By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 43 Comments
The Scene. The leader of Her Majestry’s loyal opposition very nearly growled at the Prime Minister. And having lamented the agenda, expense and organization of this month’s G8 and G20 summits, he turned metaphorical.
“A bake sale would not be run like this. A children’s birthday party would not be planned like this,” Michael Ignatieff posited. “Canadians have to pay the bill. How is the Prime Minister going to explain to Canadians that he has lost control of Canada’s summit?”
The Prime Minister stood and translated this into terms he could understand. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “the Liberal Party seems extremely angry that Canada is leading the world right now in terms of the economy.”
“Mr. Speaker, we always cheer Canada,” Mr. Ignatieff responded.
The government side jeered.
“But we cannot cheer $1.3 billion in waste,” the Liberal leader finished.
With the grand and overarching condemnation thus stated, the Liberal leader turned to his assistant prosecutors to explore the specifics. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 10:26 AM - 21 Comments
Former cabinet minister and outgoing Conservative MP Greg Thompson busts his own side.
New Brunswick MP Greg Thompson is accusing fellow Conservative Keith Ashfield of putting politics before the needs of the people in his new position as regional minister for the province…
Thompson is incensed at an email he obtained earlier this month, written by Fred Nott, Ashfield’s chief of staff, concerning the status of an infrastructure application in St. George, part of Thompson’s New Brunswick Southwest riding. The application under the Building Canada Fund is for federal funding for a subdivision and civic infrastructure in the village of St. George. ”My opinion, put everything on hold in that riding until there is a nominated federal candidate, and preferably until after Sept. 27,” the email from Nott states.
A date for a nomination meeting to pick a Conservative candidate in New Brunswick Southwest has not been set. Sept. 27 is the date of the provincial election.
By John Geddes - Monday, March 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM - 23 Comments
The main focus of the build-up to this week’s federal budget is not what’s coming next but what’s coming to an end. The government vows to deliver no significant new spending, so the 2010 budget Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is slated to table on Thursday must, by default, draw attention to the winding down of the two-year stimulus spending spree he launched last year.
Most of the debate surrounding this Keynesian public-works binge—especially the $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund created in the 2009 budget— was over whether it would be enough to beat back the recession. (As the Globe and Mail’s redoubtable Janet McFarland reports this morning, most of the spending will flow after the worst of the downturn is well behind us.)
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 9, 2009 at 9:05 PM - 78 Comments
Results to come at 10pm EST, comments closed until then. (Note: Results now in and updates below.)
In the meantime, there are allegations of shenanigans in Riviere-du-Loup.
And for the numerically inclined, here is how the parties fared in these four ridings combined the last time they were contested as they are tonight—using the 2008 results for three of the four, and the 2006 result for Cumberland.
Bloc Quebecois 23.6%
That, if you’re particularly keen to make something of this, might be the most interesting benchmark to watch.
Update, 9:46pm. Several other people to keep an eye on tonight: the Star’s Susan Delacourt, our old friend Kady O’Malley at CBC, David Akin on Twitter, Alice Funke at Pundits’ Guide and Eric at ThreeHundredEight.com.
Update 10:00pm. First returns are in. Conservative Scott Armstrong takes Cumberland quite comfortably, though not quite by the same margin as his Bill Casey did three years ago. Hochelaga is a blowout. Montmagny is tight. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 9, 2009 at 10:37 AM - 56 Comments
The Star explores the practice of unelected Conservative candidates turning up at government funding announcements. Not mentioned is candidate Denise Ghanam’s explanation when she appeared with Conservative MP Jeff Watson at an announcement in Essex County two months ago.
What’s the rush, I asked Watson; are Conservatives preparing in case the Liberal party decides in Sudbury today it needs to trigger an election? ”These announcements take months to prepare,” Watson said, shaking his head at my suggestion.
Then why bring a Conservative candidate from a nearby riding to a funding announcement? ”I’m still learning the ropes,” Ghanam says. “This is all about the economy.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 9, 2009 at 10:29 AM - 68 Comments
Reluctant partisan Mike Duffy explains the necessity of his travel on the public dime.
“You look at Holland College in P.E.I., they got $8.5 million this year,” said Duffy. “People say why do you travel? It’s because you need cards to play and chips to use.”
Duffy builds his chips up by traveling to MP’s ridings, meeting people, giving speeches and making friends.
“So I’m going to ask the minister of science Gary Goodyear to look favourably upon Holland College. He has a zillion applications and I say, ‘gee Gary, would you take a personal interest. I think it has merit. Will you look at that and see what you can do,” said Duffy. “So when Holland College comes up they get $8.5 million. They’re going to build some new buildings, take down some substandard housing and rearrange things and do it in a way that will substantially change your impression of Charlottetown.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 4:16 PM - 8 Comments
The NDP’s Pat Martin asks a question of the government this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, as part of their blitzkrieg of self-promotion, the government is hanging home renovation flyers on the doorknobs of 3.5 million Canadian homes. Will the Minister of Transport and gilding the lily please tell us how much these doorknob thingies are costing the taxpayer? Who is being paid to deliver them to 3.5 million homes? Who is deciding which neighbourhoods and which targeted ridings are getting these gratuitous reminders of the glory that is Rome from the font from which surely all goods things and sunshine must flow?
