By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 0 Comments
Picking up where they left off yesterday, Charlie Angus and Peter Van Loan went another round this afternoon.
Charlie Angus. No wonder the Ethics Commissioner is fed up with these guys over here. We have a minister who was found guilty of breaking section 9 of the conflict of interest law, but rather than coming clean the Conservatives have been hiding behind loopholes, they have trolling the letters of opposition members to obscure the fact that he was found guilty. No wonder the Ethics Commissioner wants the power to be able to fine these cabinet ministers. A simple question, will the Conservatives support the Ethics Commissioner in her desire to strengthen the rules or are they going to try to gut the act to cover up for those insiders who are continually breaking the law? It is a simple question.
Peter Van Loan. Mr. Speaker, the other day I read a letter from the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay supporting AVR radio. It might be interesting to note that the president and executive vice-president of AVR actually made donations to the NDP in 2011. This letter, of May 18, 2012, went to the CRTC. He stands here as the ethics czar for the NDP and his main argument is that the NDP should be held to a lower standard of ethics than the Conservative MPs. Perhaps that is what Mary Dawson is talking about.
Here again is the compliance order issued to the Finance Minister after his appeal to the CRTC on behalf of an easy-listening station. The ethics commissioner applied Section 9 of the Act and Annex H of the guide. Section 9 sets out that “no public office holder shall use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of the public office holder’s relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.” What’s the definition of a public office holder? Section 2 defines it as follows.
(a) a minister of the Crown, a minister of state or a parliamentary secretary;
(b) a member of ministerial staff;
(c) a ministerial adviser;
(d) a Governor in Council appointee, other than the following persons, namely,
(i) a lieutenant governor,
(ii) officers and staff of the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament,
(iii) a person appointed or employed under the Public Service Employment Act who is a head of mission within the meaning of subsection 13(1) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act,
(iv) a judge who receives a salary under the Judges Act,
(v) a military judge within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the National Defence Act, and
(vi) an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, not including the Commissioner;
(d.1) a ministerial appointee whose appointment is approved by the Governor in Council; and
(e) a full-time ministerial appointee designated by the appropriate minister of the Crown as a public office holder.
You’ll note that the Finance Minister is a minister of the Crown and that nowhere in the definition is a member of parliament identified as a public office holder.
Annex H of the Prime Minister’s guide explains that “Ministers must not intervene, or appear to intervene, with tribunals on any matter requiring a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity, except as permitted by statute.”
On those grounds, the ethics commissioner found that Mr. Flaherty had erred. Mr. Flaherty explained that his mistake was including his ministerial title under his name at the bottom of the letter, but, in scolding two parliamentary secretaries, the ethics commissioner later clarified that the actual use of the title wasn’t important. In other words, a minister or parliamentary secretary couldn’t pretend he or she was writing as only a member of parliament if they were otherwise a minister or parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Van Loan responses on Monday—see here and here—suggested Mr. Flaherty and the government were merely operating previously with a different interpretation of the Conflict of Interest Act (although there would still be the matter of the government’s own accountability guide). But beginning with his second response on Tuesday and continuing yesterday and today, the Government House Leader seems to be expressing confusion about the standard applied by the commissioner.
Or perhaps Mr. Van Loan means to suggest that the Act, which his government introduced, is illogical. In that regard, if the Harper government would like now to change the rules so that all MPs are banned from such writing letters to the tribunals like the CRTC, there is certainly a case to be made for such a change.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8:37 AM - 0 Comments
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, 63, has ended months of speculation about his health after…
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, 63, has ended months of speculation about his health after admitting that he is being treated for a rare skin condition.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Flaherty said that he has a condition called bullous pemphigoid, which must be treated with the steroid drug prednisone. That steroid has visible side effects, including puffy face and weight gain. It can also cause difficulty sleeping. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Finance Minister talks to Tom Clark.
Tom Clark: Let me take you domestically now to the question of the parliamentary budget officer. We know that Kevin Page’s term is up in March. You’ve had your ups and downs with Mr. Page. I think you’ve called him unreliable and unbelievable at times. However, this office was created by your government. Has it been a net benefit?
Jim Flaherty: Not yet, I think the idea … and I was there in those discussions in the early days of our government because I’ve been there since the beginning. The idea was that the parliamentary budget officer would kind of work like the congressional budget officer in the United States to report to the elected people in the House of Commons about how the government was doing in its budgeting, sort of being a sounding board, a testing board. He’s kind of gone off that course and I think that course was the right course and it could be very valuable to Members of Parliament of all parties, including my own party. But he’s been kind of wandering off and going in other places.
