By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
I’m pleased with Speaker Scheer’s ruling that MPs have the right to seek the floor at any time.
Spkr Scheer eschews metaphor of being referee. How about Solomon playing tennis? Ball is now in MPs’ court. Next days to be interesting
An astute ruling by the Speaker on MP statements. He has served the Commons well today.
Leon Benoit, to reporters after QP.
Well, I think you’re going to see people rising both to make statements and ask questions.
John Ivison quotes an anonymous Conservative.
The initial reaction from Conservative MPs calling for a loosening of party control was positive. “It puts the issue back in the House,” said one MP. “It’s now up to us if we are to safeguard free speech. It will take a courageous response from MPs. Do I think they will step up? I do. It may be uncomfortable in the beginning but they will.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
Mr. Harper’s party wants him to grow a bigger, more durable long-term coalition, one that attracts more women, more urban, and more centrist voters. His assurances that the question of abortion will not be re-opened are not incidental; they a foundation stone of this effort. In that sense, paradoxically, last week’s muzzle debate was probably not harmful to his interests.
Still, the cumulative effect of too much message management is a weaker, less vibrant political system, and change would be welcome. Whether or not you share Mark Warawa’s views on abortion, who wants a Parliament where he has no ability to state them?
Chris Selley considers the way forward.
How did we get here? In a column in the Ottawa Citizen this week, William Watson proposed that it’s simply our own fault: Modern Canadian journalism goes haywire at any deviation from the “Toronto media mainstream” — even when a party leader makes it clear that the deviation represents only the opinion of one backbencher. Alberta’s Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith tried the big-tent approach when a pastor candidate expressed Biblically inspired negative views on homosexuality; it didn’t go so well; now she demands obedience just like everyone else. Leaders must be “dictatorial,” said Mr. Watson, or perish.
I don’t buy it. What Canada needs, first of all, are leaders who are willing to respect their legislatures and to articulate a defence of their most basic procedures. And second of all, they need leaders with enough charisma and perspicacity simply to dismiss shrieky news reports and opposition hysterics. The ability to scoff or laugh off silly controversies is a huge political asset, and in this hyperbolic age a rare one. Mr. Harper certainly doesn’t have it.
Here is what I wrote in response to William Watson’s column.
Meanwhile, the riding associations of some of the Conservative backbenchers involved seem supportive.
New Brunswick Southwest MP John Williamson, who on March 28 backed Warawa’s right to speak, also seems to have support from his local riding group. “I think he’s doing a wonderful job,” said Lynn Thornton, president of the New Brunswick Southwest electoral district association. “There are certain rights that everyone has and he’s speaking up for that right.”
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Doug Williams, vice-president of the New Brunswick Southwest EDA.
As a general principle, I imagine voters would generally prefer MPs who possessed an ability for independent thought. Whether voters would necessarily support those expressions of independent thought would obviously depend on the thought expressed and there remains the support a political party could withhold from a candidate and the difficulty an independent candidate has in getting elected. (How many of even the most admirable members of Parliament would have struggled to get elected without a party affiliation?) But the hope here is that more expressions of independent thought—and more space for independent thought—might make the individual candidate and MP a more relevant factor, not simply in Parliament, but also, ultimately, to voters.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 3:07 PM - 0 Comments
Colin Horgan notes John Williamson’s concerns about the power of party whips to decide who asks questions during Question Period.
Later, regarding questions in the commons, it states on page 337: One of the main opportunities for backbench MPs on all sides of the House to pursue and expose issues and to get the government of the day to put information on the public record is the question period. The very existence of parliamentary questions and the opportunities that they provide for the representatives of the people to question the government of the day are of constitutional importance. Their effectiveness has always been down to the tenacity and skill of individual MPs, but whether the system can survive the strains that are now being put upon it is also in the hands of MPs generally.
Here, meanwhile, are some of the questions Mr. Williamson has put to the government over the last several months.
Mr. Speaker, the Irving refinery is a key employer of highly paid workers in New Brunswick. I am proud to say I support a pipeline from Alberta to Saint John to support jobs and economic prosperity. The Minister of Natural Resources recently visited the Saint John refinery and expressed our government’s support for this pipeline. On the other hand, the NDP leader recently made unclear and contradictory remarks about the pipeline. Could the Minister of Natural Resources update this House on our government’s position on the west-east pipeline to Saint John?
