By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 0 Comments
The afternoon was not without new clarification. Or at least an attempt at such.
Picking up where yesterday had left off, Thomas Mulcair endeavoured to sort out the precise value of John Baird’s assurance that the matter of Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy had been referred to two independent authorities.
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday afternoon, 11 times the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the Duffy affair was going to be investigated by independent authorities, independent bodies, independent officers. When my colleague, the House Leader of the Official Opposition asked him what those were, he could not give an answer,” Mr. Mulcair recounted. “Twice during the afternoon the Prime Minister’s Office said that they were referring to the Senate’s Ethics Officer. Later it corrected that to say that it is the Senate committee, the same one that whitewashed Mike Duffy the first time, that is carrying out the investigation.”
“Ahh!” sighed the New Democrats.
Along the government’s front row, Vic Toews grumbled in Mr. Mulcair’s direction about a “bribe” (seemingly a reference to the matter of Mr. Mulcair and the mayor of Laval).
“Does the minister not realize,” Mr. Mulcair asked, “that is about as credible as Paul Martin asking Jean Chrétien to investigate the sponsorship scandal?”
The New Democrats enjoyed this reference and stood to applaud their man.
Mr. Baird now stood to quote himself. “What I did say yesterday was, and I quote: ‘Furthermore, this matter has been referred to two independent bodies for review,’ which is nothing like what he just said,” Mr. Baird explained, seeming to stress the word referred.
It is not actually clear what this should clarify, although, as it turns out, it now seems the Senate Ethics Officer is indeed reviewing the matter. So there’s that. Unfortunately, there is not much else on offer. Or, rather, not much else that the government seems either willing or able to offer. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair stood to a hearty cheer from his caucus and, when the applause had quieted, he attempted a joke.
“Mr. Speaker, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, to Peru apparently,” he quipped.
There were grumbles and complaints from the government side—it being unparliamentary to refer to the presence, or at least the lack thereof, of anyone in the House of Commons. Mr. Mulcair hadn’t quite done that here, but the Speaker was compelled to intervene here anyway and call for order.
The floor was returned to Mr. Mulcair and the NDP leader now proceeded to recap the story so far, a mix of the acknowledged, the alleged and the reported. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM - 0 Comments
I’m guilty, perhaps, of seeing too much of today’s conflicts through the lens of the Spanish Civil War. I spent years of my life immersed in studying and writing about it, and it shaped the way I think.
And yet the lessons from that tragedy continue to reverberate, even if they are largely ignored. The primary one is that fascism cannot be appeased. Few openly dispute that today, given the near-universal acceptance that the Second World War was a good and necessary war, and that we waited too long to confront the fascism behind it.
Instead, we pretend fascism isn’t there, to justify not fighting against it. We sneer at those who use the term to describe the Khomeinists in Iran — although that state’s demand for subservient conformity, its murderous suppression of dissent, and the oppression it visits on its Baha’i religious minority doesn’t leave room for a lot of other equally accurate adjectives.
We ignore the Taliban’s bloodlust, their ethnic and religious supremacism, and we say they are in fact Pashtun nationalists, or conservative Muslims, or anti-imperialists, or something else we cannot understand because we are Western and they are not and it’s arrogant for us to even try. And so we abandon their victims and congratulate ourselves on not making the same mistakes as George W. Bush. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he did not cross any sort…
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he did not cross any sort of line by holding a meeting with Israel’s justice minister in her East Jerusalem office.
Baird met Tuesday with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni across the Green Line in disputed territory, which the Palestinians and the United Nations consider occupied land.
Baird says where he has coffee with someone is “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace and does not signal a shift in Canadian foreign policy.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
Why Canada decided to ditch Israeli trauma kits during Baird’s 2011 visit
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) hired a commercial supplier to provide emergency medical equipment to Libyan rebels fighting dictator Moammar Gadhafi, in part over concerns that some material that the Canadian military could have provided was made in Israel or marked with crosses that DFAIT feared resembled those worn by Crusaders.
