By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
Laura Payton tallies the questions that are still to be answered about Peter Penashue’s campaign spending.
The NDP, meanwhile, takes aim at Mr. Penashue’s time in the House, tallying all of the times he didn’t respond to questions they asked that they think he should have.
It’s probably difficult to confirm that Mr. Penashue was definitely in the House when each was asked and there is probably some debate to be had over whether it was his place to respond to each and every of questions, but Mr. Penashue’s relative quiet—see here for every occasion on which he spoke in the House—and the precise utility of the intergovernmental affairs portfolio have been a regular subject of some notice: see here, here, here and here.
The latter issue is a curiosity that predates Mr. Penashue’s time in the role. And the portfolio’s lack of purpose is something opposition MPs have exploited in asking questions of the minister that end up being answered by other ministers. (See, for instance, some of Stephane Dion’s questions.)
The other issues is that the Conservatives have tended to let other individuals speak when questions are repeatedly asked about the alleged ethical failings of particular members. So, for instance, a question might be asked about Mr. Penashue, but the response might come from Mr. Poilievre (who has lately taken on the responsibility of handling all questions of an ethical nature). See previously: Bev Oda, Tony Clement.
So Mr. Penashue was doubly limited: both as a minister without anything in particular to speak to during QP and as a minister subject to opposition questions about his campaign.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
Peter Penashue is now neither the intergovernmental affairs minister, nor the MP for Labrador. According to a statement from Mr. Penashue, he has resigned both posts and will now run in a by-election.
Due to mistakes that were made by an inexperienced volunteer in filing the Elections Canada return from the last campaign, I appointed a new Official Agent to work with Elections Canada to make any needed amendments to my campaign return.
During the examination we became aware that there were ineligible donations accepted by the former Official Agent.
Although I was unaware of the inaccuracies in the return, I believe I must be accountable to the people who elected me and therefore I am stepping down as the Member of Parliament for Labrador and will seek re-election through a by-election. I will also be stepping down as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
My record as Member of Parliament for Labrador and Minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government over the past two years is one that I am very proud of.
I have worked to secure federal support for the development of Muskrat Falls, which will lead to $1.9 billion for our economy and thousands of jobs for Labrador. I have also worked with government and private industry to increase internet speed in Labrador, and delivered federal funding to pave the Trans-Labrador Highway.
There is much more to do for the people of Labrador, including protecting our way of life. We have scrapped the long-gun registry despite the efforts of the NDP and Liberals to keep it, and now we must continue to fight to defend the seal hunt against the NDP and Liberal parliamentarians who want to ban it. I will also continue to lead the defence of the polar bear hunt, something that is very important to Labradorians.
In the by-election I will be asking the people of Labrador to re-elect me so that I can continue to deliver for Labrador.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 4:54 PM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats announced this morning that Romeo Saganash has been named the “Deputy Critic for Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs.”
The job seems established to focus on relations between the federal government and First Nations as separate governmental institutions and systems, “nation to nation” as the relationship is often described. And perhaps this raises a question about the ministerial portfolio of intergovernmental affairs itself: namely, should the intergovernmental affairs minister be newly tasked with acting as an envoy to First Nations?
At present, it is unclear—at least to me—what the intergovernmental affairs minister does, or is even supposed to do: see here, here and here for recent reference. The Prime Minister deals with the Premiers and various ministers deal with their counterparts at the provincial level. The precise necessity of an intergovernmental affairs minister to manage relations with other levels of government in that current context is debatable. (Presently in Ontario, for what it is worth, the premier is his own intergovernmental affairs minister.)
There was some questioning of Peter Penashue’s absence from last week’s meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations given his background, but at the time I thought it would be more interesting to wonder if his portfolio might be a better reason to be involved. (Though the controversies around Mr. Penashue might not make him an ideal candidate to be thrust into the spotlight presently.) There are myriad governance and treaty issues between the federal government and First Nations. Granted, there is already an aboriginal affairs minister. But we have similarly acknowledged a diversity of issues on international affairs, dividing it up between foreign affairs, international trade and international cooperation. And so, if we are to have an intergovernmental affairs minister at all, he or she might be used to provide new focus to the “nation to nation” relationship and negotiations at a governmental level (and, for that matter, such a change might demonstrate the start of something of a new approach to the situation).
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. It is not necessarily Peter Penashue’s fault that he is the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister. And it is not necessarily Mr. Penashue’s fault that the existence of the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister is something of a mystery. But so long as Mr. Penashue is the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister it is for him to justify that existence.
Indeed, to accept the job is to take on something of an existential crisis. To be the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister is to consider why we have an Intergovernmental Affairs Minister. It has been this way for some years. And it is something Stephane Dion—a former Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, but one who had an identifiable job description—began to ponder a year ago.
“Mr. Speaker, is there a Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in this Conservative government?” he asked last December.
“Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, if this government even has such a minister,” he sighed last March.
Mr. Penashue might’ve had only to contend with Mr. Dion’s fussiness were it not for the questions about the accounting practices of his election campaign. Such questions have now led to those larger questions. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Press considers Peter Penashue’s present predicament.
Embattled Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue is facing a double-barrelled opposition attack. He’s been under siege for weeks amid allegations of illegal financing for the 2011 campaign that got him elected to the House of Commons. Now he’s under attack for being missing in action since he got to the Commons.
New Democrats say public records show 79 per cent of Penashue’s ministerial travel has been in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, even though he’s the intergovernmental affairs minister responsible for managing federal relations with all provinces and territories.
It took two tries yesterday, but the opposition did a response from Mr. Penashue.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon, the NDP sent up Robert Aubin to ask Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue about his portfolio. Mr. Penashue hasn’t been answering questions about his election campaign, but Government House leader Peter Van Loan pointed at Mr. Penashue to take this one. Only Mr. Penashue didn’t seem to get the message and so, after a couple of seconds, Mr. Van Loan pointed to Tony Clement, who then stood and responded.
The NDP tried again and Mr. Van Loan again pointed at Mr. Penashue and this Mr. Penashue got the message and stood and offered an awkward response. A third question about intergovernmental affairs was then directed to Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice. A final question, about Mr. Penashue’s election campaign, was taken by Pierre Poilievre, the designated government spokesman on questions of ethics.
Yesterday’s one response from Mr. Penashue was the first time he’s spoken in the House this fall and just the tenth time he’s spoken this year.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 11:48 AM - 4 Comments
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue has made it through a full 27 sitting days—one of which lasted 68 hours—without committing a single word to the official House of Commons record. (It has apparently been nearly three years since an Intergovernmental Affairs Minister gave a speech in any forum that was worth posting to the office’s website.)
Mr. Penashue has made it to at least four provinces: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta and Quebec. That puts him well ahead of the pace set by at least one of his recent predecessors to the file.