Mr. Flaherty suggests the PBO’s mandate might be adjusted, but he doesn’t quite clarify how and when he thinks Kevin Page has “gone off that course.”
As Stephen Gordon notes, if the idea is to match the congressional budget office, there is an obvious funding issue to address. So perhaps Mr. Flaherty could seek to address that as well. Perhaps the office could also be made a fully independent officer of parliament.
Turning to the Conservative party’s platform in 2006, the original goal was to “ensure truth in budgeting with a Parliamentary Budget Authority.” “Governments cannot be held to account if Parliament does not know the accurate state of public finances,” the platform explained. And so a Conservative government would: “create an independent Parliamentary Budget Authority to provide objective analysis directly to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy” and “require government departments and agencies to provide accurate, timely information to the Parliamentary Budget Authority to ensure it has the information it needs to provide accurate analyses to Parliament.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 11:09 AM - 0 Comments
The ethics commissioner issued two more compliance orders yesterday concerning letters sent to the CRTC, this time by parliamentary secretaries Eve Adams and Colin Carrie. Both rulings come to the same conclusion.
It is improper for you to have written a letter of support to a tribunal in relation to its decision-making. Writing such a letter would be improper regardless of whether or not you explicitly identified yourself as a parliamentary secretary.
When Jim Flaherty wrote to the CRTC and was reprimanded by the ethics commissioner, the Finance Minister blamed the “oversight” that his ministerial title had been listed under his signature on the letter—essentially arguing that he was permitted to send such a letter so long as he didn’t explicitly identify himself as the finance minister in doing so.
The commissioner’s rulings on Ms. Adams and Mr. Carrie suggest to me that’s not the standard to be applied. I’ve asked the commissioner’s office for clarity and will pass along whatever I receive in response.
Update 11:44am. A note from the ethics commissioner’s office.
While the wording of the orders differs, the interpretation and application of the rules is the same. The Commissioner is of the view that the provision of the Conflict of Interest Act applies in these instances regardless of whether Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries use their titles or not.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
Jim Flaherty blames an “oversight” for the fact that his ministerial title was included in his letter to the CRTC. The Globe finds two parliamentary secretaries who wrote to the CRTC with their titles noted and, with various backbench and opposition MPs writing to the CRTC, Duff Conacher wonders why any MPs are allowed to write such letters.
Public interest advocate Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch argues that section is ill-defined. He says MPs should not be picking and choosing which local companies they will help.
“I don’t think it’s proper for MPs to become lobbyists for individuals with specific interests,” said Mr. Conacher, who praised Ms. Dawson’s decision Friday but added that it calls for more clarity around the proper role of an MP. As it stands, Mr. Conacher said there is nothing to prevent MPs from giving favourable treatment to constituents who are friends or political supporters. “That’s trading favours,” he said. “They give preferential treatment to those who do more for them – either vote for them, raise money for them or work on their campaigns – and I don’t think that is the proper role of a member of Parliament.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair has written to the Prime Minister about Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC.
Your guidelines, Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State document, which is available on your website, clearly outlines what you expect of Ministers. The guidelines state that “ministers must not intervene, or appear to intervene, with tribunals on any matter requiring a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity, except as permitted by statute.”
That the application was unsuccessful hardly seems to count, when it comes to ethics there is no special award for attempted influence…
The Conservative Party promised over six years ago that “the time for accountability has arrived”, it’s time to close the gap between promises and reality. It’s time to take the first step by investigating the actions by Mr. Flaherty and start holding your ministers to account when they break the rules.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
A note from the ethics commissioner’s office about Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC.
After looking into the matter of Minister Jim Flaherty’s letter of support on behalf of a business in his constituency, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson issued a compliance order late yesterday afternoon to the Minister under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act.
In the order, she notes that it was improper for Mr. Flaherty, as a minister, to have written a letter of support to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on behalf of a radio station in his constituency seeking a broadcasting licence from the CRTC. The order directs Mr. Flaherty to refrain from writing similar letters in the future without seeking approval from her office.
While ministers are not precluded from representing their constituents in their capacity as Members of Parliament, they are prohibited, under section 9 of the Act, from using their positions as public office holders to seek to influence decision making so as to improperly further the private interests of another person.
As the facts are clear and an order has been made, the Commissioner will not be launching an investigation.
