By John Geddes - Friday, March 2, 2012 - 0 Comments
In the government’s highly improvizational response to the fraudulent phone calls story, one of the least persuasive elements (and that’s saying something) is the claim that very few complaints were actually raised during last spring’s election.
Just yesterday in the House during Question Period, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, Dean Del Mastro, said this: “We know that Elections Canada received 30 complaints nationally. That is what the report of the Chief Electoral Officer says and now some nine months later we have the NDP coming forward with new complaints and new evidence. It is all nonsense.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 2, 2012 at 8:49 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservative side tried yesterday to turn around the accusations against them. This apparently did not go so well.
“The opposition parties said that [their supporters] received calls from a telephone firm with offices in North Dakota. But the only party who hired a firm with offices in North Dakota was the Liberal Party,” Poilievre said…
The confusion centred on three call companies with similar names, including Prime Contact Group, based in Canada, and Prime Contact Inc., based in North Dakota. A spokesman for Prime Contact Inc. told CBC News that the company has never worked for a Canadian political party or candidate and is not affiliated in any way with Prime Contact Group.
Harper said a third company, First Contact, routed its calls through the U.S. A number of Liberal campaigns used First Contact for calls during the 2011 election and in at least one previous election. But First Contact owner Mike O’Neill told the CBC’s Dave Seglins last April that someone was “spoofing” First Contact’s numbers — projecting a fake caller ID — to impersonate his company.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday on CBC, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary said the Conservative party was investigating the allegations of election fraud. An hour later, on Sun TV, he said the Conservatives were not conducting an investigation,” the interim leader of the opposition recounted. “Could the Prime Minister tell us which it is? Are the Conservatives investigating, yes or no?”
Could the Prime Minister? Theoretically speaking, yes. Would he? Practically speaking, no.
“Mr. Speaker, the Conservative party has made available, from the beginning, all information to Elections Canada,” Mr. Harper said. “The Conservative party can say absolutely, definitively, it has no role in any of this.”
On what basis can the government say this? It is difficult to say.
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 - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 4:19 PM - 0 Comments
More on QP in a moment, but here—from Dean Del Mastro, in response to a question from the NDP’s Charlie Angus—is the closest the government side came to trying to explain all of the reports you’ve been reading of phone calls about polling stations.
I would say to this member that during the recent election Elections Canada has now confirmed that at least 127 late polling station changes were made affecting as many as 1,000 polls. We contacted our supporters to make them aware of those polling station changes so that they could cast their votes.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 5:35 PM - 0 Comments
Bob Rae raises the possibility of challenging election results in court.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservative party platform for last year’s election contained two references to Old Age Security. One was a tangential reference, noting that seniors could withdraw funds from Tax-Free Savings Accounts without “any clawback of their OAS or GIS payments.” The other reference is a boast that the Harper government “eliminated Old Age Security payments to prisoners.”
News coverage of Old Age Security during the election seems to have been minimal, but in April the Peterborough Examiner reported on a forum with local candidates that included the question, “What would you do about old age security?” The Examiner relayed the following from Conservative incumbent Dean Del Mastro.
The Conservative government removed one million low-income seniors from the federal tax rolls. “The last thing we should be doing is increasing their burden at a time when we see they are burdened enough.” He pointed to top-ups to the pensions of low-income seniors in the 2011 budget…. “We got back into the affordable housing business.” The government made investments in seniors housing. “Progress is being made.” The federal government needs to look at keeping costs for seniors down, such as energy costs.
Perhaps interestingly, Liberal candidate Betsy McGregor countered with the following. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 3:42 PM - 0 Comments
The government’s investments weren’t as advertised, but the future looks expensive. Supply management was put on the table and duly debated. The Royal Society asked us to think about euthanasia, but no one wanted to talk about it. The Conservative party has some reimbursements it might return. The NDP got set to debate itself as the contenders peddled their thoughts. The Liberals offered to realign the House at no extra expense. And a multi-party committee came together to consider matters of life and death. 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, November 14, 2011 at 7:04 PM - 14 Comments
The Scene. After some hurling of invective over other issues, the House turned to the matter of Dean Del Mastro’s apparent willingness to upend the constitutional order by which this country has functioned for more than 144 years.
“Mr. Speaker, in the past month the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has been called out by the Canadian judiciary, the Ethics Commissioner, the bar association, but now the senior law clerk of the House of Commons is warning that his behaviour at committee is interfering in the independence of the courts that is both unconstitutional and ‘unlawful,’ ” the NDP’s Charlie Angus reported. “Either the government respects the constitutional limits of Parliament or it does not.”
In his seat across the way, Mr. Del Mastro slapped his own hand and laughed.
“I have a simple question,” Mr. Angus declared. “Will the government rein in this rogue member, yes or no?”
