By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Furious David Christopherson stood and invoked original sin.
“Mr. Speaker, on February 17, the Prime Minister answered in the House that: ‘All senators conform to the residency requirements,’ ” the NDP deputy recalled.
Mr. Christopherson would seem to have the date wrong, but otherwise the Prime Minister does seem to have said this.
“The Senate audit report contradicted this and concluded that Senator Duffy’s primary residence was Ottawa not P.E.I. Yet when the final report was tabled, this key paragraph had been erased,” the New Democrat now charged. “Last night, we learned that the Prime Minister’s former communications director, now a senator, helped whitewash the Duffy report. Can the government tell us whether anyone in the PMO was aware that this report contradicted their Prime Minister?”
In an alternate universe, of course, Mike Duffy was never appointed to the Senate to represent Prince Edward Island. In a third, and even better, universe, there was never even a Senate to which to appoint him.
It was here James Moore’s duty to stand and lead the government response, John Baird apparently elsewhere recovering from having to stand 23 times yesterday.
“Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Senate report does reflect the findings of the auditor, the auditor, by the way, that both the opposition and the government agreed should be brought in, an independent, outside auditor,” Mr. Moore offered with the first of 22 responses for him this afternoon. “The report reflected that finding. I understand, of course, that new questions have been raised. That is why the Senate is looking at the matter again, and that is also why the Ethics Commissioner is looking into this, as is the Office of the Senate Ethics Commission.”
And to them you can apparently add the RCMP.
“These questions are being raised,” Mr. Moore continued. “They are being put forward. They will be answered.”
It is nice to think that they might, because as of now there are almost only questions without answers. And while new questions do indeed continue to be raised about this and that and who did or did not do whatever however, the question that has been with us since nine days ago when CTV reported the existence of some kind of arrangement between Mr. Duffy and Nigel Wright remains primary.
What the hell happened here? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Actually, Forum Research’s last poll in Labrador was fairly reflective of the final vote—and Conservatives could point to that as evidence of Mr. Trudeau driving voters away, but then the 20-point drop they claimed on Monday night becomes a nine-point drop (from 57% in early April to 48% on by-election night).
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
It was just two weeks ago, asked about Alberta’s carbon tax, that Peter Kent was moved to muse aloud about a contentious and contested topic. “There hasn’t,” he ventured, “been a great deal of subtlety in talking about carbon pricing.”
Perhaps this lack of subtlety is something like the root cause of our current impasse. Or perhaps this is no time for nuance.
The foreign press is now referring to Joe Oliver as the Canadian “oil minister, which is terribly unfair to the trees and rocks and water he is also responsible for making use of. Of a year-old op-ed, Mr. Oliver is accusing a NASA scientist of “crying wolf” and suggesting that James Hansen ”should be chaining himself to a mannequin in Rodeo Drive,” which would be pointless unless the mannequin was itself nailed down. And now another scientist is likening Mr. Oliver to “a Shetland pony in the Kentucky Derby,” who is “making Canada look like a country full of jerks,” which is terribly unfair to at least the three or four of us who aren’t.
It was on something like this note that Mr. Mulcair stood to harangue the government side this afternoon. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM - 0 Comments
Like most everything interesting that Michael Ignatieff ever said, he probably should not have said it.
“I never want to raise your taxes; I pay them (the same way) as you do,” the former Liberal leader told a crowd in Mississauga on a July day in 2010. “But we pay them to express fundamental social solidarity, one with the other. This is the contract that holds us together.”
He had actually gone on at some length about this in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in the fall of 2009. “Back in July, after the G8 Summit in Italy, Mr. Harper gave an interview to The Globe and Mail, in which he said, and I quote: ‘I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes.’ Think about that for a moment,” Mr. Ignatieff begged. “It’s an astonishing statement for a prime minister to make. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, so that premature infants get nursing care when they’re born; so that policemen will be there to keep our streets safe; so that we have teachers to give our kids a good education. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, because we’re all in this together. It costs us something, but it makes Canada the place it is: a place where we look out for each other. But Stephen Harper doesn’t think that way. Stephen Harper thinks no taxes are good taxes because he believes that the only good government is no government at all.”
In fairness, Mr. Harper does not appear to be an anarchist. And even Ron Paul allows that the government might be of some use. And for all Mr. Ignatieff’s willingness to defend the social contract, he would move to loudly proclaim his opposition to raising the GST after being caught musing about the possibility.
