By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 23, 2009 - 19 Comments
The Scene. The Conservatives have identified a loophole in the Speaker’s recent ruling against the use of Parliament’s time to launch personal attacks against political rivals—namely that it’s not a personal attack if you don’t immediately identify the individual you are defaming.
So it was that Mike Wallace, another of the government’s enthusiastically obedient, if relatively interchangeable, backbenchers, was sent up before Question Period to air various allegations against “someone.” Only at the final moment did he reveal that this “someone” was, in fact, the Liberal leader. Suffice it to say, the Prime Minister found this quite hilarious.
In related news today, this first day back for Parliament after a week off, the Conservatives also made use of another gap in the Speaker’s prohibition—namely that it does not cover little-known and generally irrelevant late-night television hosts who say rude things about us on American cable news network shows that are watched by fewer people than live in Windsor, Ontario.
So it was that two Conservatives were sent up before Question Period to bemoan the besmirchment of this country’s honour done by one Greg Gutfeld, an American TV personality who once apparently edited the erudite current affairs journal, Maxim. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 5:03 PM - 11 Comments
Scientists assess Gary Goodyear’s views on evolution.
Elizabeth Elle, a biology professor at Simon Fraser University, said it’s good to hear the minister accepts the theory of evolution, but she was concerned about the example he provided.
“I think it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how evolution by natural selection works,” she added.
The fundamental premise is that genetic variation among organisms results in differences in their “fitness” — a biological term referring to the number of offspring they have. That ultimately leads certain characteristics to become prevalent among their descendents. However, the types of characteristics that result in more offspring change over time as the environment changes.
Elle acknowledged that humans are evolving every day, being naturally selected for characteristics such as resistance to certain diseases.
“The kind of shoes that you wear and the surfaces that you walk on — I don’t understand how that would translate into differences in fitness from a biological sense,” Elle said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 11:21 PM - 21 Comments
Gary Goodyear gets some support from, well, pretty much the last person you’d expect to be defending him at this moment.
On Tuesday, Liberal science critic Marc Garneau said that believing in evolution is not a job requirement for the science minister.
“It is a personal matter. It is a matter of faith.… I don’t think it prevents someone from being a good minister,” said the former astronaut, who has been a vocal critic of the government for its cuts to the three granting councils that fund university-based research in Canada.
It is perhaps time to wonder whether this isn’t all just an elaborate production to punk Dan Gardner.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 6:27 PM - 6 Comments
Dan Gardner, who must be having quite the day, responds to Gary Goodyear.
Apparently, the problem here is not merely that the minister of science does not accept the veracity of a basic scientific fact. It’s that he doesn’t have a clue what that scientific fact is.
He also has some words for Radwanski.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 5:48 PM - 28 Comments
Interviewed on the political chat show that’s named after a hockey term, Gary Goodyear has confirmed his belief in evolution. Sort of.
Jane Taber: So you do believe in evolution. You believe in the theory of evolution. Let’s just get this off the table right now.
Gary Goodyear: We are evolving, every year, every decade. That’s a fact. Whether it’s to the intensity of the sun, whether it’s to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it’s running shoes or high heels, of course, we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant. And that’s why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong…
Full interview with Goodyear here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 3:21 PM - 24 Comments
Adam Radwanski on all this nonsense.
I agree wholeheartedly with Kady O’Malley that Gary Goodyear displayed an appalling lack of political acumen in walking straight into a discussion of his belief – or lack thereof – in evolution. Coming so soon after his weird blow-up with representatives of the CAUT, it suggests our science minister is in way over his head in a portfolio that’s taken on more profile than Stephen Harper probably anticipated when he appointed him to it. And yes, Goodyear’s background as a chiropractor is probably not going to help him much in his discussions with Steven Chu.
All that being said, does anyone else get the feeling we’re losing the plot a wee bit here?…
More to the point, when people are weary of the viciousness that’s come to characterize federal politics in this country, attacking the personal knowledge or views of your opponents is a dangerous game to play. At least, I’d like to think it is. And I’d also like to think that those of us in my line of work will keep our eye on the ball as much as we’ve implored our politicians to do.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 2:05 PM - 15 Comments
Dan Gardner reads the front page of the Globe.
I thought it was embarrassing when a chiropractor was appointed Canada’s minister of science and technology.
I thought it was more embarrassing when physicist Steven Chu became US Secretary of Energy, thus setting up future meetings at which American science is represented by a Nobel laureate and Canadian science is represented by a man who thinks putting pressure on the spine is a wonder cure for all that ails us.
And it was still more embarrassing when the Conservative government, in a budget that tossed money to any upstretched hand, actually cut funding for scientific research. This, I thought, is the very depths of embarrassment. It can’t get any worse than this.
Well, I was wrong. Oh lord, oh lord! Was I wrong!
Later, he disagrees somewhat vehemently with our Paul.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 12:25 PM - 114 Comments
I’m told that when he was meeting the recipients of the NSERC’s Steacie Fellowships and the nominees for the Herzberg medal yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed surprise that so many were from outside Canada (one’s American, one is Dutch, and one had returned to Canada after spending most of her career in the UK. I may be missing other cases). I can’t imagine why he would be surprised. One of the main selling points of the invigorated national science effort since 1997 is that it has created a climate that makes smart people want to come to Canada. Thousands of researchers from around the world have made Canada their home or returned home from abroad in the last decade. Somebody might have wanted to brief up the PM before yesterday, but apparently the PMO is a little short on people who feel like telling the boss things he wasn’t expecting to hear. Stephen Harper then went on to talk about his plans for more narrowly targeting new research dollars, and for commercializing the products of research. “But we were maybe a bad audience,” one of the researchers told me. “The Steacie Fellows do pure research.”