It was here Heritage Minister James Moore’s responsibility to clarify that it was, in fact, Mr. Del Mastro’s duty to do as he has been doing. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 14, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 7 Comments
The sub judice convention is based on the principle that each branch of our parliamentary system of government should respect the functions of the other branches and not interfere or appear to do what belongs to one of the other branches to do. Our parliamentary system of government is based on a separation of the three basic governmental powers or functions: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The judicial branch operates—and must be seen to operate—fully independent of both the executive and legislative branches. The credibility of the law courts as impartial arbiters of legal rights and as interpreters of the law depends on a clear recognition by the other branches of their independence.
Mr. Del Mastro previously, if temporarily, sought to have a sitting judge testify before a parliamentary committee.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Topp won the endorsement of Charmaine Borg. Paul Dewar sided with Robin Hood, swore off sales taxes and set his sights on pushing your buttons. Nathan Cullen broadened his horizon. And Romeo Saganash considered secession.
The Prime Minister brushed aside concerns about the manner of Moammar Gadhafi’s death. Another death in Afghanistan raised questions about risk. John Baird promised to hold Libya’s new government to account. Daryl Kramp took on date confusion. Mathieu Ravignat took on floor crossing. Vic Toews took on defence lawyers (however much he may have needed one in the past). Quebec and Ontario took a stand on crime. The Harper government took a stand against UNESCO. The New Democrats and Conservatives questioned each other’s math, while the Conservatives voted together to defeat an NDP motion on asbestos.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 28 Comments
Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, said on Facebook last month that it was “outrageous” the Catholic school board in Peterborough, Ont. had invited Trudeau to speak for a second time in three years. “If they are looking for a truly great speaker, who also happens to be Catholic, perhaps they might invite [Immigration] Minister Jason Kenney,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote on Oct. 12. “Are there any tenets of the Catholic faith that Justin supports?”
Here is video coverage of Mr. Trudeau’s appearance in Peterborough, including testimonials from obviously traumatized young people. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
John McCallum and Tony Clement exchanged tweets. The shadow cabinet was shuffled. House of Commons redistribution proposals were floated, but Tim Uppal cautioned against believing everything a government source tells you. The Harper government tabled its Wheat Board reforms and took aim at its crime-fighting partners. Dean Del Mastro’s lamented selectively. Steven Blaney sided with the French. Charlie Angus kept on mocking Mr. Clement. John Turner kept on complaining. And Pat Martin tried to explain himself. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 9:36 AM - 3 Comments
Glen McGregor notes that, while Dean Del Mastro thinks “a lot of Canadians would be really troubled to know that we are spending an awful lot of taxpayers’ money on a court case where in fact they’re funding both sides of it” so far as it concerns the CBC, two federal departments are also fighting the information commissioner in court.
But both the Department of Justice and Public Safety Canada are currently locked in their own complex litigation against Legault over other documents … And just as CBC wants to exercise exemptions from releasing records because they pertain to journalistic, programming or creative activities, the government is claiming its own exemptions from the open-records law. It contends solicitor-client privilege trumps the requirement to release the documents.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 26 Comments
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro imparts his feelings on the Ontario election campaign.
More than that, however, Mr. Del Mastro says it harkens back to the early 1990s when Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was Ontario’s NDP premier. He brought in employment equity legislation to encourage the hiring of women and visible minorities. “My opportunities were severely restricted by legislation that was supposed to be creating equality,” Mr. Del Mastro said. “I was in my early 20s and thought how dare they create an entirely discriminatory policy that was going to affect my future.”
As a “young white male” at the time, Mr. Del Mastro said jobs were few and far between as a result. “And here we go again,” he said.
The issue in question—considered here by the Globe—is an Ontario Liberal proposal to create a tax credit for businesses that hire immigrants for jobs in professions such as “accounting, law, engineering and architecture.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 2:21 PM - 2 Comments
In light of a short-lived NDP motion on Old Age Security eligibility, Kevin Milligan reviews the practical principles at play.
So, we had twenty years of contributory Old Age Security taxes — but that ended 40 years ago. Assuming work started at age 18, this means no one under age 58 today has ever paid any explicit Old Age Security taxes — and those over age 58 paid explicit taxes only for a fraction of their working lives. Moreover, the proportion of people who never paid the explicit tax will only grow in the future as younger generations reach age 65 with increasingly less work exposure to the 1952-1971 window. This renders the argument about a tax-benefit linkage much weaker for Old Age Security than for the Canada Pension Plan.
A refinement of the argument posits implicit linkages between a lifetime of paying taxes into general revenues and the pension benefits that flow at older ages. This argument seems sound in general, but I find it hard to distinguish why we should impose residency requirements on Old Age Security but not other public benefits or public spending. Why restrict Old Age Security to long-term residents but not public health insurance? What makes Old Age Security so different?
