By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Liberal MP John McCallum has asked the government to explain where in the public accounts he might find information about the unaccounted for $3.1 billion.
As previously noted—Warning: Spoiler Alert—this might prove difficult.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 14, 2012 at 1:10 PM - 0 Comments
Section 81(7) of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Thx.
Section 81(7) reads in its entirety as follows.
(7) When main estimates are referred to a standing committee, the committee shall also be empowered to consider and report upon the expenditure plans and priorities in future fiscal years of the departments and agencies whose main estimates are before it.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Minister, could you please tell us which rule you believe prevents you from providing this info to the HoC.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer reported last week on his efforts to obtain information from 83 departments. At the time, Mr. Clement responded as follows.
There’s a process in place and the Parliamentary Budget Officer knows full well what the process is. We report to Parliament. We report to Parliament in quarterly reports, we report to Parliament in estimates, we report to Parliament in due course in reports on plans and priorities, consistent with parliamentary rules and requirements. So the fact of the matter is we also have an obligation to our employees, that we inform them first. So we’re being consistent with our collective agreements, we’re being consistent with the rules of Parliament. So when things are announced to employees, then of course that becomes public information and the parliamentary budget officer will have that information at that point.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:31 PM - 0 Comments
John McCallum lays out four ideas for fixing the way Parliament reviews and approves the government’s expenditures.
To anyone who spends a good deal of time studying the government’s supply documents it has become painfully clear that this system has not kept pace with the size and scope of our government, nor the increased demand from the public for accountability and transparency. If Parliamentarians are to overcome this then we will have to work together to design a new method for scrutinizing the government’s expenditure plan. Modernizing Parliament’s expenditure review and approval is a two-tract process: first, the rules under which the government’s expenditure plan is approved must be changed in order to produce a more effective review. In addition, the very format of the government’s expenditure plan must be revamped. The estimates documents we currently rely on were designed in the 19th century to convey information about 19th century government. Modernization of these documents must account for both the expanded role of government and the new technology available to MPs, the media and to the public. We cannot risk the House of Commons abandoning its most basic role as the manager of the public purse.
This is a long-standing problem that even one government backbencher has lamented in recent months.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 7:06 PM - 13 Comments
The Scene. Adherents to the faith of smaller government take note, for the Harper government has successfully identified and eliminated one of the prime inefficiencies standing between us and true freedom.
“This government cannot say how many jobs were created after having spent $47 billion of Canadians’ money,” lamented the NDP’s Peter Julian this afternoon of the government’s trademarked action plan. “The program was so badly monitored that no one knows if it was effective.”
Of this, Mr. Julian can claim the authority of the auditor general, who apparently found no attempt by the government to determine precisely how many jobs it “created” (in the messianic parlance) with its billions in bridges, roads and hockey arenas.
But just because the government can’t—indeed, won’t—add, doesn’t mean Mr. Julian can’t subtract. “We now know that 72,000 full-time jobs were lost last month thanks to the policies of this government,” he asserted with his next breath. “Now that the truth is out, when will this government put aside bogus and unsubstantiated job claims and take real and immediate action to create jobs here in Canada for Canadian families?”
Jim Flaherty would at least stand to respond to this. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM - 31 Comments
Maybe it is just the season—as soon as the clocks are turned back each fall, Ottawa is suddenly made even darker and colder than usual—but the daily insulting of the public’s intelligence seems particularly dreary of late. For sure, it has been worse. And it may yet get worse. But has it ever seemed so witless? Has it ever felt so leaden? Is it just us or is it getting dim in here?
There is much to be said—with expletives and otherwise—about the government’s recent penchant for shutting down debate. But it is surely more than that.
It is, no doubt, certain practicalities: the temporary status of the two opposition leaders, the prolonged nature of certain disagreements or the lack of some tangible new gazebo-based outrage to focus on, for instance. But it is also the collective and universal decision that sound economics, study and evidence are not particularly necessary when formulating public policy. It is the rote demagoguery. It is general neglect. It is smug disregard. It is the willingness of grown men and women in business attire to stand and allow themselves to be used to read scripted banalities and invective into the official record.