Under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act, the Commissioner may order a public office holder to take any compliance measure that the Commissioner determines is necessary to comply with the Act. Compliance orders are posted in the public registry under the Act.
Kady O’Malley has the talking points from the Prime Minister’s Office.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 3:09 PM - 0 Comments
I emailed the office of the ethics commissioner to ask if the commissioner was planning to investigate the Finance Minister’s letter to the ethics commissioner. Here is the response.
Commissioner Dawson is aware of the issue and is following-up with Minister Flaherty’s office. We cannot comment further at this time.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:06 PM - 0 Comments
I asked the Prime Minister’s Office if Mr. Harper had any opinion on the actions of Jim Flaherty in regards to the application of Durham Radio.
Does the Prime Minister believe that the Finance Minister acted in accordance with the rules and standards of ministerial conduct when he wrote to the CRTC to express support for a Durham Radio Inc’s application?
Here is the response from the Prime Minister’s press secretary.
The Member of Parliament for Whitby-Oshawa wrote a letter on behalf of his constituents, as Members of Parliament often do. The Ethics Commissioner has previously acknowledged that “ministers, as Members, have duties towards their constituents” but must exercise caution. The Minister of Finance plays no role and has no input into the deliberations or decisions of the CRTC.
I would also point out that Durham Radio Inc.’s application was unsuccessful.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:39 AM - 0 Comments
CP reports that the Finance Minister wrote a letter to the CRTC to express his “support” for the application for a radio license by a Durham company and that might be a problem.
The CRTC, which administers broadcasting and telecommunications, is among the federal agencies known as quasi-judicial tribunals — court-like bodies that make decisions at arm’s length from the government. Federal rules on ministerial responsibility, including interaction with such administrative bodies, are set out in Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State. The document, last updated by Stephen Harper’s government in December 2010, is posted on the prime minister’s website.
The rules say decisions made by administrative tribunals often concern individual rights or interests, are technical in nature or are “considered sensitive and vulnerable to political interference (such as broadcasting).” “Ministers must not intervene, or appear to intervene, with tribunals on any matter requiring a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity, except as permitted by statute.” The guide add that in all instances, even where the minister or cabinet has authority to send back or overturn decisions once made, as is the case with the CRTC, “it is inappropriate to attempt to influence the outcome of a specific decision of a quasi-judicial nature.”
You can view the letter here.
CP notes that David Collenette resigned as defence minister in 1996—here is the Maclean’s story from the time—after it was discovered that he had written to the Immigration and Refugee Board on behalf of a constituent.
In 1994, the Reform party called for the resignation of heritage minister Michel Dupuy after it was discovered that he had written to the CRTC on behalf of a constituent. Mr. Dupuy’s defence at the time seems to have rested on the idea that he had not meant to express support for the application, merely to advocate that it receive a fair hearing.
Mr. Speaker, last March I was approached at my constituency office by a constituent whom I had not met before and whom I have not met since, to write a letter drawing the attention of the CRTC to his application for a radio licence. I explained to this constituent that as minister responsible I could not interfere with the workings of the CRTC, but I agreed as his member of Parliament to do my best to ensure that he was treated fairly.
On March 15, I wrote to the chairman of the CRTC in my capacity as an MP for this constituent asking the commission to give the application a fair hearing. This was the letter of an MP seeking to ensure that a constituent received due process.
I wish to table the letter. The letter was not meant in any way to be an endorsement of the licence application, nor was it intended to exert pressure on the CRTC. I also understand that on March 30 the CRTC acknowledged my letter, categorizing it as a letter in support of the licence applicant. That acknowledgement letter was never brought to my attention. If it had been, I would have immediately rectified the matter.
As soon as I did learn that one of the interested parties wrote to me in September regarding my “alleged support” for the licence application, I took immediate corrective action. I wrote to the interested party, clarifying my earlier letter and clearing up any misunderstanding.
In this letter dated September 30, I wrote: ‘My letter of March 15, 1994 to the CRTC simply asked that due consideration be given to the application. It is not intended to convey support for or opposition to the application. The CRTC is the body mandated by law to make independent decisions on all such applications. It is therefore for the CRTC to weigh the merits of the arguments raised by the applicants and the interveners.’
In this case, Mr. Flaherty seems to have explicitly expressed support. Mr. Dupuy was shuffled out of cabinet a little over a year later and that precedent was cited in 2004 by Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
Just in from Finance Canada:
The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, met with David Laidley, Chair of the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Canada designated to develop a list of qualified candidates for the position of Governor of the Bank of Canada.