Even if one does not accept Mr. Ignatieff’s larger premise, rare is anyone willing to suggest that taxes might be applied in larger quantities to anyone other than the wealthy or the faceless (corporations). Because even if no one is seriously calling for taxes to be eliminated—even if the debate is basically, if quietly, about the size, shape and execution of our fundamental social solidarity, or at least the precise number of services we would lament if they suddenly disappeared—we have generally come to Mr. Harper’s position. Taxes are bad. Mr. Harper has sworn that, so long as he is prime minister, there will be no new taxes. Thomas Mulcair has said no to increasing taxes (even if he also advocates for a price on carbon). Justin Trudeau has said he would not increase the GST, nor the corporate tax rate and he would not implement a tax on the rich. Taxing the earnings of corporations is a tax on job creators. Taxing pollution is a tax on everything. Tax Freedom Day is something that is proudly celebrated.
Possibly this is all Bev Oda’s fault, she and her $16 glass of orange juice. And at least so long as we are never in need of more general revenue, perhaps we will be fine. But this now drives us to distraction. The abject awfulness of taxes apparently now so deeply felt that one cannot even bring oneself to admit that one is responsible for the imposition of such suffering. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 6:20 PM - 0 Comments
To Joe Momma then, where Murray Rankin, the bespectacled and button-downed national revenue critic for the official opposition, stepped before the cameras this morning to pose beside the proprietor of this bike shop, a tattooed young man in a white t-shirt and newsboy cap.
“We would like the hypocrisy to be exposed,” Mr. Rankin explained. “They said they wouldn’t raise taxes and here we are, a little bit later, in this very same store, pointing out that they are.”
This is most certainly fair play. It was Jim Flaherty who used this establishment for a photo op last fall. And it was Jim Flaherty who stood in the House less than a month ago and said he would not raise taxes. And it is the budget Mr. Flaherty tabled that day that raises taxes on the importation of hundreds of products from dozens of countries. And it was this government that championed the few tariffs it decreased as “supporting Canadian families and communities.” And it was this government that once screamed and cried about the very idea of a tax on iPods. And it was this Prime Minister who gave his word that, so long as he was prime minister, there would be “no new taxes.” And it was this Prime Minister who once mused that “I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”
“I feel misled more than anything,” offered the bike shop owner.
Fair enough. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Glenn Thibeault has written to the chair of the standing committee on industry, science and technology to request a “study into the increased taxation of iPods and other goods.” (The full letter is here.) And, tomorrow morning, NDP national revenue critic Murray Rankin will visit Joe Momma, a bike store in Ottawa, to discuss the Harper government’s “bicycle tax.” Joe Momma was the backdrop for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement of C-45, last year’s second budget implementation bill.
The NDP has made up all this fearmongering dialogue about tax increases in budget 2013. There are no tax increases in budget 2013.
Somewhat similarly, Heritage Minister James Moore, responding to a question on this from Justin Trudeau this afternoon, ventured that “if we were raising the taxes the Liberals would be all for it.” Otherwise the government’s defence seems to be three-fold: assert that theirs is a “low tax plan,” claim a desire on the part of the opposition to raise taxes and allege that to not raise tariffs would be to give special treatment to China.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair has gone to Washington and criticized the Harper government’s environmental policies and questioned the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline and this has upset Brad Wall, Ed Fast, Joe Oliver, James Moore and Michelle Rempel.
The “national interest,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
Premier Wall and the Harper government (and the Saskatchewan NDP) believe Canada would be better off with the Keystone XL pipeline. Thus, championing the pipeline is speaking in the national interest. The NDP’s position on Keystone XL, conversely, seems to be that the oil would be better put to use in Canada and that there need to be better policies governing the environmental impacts of the oil sands. Along those lines, Mr. Mulcair would probably argue that he is speaking in the national interest.
So is Keystone XL in the national interest? Shawn McCarthy looks at Mr. Mulcair’s logic on job creation. And Clare Demerse looks at the Harper government’s environmental record. President Obama, meanwhile, allegedly thinks “the Canadians” are going to get rich.