Kady O’Malley notes the relatively symbolic nature of private members’ motions and the fact that—among other plausibly controversial motions—a motion to change Old Age Security requirements was put forward by a Conservative MP in 2004. Nonetheless, Conservative MPs Dean Del Mastro, Kyle Seeback, Greg Rickford and Cathy McLeod have moved quickly to reassure their constituents that they are entirely opposed to this recklessness.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 20, 2011 at 6:12 PM - 16 Comments
The Scene. Here was Rona Ambrose’s chance. Late in the hour, the New Democrats had sent up Nycole Turmel with an urgent bulletin. ” ‘Public Works managers informed their employees Monday the department will shed about 700 jobs over the coming three years, including the elimination of 92 auditors,’ ” she informed the House, reading aloud from a freshly published news report.
“Is it true?” Ms. Turmel wondered.
And so here stood Ms. Ambrose, afforded a great opportunity to loudly and proudly luxuriate in those “Conservative values”—those “Canadian values,” as the Prime Minister is lately fond of putting it. Here she was practically invited to not only confirm the hundreds of public sector jobs eliminated, but proclaim her government’s belief in those hallowed principles of conservatism: limited government, fiscal prudence, personal liberty and the righteousness of the unfettered market. Here was her chance to champion with soaring prose, or at least exclamation points, a new awakening of freedom, a new day for an empowered nation casting off the shackles of tyranny.
Instead, she said this: “Mr. Speaker, as part of our continuous efforts to become more efficient and more effective, Public Works has achieved the strategic review target set out by Treasury Board.”
To Ms. Turmel’s yes or no question, this seemed the most banal way possible—a lullaby of bafflegab—of confirming the affirmative. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 25, 2011 at 6:55 PM - 140 Comments
Whatever else was discussed within the walls of the House of Commons these last 14 months, the 40th Parliament was about Parliament. From its unprecedented start to its unprecedented end, here was a debate about our democracy—how it works, why it exists and what it means. These were the questions this place wrestled with each day. There are the questions now, implicitly or explicitly, laid before the public.
The events of this day are thus now open to interpretation. By one understanding, a majority of the people’s representatives expressed their lack of confidence in the those representatives who presently form the people’s government, thus compelling the government to resign and the Governor General to call for a general vote of the people. By another understanding, the Liberals conspired with the socialists and separatists to defeat Stephen Harper’s government and force an unnecessary and dangerous election.
Or understand what happened today as a concession. From all sides. An admission of defeat on the part of the 40th Parliament and a plea to the public to sort out what are wildly divergent views on the proper functioning of Parliamentary democracy.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s third annual Hockey Night in Barrie charity game was…
Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s third annual Hockey Night in Barrie charity game was packed with fans and celebrities. For the first time Stephen Harper (below) attended the event. He coached the blue team with Hockey Night in Canada‘s Don Cherry.
Patrick Brown and Don Cherry.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 5:07 PM - 0 Comments
To defend its position on the census, and respond to the former chief statistician at Statistics Canada, the government put up Dean Del Mastro on CBC’s The Current this morning. Mr. Del Mastro claims to have taken a “number” of statistics courses in his life. Make of his effort what you will.
Mind you, with all the respect Mr. Del Mastro’s expertise in this regard is obviously due, things do not appear to be going well for the government side so far in this debate and it would perhaps be helpful to Tony Clement’s cause if a professional statistician, economist, social scientist or city planner would step forward to express support for the government’s decision. So consider this a call to all. If you toil in any of those aforementioned fields—or have any other kind of professional interest in the census—and are supportive of the government’s position, please drop me a note at email@example.com.
Please give generously.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:05 PM - 0 Comments
We know, because we’ve been told, that the next governor general is a non-partisan. But other facets of his history and personality are so far less understood.
For instance, though it was not noted in the official release announcing his appointment, in the third paragraph of the attached four-paragraph backgrounder we learn that Mr. Johnston, who was introduced to the country as a respected academic, began his post-secondary studies at Harvard. Granted, while at Harvard, he played “ice hockey,” as they call it there. But still, Harvard.
This is obviously confusing, for if we have learned anything at all over the last four and a half years it’s that the name of that American educational institution is only to be invoked or referenced in the derisive sense, for the purposes of mocking another’s character or intellect.
To wit. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 1:04 PM - 10 Comments
Presented with a petition demanding he return to Ottawa, Conservative MP Larry Miller offers to sit for an extra 12 days this July.
Reached by telephone, Miller said the past few weeks have been among his “busiest on record.” He said he has met with many constituents. He said the Conservative government plans to “make up” 10 of the 22 sitting days missed by prorogation. ”If the issue is the 22 (missed) Parliament sitting days, we already have plans to make up 10 of those days and, as far as I’m concerned, we can make up the other 12 in July,” Miller said. “We’ll take them out of the summer break. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Dean Del Mastro, even more committed to Parliamentary democracy, is willing to sit through all of July and August.