As a matter of course, this meeting affords both the Minister and the Chair an opportunity to review procedure and to discuss timelines to ensure a smooth transition.
The position of Governor was advertised on January 7, 2013 by the recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson, at the direction of the Special Committee. The mandate of the Bank of Canada is to conduct monetary policy to keep inflation low, stable and predictable and to promote the integrity of Canadian currency. The Governor has responsibility for the oversight of all aspects of the work of the Bank of Canada. With the recruitment process now underway, the Special Committee, in close consultation with the Minister, will review the list of initial candidates put forward by the recruitment firm.
Once fully vetted, the Special Committee will then recommend a roster of qualified candidates to the Minister for him to interview. The appointment of the Governor by the Directors is subject to the approval of the Governor in Council.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 1:32 PM - 0 Comments
The Globe hears that the Finance Minister is concerned about Mark Carney’s dealings with the Liberals.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is privately disappointed and concerned over Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney’s courtship by federal Liberals as well as his holiday stay at the home of an opposition MP, sources say.
The Finance Minister feels strongly that public servants should maintain the appearance of impartiality and is concerned when actions call that into question, sources say.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 2:14 PM - 0 Comments
Jim Flaherty talks to Sun News about the bank governor.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is satisfied that Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney was not dabbling in partisan politics when Carney spent a week last summer vacationing at the Nova Scotia home of a Liberal MP.
“Mark says there is no partisan political activity,” Flaherty said in a year-end interview broadcast on Sun News Network Thursday. “That’s very important. It’s fundamental, I think, for confidence in our institutions. So I haven’t commented on it other than that because it’s up to the governor, I think, if he chooses to comment on it to go ahead and comment.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM - 0 Comments
The Finance Minister still doesn’t have anything to say about Mark Carney and the Liberals.
“I’ve spoken with the governor,” Flaherty told reporters Wednesday at an event in Burlington, ON. ”I don’t really have any comment on the issue right now. I imagine, at some point, he might be willing to respond.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM - 0 Comments
Recent reviews of the Canadian retirement income system by Jack Mintz and Bob Baldwinhave concluded that the public system already in place does well in ensuring sufficient retirement income for those in the bottom two-fifths of the population. Research by Statistics Canada indicates that more than two-thirds of lower-earning Canadians have more income in retirement than they did at age 50. The pension problem, such that it is, can be found among those in the top three-fifths of the population who do not receive benefits from an employer-sponsored pension plan.
The CPP affects almost everybody. The pension problem identified by these recent pension reviews is one that affects middle-to-high earners without a workplace pension. This presents a fairly obvious mismatch. Is a bigger CPP really the solution for high earners who aren’t saving enough? Should we invest a lot of public policy effort to ensure that high earners can spend their retirement days in Florence instead of Florida? I still need to be convinced that a more targeted solution wouldn’t be more appropriate.
Milligan reviews some of the proposals, including the last Liberal campaign proposal of a “secure retirement option” and Thomas Mulcair’s proposal of a pension exchange. Mr. Mulcair’s leadership website seems to have mostly disappeared, but his policy paper on retirement security is preserved for posterity here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 17, 2012 at 10:51 PM - 0 Comments
Jim Flaherty has nothing to say about Mark Carney and the Liberals.
“I have no comment on any of that,” he said. “I usually have comments on everything, but I have no comment on any of that.”
The New Democrats would like you to know that Peggy Nash would never invite the bank governor to her vacation home.
A New Democratic Party spokesman said Monday the party considers the Bank of Canada governor to be a non-partisan position and would never undermine that by inviting the governor to stay at an MP’s house.
And several British MPs are eager to hear what Mr. Carney has to say for himself.
Andrew Tyrie, the Tory chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, told the Times of London on Monday: “My colleagues will want to address every such issue at the preappointment hearing.” … Some British Conservative MPs who want Britain to adopt a more aggressive monetary policy expressed concern to The Times on Monday about Mr. Carney’s conversations with Canadian Liberal Party members. Mark Field, the Tory MP for the City of London, said: “Now we know he’s a liberal, there seems no doubt that it will be ‘business as usual’ for interest rates right through until 2015.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Somerset Tory MP, told The Times: “There is a risk on being open about your place on the political spectrum. Having someone with known political views in a nominally apolitical job can lead to disagreements.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
The Globe reports that CPP changes are being considered.