By Philippe Gohier - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 5:07 PM - 22 Comments
Two stories that I’m not quite sure add up to a scandal, but are…
Two stories that I’m not quite sure add up to a scandal, but are nonetheless intriguing: First, Le Devoir reported yesterday that the Tories are spending a mind-boggling $800 to $7,000 to produce and install each one of those goofy “Economic Action Plan” signs that are popping up on just about any project that requires more than an x-acto knife to complete. Try as they might, Le Devoir‘s reporters couldn’t figure out just how the Tories are spending that much per sign—their half-assed call for bids found printers willing to make similar signs for about 200 bucks a pop. The second story, uncovered by RueFrontenac.com, may explain why Ottawa doesn’t mind putting up so many of those godforsaken signs no matter how much they cost—they’re not the ones paying for them:
According to our sources, the infrastructure program established by Ottawa to stimulate Canada’s economy includes unusual, publicity-related requirements to guarantee funding. The Conservative government is telling cities and provinces they have to pay for the enormous signs put up at infrastructure building sites financed by Ottawa.
Alas, neither story is getting much play. As is their wont, the Liberals suddenly don’t seem all that interested in where Ottawa’s stimulus money has gone or is going. Onto the scrap heap the story goes, left to rot alongside Suaad Mohamud, those body bags, and a bunch of “sexy” isotopes. The hot story now, at least until the next “gaffe” is uncovered, is the fact no one you know has been vaccinated against H1N1. (This situation, according to Liberal party president Alf Apps, is nothing short of “the ‘Hurricane Katrina’ of our own laissez-faire, fend for yourself government.” If the Liberals play their cards right, Sarah Polley should be appearing on a telethon any minute now to warn us that “Stephen Harper doesn’t care about feverish people.”) Meanwhile, the stimulus spending chugs along.
Mick Jagger was right: Who wants yesterday’s papers? Nobody in the world.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 2, 2009 at 2:39 PM - 121 Comments
Kevin Page has apparently asked the government if it might turn over the electric version of the paper data it dumped in boxes on his doorstep last week. The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair appeared after QP on Friday with one of the boxes to unleash the following.
J’ai été, les trois boîtes, ça c’est les boîtes elles-mêmes qui ont été donné hier à Kevin Page. Celui-ci, le 2 of 3 est marqué Ontario complete. En réponse à une demande légalement formulée par le directeur parlementaire du budget, Kevin Page a reçu la réponse suivante du ministre Baird. Il a reçu trois boîtes, 4,476 pages de documents, aucun résumé, aucune version électronique.
This is one of three boxes that Minister Baird sent to Kevin Page, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer in response to his legally formulated request for information. If you look at the Act that constitutes the Parliamentary Budget Officer, he has the right to ask for all information required to allow him to do his job. There was no summary, no synopsis, no spreadsheet, there wasn’t even an electronic version, 4,476 pages of contempt from John Baird to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. This one is marked Box 2 of 3, Ontario complete. These are the actual boxes, although you’ll understand that the documents are no longer in them because every document and we have copies for you of one of the pages, every document is marked Protected A. So these documents were sent to Kevin Page’s office.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM - 11 Comments
Bit late to this, but here is Michael Ignatieff’s interview with Canadian Business.
CB: The NDP and the Liberals pushed for a stimulus plan. Now everyone’s complaining about the deficit. So what would you have done differently?
MI: Tighter fiscal control between 2006 to 2008, strategic investment in things that make us more productive, and competitive and strategic infrastructure investments that ought to have been made are only now in the pipeline. And a clearer sense, beginning in 2007, when the economic situation went south, of earlier corrective action. We would have enhanced the gas-tax transfer to all municipalities. That would have gotten the money out infinitely faster. The numbers we’re running are, not much north of 12% of infrastructure investment has actually gone out the door.
The other thing we would have done very differently is strategic investment in places that make a difference. All across the country, people want Vancouver and Halifax to be working more efficiently; they want the borders to be working more efficiently. That strategic spine of export infrastructure, we would have named that as a priority of investment. The other thing is much more robust and energetic effort, beginning in 2006, to build our export performance in China and India.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 6:24 PM - 39 Comments
The government releases a partial accounting of stimulus spending to support its particular case, laments that the official opposition has done likewise.