The NDP and Liberals have chosen to ignore the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Police Association, victims organizations, immigration lawyers and experts and have voted against the faster removal of foreign criminals act. They are voting to allow foreign nationals who break the law to remain in Canada. With the final vote on this bill taking place tonight, can the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism please update this House on our government’s commitment to protect the safety and security of Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, it is easy to overlook the role that sound public policy has in building a strong economy. Our government is focused on job creation, growth and long-term prosperity. Since July 2009, Canada has created nearly 900,000 net new jobs, the strongest growth record in the G7. This did not happen by accident and despite ongoing global economic turbulence, Standard and Poor’s today reaffirmed Canada’s AAA credit rating, joining Moody’s and Fitch by again giving our country a top score. Could the Minister of Finance update the House on our economic record?
Mr. Speaker, the NDP has a plan to impose a carbon tax that would raise the price of everything and hurt the Canadian economy and job growth. The NDP’s $21 billion cap-and-tax scheme would punish job creators, raise the price of gasoline and diesel, and essentially tax everything made in Canada. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans please inform the House how the NDP’s hidden tax agenda will punish fishing communities in Canada?
If the government whip no longer decided who got to ask questions each day, would Mr. Williamson have asked these questions of his own volition? If so, what good would it do to remove the power of party whips to determine the QP line-up? If not, why did he allow himself to be sent up with these questions? Does he believe he was fulfilling his duty of holding the government to account in asking these questions? Was he speaking for other MPs who feel the current system doesn’t work?
Those questions aside, the last bit of Mr. Williamson’s citation is important: “whether the system can survive the strains that are now being put upon it is also in the hands of MPs generally.” If MPs would rather the system function somewhat differently, they should move to change it. They are not captives. They are not hostages. They may be subject to any number and size of political pressures, but they are ultimately responsible for what they do or say in the fulfillment of their elected duties. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 3:09 PM - 0 Comments
Earlier this afternoon, Conservative MPs Stephen Woodworth and John Williamson added their views to the discussion around Mark Warawa’s question of privilege about the ability of MPs to speak during the time allotted for statements by members.
Interestingly, Mr. Williamson extends his concern to the power of party whips to determine who asks questions during QP. That is a concern that Michael Chong’s proposed QP reforms sought to deal with.
Stephen Woodworth: Mr. Speaker, I do indeed rise to speak to the point of privilege raised by the member for Langley and discern the following two very important issues.
First, does Standing Order 31 give a right to every member equally to make a statement or does it give a right to make a statement only to the party whip and his or her designates?
Second, does Standing Order give you as Speaker the right to deny a member the opportunity to make a statement because you disagree with the content of it? If you as Speaker do not have the right to deny a member the opportunity to make an S. O. 31 statement for such a reason, how could you delegate such a prerogative to any whip or anyone else?
Delegating the right to deny what the Standing Order gives to members is altogether different from delegating mere administrative assistance to the whips.
If Standing Order 31 gives every member the equal right to make a statement, except for usual reasons relating to unparliamentary conduct, surely the House would need to amend the Standing Orders if the House wants to restrict such statements to only the whips and their designates.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM - 0 Comments
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put…
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put on by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 4:17 PM - 0 Comments
Conservative MP John Williamson’s member’s statement this afternoon.
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot
On this day, in 1605, Guy Fawkes was apprehended trying to blowup Parliament and the sovereign. It was an act for which he paid a gory price. Mr. Speaker, we have a metaphoric and modern day Guy Fawkes. The Bloc Québécois, and it would seem the NDP, attempt to undermine the lawful order of this realm by removing essential elements of the Clarity Act which provides a rigorous process should any province wish to secede from our nation; namely, a clear referendum question and the need to achieve a decisive majority vote. They say that history often repeats itself and in today’s case, the schemers will be exposed in this House or foiled. Luckily for them, they will meet their demise at the ballot box and not on the scaffold. God save Canada.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 5:01 AM - 0 Comments
A star-studded photo gallery by Mitchel Raphael
The 2012 Press Gallery Dinner was a night of glamour and mock awards.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 15, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Most of these quotes have appeared here at one time or another over the last year and a half, but in case you were looking for something you could frame and hang on the wall, here in one place are the greatest moments in the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.
Conservative party platform, 2004 election. A Conservative government will implement the commitments of Stephen Harper’s February 2004 paper, “Towards a Cleaner Canada,” including … Investigate a cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants.