In June 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made an unexpected visit to Benghazi, then the headquarters of Libya’s National Transitional Council, which Canada had just recognized as the country’s legitimate representative. The visit coincided with the delivery of some 333 emergency trauma kits, which Baird described as “a gift from Canada to the Libyan people.” The kits were purchased through Relief Chain Solutions, a Gatineau, Que.-based supplier, at a cost of approximately $66,500. Shipping costs brought the total price for delivering the kits close to $83,000, according to DFAIT.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:41 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tried to change the channel Tuesday on…
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tried to change the channel Tuesday on a CBC News report identifying the two Canadians involved in January’s deadly terrorist attack at an isolated Algerian gas plant.
Baird, who is overseas, referred questions about the revelations — specifically, why the government has said so little about Canada’s connection to the January attack, which killed at least 38 hostages and 29 militants — to security agencies and his cabinet colleague, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
“Our intelligence services, our law enforcement agencies have been doing some important work and I think it’s best if I refer you to them for further comment,” Baird said during a conference call from the United Arab Emirates.
“I’m travelling in the Middle East right now, and the only thing I can do is refer you to the minister.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:36 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government is withdrawing from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
The Conservative government is pulling out of a United Nations convention aimed at fighting droughts and desertification in Africa, making Canada the only country in the world to leave the agreement. The withdrawal from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was ordered last week by the federal cabinet on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, but only made public Wednesday…
Sources told CTV News that the decision was made more than a year ago as part of the government’s plan to cut the deficit. It was announced to the affected departments a few months ago and there was little, if any, consultation, they said.
Julian Fantino’s office apparently won’t say how much this will save. CTV says we were providing $350,000 per year to the convention. The Canadian Press says we were providing $283,000.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
Bill C-279, the transgendered rights bill proposed by NDP MP Randall Garrison, comes to a vote this evening in the House. Here is previous coverage of the bill.
The second reading vote gives a sense of the votes to watch—specifically those Conservatives who voted in favour and what additional votes might be in play because of previous absences. One Conservative vote, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, tells me she will support the proposed amendments and the main bill. I’m also told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who wasn’t present for the second reading vote, will vote in favour.
Mr. Garrison’s office says they expect a very tight vote, but remain optimistic.
Update 1:53pm. Michael Chong will also support the amendments and, if they succeed, the amended bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
On the environment, Redford said she would like to see the federal government adopt a strategy similar to Alberta’s $15-per-tonne carbon levy on large industrial emitters that are unable to meet their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, with the cash then used to improve environmental outcomes. “We think that’s the right approach,” Redford said, when asked whether Ottawa should introduce a federal carbon levy on large emitters.
Alberta’s carbon tax of sorts has generated more than $300 million for a technology fund used to green operations and improve environmental performance. “The federal government needs to be supportive of that policy (setting a carbon price) in areas where it can actually make a difference to the outcome. Simply symbolically setting a price doesn’t actually achieve an outcome,” she added. “So I think it’s fine to set targets, I think it’s time to be supportive of sectors that are looking to try to reduce emissions and to be able to partner together on that.”
But Ms. Redford’s office now says that she wasn’t quite endorsing a national carbon tax.
Premier Alison Redford did not advocate for a national carbon tax as today’s PostMedia story implies. The Premier was clear that Alberta’s climate change actions to date—including the creation of a fund for clean technology projects—have been successful and are driving innovation. Clean technology initiatives are worthy of consideration as the federal government develops new greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas industry.
John Baird once bragged of plans to establish a clean technology fund with the proceeds of a $15-per-tonne carbon price, but the Harper government has since decided that any price on carbon is a carbon tax.
But then Ms. Redford also prefers her province’s carbon levy to a cap-and-trade system (another policy the Harper government used to support).