It is not all bad, of course. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 7 Comments
But despite the ambitious proposals, there are no signs Ottawa wants to have a debate. “We have no plans to propose any reforms to this area of the law,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said. And the opposition echoed that reluctance: “We don’t want to go down that road,” NDP MP Jack Harris said.
Of the 57 MPs who supported Francine Lalonde’s motion last year, most, owing to the Bloc’s collapse, were defeated this spring. In all, by my count, 10 members who voted for C-384 at second reading remain in the House: Mauril Belanger, Olivia Chow, Denis Coderre, Jean Crowder, Libby Davies, Megan Leslie, John McCallum, Maria Mourani, Massimo Pacetti and Louis Plamondon.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
John McCallum and Tony Clement exchanged tweets. The shadow cabinet was shuffled. House of Commons redistribution proposals were floated, but Tim Uppal cautioned against believing everything a government source tells you. The Harper government tabled its Wheat Board reforms and took aim at its crime-fighting partners. Dean Del Mastro’s lamented selectively. Steven Blaney sided with the French. Charlie Angus kept on mocking Mr. Clement. John Turner kept on complaining. And Pat Martin tried to explain himself. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 13 Comments
Unable to get via Twitter to his question about Tony Clement’s promised committee appearance, John McCallum tried the Question Period yesterday. John Baird promptly stood on Mr. Clement’s behalf and assured the House that Mr. Clement would be taking questions from a parliamentary committee at some point.
This segued nicely into a lively exchange between Charlie Angus and Mr. Clement.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 17, 2011 at 7:26 PM - 8 Comments
After QP this afternoon, Liberal MP John McCallum tweeted a little mockery of Tony Clement.
As of this typing, Mr. Clement has not responded to this last provocation.
The minister’s argument here is that, though he and his mayors came up with the list of projects to be funded and though he took questions during QP about the G8 Legacy Fund a year ago and though he took questions about the G8 Legacy Fund from reporters in the House foyer last month, since it was Mr. Baird who, in his previous portfolio, signed off on the funding of those projects, it is thus now Mr. Baird’s responsibility to stand inside the House and account for the spending.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 4:03 PM - 13 Comments
The MPs cite the sudden end during an in camera meeting of the Government Operations and Estimates Committee last week of a motion from Liberal MP John McCallum (Markham-Unionville, Ont.) that proposed an inquiry into nearly $50-million the government spent to spruce up cities and towns in Mr. Clement’s (Parry Sound-Muskoka, Ont.) upscale cottage-country constituency for the 2010 summit of G8 leaders.
The motion disappeared after going into the secret meeting, and Mr. McCallum, along with all MPs on the committee, cannot disclose what was said or what happened to the motion while the committee doors were closed.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 6:10 PM - 20 Comments
The Scene. The Hill was alive this day with the vigour of public protest. On the lawn, several hundred lay siege to the barricades, anxious with objections to a continental oil pipeline. Inside the House, Tony Clement kept vigil on his seat, resolutely unwilling to remove his posterior from it in defiance of the opposition’s tyranny.
Thomas Mulcair’s first question was actually quite simple enough.
“Mr. Speaker, earlier this year the Prime Minister released an important document entitled ‘Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State,’ ” the NDP deputy reviewed. “Could the Prime Minister tell us if it is within the guidelines for a minister to run government funding out of his constituency office? Is it within the guidelines to have inaccurate and incomplete information provided to the Auditor General? Also, is it within the guidelines to have ministers interfere in spending reviews?”
Mr. Mulcair was just wondering these things, mind you. He was not necessarily referring to the latest news concerning Tony Clement’s handling of the G8 Legacy Fund, he was just speaking in the theoretical.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 11:46 AM - 2 Comments
While debate continues over who knew what about the G8 Legacy Fund and when (or at least who said what about who knew then), opposition members of the government operations committee hold out hope that Conservative MPs won’t block further investigation.
“The problem is a majority government can control what happens at committee, but I think if we can apply enough pressure and get strong media coverage, the government might agree to it because I think it is an important issue,” McCallum said in an interview..