Bob Mills, June 8, 2005. Unlike the smog blind Liberals, the Conservative Party of Canada has a real plan to deal with air pollution. We will legislate caps on smog-causing pollutants like nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds. We will also propose a cap and trade system within Canada that will give companies incentives to actually reduce smog-causing pollutants.
Mark Warawa, November 2, 2006. Nothing prevents the Montreal Exchange from establishing a carbon credit along the lines that currently exist in Chicago. The notice of intent that we released last week explicitly mentions carbon trading as one of the issues we will be consulting on.
Mark Warawa, November 27, 2006. Mr. Speaker, actually the environment minister had very good meetings with her international counterparts and they were establishing a workshop that will be held within weeks. The EU, U.K. and United States will all be participating in discussions on carbon trading.
John Baird, February 8, 2007. A carbon trading system is certainly up and running in the European Union, whereas a carbon tax…. I suppose it would depend on what kind of proposal you were making. It would be in the eye of the beholder.
John Baird, February 8, 2007. I will tell you that when it comes to compliance mechanisms, domestic carbon trading for the private sector is something we’re open to and looking at. A number of colleagues have pushed me on the idea of the Montreal exchange, as have Toronto and other areas. It’s something we’ll be coming forward on in short order when we release our industrial targets.
Mark Warawa, February 12, 2007. Mr. Speaker, as we have said, and as I have told the hon. member many times, we are open to domestic carbon trading, to looking at it…
Mark Warawa, March 27, 2007. I was quite surprised by some comments made by Mr. Cullen, unaware apparently…. Hopefully, he has read the Clean Air Act. Under clauses 29 and 33, it very clearly talks about carbon trading. It’s on pages 28 and 29. So carbon trading has always been part of the Clean Air Act. The market should decide where that trade will occur. So it is already part of the Clean Air Act…
Stephen Harper, June 4, 2007. Of course, it may not be possible for all countries, or all industries and firms within all countries, to reduce their emissions by the same amount on the same time line. That is why other compliance measures such as carbon offsets and carbon trading are also necessary. They are part of Canada’s plan and, provided they are not just an accounting shell game, they must be part of a universal, international regime.
Mark Warawa, November 29, 2007. We need to look at solutions, and this government is committed to solutions, solutions such as energy efficiency, renewable fuels, carbon capture and storage, a domestic carbon trading market.
John Baird, January 7, 2008. We’ve got to put a price on carbon. We’re doing just that.
John Baird, January 11, 2008. Our plan also will require big industry to pay into a technology fund starting at $15 per tonne of carbon, putting a price on carbon for those who emit the most.
Conservative party policy declaration, 2008. We support a domestic cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants.
Jim Flaherty, February 26, 2008. Our government is also providing $66 million over two years to lay the foundation for market based mechanisms that will establish a price for carbon and support the development of carbon trading in Canada.
Ted Menzies, February 27, 2008. In budget 2008 we are taking further action to fulfill our commitments to a cleaner, healthier environment. For example, budget 2008 is committing $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects. Furthermore, our government is providing $66 million over two years to lay the foundation for market-based mechanisms that will help establish a price for carbon and support the development of carbon trading in Canada.
Mark Warawa, March 31, 2008. Our plan includes setting up a carbon emissions trading market, including a carbon offset system, to provide incentives for Canadians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’re providing industry with the tools it needs, the tools of a domestic carbon market, and we’re also establishing the market price of carbon. We’ve heard from industry, we’ve heard from environmental groups, and we’ve heard from our international partners that these are necessary parts of the plan, and they are now part of a plan.
Stephen Harper, May 29, 2008. Canadian industries that do not meet their emission reduction targets will be required to do one of three things. They will have access to a domestic carbon trading system which will include offset credits for non-industrial practices that reduce emissions. We eventually hope to participate in a North American trading regime, depending on what action the United States takes, and I’ll talk about that in a second. We likewise hope to participate someday in a more mature and robust emissions trading regime internationally. As well, industries will have access to credits through the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism … I should mention that while our plan will effectively establish a price on carbon of $65 a tonne, growing to that rate over the next decade, our Government has opted not to apply carbon taxes.
John Baird, May 30, 2008. “As Canada’s Environment Minister, I am pleased to be in Montreal today to celebrate the opening of the Montreal Climate Exchange,” said Minister Baird. “Carbon trading and the establishment of a market price on carbon are key parts of our Turning the Corner plan to cut Canada’s greenhouse gases an absolute 20% by 2020. Clearly, our Government’s action to fight climate change is working hand in hand with groups like the Montreal Climate Exchange.”
