By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 9 Comments
While the Liberals complain that the budget implementation act received just four days of House debate at second reading—15 seconds per page, the Liberals figure—two former government House leaders defend the practice of “time allocation.”
“If the opposition is entitled to filibuster, then the government is entitled to un-filibuster,” Boudria said. The second-longest serving House leader in Canadian history, Boudria said the government needs to be able to speed up a bill if the opposition has slowed it down.
His counterpart — who was often the target of the measures Boudria used under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien — said parliamentary rules that allow the government to end debate are necessary. “Although we railed against their usage at times by Mr. Chrétien and Don Boudria, we recognized even then that in our system of government, if you’re going to actually get something done, you have to be able to use them,” Hill said.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 1:19 PM - 45 Comments
The Transport Minister and the Conservative backbencher will also refrain from seeking reelection. Both were members of the Reform party’s class of 1993.
Since the last election, Jay Hill has resigned, while Jim Abbott and Keith Martin have announced they will not seek reelection. Assuming that all those who remain decide to stand for reelection and are subsequently relected, that class is poised to be reduced to six after the next vote: Diane Ablonczy, Leon Benoit, Garry Breitkreuz, John Duncan, Stephen Harper and Dick Harris.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM - 3 Comments
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25…
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25 000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing for her book The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future. Below, Porter with House Leader John Baird.
Belinda Stronach and Peter Mansbridge.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 3:11 PM - 1 Comment
Former cabinet minister Jim Prentice held a goodbye party before the House rose. Prentice…
Former cabinet minister Jim Prentice held a goodbye party before the House rose. Prentice (left) with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
Tory MP Lynne Yelich (left) with Karen Prentice.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 5:06 PM - 13 Comments
I wasn’t in the House this afternoon on account of other commitments, but I’m told that shortly after Question Period, Speaker Peter Milliken rose to rule on a point of order previously raised by Liberal Derek Lee. Mr. Lee complained last month that a statement by Conservative MP Phil McColeman should have been ruled out of order as a personal attack on Liberal Mark Holland. That the time allotted for statements by members—15 minutes each day normally reserved for noting charitable causes, the accomplishments of constituents and such—was being used to launch partisan attacks was identified as a problem last March by Speaker Milliken, a problem he attempted to addresses with limited success.
The prepared text of Mr. Milliken’s ruling today follows. Coincidentally, in an essay for the current issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review, former government House leader Jay Hill calls for the Speaker to more strictly enforce order upon the proceedings. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 2:27 PM - 24 Comments
The concept of ministerial accountability was born on the morning of May 25, 2010, invoked so as to protect ministerial staff from having to testify before parliamentary committees. It lived a short, but fitful life.
The concept was injured slightly in October when a member of Christian Paradis’ staff resigned after meddling in access to information requests, but Minister Paradis himself went unpunished. It was wounded again days later when Mr. Paradis did not answer questions on the matter in the House. The concept was emboldened somewhat when the official opposition declined a confrontation on the matter, but, sadly, it sustained serious injuries weeks later when Rona Ambrose, rising to answer about events involving Mr. Paradis, explicitly directed questions to the public service. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
With Jay Hill announcing his departure and the Bloc’s Jean-Yves Roy expected to soon follow, as many as five ridings may now be officially put in play before year’s end. Pundits Guide circles December 13 on the calendar.
Those by-elections would include two Conservative seats (Prince George and Dauphin), one NDP seat (Winnipeg-North), one Liberal seat (Vaughan) and one Bloc seat (Haute-Gaspesie). The latter three would seem to be the most worth watching—Haute-Gaspesie a narrow Bloc victory in 2008 and the Conservatives seemingly eager to pick up Vaughan.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:53 PM - 0 Comments
In light of revelations that an aide to Christian Paradis meddled in access to information requests, that aide’s subsequent resignation, and Minister Paradis’ refusal (at least so far) to do likewise, it is likely worth turning again to Jay Hill’s announcement in the House last May of the government’s new doctrine of ministerial accountability.
Ours is a system of responsible government because the government must retain the confidence of the House of Commons and because ministers are responsible to the House for everything that is done under their authority. We ministers are answerable to Parliament and to its committees. It is ministers who decide policy and ministers who must defend it before the House and ultimately before the people of Canada … There is a clear case to be made that the accountability of political staff ought to be satisfied through ministers. Ministers ran for office and accepted the role and responsibility of being a minister. Staff did not.
Mr. Hill specifically cited a statement from the Gomery commission report which read, “Ministers need to understand clearly that they are accountable, responsible and answerable for all the actions of their exempt staff.”
The issue at the time was whether political staff should be testifying for their actions at parliamentary committees. And the question that lingered then was what will now be asked is both simple and difficult: What does this mean? What is to be done, if staff are not to be held so accountable and ministers are to accept full responsibility, with a minister whose staff is found to have transgressed? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 6, 2010 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
We interrupt this vacation to note that the Prime Minister is on television explaining that Parliament depends on the “maturity and wisdom” of its members.
So John Baird fills Jay Hill’s spot as government house leader, Chuck Strahl fills Baird’s spot at Transport and John Duncan fills Strahl’s spot at Indian Affairs.