Redford, however, doesn’t believe a widespread cap-and-trade emissions reduction scheme is necessary or the best approach for the federal government, questioning whether it would actually be effective in reducing emissions. “The goal is not to do something as a PR stunt; it’s to actually do something that is going to make a difference to outcomes. It can be a price on carbon, it can be work on consumer policies, energy efficiency, dealing with greening the (electricity) grid, that kind of thing,” she said.
But then the Alberta NDP doesn’t think the province’s carbon levy is sufficient.
“The ad is extremely misleading with respect to Alberta’s environmental record. It says that we have put a price on carbon. What we have is a very low price put on carbon intensity emissions,” Mason said.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
Charlie Angus wanted to talk about the possibility that individuals appointed to the Senate to represent specific provinces did not sufficiently reside in those provinces. But Pierre Poilievre wanted to talk about how Mr. Angus had been the subject of a complaint made by the Ontario election boundaries commission.
“The Member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay submitted that the community of interest among farmers and people associated with agriculture in the farming area west and north of the City of Temiskaming Shores flowed north along Highway 11, and that there was no community of interest with people involved in agriculture in the electoral district of Nickel Belt,” the report reads, in reference to Mr. Angus. “The Member also expressed concern about the ability to serve constituents effectively if the communities along Highway 11 from the Town of Smooth Rock Falls to west of the Town of Hearst were included in the electoral district. This was the first hint of what the Commission considers to be inappropriate involvement by a Member of Parliament in the electoral redistribution process.”
Hadn’t the Conservatives, just two weeks ago, defended the involvement of parliamentarians in the boundary-drawing process? Well, yes. But they had also been responding, in part, to questions from Mr. Angus.
So… what exactly? Was Mr. Angus’ intervention somehow worse than the Conservative party’s mounting a public political campaign against the boundary commission? Was he merely guilty of the same offence he accused the Conservatives of committing? Were they both wrong? Did Mr. Angus’ wrong make the Conservatives’ actions somehow right? Did Mr. Angus’ actions somehow excuse whatever was going on in the Senate?
“He is the one who stands in the House and grandstands so regularly, putting himself on the highest moral level,” Mr. Poilievre explained a moment later.” He is the one who has been singled out for breaking the rules. He is the one who should stand and explain that.”
So perhaps Mr. Angus should stand and proclaim his offence a “big victory” and that would be that.
But ultimately Mr. Poilievre’s allegation is just that: hypocrisy. Whatever his actual title as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport or some such, Mr. Poilievre is something like the Minister of State for I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I? And he is very good at his job. Whatever you can accuse his side of doing, he can think of something that your side did that was somewhat similar in nature. Or he can suggest that you—at least if you are the NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice—are a separatist. Presumably the aim is to ensure that everyone is regarded as equally unworthy of your trust. His fellow Conservatives adore his performances. For sure, as song and dance routines go, Mr. Poilievre’s is certainly more entertaining than, say, Julian Fantino’s lo-fi grumble or Rob Nicholson’s perpetual disappointment in the opposition.
But he is still no John Baird—the gleeful master of the glancing gotcha, the wizard of fleeting and tangential advantage. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
Conservative MP Robert Goguen had apparently been up late last night, carefully reviewing the main estimates and he was keen this afternoon to rise shortly before Question Period and report back to the House with what he’d found. “Yesterday, in main estimates, there were significant reductions in the cost of prisons due to the influx of new prisoners not materializing,” the government backbencher celebrated, dismissing opposition concerns about prison spending in the process.
Mr. Goguen was being modest. At last report there were actually more individuals in prison than ever before. Which would seem to render those “significant reductions” all the more impressive. (Although the increasing violence in prisons might make it more difficult to feel good about frugality.)
This good news might’ve ruled the day were it not for those on the opposition side who’d also taken some time to review the estimates themselves. They were decidedly less enthused than Mr. Goguen.