I am also pleased to announce, given the unpleasantness on the front page of this morning’s Globe, that they believe in evolution. In fact, one of them is a freaking poster boy for evolutionary theory. Continue…
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 9:45 AM - 120 Comments
But if the story in today’s Globe and Mail had come out just a few hours earlier, we probably would have paid considerably more attention to what the PM’s pointminister on science and technology had to say to the crowd during the NSERC research awards last night at the Chateau Laurier last night.
Oh, who am I kidding? If Goodyear’s comments – or rather, refusal to comment – on evolution had been reported before last night’s awards ceremony, I suspect that reporters who turned up to cover it would have discovered that it had suddenly become closed to the media. (Maybe that’s why those PMO staffers were in such a rush to hustle us out the door after the presentations were over.)
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 9, 2009 at 6:01 PM - 36 Comments
Select excerpts from Gary Goodyear’s responses to opposition questions during QP today.
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely wrong.
The member may not know but the auto industry spans the entire continent and we have been working well with the Americans.
Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to do is welcome the member to the House of Commons here in Ottawa. Obviously he has either not been here or not paying attention.
Mr. Speaker, this member is absolutely incorrect. I suppose that is okay because that member is voting against the budget anyway.
Mr. Speaker, I mentioned it earlier, but the member was probably not listening, so I will say it again a little bit slower this time.
If the member would slow down and read the budget, she would see $5.1 billion of additional new funding.
Mr. Speaker, I wonder what the hon. member wishes us to do when most of the cars that we build here in Canada are sold in the United States. The member may not know this but the United States is in a serious recession right now and it is not buying cars.
By kadyomalley - Monday, March 2, 2009 at 8:01 AM - 53 Comments
Note to newly ascended junior cabinet minister Gary Goodyear and staff: it’s rarely a good sign when a Globe and Mail story about a recent meeting with representatives of one of your core client constituencies begins with the words “the screaming erupted” and ends with you “storming out” as they flee your office without even pausing to retrieve their coats:
The screaming erupted last Wednesday afternoon, just down the street from Parliament Hill, in the offices of a Conservative cabinet minister.
Two officials with Canadian Association of University Teachers sat on one side of a boardroom table and on the other sat Gary Goodyear, Minister of Science and Technology, his policy adviser Wesley Moore and a civil servant ready to take notes.
CAUT, a lobby group that represents 65,000 staff at 121 colleges and universities, had planned to raise concerns over the government’s handling of research funding. But within moments, it became clear they wouldn’t get very far.
“The minister was very angry,” said David Robinson, associate executive director of CAUT. “He was raising his voice and pointing his finger … He said everyone loves their [federal budget] and we said, ‘A lot of our members don’t love it’… and he said, ‘That’s because you’re lying to them, misleading them.’”
The talks, Mr. Robinson said, went from bad to worse. In 15 years on the job, he “never had a meeting like that.”
Mr. Goodyear agrees. “I, too, have never had a meeting like that. It was a unique experience and one I don’t care to repeat.” [...]
They had barely begun to state their case, Mr. Robinson said, when the minister accused them of twisting facts.
When CAUT staff said the Conservatives have a spotty record on science and noted they abolished the office of the national science adviser, Mr. Robinson said, the minister’s assistant screamed at them to shut up.
“Then the minister said, ‘You’ve burned all your bridges with us!’ and they stormed out.
“In all the meetings I’ve been in like this, I’ve never been shouted at and told to shut up,” Mr. Robinson said. The civil servant who escorted them to the elevator suggested it would not even be a good idea to return to the minister’s office to collect their coats, he said. Instead, she retrieved them.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 7:19 PM - 14 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 5:16 PM - 0 Comments
There’s an old idea in football that when one arrives in the end zone, one should eschew the typical dancing and “act like you’ve been there before”—a quote attributed variously to any number of old and grouchy football coaches. The point being that true confidence doesn’t require theatric expression.
By this standard, it is almost impossible to believe the Conservative members of the ethics committee are at all sure of their party’s position. At times yesterday they seemed alternately petulant, boorish, bitter, frustrated, childish, dismissive, unhinged, giddy, patronizing, exasperated, arrogant, chastened, indignant, whiny, angry, snarky, mocking, snide, sarcastic, bored, scared and threatening. (And that’s just Gary Goodyear.) Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 6:22 PM - 0 Comments
And so the day of apology begets its own apology
The Scene. It couldn’t last. Or at least we knew it wouldn’t last. And, in some ways maybe, it shouldn’t last.
But who knew yesterday’s spirit of common good and cooperative effort was so null and void before most of us had even gotten around to feeling good about ourselves?
Indeed, before the Prime Minister had so much as spoken the first words of this Parliament’s most remarkable hour, exuberant Conservative Pierre Poilievre had put forward a revolutionary, if rather insensitive, reading on the politics of healing. Speaking with the “Lunch Bunch” on an Ottawa radio station, he suggested that compensation for the victims of physical and sexual abuse should be treated as investment. A full accounting required. A proper return demanded.
Worse still, he made gratuitous and silly use of the term “partook”—speaking, as it were, several classes above his weight.
The only surprise in what came next was that it took the Liberals a full 24 hours to formally demand Poilievre’s resignation. Continue…
By David Newland - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 10:31 PM - 0 Comments
UPDATED! New info after the jump!…
I think most emphatically not:
Staffer fired as
UPDATED! New info after the jump!
I think most emphatically not:
OTTAWA — A provocative movie about the sex lives of young people is too hot for some Conservatives to handle – and a parliamentary staffer has been fired for ordering tickets to a special screening.