In charts provided to The Canadian Press, government officials note in particular that the major infrastructure component of the Building Canada program has allocated $1.4 billion to large projects in opposition ridings in Ontario, and just $436 million to Conservative ridings.
“This particular fund supports major projects, typically in major municipalities that tend to be represented by opposition members,” said Chris Day, spokesman for Transport Minister John Baird.
“We have different funds for different purposes. It’s wrong to highlight one fund, as the opposition has been doing, and carry that trend.”
Meanwhile, Canwest analyzes another program entirely, finds evidence that it favours opposition ridings, but concedes that its data is incomplete.
If only there existed some sort of independent officer of Parliament—call it, maybe, the Parliamentary Budget Officer—to whom the government could turn over all its data for a full accounting of what has been spent, where it has been directed and whether it’ll all amount to anything. If only.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 23, 2009 at 1:44 AM - 73 Comments
The CBC offers its analysis of stimulative spending.
According to the analysis of the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, Conservative ridings have received about 60 per cent of the funding, compared with 40 per cent for opposition ridings. For example, the Saskatchewan riding of Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale, who has been a vocal critic of the stimulus spending, has received about $4.8 million. But the Conservative riding next door received about $6.5 million. Crunching the numbers in a sample of other ridings across the country shows a similar pattern.
Meanwhile, McGregor & Maher look at what money from a specific fund for struggling communities went to what projects in the Industry Minister’s riding.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 6:55 PM - 45 Comments
“The Conservatives,” he said, “are engaged in an orgy of partisan abuse.”
And you needn’t apparently take Mr. Goodale’s word for it.
“Three independent investigations confirm the research of the member for Parkdale-High Park,” he continued. “A shocking part of the stimulus plan is earmarked for partisan Conservative purposes. Will the Conservatives admit this is a threat for those who didn’t vote for them?”
The Prime Minister stood, apparently quite confused by the Liberal house leader’s tone.
“Mr. Speaker, the program for the reconstruction of leisure facilities is a very important measure for the Canadian economy and for communities. I do not understand at all why the Liberal Party of Canada opposes such projects and, even in their own counties. The allegations of the honourable member are quite untrue and, indeed, the Liberal deputy premier of Ontario said so.”
So there. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:55 AM - 82 Comments
The Stars gets Gerard Kennedy’s numbers on hockey rink stimulus in Toronto ridings.
Toronto 23 ridings — all but two held by Liberal MPs — got about 38 per cent less than the average Conservative riding in Ontario, prompting accusations that the government was again playing favourites as it doled out its massive stimulus fund.
The Toronto ridings got an average of $1.3 million, compared with an average of $2.1 million that was approved for Conservative ridings in Ontario — a difference of $777,787, according to Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale—High Park).
Kennedy’s office provides various figures and tables here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 8:40 PM - 88 Comments
The Prime Minister, he reported en français, had admitted it was wrong for the government to put Conservative party logos on giant novelty cheques announcing the arrival of taxpayer dollars. But what of the public funding itself? What, for instance, of the fact that 75% of a fund for unemployed youth had been allocated in Conservative ridings?
On the government side, there was much yapping and whining.
“Having admitted it was wrong to put logos on cheques,” the Liberal leader wondered aloud, “will the Prime Minister admit now that partisanship in spending must stop immediately?”
The Prime Minister would not, if only because he was elsewhere. Absent too was John Baird, the government’s usual choice to enunciate a response on this file. So here, instead, came Industry Minister Tony Clement, waving his arms and pleading for your respect.
“We are on the side of Canadians,” he declared. “We are producing these projects because they mean jobs and opportunity. They mean getting behind and beyond the recession to a better and more prosperous economy through economic recovery. That is our message to Canadians and that is what Canadians want of us.”
Oddly enough, Mr. Ignatieff did not find satisfaction in this explanation.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:09 PM - 33 Comments
The Globe does its own analysis of stimulus spending on ice rinks, playgrounds and such.
A high-profile Harper government stimulus program created to build hockey rinks and other recreation projects has funnelled about 33 per cent per cent more money to Conservative seats than to opposition ridings in the battleground province of Ontario.
An analysis by The Globe and Mail shows Tory ridings received an average of $2.1-million, compared to $1.5-million on average for opposition ridings.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 7:05 PM - 33 Comments
CBC explores the irony of news that the ethics commissioner will be investigating the ethics of giant novelty cheques.
Canada’s ethics commissioner will investigate dozens of allegations that Conservative MPs are using taxpayers’ money for partisan purposes. But Mary Dawson says she’s not sure how far her mandate allows her to go into ethical issues, despite her job title.
… in her annual report, Dawson highlighted that while the word “ethics” appears in her job title, it does not appear in the Conflict of Interest Act or the Code of Conduct for MPs. ”It’s quite unclear as to the extent to which my mandate extends into ethical issues that are not expressly referred to in either the code or the act and, in fact, one would wonder whether it extends there at all,” Dawson said at parliamentary ethics committee meeting.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 4:29 PM - 29 Comments
The Chronicle-Herald’s Stephen Maher and the Citizen’s Glen McGregor continue to investigate the distribution of federal stimulus.