The Globe and Mail has learned that a policy paper on CPP reform prepared by federal and provincial public servants will be presented to the ministers during their yearly December gathering for two days of meetings, which will be held this year at Meech Lake. Not enough Canadians are taking advantage of existing voluntary options such as RRSPs, say supporters of CPP expansion, including the seniors’ lobby group CARP…
Mr. Flaherty had initially supported some form of CPP increase, but he surprised and upset some provinces in December, 2010, by reversing that support. He argued at the time that not enough provinces were on board and it was a bad time economically to increase premiums. A federal source said Ottawa’s position has not changed.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons is filling up—the Prime Minister seems to have brought a large stack of paperwork to keep him busy—and voting on C-45 will soon commence. We’ll be here until the end to observer all the sights, sounds, thrills and chills of democracy in motion (specifically the motion of standing and sitting down repeatedly).
3:43pm. The party whips have been duly applauded and the Speaker is now calling the first vote. Thomas Mulcair receives a round of applause as he leads the votes in favour.
3:45pm. If you’d like to follow along with the commentary from the floor, our list of MPs on Twitter is here.
3:47pm. Mr. Harper receives a round of applause as he leads the nays.
3:51pm. The first vote goes to the nays, 156-134.
3:56pm. Michelle Rempel, Pierre Poilievre, Randy Kamp, Mark Adler, Bob Rae, Vic Toews and Ruth Ellen Brosseau are using the time to sign Christmas cards. Greg Rickford is reading Sports Illustrated. Denis Lebel is going through some paperwork. Megan Leslie and Nathan Cullen are fiddling with their iPads.
3:58pm. The second notes goes to the nays, 147-134. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Libby Davies rose to list a series of complaints about the Harper government’s general and to take note of a new proposal for child care services. “Now that even the big banks are challenging Conservatives’ priorities, when will the Prime Minister rethink his shortsighted budget choices?” she wondered.
The Prime Minister was obliged here to stand and offer the official assurances. “Mr. Speaker, the policy of this government has been to gradually balance the budget over the medium-term while not raising taxes as the NDP would like us to do and while preserving our payments for vital programs like health care, education and, of course, pensions for our senior citizens,” he reported.
And, in light of yesterday’s news, there was apparently another reason to brag.
“With that approach, Canada has record leading job creation among major developed countries and policies that are highly emulated around the world,” Mr. Harper continued, “one of the reasons I think that somebody like Mr. Carney can be recruited to serve in another country. Canada has a lot to be proud of.”
So apparently Mr. Carney has Mr. Harper to thank, at least in part, for his new job. Perhaps David Cameron might’ve saved himself the expense of hiring a new bank governor and simply renamed his budgets as “economic action plans” and started yelling about how the opposition’s plans to introduce a carbon tax imperil the monarchy. (Oh, the British government has proposed putting a price on carbon? Well, I suppose Mr. Carney’s cause is hopeless then.)
For whatever reason, Ms. Davies thought she saw an opening to turn this around. Continue…
By John Geddes, Paul Wells, Jonathon Gatehouse, Julie Smyth, Aaron Wherry and Michael Petrou - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Maclean’s 2012 power list
Ask around about the attributes of influence in the federal government during Stephen Harper’s rule. The answers will vary widely depending on who’s doing the talking, but certain elements will pop up with intriguing regularity. Just about everyone, for instance, agrees that power these days tilts westward. And, sure enough, the top three on our list—the Prime Minister himself, inevitably, followed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the governor of the Bank of Canada—all hail from Alberta.
Yet Harper had little to do with the rise of Beverley McLachlin and Mark Carney. So is this top-of-the-list cluster of Albertans mere happenstance, or a true sign of a pattern of power? One thing it isn’t, we promise, is a contrivance. Maclean’s writers and editors compiled this admittedly subjective list based on our own combined experience covering Ottawa’s most important people, tested against the sage insights of political strategists, veterans of the public service and lobbyists who make it their business to size up the city’s elite.
What makes one partisan or public servant, public figure or private power broker seem to matter more than another can be mysterious. In some cases, managerial style lifted a figure into our sights, like McLachlin’s subtle touch with the nine egos on the top court, or the way top bureaucrat Wayne Wouters boosts the morale of a public service whose pinnacle he commands. Often power flows in well-worn channels, as through the offices of the finance or foreign minister. Sometimes, though, someone cracks the institutional edifice, and influence streams in unexpectedly. Look at what Kevin Page has done as the first parliamentary budget officer. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 10:42 AM - 0 Comments
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has just announced that Mark Carney has been appointed Governor of the Bank of England.