Conservative party platform, 2008 election. We will work with the provinces and territories and our NAFTA trading partners in the United States and Mexico, at both the national and state levels, to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and air pollution, with implementation to occur between 2012 and 2015.
Stephen Harper, June 20, 2008. Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled no punches on Friday in describing a carbon tax proposal by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, saying it would “screw everybody” across Canada.
Stephen Harper, September 11, 2008. The Liberals’ carbon tax plan will plunge Canada into recession, sparking economic unrest that will revive Quebec’s separatist movement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
Throne Speech, November 19, 2008. We will work with the provincial governments and our partners to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and an effective international protocol for the post-2012 period.
Jim Prentice, January 27, 2009. It is right there in black and white in our platform, and we have now made a commitment in this area. We will implement a North American cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollution, and we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.
Jim Prentice, February 12, 2009. Canada, in the North American context, has some of the most significant hydro possibilities that remain to be developed, and once a price is put on carbon, many of those hydro projects will become quite competitive.
Jim Prentice, June 10, 2009. The offset system will be a key part of that overall commitment. It is intended to generate real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by providing Canadian firms and individuals with the opportunity to reduce or remove emissions from activities and sectors that will not be covered by our planned greenhouse gas regulations. It does so by establishing a price for carbon in Canada – something that has never been done before in this country.
Briefing note for Jim Prentice, September 11, 2009. “I think you would agree with me that encouraging businesses and individuals to change behaviour requires appropriate price signals … We believe that a carefully designed cap-and-trade system will send the appropriate price signals to encourage changes and ultimately help reduce emissions.”
Stephen Harper, October 14, 2009. “There will be compliance mechanisms that set a price on carbon but obviously that will come into effect when we have continental or perhaps even an international cap and trade regime.”
Jim Prentice, December 2, 2009. Our policy is simple, to enter into an agreement with the major emitters in Copenhagen and to harmonize our targets and regulations with our partner, the United States, while establishing a carbon trading system.
Jim Prentice, December 3, 2009. The Leader of the Opposition reinforces this government’s strategy for a national cap and trade system that will include absolute caps, put a price on carbon, and be structured so it can be harmonized with a future United States system.
Harper government news release, December 2009. The Harper Government is working in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop a cap and trade system that will ultimately be aligned with the emerging cap and trade program in the United States.
Peter Kent, May 19, 2011. “There’s no expectation of cap-and-trade continentally in the near or medium future and we don’t believe that it would be wise to go with a shallow market in a closely integrated continental economy,” Kent said. “It can always be something to consider in the future.”
Mark Warawa, December 5, 2011. Mr. Speaker, Europe addressed the issue of the price of carbon continentally. We have said that we will deal with the issue of a cap and trade agreement continentally, if the United States does the same thing continentally.
Peter Kent, June 18, 2012. Carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax…
John Williamson, September 17, 2012. Cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon. That makes it a carbon tax.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM - 0 Comments
market driven cap + trade vs
#NDP planned rev for myriad of gov programs. Hmmm sounds like a duck.
It seems to me that Ms. McLeod is attempting to differentiate between a cap-and-trade system in which the government auctions credits (and thus receives revenue) and a cap-and-trade system in which the government gives away credits. It’s not clear to me at this point that the Harper government ever absolutely ruled out ever deriving any revenue from the cap-and-trade system they proposed and pursued. They very well might have. (I previously sought to confirm this, but forgot to follow up with the official I was dealing with. I’ve just now sent a request to a different government official seeking clarity and documentation and will post whatever I receive whenever I receive it.) For the sake of the historical record, it is a detail worth noting.
But here’s the thing (a thing we explained in our last post): According to Ms. McLeod’s Conservative colleagues, whether or not the Harper government expected to generate any revenue from cap-and-trade is entirely irrelevant. Because cap-and-trade, in any form, establishes a price on carbon. And, so far as the Conservatives are now concerned, anything that puts a price on carbon is a carbon tax.
Peter Kent, June 16. “Carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax…”
John Williamson, September 17. “Cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon. That makes it a carbon tax.”
(Here is Jim Flaherty endorsing a price on carbon in February 2008. Here is John Baird endorsing a price on carbon in May 2008. And here is Jim Prentice endorsing a price on carbon in June 2009. And here, here, here and here Conservatives now lamenting the idea of putting a price on carbon.)