As for how an opposition leader should speak when abroad, that’s also a tricky matter. When Mr. Harper went to Washington in 2005, he criticized the Liberal government for not spending enough on defence, peacekeeping and foreign aid, spoke with the President about the possibility of missile defence and, at a news conference, suggested the Liberals were associating with groups that had terrorist affiliations. He probably could have claimed to have been speaking in the national interest in each case.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair smiled as James Moore concluded his first response. The NDP leader had asked the government side to account for the dispatch of investigators to check on the recipients of employment insurance and Mr. Moore had stood to accuse Mr. Mulcair of mongering fear and to explain that this was about seeking to “protect the integrity of the system.”
Mr. Mulcair chuckled and crooked his head as he stood to respond. “Mr. Speaker, that’s it,” the NDP leader observed, “for the unemployed, we send the secret police, and senators, we do not even ask where they live.”
The New Democrats laughed.
So the first question this day had been both an expression of concern and a setup. And so the Senate seems to have returned to its natural place in our civic and societal order as an enduring subject of complaint and mockery. It is not that the Senate has reached some new low in recent weeks. It is merely that, after a period of relative quiet, we have once again found reason to variously question and lament its existence. It might make more fiscal sense, in this period of austerity, to convert the chamber into lofts, but then we wouldn’t have the Senate to kick around anymore. And what fun would that be? At least as a punchline, it might be forever relevant. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 15, 2013 at 4:14 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from the Prime Minister.
“Today, I have accepted the resignation of John Duncan as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
“I would like to thank Mr. Duncan for his many contributions as Minister and for his service to the people of Canada. Mr. Duncan will continue to serve as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North in the House of Commons.
“The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, will serve as the acting Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development until a new Minister is named.”
A statement from Mr. Duncan explains why.
“In June of 2011 I wrote a character reference letter to the Tax Court of Canada on behalf of an individual to whom my constituency staff was providing casework assistance on a Canada Revenue Agency matter.
“While the letter was written with honourable intentions, I realize that it was not appropriate for me, as a Minister of the Crown, to write to the Tax Court. I have therefore offered my resignation as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to the Prime Minister, which he has accepted.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences they have brought.
“It has been an honour to serve in the Cabinet and I thank the Prime Minister for placing his confidence in me on this most important file. I have every confidence that the Government will reach its goal of improving the lives of Aboriginal peoples across our country.
“I pledge that I will continue to work hard on behalf of the constituents of Vancouver Island North as their elected representative in Ottawa.”
Mr. Duncan will be added to the official list of ministerial resignations as the seventh minister to step down since the Conservatives formed government in 2006. The nearest precedent for Mr. Duncan’s particular situation might be Jean Charest, who resigned as sports minister in 1990 after speaking to a judge. David Collenette (who does not appear on that list of resignations for whatever reason) resigned in 1996 over a letter to the immigration and refugee board.
What’s the difference between Mr. Duncan’s letter to the Tax Court and Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC? Adam Dodek says it’s the difference between judicial and quasi-judicial.
By Philippe Lagassé - Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 11:48 AM - 0 Comments
Why the Conservatives must rethink their approach to succession
Canada’s most monarchist government in decades has just dealt a serious blow to the Canadian Crown. In an effort to quickly enact changes regarding royal succession, the government has introduced a bill that undermines the concept of a truly independent Canadian Crown, the foundation of Canadian sovereignty. Equally troubling, the government claims that altering succession to the throne does not require a constitutional amendment. In making this argument, the government has overlooked the very nature of the Crown in law and the Canadian constitution. However commonsensical the proposed changes to the law governing succession may be, such a cavalier approach to the Crown, to the foundation of sovereign authority of and in Canada, merits scrutiny.
Heritage Minister James Moore laid out the government’s thinking at a press conference this past Wednesday. According to the minister, succession to the throne is not a matter of Canadian law. Instead, succession is a question of British law alone. Only the British Parliament can set the rules for who ascends to the throne, while the Canadian Parliament’s only authority lies in assenting to the changes. Put differently, the authority to legislate the rules of succession belongs with the British Parliament because the Canadian constitution does not address matters of succession. The legal pretext for this interpretation is the preamble to the 1931 Statute of Westminster, which states that the United Kingdom will obtain the assent of the Dominions when altering succession to, and royal titles and styles of, their shared Crown.