As Transport Minister John Baird not only handled questions on the federal stimulus program, he took the Prime Minister’s questions when Mr. Harper was absent from QP and defended other ministers (Helena Guergis, par exemple) when the questions became too incessantly uncomfortable. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 3:13 PM - 0 Comments
Whatever Tony Clement has already said Statistics Canada officials said to him, he really can’t say what they said, except to say that they never said they had any misgivings about the new census. That Mr. Clement said anything about what Statistics Canada said is said to have led to Munir Sheik’s resignation. Which is all, you might say, ironic, because, as Jay Hill said, this is a government that believes ministers, and only ministers, are responsible for the policies, decisions and operations of government.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Government House Leader Jay Hill won’t seek re-election.
“I’ve always felt that for politicians the time to go is when things are still going well … when you’ve reached the crest of the hill, but before starting down the other side. For me that time is now,” said Hill.
“I must ensure that those to whom I owe my greatest loyalty and immense gratitude, and who have always been there to support me through seven federal elections and all the years in between, have sufficient time to select the next Conservative candidate for our great constituency.”
“I could not have done this without the tremendous support of constituents, my dedicated staff and my family. I would also like to thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper, my fellow Cabinet members and my caucus colleagues. It has been a privilege to work with these distinguished individuals who are committed to serving Canada and our democracy.”
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, May 25, 2010 at 7:45 PM - 160 Comments
Stephen Harper stood this afternoon before a room of past and present cabinet ministers, current and former members of parliament, power-brokers, diplomats, hangers-on and swells—the size of the crowd woefully overwhelming Parliament’s air conditioning system on a truly sweltering day in the capital—and toasted the career of Jean Chrétien, the man who once seemed to epitomize everything Mr. Harper campaigned to change, everything that was wrong with this place, everything that brought Mr. Harper to office four and a half years ago.
Mr. Harper spoke of a “great Parliamentarian” and a “great leader” and his “long and successful service to Canada.” “For this passion and dedication, Jean Chrétien deserves our admiration and our thanks,” Mr. Harper said. “And he deserves to look back on his record of service to our country with pride and satisfaction.”
And then Mr. Harper said this. “Partisan differences are a healthy and necessary part of our political culture and process. But on an occasion such as this, we remember that they are transcended by a deep, enduring consensus, a shared understanding that our freedom rests also on the limitations imposed on those partisan differences by our constitutional traditions and the rule of law.”
Perhaps it was just the heat, but these words seemed heavy. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 12:39 PM - 78 Comments
Below is the prepared text of government House leader Jay Hill’s statement in the Commons this morning, in which he laments for the state of Parliament’s committee system and explains why ministerial staffers will no longer be taking part. Those who delight in irony might wish to read Don Martin’s 2007 column on the government’s handbook for committee manipulation before reading the following. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:34 PM - 30 Comments
Government house leader Jay Hill, a spokesman for the Board of Internal Economy, laments the attention the current debate over MP expenses has received, but acknowledges it might be discussed further at the board. Fisheries Minister Gail Shea isn’t concerned either way. Conservative Daryl Kramp says an auditor general audit is inevitable but unnecessary. The NDP caucus is split: Charlie Angus says it needs to be worked out with the auditor general, Pat Martin, Peter Stoffer and Peter Julian say open the books, Yvon Godin is obstinate. Liberal Marlene Jennings calls for disclosure. Liberal Bryon Wilfert defends the status quo.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 10, 2010 at 3:32 PM - 18 Comments
CP’s Joan Bryden gets at a crucial point in the detainee document discussions.
The parties have yet to agree, however on the most crucial point: how to resolve any disagreement that may arise over which documents can be disclosed publicly without jeopardizing national security.
Sources said the government proposed Thursday that the issue of disclosure be decided by “consensus” among MPs on the special committee. But opposition negotiators weren’t thrilled with the idea, seeing it as a way to essentially give a veto to the government.
The government’s negotiators – House Leader Jay Hill, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and government Whip Gordon O’Connor – did not describe the proposal as a bottom line and seemed open to other options, sources said.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 6:33 PM - 84 Comments
The Scene. If the House has been struck with one thing these past few weeks it has been a rather simple question: why is it that this government does what it does? The government, you see, isn’t much for explaining itself, its motivations or its thought processes. And when, on rare occasion, it does attempt to explain, its explanations are often said by its exacting critics to escape logic.
And so perhaps today’s reckoning—a loud and furious afternoon of openly wondering and shouted theories—was inevitable.
The Bloc, for instance, was quite perplexed. Or perhaps apoplectic is a better adjective. They were befuddled (to use another word) by the government’s approach to women’s groups and advocacy. Was the government, wondered Nicole Demers, guided by religion? Was it faithful to ideology?
Nay, said Bev Oda, the besieged Minister of International Cooperation.
“This is not about ideology,” she testified. “This is not about entitlement. This is about how we best use taxpayers’ dollars so that we can make a difference in developing countries.”