Martin said he would like the committee to hear from Clement, from mayors of towns that received money from the fund, and from public servants who participated in the process. If Conservative MPs block the hearings they will leave the government open to accusations they are trying to cover up the affair, Martin said. ”We’ll be talking serious, serious coverup — the likes of which we haven’t seen since the sponsorship scandal.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 6:27 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. The Conservative government has, to whatever credit should be assigned for such things, recently decided upon a straightforward appeal to you, the well-meaning voter. Vote for us, they now say, or risk the complete and total annihilation of your country. Do as we say, or face the end of everything you hold dear. Don’t even think of quibbling, unless you are willing to be remembered by your children as the monsters who bequeathed them a broken wasteland of despair. Give us a majority, or Michael Ignatieff will shoot this dog.
“Under an Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois government, nothing would be safe,” the Finance Minister told an audience at a posh Ottawa hotel this afternoon.
“They want to throw it all away. They want to cancel the contract or review the contract,” Industry Minister Tony Clement cried out to the House a short while after, putting scary finger quotes around the word ‘review’ as he responded to a Liberal suggestion that the government had moved too hastily to commit $16 billion to new fighter jets. “The minute they do that, all of those contracts—and there are 60 contracts already extant for this plane for Canadian companies—all of those contracts go on hold, too. That is irresponsible. They are threatening Canadian jobs.”
“Mr. Speaker, it probably should not surprise me, but it still does, to hear how quickly and easily members of the opposition, including the NDP, are approving of jail time or large fines for their fellow Canadians who refuse, out of good conscience, to fill out a 40-page questionnaire with very personal information,” Mr. Clement said later when presented with the possibility that his government had erred in its decision to replace the long-form census. “It is incredible how they will sacrifice Canadians’ rights on this matter.”
“The choice is clear,” Mr. Flaherty finally declared for the benefit of the House. “A Conservative government that creates jobs or a coalition government that will kill jobs.”
In fact, that would seem to put it mildly—Mr. Flaherty declining here to mention previous warnings about the criminal gangs that would rule our streets and the Russian hordes that would be clamouring over our borders were it not for this government’s courageous administration. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff has significantly restructured his government-in-waiting. Ralph Goodale is elevated to deputy leader, David McGuinty becomes house leader, Scott Brison replaces John McCallum in finance, Gerard Kennedy takes over environment, Dominic LeBlanc goes to defence, Ujjal Dosanjh goes to health, Marlene Jennings gets justice and Denis Coderre returns to the shadow cabinet as natural resources critic.
Full list after the jump. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
As Chantal Hebert advises the Liberal leader to find a new economic voice, Bruce Anderson advised some weeks ago a greater emphasis on the shadow cabinet this fall, repeating his belief that the Liberals are in need of a new finance critic.
The last shuffle on the Liberal side occurred a little less than a year ago—a few weeks after the House had returned from its summer break—and Mr. Ignatieff will have to fiddle with his shadow cabinet this fall at the very least to fill the spot of Maurizio Bevilacqua.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, August 20, 2010 at 10:07 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff is on his Liberal Express tour across Canada. In Toronto, he stopped…
Michael Ignatieff is on his Liberal Express tour across Canada. In Toronto, he stopped at a BBQ in Thornhill just north of the city and then a restaurant downtown in Chinatown.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 1:01 PM - 52 Comments
For those of you scoring at home, last night’s report of merger talks by unspecified “insiders” is now being roundly, soundly and officially dismissed and, in the case of Rob Silver, happily mocked. Indirectly, Mark Marissen, a former Liberal campaign director, strenuously discourages the very idea.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM - 51 Comments
It seems to me there’s a fair bit of talent in the Liberal caucus, and given the importance of economic issues, Mr. McCallum is the most baffling choice Mr.Ignatieff continues to make. The economy is likely to remain at the top of the public agenda for some time, but the team of Ignatieff-McCallum seems unable or unwilling to muster an argument or a point of differentiation about it. The conclusion one might draw is that they either don’t know how they would improve upon Harper economic policy, or can’t articulate the difference they would make if elected.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 6:05 PM - 58 Comments
The Scene. Bob Rae opened this afternoon’s session with a vigorous display, lecturing the government on the need to reconcile environmental and economic policy and even thumping his desk with his right hand—his flare seemed to ignite a certain passion on all sides. So this last afternoon before a blessed break week was full of vim, most notably on the matter of our overdrawn national bank account.