The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced that Mark Carney, current Governor of the Bank of Canada, has been appointed as Governor of the Bank of England effective July 1, 2013.
“On behalf of the Government and all Canadians, I would like to thank Governor Carney for his work at the Bank of Canada and offer my best wishes in his future role at the Bank of England,” said Minister Flaherty. “This appointment, which marks the first time a foreign national has headed the Bank of England, is another strong example that Canada’s monetary and fiscal systems serve as models to the world. While other countries have faced significant turbulence, our financial system has consistently been ranked as the soundest in the world.”
Carney, whose term as Governor began February 1, 2008, had previously served as Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Finance and G-7 Deputy of Canada. He was also recently named chair of the Financial Stability Board. “As Minister of Finance, I appreciate the guidance Governor Carney has provided in recent years, in fulfilling the Bank’s mandate of maintaining the stability of our monetary system and controlling inflation,” noted Minister Flaherty.
The usual practice for selection and appointment of the Governor of the Bank of Canada will be followed. The Board of Directors of the Bank of Canada will shortly form a special committee comprised of independent directors whose mandate will be to undertake a recruitment process for the selection of the next Governor. Governors of the Bank of Canada are recommended by the independent directors, and appointed by the Minister of Finance and the federal cabinet.
And here is the official announcement from the Bank of Canada. Continue…
By John Geddes - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
With many federal departments quietly coping with budget cuts (as we’re reminded by the Parliamentary Budget Officer going to court to try to find out more about exactly how they’re managing it), the possibility of new infrastructure spending offers a rare whiff of fresh money in the air around Parliament Hill.
This week the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is holding what it calls its “advocacy days” (i.e., lobbying days) here, bringing more than 100 politicians from cities and towns to Ottawa to “build relationships” (i.e., apply pressure) with federal politicians and bureaucrats.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash had asked why the Prime Minister wouldn’t be in Halifax on Friday to meet with the premiers—”Since the Prime Minister is rarely here on Friday…”—and Jim Flaherty had duly enumerated all of the conversations the Prime Minister has had with the premiers these last seven years and now Ms. Nash was apparently done playing nice.
“Mr. Speaker, the fact is the premiers of this country are getting together to discuss, among other things, the economy, but the Prime Minister is refusing to join them,” she prefaced. “According to the IMF, we will have fallen behind the U.S. in growth by 2015. Greece’s economy is expected to grow faster than ours.”
The Conservatives across the way burst into laughter. The Speaker was obliged to call for order. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. With the benefit of a few days hindsight, Thomas Mulcair stood to review the week just passed.
One day last week, the NDP leader recalled, the Finance Minister had said a balanced budget would be delayed. But a few days later, Mr. Mulcair noted, the Prime Minister had said the budget would be balanced by 2015.
“So who is right?” he begged, holding out his hands and turning his palms upward.
This business of projecting the government’s future budgetary balance became officially silly somewhere between October 14, 2008 and October 17, 2008. And in that regard, Mr. Mulcair’s question is moot. Who is right? Conceivably, eventually, the Conservatives will be. It simply stands to reason that if you keep making predictions, you will eventually get at least one of them right.
Alas, promising that “the budget will be balanced at some point probably” does not project the sort of certainty we demand in our political leaders. And so here stood Tony Clement to convey the latest version of the official reassurances. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
Stephen Gordon reviews yesterday’s economic update.
The structural deficit introduced by the GST cut had to be addressed at some point. The 2011 budget would have been too early: the recovery was still fragile. In February, I was of the opinion that a small amount of fiscal contraction was appropriate for the 2012 budget: private-sector employment had recovered its pre-recession peak, and it was time to get federal government’s house in order in time for the next recession. And that’s what we got, although in the form of modest spending cuts (the 2012 budget had nothing on Paul Martin’s 1995 austerity program) and not a reversal of the GST reduction.
The main effect of slower-than-previously-expected growth is less income and expenditure, which means lower tax revenue. This would be bad news if Canada’s deficit and debt were at the levels they were 20 years ago, but—thanks to Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien—Jim Flaherty has a much thicker cushion to work with. Bond markets will not be upset by a slight delay in the path to a balanced budget, so there isn’t any pressing need for further fiscal tightening.