So we’re back where we started. The “revenue” quibble continues to be—according to the Harper government’s own logic—a red herring. And the basic policy that Ms. McLeod and her fellow Conservatives now oppose is still the same basic policy that the Conservative party and the Harper government were proposing and pursuing when Ms. McLeod was a candidate and MP.
I do give Ms. McLeod credit for engaging the discussion. Via Twitter, I asked her a follow-up question and will post any response she offers.
Here again is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Herein, everything you need to know to understand the Harper government’s latest attempt to attack the NDP.
So what is the basic issue here?
In terms of public policy, this is a debate about putting a price on carbon. There are two ways to do this. You can directly tax major emitters for the carbon they release into the atmosphere. This is generally referred to as a “carbon tax.” Or you can set a limit on the amount of carbon a company can release into the atmosphere and then issue permits to exceed that limit which companies can sell amongst each other. This is generally referred to as “cap-and-trade.” Either way—either set by the government or the open market—a price on carbon is established. And if it costs money to release carbon into the atmosphere, companies will have an incentive to produce less carbon. That incentive will presumably encourage companies to find ways to pollute less (consumers will also presumably have an incentive to seek more environmentally friendly options). And that will presumably help counter the problem of climate change. If the government takes in revenue as the result of a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, that revenue can be used to fund green energy and emission-reducing policies and initiatives, as well as reducing income taxes to counter the impact of the higher costs that impacted companies might pass on to their customers. Here is the Pembina Institute’s briefing on carbon pricing, here is the OECD’s briefing on carbon markets and here is the Environmental Protection Agency’s guide to cap and trade. Here is Wikipedia’s rundown of countries and states that have considered or implemented carbon pricing. And here is Stephen Gordon’s guide to the economics of pricing carbon.
What has the NDP proposed?
In its 2008 and 2011 platforms, the NDP proposed a cap-and-trade system. When he was seeking the leadership of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair presented his own cap-and-trade proposal. (Brian Topp quibbled with Mr. Mulcair on one aspect of Mr. Mulcair’s proposal.)
What do the Conservatives say about what the NDP has proposed?
The Conservatives say the NDP proposal is a terrible, ruinous thing.
That sounds very serious. But your use of the word “farce” seems to suggest something silly is going on here.
You are very perceptive. There are at least three parts to the farce. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM - 0 Comments
John Williamson was in a quandary in October 1947. Two fabulous diamonds had been found at his east African mine—a rare, virtually flawless 54.5-carat pink diamond and a huge 175-carat blue-white diamond. One was destined to be a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth. “Which one do you think?” he asked his partner Iqbal Chopra and his wife, according to an account by Iqbal’s grandson Jarat in the journal Old Africa. “We thought he should send the pink one. He said, ‘That is what I thought. Even though it doesn’t look as important as the big blue-white.’ ” He immediately sent it to London.
The raw pink stone was cut down to 23.6 carats and used by Cartier as the centre of a jonquil-shaped flower brooch that also featured 200 small white diamonds. Considered “the finest pink diamond ever discovered,” by the Royal Collection, the Williamson pink is frequently pinned to the Queen’s coat. And this summer it will be a featured attraction at an exhibit of royal diamonds at Buckingham Palace.
Yet despite his extraordinary accomplishments, the Canadian man behind the jewellery is largely forgotten. He only made it into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2011. And few detailed first-hand accounts survive of the independent, sometimes prickly, entrepreneur. Tall and handsome with a Clark Gable look, John Thorburn Williamson was also “taciturn to the point of secretiveness and difficult to get to know,” John Gawaine wrote The Diamond Seeker, a fictionalized account of Williamson’s life that is widely cited by experts on the diamond industry.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 10:31 AM - 0 Comments
Kady O’Malley tries to track down an explanation for the missing Martin Luther King reference. Whatever the reason for it not appearing in Hansard, John Williamson is apparently going to make sure it is restored.
As it turns out, he had nothing to do with the mysterious redaction, as a helpful staffer was only to happy to explain. In fact, the original omission first appeared (or, in this case, failed to appear) in the Blues — the uncorrected and unofficial transcript, which is sent out within the parliamentary precinct before the final version is printed in order to give MPs the chance to review and, if necessary, request minor edits.
Which, the same helpful staffer told me, is exactly what Williamson intends to do this week, which means that, provided no one objects, his full statement will be restored, and appear in future editions of Hansard as it was delivered on the floor of the House — Martin Luther King homage and all.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
Charlie Angus, last month, announcing his departure from Twitter. “Free at last. Free at last. Great God almighty free at last.”