“Mr. Speaker, at the same time that we continue to read in the estimates with respect to the cuts that are being made in front line programs, in foreign aid programs, in foreign affairs budgets, we now see that the CIC is increasing its advertising budget by $4 million, the Department of Finance is increasing its advertising budget by nearly $7 million, and the Department of Natural Resources is increasing its advertising budget by $4.5 million compared to the main estimates of last year,” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae reported, reading from a white piece of paper.
Now Mr. Rae wagged his finger in the Prime Minister’s general direction. “I would like to ask the Prime Minister how he can justify again this double standard where front line services are being cut but propaganda is being increased?”
Oddly, Mr. Harper begged to differ almost entirely. “Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister corrected, “those front line services are not being cut.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister has named the government’s first ambassador for religious freedom. Here is the official biography for Andrew Bennett. And here is Mr. Harper’s response this afternoon when asked about whether the office would also concern itself with the freedom of atheists.
This is an office to promote religious toleration and religious diversity. And, in fact, as president Malik himself said, people who choose not to believe, that’s a valid religious and democratic perspective that we all must also accept and promote. We’re not trying to impose, we’re trying to respect peoples’ own religions, their own faith choices. Not impose those faith choices or non-faith choices on others. And so just as it is important that religion be respected in a pluralistic and democratic society by those who don’t share religion, it is likewise expected in a very religious society that those who don’t share faith will be respected as well.
Here is John Baird’s speech last year on the importance of religious freedom.
The New Democrats have responded with congratulations and a couple quibbles.
The Office of Religious Freedoms, as introduced today, represents both a broken Conservative promise and a missed opportunity. Conservatives had repeatedly promised a democratic development agency, but they broke that promise and now they’re moving forward on a much more limited and narrow approach.
That much is reference to the Conservative party’s 2008 platform, which promised a “new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency that will help emerging democracies build democratic institutions and support peaceful democratic change in repressive countries.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 4:12 PM - 0 Comments
The second last question from QP this afternoon.
Mr. Martin’s mention of Quebec seems to be a reference to this.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons foreign affairs committee met today to discuss Mali, where France is currently engaged in war against al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups who had taken control of the northern half of the country. Canada has loaned France the use of a transport plane.
Robert Fowler, the former Canadian and UN diplomat who spent 130 days as a hostage of these same Islamists in northern Mali in 2008 and 2009, testified to the committee.
Fowler argued that Canada should contribute more to the French-led mission, including military assets such as intelligence officers, air power and special forces. He said millions of people in northern Africa are in “significant peril” from the Islamist threat and that no Canadians — indeed no Westerners at all — are safe in large swaths of the Sahel where these Islamists hold sway.
There can be no negotiations with them, he said, because there is no middle ground between what they want and what we might be prepared to give. He recalled his captors bragging about the millions of dollars they had obtained through kidnapping and smuggling, and yet they dressed in rags. They didn’t care about material possessions, only jihad and entering paradise as a martyr in God’s war against the infidels. Economic development, in other words, isn’t going to convince them to put down their weapons. They don’t want jobs; they want to die. And they must be killed — “diminished” is how Fowler put it. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 8, 2013 at 4:12 PM - 0 Comments
The newly minted Secretary of State, John Kerry, met with foreign affairs minister John Baird today. They held a joint press conference at the State Department in Washington, Here are a few highlights:
Kerry on Baird:
“He was one of the first calls that I made after I officially came into the building and started and was sworn in, and he is my first guest as foreign minister.”
Kerry on their discussion:
“We dove right into the toughest issues… we began with hockey. I grew up playing a little big, and since I’m a Bruins fan, we clashed in many ways. But he, from Ottawa, is a fan of the Senators. And I want you to know it’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone talk well of senators, so – I’m grateful for it.”
Kerry on his relations with Canada:
“Today was the first of what I know will be many very productive sessions. And the reason for that is that Canada and the United States share the same values. We have a history and a heritage of our people that is unbelievably connected. We have the same entrepreneurial spirit. We have the same core beliefs that everybody ought to be able to find their place in life to do better.”