For Mr. Moore, the absence of an explicit reference to succession in the codified parts of the Canadian constitution also explains why no constitutional amendment is needed to alter succession in Canada. Although the Constitution Act, 1982 states that changes to the “office of the Queen” require a constitutional amendment that is approved by Parliament and the provincial legislatures, the government interprets “office” to mean only those powers and privileges of the Crown that are identified in the codified constitution. Hence, succession doesn’t pertain to the office because succession isn’t mentioned in the codified constitution.
Unfortunately for the government, these interpretations of the Statute of Westminster and office of the Queen are problematic.
The conventions outlined in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster depended on the power of the United Kingdom to legislate for the Dominions and on the idea that all the realms were under a single Crown. Neither of these conditions holds anymore, as Australian legal scholar Anne Twomey has shown. When Canada and the other Dominions altered their royal styles and titles in 1953, the realms did not assent to British legislation; they legislated for themselves. And Canada’s act made no mention of the Statute of Westminster. In the 1970s Australia and New Zealand enacted new royal styles and titles without consulting the other Dominions, sapping the prescriptive authority of the Statute‘s preamble. Claims that the preamble still applies to succession were further undermined in the 1980s. The authority of the preamble depended on section 4 of the Statute, which allowed the British Parliament to legislate for the Dominions. The Canada Act, 1982 ended the British Parliament’s authority to legislate for Canada and abolished s. 4 of the Statute. Australia followed suited with the Australia Act, 1986, as did New Zealand with its Constitution Act, 1986. The United Kingdom is no longer able to legislate for Canada, Australia or New Zealand, even in matters of succession and even if they assent.
As important, the United Kingdom cannot legislate the succession to the Canadian throne because the British and Canadian Crown are no longer one and the same. The British and Canadian Crowns are legally distinct and independent entities.
The emergence of the distinct and independent Canadian Crown happened gradually and it took time to be properly recognized. Somewhat ironically, the process began with Statute of Westminster, which granted the Dominions legislative independence. As Canadian cabinets monopolized the authority to advise exercises of the Crown’s powers in right of Canada in the decades that followed, the idea of a Canadian Crown took shape. In the early 1950s, the title of Queen of Canada was created. During her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed the Queen of Canada. As the government’s own publication, A Crown of Maples notes, “The proclamation reaffirmed the newly crowned monarch’s position as Queen of Canada, a role totally independent from that as Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.”
The final step toward a distinct Canadian Crown was achieved in 1982, when the Canadian constitution was patriated and Canada became a fully sovereign and independent state. While the 1982 patriation ended Canada’s legal ties to Great Britain, the expanded Canadian constitution retained the Crown as the concept of the Canadian state and as ultimate source of sovereign authority in Canada. This fully independent Canadian state could not have the British Crown as the source of its sovereign authority. Nor could it be a shared Crown. The only way Canada could be completely sovereign and independent was to decouple the Canadian Crown from its British counterpart.
The fact that only the Canadian Parliament and provincial legislatures can amend the constitutionally entrenched office of the Queen is a testament to this development. The Canada Act, 1982 and Constitution Act, 1982 gave the Canadian Parliament and provincial legislatures absolute control over the office of the Canadian Sovereign and the wholly independent Canadian Crown. Any claim that Canada and Britain share a Crown in the legal or constitutional sense is therefore incompatible with the complete sovereignty that Canada achieved in 1982.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson implicitly admitted as much when the succession bill was introduced in the House of Commons on Wedenesday. The minister noted the Governor General had given the bill his consent, a requirement for any bill that touches on the powers and privileges of the Crown. Since the British Crown had already given its consent to the British succession bill and the Canadian government claims that the Crown is shared, it is unclear why the consent of the Governor General, the representative of the Queen of Canada, was required. The only plausible answer is that the succession bill affects the separate and distinct powers and privileges of the Canadian Crown.
If the United Kingdom cannot legislate the rules of succession for the Canadian Crown, it follows that Canada must have the power to determine the rules of succession for its Sovereign and head of state. At present, the Canadian rules of succession are those that were inherited from the United Kingdom. And an argument might be made that they must mirror those of Great Britain absent a constitutional amendment, owing to the preamble of the Constitution Act, 1867. But mirroring the British rules does not mean Canada can simply assent to British bills to bring its succession into line with the United Kingdom’s. If Canada is a sovereign state and has an independent Crown, the Canadian legislatures—Parliament and the provincial legislatures—must pass substantive legislation to ensure that Canada’s rules of succession reflect those of Great Britain, not merely assent to a British law. Here again, the Governor General’s granting of Crown consent to the Canadian bill indicates the government is at least partially aware the British and Canadian Crowns cannot be affected by the same British law.
