and he scolded and he challenged and he dismissed. How dare the NDP, they who once propagated a phone campaign that directed disenchanted voters to call Lise St. Denis’s office, accuse him of wrongdoing. Who were they to stand here and challenge him? And with what evidence exactly? And the Liberals, they having recently employed someone who posted to Twitter excerpts of the Public Safety Minister’s divorce proceedings—perhaps they might just go ahead and apologize to the government for suggesting anything untoward.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
“Canadians demand answers. They deserve better than another five-year runaround by the Prime Minister before their next inevitable guilty plea. The Prime Minister has it within his power to get to the bottom of this today, to identify the guilty parties and to ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he ventured, “or the Prime Minister will have proven that in no time at all he has become exactly that which he used to loathe.”
He stretched the vowel sound of this last word for the sake of indignation. Seated across the way, making a rare Monday appearance, the Prime Minister noticeably bounced in his spot with a guffaw. He chuckled again a moment later when Nycole Turmel suggested special by-elections might soon be in order.
The opposition members, their outrage pent up after four days of allegation and accusation, could not contain themselves. Continue…
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 - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 6:35 PM - 23 Comments
The Scene. James Moore, today’s substitute prime minister, had enough to say about the government’s maybe withdrawing from Kyoto that it was not until his third response to NDP leader Nycole Turmel that he needed to start whining about the actions of a Liberal government that last held office nearly six years ago. Conversely, in response to a question from Bob Rae about the travel habits of Peter MacKay, Moore had but three sentences to offer before he had to start ranting about how terrible the Liberals had been.
So it could be worse. To this rallying cry, the government holds steadfast.
The explanation for Mr. MacKay is altogether more straightforward and thus more complicated. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:42 PM - 28 Comments
The Scene. Peter MacKay stepped out into the foyer just long enough to turn and walk up the stairs. The small horde of reporters that had been waiting for him were left to shout questions at his retreating figure. For the record, the back of his head had no comment.
“I would suggest to the minister, if he’s open to advice,” the NDP’s David Christopherson offered to a different gaggle of reporters a few minutes later, “that he get to a microphone fast and come clean and tell the true story and then ask for forgiveness.”
It is often said that with great power comes great responsibility and maybe that was even true at some point. At it is, it would be more accurate to say that with great power one is afforded the authority to decide what one wants to take responsibility for. And that modern power means, and depends on, doing everything to avoid ever saying sorry. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 9 Comments
Chris Plecash asks various political players to consider the laments of Lowell Murray.
Ultimately, said Sen. Murray, due process has eroded. “It is what makes our electoral democracy work, our parliamentary democracy work, our system of governance work. You must respect due process.”
“I think there’s been a sort of acquiescence over the years that it’s just the way things go,” David Christopherson said. “What we’re hearing from Senator Murray and others is that it’s time that we stop and gave this whole system a good shake. Is this the best democracy that we can provide for Canadians?”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 9:33 AM - 2 Comments
In yesterday’s episode, the NDP’s David Christopherson attempted to convince Defence Minister Peter MacKay to say either the word “yes” or the word “no.”
Christopherson. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has proven that he is good at misdirection, rhetoric and personal insults. What he is not so good at is giving straight answers. The minister hurls accusations of fearmongering, but the biggest source of fearmongering is the minister’s refusal to clear the air on base closures. The minister is the only who can put military families and their communities at ease. Will he please stand in his place and assure military base communities that they have nothing to fear?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM - 23 Comments
The Speaker seemed yesterday to say it was up to the four party leaders and the Auditor General to discuss the release of a report into G8-related spending. On that note, Jack Layton wrote last night to the other party leaders and the Auditor General to request a meeting.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 3:42 PM - 15 Comments
The Direct Sellers Association of Canada (DSA) held a reception in 200 West Block…
The Direct Sellers Association of Canada (DSA) held a reception in 200 West Block that featured tables filled with things Tupperware and Mary Kay products. Public Safetly Minister Peter Van Loan (left) with DSA president Ross Creber.
Speaker Peter Milliken.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, May 4, 2009 at 6:18 PM - 1 Comment
Speaker Peter Milliken held a special reception for the group Buy-A-Net. This Kingston, Ont.-based…
Speaker Peter Milliken held a special reception for the group Buy-A-Net. This Kingston, Ont.-based organization raises money to purchase insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malaria medicine for Ugandan villages.
Winnipeg NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
The Speaker (right) and His Excellency George Marino Abola High Commissioner-designate for the Republic of Uganda.