Kerry on Canadian energy:
“Canada is the largest foreign energy supplier for the United States of America. And many people in America are not aware of that. They always think of the Mideast or some other part of the world. But Canada is our largest energy supplier, and our shared networks of electrical grids keep energy flowing both ways across the border. As we move forward to meet the needs of a secure, clean energy future on this shared continent, we are going to continue to build on our foundation of co-operation.”
Kerry on trade with Canada:
“We also share something else that’s pretty important: a trillion dollars of bilateral trade relationship, and that is hugely important to both of our countries, to our economies and to our citizens. Canada’s one of the largest, most comprehensive investment relationships that we have in the world. It supports millions of jobs here in the United States. And today the foreign minister and I agreed to try to discuss ways that we can grow that and even make it stronger, and there are ways to do that. Our border with Canada, happily, is not a barrier. It’s really a 5,000-mile-long connection between us.”
Kerry on their conversations regarding violence in Syria:
“The foreign minister and I talked about this at length, at length. We both share a deep concern about what is happen there. I am going to focus on it quite considerably.
Kerry, on being asked by a Canadian reporter to speak un peu de français:
“Not today. I’ve got to refresh myself on that.”
Kerry, on whether Obama’s emphasis on climate change in his inaugural address bodes badly for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline:
“With respect to the Keystone, Secretary Clinton has put in place a very open and transparent process which I am committed to seeing through. I can guarantee you that it will be fair, transparent, and accountable.”
Kerry on when a decision will be made:
“I hope we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term. I don’t want to pin down exactly when, but I assure you, in the near term. I’m not going to go into the merits of it here today. I pay great respect to the important of the energy relationship with Canada, and the importance of the overall relationship. We have a legitimate process that is underway and I intend to honor that.”
Baird on Keystone XL:
“We had a good discussion with regard to Keystone. We appreciate the secretary’s comments at his confirmation hearings.
We spoke about making a decision based on science and based on facts. Obviously when it comes to the environment, I think we have like-minded objectives. Prime Minister Harper and President Obama have both set a 17% reduction in GHG emissions. We have worked well together on reducing vehicle emissions for cars and light trucks. Canada is aggressively moving forward on our plan to ban and phase out dirty coal-fired electricity generation. And we’ll continue to focus on that. We all share the need for a growing economy to create jobs, we share the desire on energy security in North America, and we also share the objective of protecting the environment for future generations. Those will be areas where we will continue to work together.”
By Lee-Anne Goodman - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – John Baird will be the first foreign minister to sit down with…
WASHINGTON – John Baird will be the first foreign minister to sit down with America’s newest secretary of state on Friday when he meets with John Kerry at the State Department to discuss an array of bilateral and international issues.
Baird’s visit to the U.S. capital, confirmed by government officials, comes just five days after the men had a 15-minute phone call on Sunday. Kerry was officially sworn in as secretary of state on Wednesday after serving five terms in the U.S. Senate.
During that conversation, Baird told reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Kerry expressed no concerns about allegations that Canadians were involved in last month’s terrorist attack on a gas plant in Algeria.
Since then, however, it’s emerged that a man who held both Canadian and Lebanese citizenship was involved in a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last July. Baird hasn’t been able to provide details about his activities in Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 5:41 PM - 0 Comments
David Christopherson, in furious form, stood to recount the events of Friday morning.
“Last week, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who once described EI as… ‘lucrative‘ defended her new quota system by describing the unemployed as… the bad guys.’ ”
At least in so far as Diane Finley had in fact spoken the phrase “bad guys,” Mr. Christopherson was correct. It is merely in the entire context of those words that the New Democrat led the House astray.
The official opposition had been pestering the minister on Friday morning about a report that quotas had established for inspectors charged with rooting out fraud of the employment insurance system. In the midst of this, Ms. Finley—on two occasions—suggested the New Democrats were on the wrong side of this matter. “Mr. Speaker, with respect to the employment insurance program,” she said, “it is very important to note that, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys.”