Funds from a federal stimulus program designed to put hockey rinks and other recreation projects in communities across the country appear to be have been awarded disproportionately to Conservative ridings, an investigation shows.
Tory ridings have landed 66 per cent of all projects so far announced under the Harper government’s Recreation Infrastructure Canada program, also known as RinC.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 1:36 AM - 87 Comments
The Ottawa Citizen and Halifax Chronicle-Herald join forces to scrutinize what information the government has released about its stimulus spending.
An Ottawa Citizen-Halifax Chronicle-Herald investigation shows 57 per cent of the projects, with more than $1 million in federal funding nationwide, went to Conservative ridings. The party holds only 46 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. Conservative ridings therefore received 23 per cent more million-dollar-plus projects than if the projects were divided evenly among all ridings…
The difference between government and opposition ridings is particularly pronounced in Quebec, where the Conservative ridings received 22 per cent of large projects, although the party holds only 13 per cent of the ridings, which means they received 62 per cent more per riding than if the money were divided evenly.
A spokesman for John Baird’s office says “the totality of infrastructure funding” will show fairness in distribution. At the same time, the government has declined to release a list of projects, despite the Prime Minister’s assurances that such a list was available.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 6:36 PM - 112 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister was not in his seat this afternoon when Question Period began. Which seems a shame. Not least because of the profound moment in the history of his government that he was not there to witness firsthand. The rest of us will at least be able to say we were there, that we saw it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears. The Prime Minister will have to suffice with seeing it on TV. Or perhaps hearing about it from a member of his staff.
Although, maybe it was best he wasn’t there after all. Indeed, in a way, it’s better he was spared the awful sight.
The session began simply enough with the obvious, the Liberal leader wondering aloud about a potential conflict of interest involving a Conservative senator and a sizable government contract. “Mr. Speaker, a pattern is becoming all too clear,” Michael Ignatieff posited. “The Conservative government is using stimulus spending to buy votes and reward its friends. This morning, we learned that one of the Prime Minister’s newest senators works for a company that has just won $1.4 million in infrastructure spending. At a time when the middle class is struggling, would the Prime Minister explain why infrastructure spending that is needed by all Canadians ends up in the hands of a member of his own—”
His time expired, the Transport Minister stood smirking to dismiss Mr. Ignatieff’s concerns. The Liberal tried again, this time en francais. John Baird once more swatted the question away. “Mr. Speaker, there is no reason to jump to the conclusions that the Leader of the Opposition does,” Mr. Baird declared. “If he has any evidence of any wrongdoing, rather than pontificating in this place, he should put his facts on the table and be accountable for those. We have been completely open, completely transparent with the infrastructure spending that we have made.”
The Liberals howled with mocking laughter.
“The grant in question was made by a crown corporation,” the Minister finished, “with no lobbying and no involvement whatsoever of my office or the office of the Minister of Public Works.”
Here, then, is where it happened. Where everything that once was up turned down. Where left became right, day became night and blue became red. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM - 23 Comments
Liberal Todd Russell, yelling in the direction of Rob Nicholson this afternoon as the Justice Minister took a friendly question about crime legislation.
“What’s the mandatory minimum for cheque fraud?”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 15 Comments
The Conservative backbencher admits the giant novelty cheques he handed out upset his stomach.
The design of the cheques provided to one area MP to highlight infrastructure spending left him feeling “a bit queasy,” he said. Royal Galipeau, MP for Ottawa-Orléans, said he insisted that the cheques provided to him didn’t have the Conservative party logo but said he still wasn’t happy with the design. ”That didn’t look like a government cheque to me. I would preferred it looked like a government cheque.”
… Galipeau was photographed in March handing over a $21,339 cheque for a francophone seniors program in Ottawa with his name printed at the top and his signature below. He says he still thinks the large cheques are a good way to highlight government work and plans to continue handing them out, but using a design based on a real government cheque.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 16, 2009 at 6:00 PM - 90 Comments
An anonymous Conservative MP helps us understand why his or her side simply had to buy its own giant novelty cheques, and all the money they are saving you in the process.
When we formed govt the crats stopped bringing cheques to announcements & we were FORCED to cough up the $ to buy our own. Specifically, at [a government department I was involved with] the crats used to like to be in the photo ops giving out chqs, as though it was coming from them. They detested Conservatives being photographed handing out chqs, so they stopped bringing the chqs – when they even bothered to show up for announcements. They’ve screwed up dates for announcements so badly (trying to schedule announcements while the House is in session) that we don’t even bother to include them, thereby saving taxpayers thousands of $s in travel claims from the crats.