The Bloc was unpersuaded. But then Jack Layton was up, apparently hoping to set something else straight. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 3, 2010 at 11:28 PM - 28 Comments
The Sun wonders tonight whether there might be any dispute over the possibility of Bloc MPs reviewing secret documents. Jay Hill’s response that no decisions have been made seems more a statement of fact than a suggestion of trouble, but then James Bezan—though in what capacity he is permitted to speak for the government side is unclear—goes ahead and invokes the Queen.
Bloc MPs would “have to swear allegiance to Canada and the Queen” if they want access to sensitive information, said Manitoba Tory MP James Bezan. “If they are not prepared to do that, then I don’t see any way that we can give them the documents,” he said.
This Queen bit, mind you, is perfectly moot, seeing as how all Bloc MPs would have had to pledge such allegiance to take their seats in the House anyway. This archival footage of Gilles Duceppe with the makings of a fine mullet should explain things.
Your other standard oaths of office are here. Feel free to swear yourself in at home.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 12:41 PM - 16 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office has sent out its version of events.
It was a productive first meeting. We hope to meet again as early as possible next week. Ministers Hill and Nicholson went to the first meeting with a spirit of openness in order to reach a compromise while respecting the government’s legal obligations.
Apparently government whip Gordon O’Connor was also present. Reference to the “government’s legal obligations” is perhaps relevant to this discussion.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 9:26 PM - 23 Comments
The Star reports that government house leader Jay Hill and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will be negotiating with opposition parties tomorrow on the release of Afghan detainee documents.
The Liberals have mandated house leader Ralph Goodale to work on this file, while NDP house leader Libby Davies and defence critic Jack Harris will play key roles for their side. Separately, Jack Layton met today with Gilles Duceppe and Michael Ignatieff and hopes to meet with the Prime Minister later this week.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM - 2 Comments
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association were on the Hill and held a beef
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association were on the Hill and held a beef
reception which had 200 West Block packed. Beef gets MPs and staffers
every time. Below, Liberal MP Mark Eyking.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:31 PM - 38 Comments
Jay Hill asks that you stop expecting so much our Olympic athletes.
I’m disappointed by the number of news stories focused on glitches and tough expectations on our athletes … when Alexandre Bilodeau won his event, the pundits obsessed that “finally” we won our first Gold here at home in Canada. What does his success have to do with what did or did not happen in 1976 in Montreal or 1988 in Calgary? … Personally, one of the most rewarding moments of these Olympics so far was the Men’s 1000m speed skating final featuring our very own Fort St. John native, Denny Morrison. To be in the stands at the fabulous Richmond Oval with thousands of other Canadians hollering and whistling Denny on is an experience I’ll not soon forget. Although Denny didn’t win, I’m sure he’d be one of the first to agree, that just to have qualified to be there, representing Canada … the greatest country on earth … was a victory in itself! Go Canada Go.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 10:12 PM - 133 Comments
The Prime Minister is rumoured to be considering the reset button.
Rumours swirling around Ottawa suggest the Conservative government is thinking of shutting down Parliament until after the Olympics, killing some of its own bills but also ending the discussion of Afghan detainees that is nibbling away at Tory popularity.
“I have heard that from some of the public servants,” Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said Monday of a potential prorogation. “The word they are getting is ‘get ready to clear the decks. Anything that needs to get done before a parliamentary session ends, get it done.’ ”
Conservative staff members said they also have received hints that a prorogation may be in the offing. But a spokeswoman for Government House Leader Jay Hill said his office “won’t indulge the Hill rumour mill.” The rumours suggest that Parliament would return in March, when the Games are over, with a new budget that could be used to provoke an election.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 17 Comments
An exchange from Question Period yesterday.
Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, by telling us this morning that Canada has to wait longer still to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the minister for big oil is showing once again that the environment is not a priority for this government. Instead of stepping up efforts to get an agreement on strict reduction targets, he is instead working on derailing the Copenhagen summit and prefers to conduct his business without any regard for the consequences. Does the Prime Minister realize that his approach, which pits the economy against the environment, is viewed as disastrous by the experts?
Hon. Jay Hill (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in this chamber, there is no minister for big oil in this government. Therefore, there will not be any minister responding to that silly question.
Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, there is not just one minister for big oil, there are several.
The government subsequently refused to acknowledge Ms. Brunelle’s second question. Likewise, the government declined to respond later when the Bloc’s Michel Guimond directed at a question at the “minister of patronage” (Christian Paradis, apparently). That exchange after the jump. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:17 AM - 81 Comments
Susan Delacourt notes the scene yesterday as Carolyn Bennett attempted to ask her second question of the Health Minister.
A question about pregnant women and the H1N1 vaccine provoked a bizarre bout of heckling and laughter on the Tory benches in the Commons on Tuesday.
Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, a physician and former public health minister, was shouted down when she tried to raise the issue of confusion surrounding what kind of vaccinations pregnant women should be getting.
For whatever reason, Ms. Bennett regularly draws enthusiastic heckling from the Conservative side. But given government house leader Jay Hill’s stated concern yesterday about anyone who would “intimidate, or attempt to intimidate, members of this House,” he will no doubt be instructing his charges to show Ms. Bennett greater respect in the future.
The Liberals have uploaded video of her question. Here’s that. Continue…