Perhaps this was a prepared line—an attempt to turn an attack around. Perhaps Ms. Finley came up with this in the moment in a fit of frustration. Either way, the New Democrats have apparently decided to see Ms. Finley’s oversimplification and raise her a distortion.
“Law-abiding out of work Canadians deserve better than to be treated like criminals,” Mr. Christopherson declared. “Why is the government cutting EI just when people need it to the most?”
Here John Baird was provided an opportunity to be reasonable. “Mr. Speaker, my friend from the NDP has it all wrong,” he scolded. “The minister made no such statements. He is flat-out wrong.”
A few moments later, Nycole Turmel stood to read the charges against Ms. Finley en francais. “Tell the truth!” protested a voice from the government side.
Perhaps for the sake of not being too blatant about all this, each of the men and women on the opposition resisted the urge to yell back, “you first!” Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Luiza Ch. Savage
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was in Washington this week to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As Americans gathered for the public ceremony and the black-tie galas, the minister attended the Canadian Embassy’s invitation-only inaugural “tailgate” party at its plum location on Pennsylvania Avenue, which featured Beavertails, Tim Hortons coffee and some of the best views in the U.S. capital.
Q: You’re here for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Are you going to any balls?
A: No, I’m not. I’m not a ball guy.
Q: Can you imagine a million Canadians coming to Ottawa because a Prime Minister was taking the oath of office?
A: I was just telling someone that I remember when the Prime Minister was sworn in. I think we had cookies and coffee afterward. Then there was a dinner for the cabinet that evening, with the food prepared in the parliamentary restaurant. They certainly do things much grander here in the United States. The sense of national pride is exciting. One thing that is bittersweet for me is Hillary leaving. We had a great relationship. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 9:46 PM - 0 Comments
John Baird’s priorities for 2013 will focus on trade. Security issues, however, may force themselves to a more prominent place on this government’s agenda. Here are Baird’s most pressing international files:
The Keystone XL pipeline:
U.S. approval of the pipeline, designed to carry Canadian crude oil to U.S. refineries, has been long delayed. U.S. President Barack Obama sent the proposal to the State Department for a revised assessment to avoid dealing with the issue prior to the American election in November. American Environmentalists fiercely oppose the plan, and Obama wanted their votes.
The results of that State Department assessment are expected this spring. Obama’s nomination of John Kerry, seen as an environmental advocate, for secretary of state has raised concerns among Keystone advocates that America might reject the project. Canada is seeking alternative markets for Canadian oil, but America remains its most lucrative customer and Baird will be working hard to close this deal.
A Canada-European Union free trade deal:
The Foreign Affairs website still lists concluding an agreement with the European Union as a priority for 2012 — underlining the slower-than-expected pace of ongoing negotiations. Reports say a deal is imminent, but we’ve been hearing that for a while.
A Canada-India free trade deal:
Canada’s negotiations with India began in 2010. Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh re-affirmed their desire to close the deal by the end of this year when Harper visited India last fall. A seventh round of talks will be held next month in New Delhi.
Just because a country doesn’t plan for a war doesn’t mean it won’t be involved in one. An unexpected advance by Islamist rebels in northern Mali toward the capital, Bamako, earlier this month prompted France to deploy troops at the request of Mali’s fragile, post-coup government. France and Mali’s poorly trained soldiers are now actively fighting Islamsits from al-Qaeda’s North Africa franchise, along with affiliated groups. Canada has committed one C-17 transport plane to ferry gear from France to Mali. Harper suggests Canada’s contribution may expand, but he wants “broad consensus” in Parliament. Mali will be debated during the first week the House returns.
Afghanistan has faded from the headlines with the end of Canada’s combat mission there, but it remains this country’s largest overseas military commitment, with some 925 Canadian soldiers and 45 civilian police deployed as part of a NATO mission to train Afghan soldiers and police. Foreign Affairs’ Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force will spend about $25 million a year there until 2014, when the military mission is due to end.