If we accept that Canada is fully sovereign and that the Canadian Crown is fully independent, then there must be some part of the codified constitution that addresses succession, whether explicitly or implicitly. A strong case can be made that the “office of the Queen” mentioned in s.41(a) must be that provision that addresses the succession to the Canadian throne. Accordingly, any change to the succession to the throne must trigger the amending process identified by s.41(a).
Succession must pertain to the office of the Queen because of the Crown is a “corporation sole.” Corporations sole fuse an office and an office holder. The office and office holder are treated as synonymous in law. This means that, legally speaking, all references to the Queen, Her Majesty and the Crown in Canadian statutes and the constitution refer to the same thing. When the constitution speaks of the office of the Queen, then, it is referring to both the Sovereign and the Crown in the broadest sense.
Most importantly for our purposes, this further means that the office of the Queen extends not only to the current office holder, but to those who will succeed to the office. This is necessarily true precisely because the Crown is a corporation sole.
The purpose of having the Crown as a corporation sole is to ensure that successors to the office of the Sovereign retain all the powers, duties, constraints of the Crown when they ascend to the throne. Hence, when one monarch dies and is replaced by their successor, there is no need to reiterate the established powers, duties and constraints of the Crown. Nor is there any need to rewrite any statutes. Having the Crown as a corporation sole allows for a seamless and automatic transition between the current Sovereign and her successor. So, when the Prince of Wales becomes King Charles III, all references in Canadian statues and the constitution to the Queen and Her Majesty will automatically apply to him because the Crown is a corporation sole.
It is the idea of corporation sole that underlies the cry of “the king is dead; long live the king!” The Crown is never vacant and the Sovereign never dead because, as a corporation sole, the office of Queen (or King) is immediately filled by successors when a monarch passes. Hence, as the canonical jurist of English law William Blackstone noted when discussing the concept: “Corporations sole consist of one person only and his successors, in some particular fashion, who are incorporated in law, in order to give them some legal capacities and advantages, particularly that of perpetuity, which in their natural persons they could not have had. In this sense, the king is a sole corporation.” The office of the Queen necessarily refers to both the current Sovereign and her successors.
To reiterate, then, altering the rules of succession requires a constitutional amendment under s. 41(a) because the Crown is a corporation sole, a legal status that was purposefully designed to ensure that the office of the Queen includes matters of succession.
Recognizing that the Crown is a corporation sole also helps us answer the question that hovers over this entire discussion, namely: how can the Canadian and British Crown be distinct if they’re both personified by Elizabeth II?
The Canadian and British Crowns are distinct corporations sole. As a result, the Queen of Canada and Queen of the United Kingdom are legally distinct office holders, just as the Canadian Crown and British Crown are distinct offices. However, the natural person who occupies these offices, Elizabeth Windsor, is the same. One woman personifies distinct and separate offices. This means that the Canadian and British Crown are under a personal union, but not a legal or constitutional one. Elizabeth Windsor holds the legally independent offices of the Queen/Crown of Canada and the Queen/Crown of the United Kingdom. But when she acts as the Queen of Canada, she is not acting as the Queen of the United Kingdom. The fact that Elizabeth Windsor is both the Queen of Canada and the United Kingdom does not mean that the two states shared a single Crown or Sovereign.
To conclude, it is worth discussing what might happen if we accept the government’s argument that succession is only a matter of British law and that changes to the rules of succession do not require a constitutional amendment. The most obvious consequence of the government’s position is that Canadian republicans will have been proved right: the Crown is an inherently British entity and Canada cannot claim to be an independent state until our ties to the House of Windsor are cut or we become a republic. The government’s view would also mean that Canada would effectively cease to be a constitutional monarchy if the United Kingdom decided to become a republic. The concept that underlies Canada’s entire system of government, the Crown, could be dismantled by another country.