“Mr. Speaker, it is the wrong choice to cut taxes for the largest and wealthiest corporations while the global economy remains fragile,” Bonnie Crombie cried from the back row of the Liberal side. “It is the wrong choice to cut taxes for the largest and wealthiest corporations while a debt crisis rages in Europe. It is the wrong choice to cut taxes for the largest and wealthiest corporations when markets fluctuate at the drop of a hat. Why does the government plan to borrow money and mortgage our children’s future to pay for its reckless corporate tax cuts?”
The Finance Minister did not have an answer for this one, but he did have aspersions (and in this place that’ll do). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 5:17 PM - 32 Comments
The Scene. It was a full 25 questions today before anyone referred to Helena Guergis, before any of Pat Martin or John Baird or, sometime later, Marlene Jennings got involved. And then, yes, there was a reference, from the aforementioned Mr. Martin, to crucifixion. But that there had been a full 25 questions before we came to this point, surely counts for something.
This was indeed, in various small ways, a remarkable day. Daniel Paille and Jim Flaherty entertainingly sparred over securities regulation. Mr. Flaherty and John McCallum very nearly yelled each other hoarse over taxation policy. There were two questions about the potential for train traffic through downtown Toronto.
That it all began with David McGuinty, the booming Liberal backbencher, might not have particularly bode well. But then he seemed to have a question of some relevance. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 10, 2010 at 6:16 PM - 11 Comments
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff rose and shone—which is to say smiled somewhat—then remembered the subject at hand and his face became serious.
The government side has lately been lamenting that Mr. Ignatieff hasn’t been asking its ministers enough questions about the economy. This is apparently evidence of him not being a leader or just being in it for himself or having not consumed in the past year the necessary amount of Tim Hortons coffee to be considered a Canadian citizen in good standing with this government. Apparently if Mr. Ignatieff would only ask them about a serious matter—nothing to do with Rahim Jaffer or Helena Guergis or Afghan detainees or abortion or Nancy Ruth or the firearms registry—they’d be only too happy to provide a serious answer. (And, for that matter, the public and the press gallery would finally have what both are apparently desperate to hear.)
So here stood the opposition leader to recount the Liberal party’s economic management in the 1990s, to dissuade the Prime Minister from taking any credit and to wonder if Mr. Harper might take heed of the troubles in Europe, accept some Liberal advice now and refrain from cutting corporate taxes any further.
The Prime Minister, alas, was absent, so it was John Baird who stood to take this one. And the Transport Minister, being deathly afraid of heights, steered clear of the high road. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 12, 2010 at 10:58 AM - 0 Comments
On February 1, 2008, a Globe and Mail report tied Asadullah Khalid to allegations of torture. Weeks later, during a visit to Afghanistan, Maxime Bernier stated publicly that Canada would like to see the governor removed, a statement that was then said to set back attempts to remove Khalid. He was ultimately replaced in August 2008.
Herein, a collection of QP exchanges relevant to discussion of governor Khalid. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 29, 2010 at 6:16 PM - 58 Comments
The Scene. John Baird could barely contain his glee. Over the weekend, in response to the Liberal gathering in Montreal, the Transport Minister had apparently convened his own conference aimed at deciding on the absolute right joke to deliver Monday afternoon. Over two days at some undisclosed location, great minds of stand-up and clowning dealt frankly and, at times, contentiously with the concepts of sarcasm, pun, slapstick and mockery. Various one-liners were proposed, debated and amended. For awhile the conference nearly broke up over a proposal that Mr. Baird merely hand Michael Ignatieff one of those cans that, when opened, sprays a number of cloth snakes. But finally, in the wee hours of Sunday night, a consensus was achieved. And so here, just after 2:15pm today, Mr. Baird stood to reveal what had been accomplished.
“Mr. Speaker,” he said, struggling to withhold a smile, “the Liberal Party certainly had a taxing weekend.”
The very foundation of the House seemed to buckle under the weight of such wit. Continue…