Barring any Canadian casualties — especially from insider “green on blue” attacks by Afghan security forces that killed 60 foreign troops in 2012 — this file may be a quiet one in 2013. Next year, when Canadians will be forced to pay attention to the sort of country we’re leaving behind, it will heat up.
Iran: Baird calls Iran the biggest threat to international peace and security in the world. In an interview with Maclean’s, he voiced his support for President Obama’s position that military force may be necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. If Israel or the United States strikes Iran this year, world opinion will be polarized. Canada may find itself among the few nations supporting such an attack, and it will be up to Baird to explain why.
Baird calls Iran the biggest threat to international peace and security in the world. In an interview with Maclean’s, he voiced his support for President Obama’s position that military force may be necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. If Israel or the United States strikes Iran this year, world opinion will be polarized. Canada may find itself among the few nations supporting such an attack, and it will be up to Baird to explain why.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s director of communications tries, in an exchange of tweets with Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt, to explain the difference between the cap-and-trade system the NDP is proposing and the cap-and-trade system the Conservatives used to advocate for: specifically, why the Conservatives describe one as a “tax” when the other apparently wasn’t.
show me where we plan to raise 21.5 billion in revenue in our platform or Throne Speech
the NDP books 21.5 in gov’t revenue from plan. 2008 platform had no gov’t revenue associated with it. Not in 2011 platform or SFT
no revenue to gov’t. The NDP plan does – hence the tax
no, it’s a tax because the gov’t wld get the $. But, if you prefer, we’ll call it $ the NDP gov’t wld extract from Canadians.
At the risk of plagiarizing myself, I’ll again note that this argument about government revenue is irrelevant. At least so far as the Conservatives are concerned. As I have explained at various points, the reference to revenue is, by the government’s own logic, a red herring. The Conservatives have said that, in their present opinion, anything that establishes a price on carbon is a carbon tax. By this logic, it simply does not matter whether that price results in public revenue or private revenue.
If the Conservatives ever previously publicly and categorically renounced the idea of deriving government revenue from a cap-and-trade system, I’ve yet to see evidence of it. (For whatever it’s worth, the American cap-and-trade legislation that Canada would have conceivably partnered with would have resulted in government revenue from the auctioning of permits.) But when John Baird was championing his government intention’s to establish a price on carbon in 2008, he said that industries would pay into a “technology fund.” Here are the details of that proposed fund. Does that count as government revenue?
By Barbara Amiel - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM - 0 Comments
Barbara Amiel on John Baird’s ‘extraordinary’ speech to the UN
It is a source of great historical anguish, in the United Nations, that the dreaded and odious Israel was formed as a result of a UN resolution. Accordingly it’s necessary to establish that the UN was then under the domination of the U.S., the U.S. under the domination of Harry Truman, and Harry Truman under the domination of American Jews. I wish I had assembled those thoughts but they were William F. Buckley’s in his 1974 book United Nations Journal: A Delegate’s Odyssey, after his year as a U.S. delegate. I would not call Buckley a natural Judeo-phile but he had a strong moral sensibility and saw through cant and hypocrisy.
He would have recognized the farce at the UN last week and approved of the principled position Canada’s government took. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is not really, whatever one’s taste, a classic pin-up. But stay my beating heart. His speech to the UN on the proposal to advance Palestinian status (substituting negotiation with Israel for a love-in with the UN’s non-aligned bloc) began: “Canada opposes this resolution in the strongest terms . . . ”
I expected thunder and a shaft of light from the heavens. No one in the UN ever opposes anything in “the strongest terms” apart from numbing condemnations of Israel’s brutal, racist ethnic cleansing and occupation, beside which the brutal, racist ethnic cleansing of Africa and murderous wars of the Arab world fall mild as soft summer rains. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 9:57 AM - 0 Comments
After the Harper government declined to explicitly criticize Israel’s latest settlements and refused to say whether the Prime Minister discussed the matter with Benjamin Netanyahu during their call on Saturday, John Baird now directly criticizes the settlements and says Mr. Harper conveyed the government’s concerns to Mr. Netanyahu.