The government’s narrow construction of the office of the Queen under s. 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982 may lead to some interesting outcomes, too. If the office of the Queen covers only those powers of the Crown that are explicitly identified in the codified constitution, a future Parliament could pass various statutes to undermine the monarchy without consulting the provinces. One could image, for instance, a future Parliament passing a regency act that transforms the Governor General from the representative of the monarch to the personification of the Crown in Canada, owing to the Sovereign’s absence in Canada. Coupled with a new set of letters patent that transferred all of the Sovereign’s remaining authority to the Governor General, this regency act could be used to exclude the royal family from all Canadian affairs. Since this kind of act would not affect the powers of the Crown included in the codified constitution, Parliament could pass it without consulting the provinces. Of course, it is difficult to imagine that this was the intended spirit of s.41(a), but a narrow construction of the office of the Queen might allow it.
Suffice it to say, while the changes to the succession are laudable, a greater degree of caution and debate is warranted here.
Philippe Lagassé is an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. He thanks James W.J. Bowden for his research assistance.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Scene and be seen around Parliament
The five events that matter most to Ottawa’s power brokers:
Politics and the Pen
Press Gallery Dinner
Each press gallery member is allowed to bring a limited number of guests, and MPs jockey for an invite. It’s also a chance for MPs to redeem themselves for past mistakes through self-mockery.
National Arts Centre Gala
Laureen Harper chairs this arts/corporate/political elite event, which raises funds for young artists. Sarah McLachlan and Chinese pianist Lang Lang have performed, as has Laureen’s other half, on piano.
Minister Moore’s Movie Night
Held in various museums, galleries and at the NAC, MPs line up to have their photos taken with the stars at Heritage Minister James Moore’s movie and music nights, highlighting the best in Canadian culture.
Held in a 262-seat theatre, this fundraiser to help young cancer patients learn about fertility options has become one of Ottawa’s hottest intimate tickets. Rick Mercer hosts; Jann Arden’s performed twice.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
After erroneously alleging that the mayor of Vancouver hadn’t contacted the federal government to express opposition to cuts to the coast guard, James Moore heckled the clarification, delivered by the NDP’s Fin Donnelly during QP this afternoon, that the mayor had sent a letter to the Prime Minister.
He wrote a letter, what a warrior!
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
“The reality is that the City of Vancouver and all of British Columbia have more Coast Guard resources, have better Coast Guard protection, than any other port and any other coast in all of the country even with the changes in Kits,” he told reporters following his address at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is one of many critics who oppose the Kits closure, but Moore claims that Robertson has never contacted him about his concerns. “Gregor Robertson has never picked up the phone to call me or talk to me on this subject, he’s never phoned me, he has never contacted the prime minister,” Moore said. “I think there’s a difference between being seen to be wanting to be the defender of Vancouver versus actually being an effective representative.”
Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs, however, said otherwise “The mayor wrote on behalf of council to the prime minister on June 14,” he said. “It’s really not a question of who wrote to who first, we’d like a stand-up discussion on how to protect services and we haven’t had that yet.”
Here is a copy of that letter.
By Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
No joke: 21 people and 74 pages of emails
How many federal officials does it take to answer a few questions about a $500 grant for a tea party in Prince Edward Island in honour of the Queen?
According to e-mails recently released by the federal government under Access to Information, the answer is: 21.
Back in May, Maclean’s decided to write a small light-hearted story about the federal government’s $2 million fund for cities and towns to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Local media stories in Prince Edward Island highlighted the fact that the tiny province had been budgeted to receive $170,000, the second-largest sum in the country, behind Ontario. It was a surprising fact given that Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, hadn’t actually planned any stops in PEI on their Canadian tour.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM - 0 Comments
“This project will not survive scrutiny unless Enbridge takes far more seriously their obligation to engage the public,” he told a radio show Wednesday. Mr. Moore did not agree to an interview on Thursday.
The federal government staunchly supports Northern Gateway, and the opposition New Democratic Party said Mr. Moore’s comments may have been designed to keep B.C. voters happy. ”It’s damage control,” said NDP MP Peter Julian, who is the party’s natural resources critic and represents the B.C. riding of Burnaby-New Westminster. ”The Conservatives have been pushing this for months, and now that opinion has turned against it in B.C., they’re looking to shift the blame to Enbridge.”
‘There’s a difference, I think, night and day between a company that gets public engagement, Aboriginal engagement, environmental stewardship and Enbridge’
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM - 0 Comments
Heritage Minister James Moore was interviewed by Bill Good yesterday on CKNW in British Columbia about the Northern Gateway pipeline. Mr. Moore was first asked to respond to criticism of how little BC Conservatives have said in response to Christy Clark’s demands and then asked specifically for his thoughts on the proposed pipeline.