John Williamson, last week, celebrating the end of the long-gun registry. “Free at last. Free at last. Law-abiding Canadians are finally free at last.”
That the latter doesn’t appear verbatim in Hansard is odd.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservative backbencher speaks with reporters after QP today about the government’s online surveillance legislation.
I have concerns about a way that the bill is drafted but I’m going to leave it at that … I think it’s too intrusive as it currently stands and does need to be looked at. There’s a lot of concern I think across the country.
See previously: Civil disagreement
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM - 0 Comments
“I don’t think there will be any more use of suggestions that a byelection might happen,” said New Brunswick MP John Williamson, one of the Conservatives who had initially defended the phone calls as simple “voter identification.”
Williamson, a former communications director in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office before he entered elected politics, said all parties will continue to conduct phone campaigns to identify potential supporters for future elections. He also said that Conservatives would not call misinformation “free expression.” “Let me put it this way: that was the weakest argument put forward,” Williamson said.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 6:41 PM - 1 Comment
We tried to save the House of Commons.
Brian Topp pitched higher taxes (and considered equality). Nathan Cullen pitched democratic reform. Martin Singh pitched a national pharmacare plan. Paul Dewar prioritized. Robert Chisholm talked leadership.
Elections Canada tried to figure out kids these days. The Department of National Defence tried to keep the cost of its new headquarters quiet. The NDP bought billboard space. The omnibus crime bill went unaccounted for. The House voted to keep curtailing debate. The Harperization of Canada was confirmed. The Conservatives peddled rumours and defended their right to do so. Tony Clement explained his verbal typo. And the Speaker ruled John Williamson and Geoff Regan out of order. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 4:43 PM - 12 Comments
This afternoon, like it had with Rob Merrifield last Wednesday and John Weston last Friday, the government sent John Williamson, the duly elected and relatively well compensated representative of the people of New Brunswick Southwest, to ask the Public Safety Minister about the views and actions of two NDP MPs in regards to the long-gun registry. Alas, before Vic Toews could read his part of the script, the Speaker stood to rule this out of order.
I am afraid that question has nothing to do with the administration of government.
This would seem in keeping with the standard enforced by Speaker Scheer’s immediate predecessor.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, November 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. …
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. See winners here.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, October 24, 2011 at 7:36 PM - 0 Comments
Terri McCulloch, Executive Director of Bay of Fundy Tourism, was on the Hill helping…
Terri McCulloch, Executive Director of Bay of Fundy Tourism, was on the Hill helping to spread the word to vote for the Bay of Fundy as one of The New 7 Wonders of Nature. Vote here. The Bay is the only Canadian entry remaining in the contest. She arrived with a giant bottle with messages from school children.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, September 19, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Uncle Sam leans on New Brunswickers
John Williamson…, a rookie Tory MP and
Uncle Sam leans on New Brunswickers
John Williamson, a rookie Tory MP and Stephen Harper’s former director of communications, heard an earful this summer about American taxes. Many of the constituents in his large riding of New Brunswick Southwest (which shares a border with the U.S.) have been affected by Uncle Sam’s new zeal for enforcing overseas tax-reporting rules. For some, it’s easier to cut through Maine than to tackle the seasonal, inter-island ferry service; pregnant women sometimes go to Maine hospitals, which results in many dual citizens. Williamson says many of these constituents are being forced to pay accountants thousands of dollars to file years’ worth of returns, even though they will end up paying nothing to the U.S. government. It’s a crisis for those who do not have that kind of spare income. The border is something constituents have to deal with frequently. When Williamson himself recently attended a BBQ fundraiser to support volunteer firefighters on Campobello Island in his riding, he had to drive through the States to get there.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 4:39 PM - 10 Comments
The current president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and a former aide to Reform leader Preston Manning, laments the use of taxpayer dollars to promote the candidacy of the former president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who was a former aide to Stephen Harper, who was formerly the chief policy officer of Preston Manning’s Reform party.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, August 28, 2009 at 5:51 PM - 33 Comments
I don’t doubt John Williamson will do a fine job as the PM’s new director of communications. But how credible can he be singing the Harper government’s praises for its sterling record of fiscal responsibility, sensible tax policies etc given his many highly public criticisms of the same government on these and other counts in his time as director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation?
It’s one thing for a Prime Minister of Canada to go back on everything he’s ever said or believed in. But we expect more of our PR flacks.