The Prime Minister believes the settlements would further impair efforts to achieve peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples – a message he conveyed directly to the Israeli Prime Minister during a phone call Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told The Globe and Mail…
“The Palestinians’ actions last week were very unhelpful to the cause of peace, and the Israeli response of settlement expansion is very unhelpful to the cause of peace,” Mr. Baird said.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:16 AM - 0 Comments
Shortly after Question Period concluded, the Speaker formally called for yelling. All those in favour of the motion were invited to yell yea. All those opposed were invited to yell nay.
Technically, one supposes, the members need not yell yea or nay. They could nearly say so aloud. But democracy is not for the quiet. And so on one side they yelled yea and on the other side they yelled nay, the NDP’s Peter Julian seeming to particularly enjoy this (holding his yell for an extra beat or two). The Speaker made a judgement as to who had yelled most and then, inevitably, at least five members of whichever side had lost stood to demonstrate their desire for a formal standing vote to be recorded for the sake of posterity.
With a few of these final formalities dispatched with, the Speaker called for the members—all those duly elected to be here given 30 minutes to report to the House to spend the next seven hours expressing their respective wills on Bill C-45, the second budget implementation act of 2012.
Out in the foyer, as the dull digital tone that now stands in for the ringing of actual bells chimed over and over, Bob Rae attempted to explain to a cluster of reporters what could be hoped to be accomplished by what was about to happen.
“Well, you know, we want to inflict, frankly, as much damage and make the government realize this is just a crazy way to do public business,” he said. “We’re happy to discuss navigable waters. We’re happy to discuss the tax credit policy of the government. We’re happy to discuss what their approach is to small business. We just think these things have to be dealt with in a way that respects the House and respects the democratic process. And we just don’t see that in the approach that’s being taken by the government. They are pushing any approach that’s being taken by any other parliament in the world much, much, much further. In fact, if you go back to many of the principles of parliamentary democracy, they’re opposed to this joining together of several measures in one bill. In some states in the United States, to do that is actually unconstitutional.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Thomas Mulcair charged into the afternoon with a litany of concerns.
“Mr. Speaker, last quarter, Canadian economic growth slowed to a rate of just six-tenths of one per cent,” he reported. “Conservatives have now missed their own economic growth targets three quarters in a row. They have had to downgrade their economic growth forecast for 2012 by nearly a third and it is now widely expected that the Bank of Canada will have to downgrade its own economic forecast as well. The Minister of Finance announced new economic numbers just three weeks ago. Does the minister still stand by those numbers today, or will we have to downgrade his economic projections yet again?”
The Minister of Finance was not in the House, so John Baird stood to handle this one. But first, a nod to the expectant royal couple.
“Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not first stand up and extend our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement coming from Burn’s House earlier today,” enthused the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Conservatives duly applauded.
At the far end of the room, Bob Rae leaned forward and put his head in his hands. Ralph Goodale patted him on the shoulder.
A mostly—particularly—dull and witless afternoon proceeded with little or no progress to report on much of anything. There was though at least one reasonable question. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:53 PM - 0 Comments
The UN voted 138-9 this evening to give the Palestinians non-member observer status. Canada joined the United States, Israel, the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama in opposing the move. Forty-one countries abstained, including the United Kingdom. Here apparently is the official roll call.
Here is the text of John Baird’s speech at the UN today.
This resolution will not advance the cause of peace or spur a return to negotiations. Will the Palestinian people be better off as a result? No. On the contrary, this unilateral step will harden positions and raise unrealistic expectations while doing nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
A government official is suggesting “thoughtful and deliberate” action will be taken as a result.