Bill Good. So do you think that British Columbia needs to get a much bigger share of the revenue that will be generated by a pipeline if it ever came to be?
James Moore. Well, that’s Christy Clark’s demand and she hasn’t been clear on what actually constitutes a fair share or where the fair share would come from. She’s put five demands on the table, or requests, and many of them, frankly, were already well on their way to being addressed. She knows that. The provincial government knows that. The first three, with regard to environmental assessments, environmental considerations while on land and on the water, those are all things that the federal government has been moving on, we are moving on, and I think those will all be addressed. The aboriginal consultation part is something that coastal First Nations have been very vocal about, will continue to be vocal about, and that needs to be addressed, for sure, by Enbridge, in order for the project to go forward. On the money side, it certainly, of course, it sounds great, as a British Columbian, to say British Columbia should get our fair share and I understand that. But Premier Clark hasn’t been specific about what she’s talking about, how much or where it would come from, so until she’s clear on that, it’s kind of an empty zone to have a debate about this. But I do understand, certainly, the reaction by the rest of the country, when you have one province, who is, geographically, the Pacific gateway for the entire country to the markets of the Asia-Pacific, the perception of us closing the door to the rest of the country doing business with the largest emerging markets in the world, it’s something that’s cause for concern. On the other hand, Christy Clark is very much, I think, in the right in terms of her responsibility to represent British Columbians. To make sure that the rest of the country understands that just because British Columbia is physically the Asia-Pacific gateway, it doesn’t mean that we’re the doormat for companies like Enbridge to think that they can go ahead and do business without having due diligence and taking care of the public’s interest.
Bill Good. A lot of people would be asking why we are even talking about doing business with Enbridge right now, given their track record, their recent environmental disasters, their what seems to be lack of procedures when it comes to oil spills. Why are we even talking about doing business with that particular company?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM - 0 Comments
The only thing more fun than a cabinet shuffle is speculating about a cabinet shuffle. The Star, Huffington Post, CBC and Postmedia have your first guesses, including mentions of Peter MacKay, Bev Oda, Julian Fantino, Christian Paradis, John Duncan, Peter Kent, Vic Toews, Maxime Bernier, Denis Lebel, Rob Nicholson, Jason Kenney, James Moore, John Baird, Chris Alexander, Michelle Rempel, Candice Hoeppner, Kellie Leitch, James Rajotte and Greg Rickford.
That leaves just 144 Conservatives (excluding the Prime Minister) left to be speculated about between now and whenever Mr. Harper goes to Rideau. Actually, 145 if you include the stuffed dog that participated in last week’s C-38 vote marathon.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Photo gallery: To delight of MPs, Saskatoon rockers tour the Hill
The Sheepdogs – Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen, Sam Corbett – were in the Capital to play a special concert at the NAC . The event was part of a music night series put together by Heritage Minister James Moore to help expose MPs to Canadian music.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 7:19 PM - 0 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
In response to the Heritage Minister’s criticism of the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, Senator Nancy Ruth questions James Moore’s judgment. Peter Julian mocks. Ottawa Citizen columnist Peter Simpson considers.
In a CBC panel, Dean Del Mastro, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary, questioned the parameters of science and compared the exhibit to what might be found in an adult video store.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. From the far southwest corner of the room, Conservative MP Wai Young wondered aloud whether New Democrat MP Rosane Doré Lefebvre had children.
“Do you have children?” she asked, loudly, of Ms. Doré Lefebvre, who stood in her spot in the opposite corner.
“Do you have children?” Ms. Young repeated.
“You don’t have children!” she concluded.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre was, at the time, attempting to challenge the Heritage Minister on his opposition to an exhibit about sex at the local science museum. Apparently Ms. Young objected to Ms. Doré Lefebvre’s criticism. Apparently Ms. Young considered the question of whether or not Ms. Doré Lefebvre was currently raising children to be somehow relevant to this discussion.
Afterwards, Nathan Cullen rose and suggested that perhaps Ms. Young’s comments were inappropriate and an apology thus in order. Eventually, and shortly after first declining to do so, Ms. Young did apologize. The House then moved on to a discussion of when and how a member might properly use the adjectives “stupid” and “ignorant.”
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…