On Canada’s changing aid to Haiti, the merger of CIDA and DFAIT, and the role of the private sector in development
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Julian Fantino, a former police chief of Toronto, has been Minister of International Cooperation since July 2012. In that short time, he has presided over major changes in Canadian development policy: the merger of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development (DFAIT) announced in the recent federal budget; and changes to Canadian foreign expenditures, including the unilateral withdrawal of Canada this year from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and an announced freeze of new spending on aid projects in Haiti, a major recipient of Canadian aid. He spoke with Maclean’s while in Washington, where he attended international meetings, including with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and other donors to Haiti.
Q: In your meeting with the Haitian Prime Minister, what did you say?
A: We all got the same feedback from the Prime Minister that he wants to work closely with us to help the Haitian people out of their predicament. At the same time for us, as well as other countries, there is a concern about making sure that we are accountable for the tax dollars that are expended. There was consensus on all sides that we want to work cooperatively together. They obviously have huge challenges. The earthquake didn’t help.
Q: But you had said you didn’t want Canada to be a “blank cheque” for Haiti. Did you hear anything at the meeting that would lead you to want to start new aid projects in Haiti?
A: What we also said is that the humanitarian assistance—we never cancelled any programs that were ongoing. But certainly, there was a need to refocus going forward.
Q: What can we expect going forward on policy and aid toward Haiti?
A: You can expect two things: our response on humanitarian assistance will continue uninterrupted. In fact, we announced four-and-change million dollars of aid going to Haiti. And going forward, new initiatives will be better coordinated, and a closer relationship with the Haitian government to ensure that we are all working in sync to help the people of Haiti. And making sure we expend Canadian tax dollars in the most efficient way possible.
Q: So that suspension [you announced] had an impact then? It led to some kind of result?
A: I don’t want to go there. The “suspension” wasn’t really a suspension because we didn’t suspend anything. We just didn’t dedicate any new funding. That will now come. But it will come by way of a new focus on our Haiti strategy.
Q: But you did send a message. There was a message received . . .
A: What I said, I said. I can’t say how it was received. But I made a determination on behalf of Canada that we were going to do things differently going forward.
Q: This merger of CIDA and DFAIT, what does it mean for development policy? What actually changes?
A: What changes primarily is the embodiment of the ministry in law and the role of the minister.
Q: So are you in charge? Is [Foreign Affairs Minister] John Baird in charge?
A: That’s a good question, because we are equals under the tent. We now have three streams of foreign policy: Minister Baird is responsible for diplomacy, Minister [of International Trade, Edward] Fast, for trade, and yours truly for development. So we are expected to—and we hope we will—work well together. There is not—how can I put it to you—an “in-charge,” per se, minister. We are all working together to achieve the best possible outcomes on behalf of Canadians.
Q: A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson, wrote that the merger was a good thing because CIDA had become “a policy centre with a network of clients who, in turn, developed a sense of entitlement.” He added that “the direction was not always congruent with our foreign policy. In the development world, there is a tendency towards moralism and a disdain for the urgencies of realpolitik.” Is there any truth to that? Was there a problem?
A: There was no problem. I think that there is a very fundamental need for us to coordinate our efforts with respect to what Canada does. We heard it here time and time again from the international community. You’ve got DFAIT working on projects in the same country and same location as what CIDA does, so there is a need to coordinate our efforts.
Q: So what will this mean on the ground?
A: We will create a united front on how we spend Canadian tax dollars in areas of development. It will mean more efficiencies and effectiveness. It will also mean that development will now be entrenched in Canadian law.
Q: When Canada pulled out of the UN Convention on Desertification in March, Baird called it a “talk fest.” You said that “it showed few results, if any, for the environment.” Are there other areas that Canada is reviewing our participation in that maybe we don’t need to be spending money on?
A: Let me first say that we partner with the UN on so many initiatives. This particular one was one where an evaluation was done and it did not result in very positive outcomes for how it is that we expended, I believe, 300,000-and-change Canadian taxpayer dollars. The results, the productivity, was negligible and could not be justified. And so, therefore, we feel that money can be better spent helping those in need in a much more meaningful way.
Q: Can we expect Canada to be pulling out of any other projects?
A: I haven’t embarked on any of that. But if they come to my attention, we’ll deal with them.
Q: You also announced plans for CIDA to partner with private industry in development. How is that working on the ground?
A: We are looking for partners who can help us achieve our mission, which is to alleviate poverty and lift countries out of poverty. If that can be done with wholesome partnerships where we don’t compromise our focus and our mandate, then I feel it’s just another resource we can utilize to effect our mandate: to lift people out of poverty.
Q: But there have also been incidents of corporations that have been involved in conflicts with local communities, human rights abuses, environmental damage. How is that being accounted for? What safeguards do you take?
A: All the due diligence in the world sometimes will not result in the most positive outcomes. But we have been extremely diligent, making sure that whoever it is that we partner with or engage does in fact fulfill all the expectations. Partnering with private industry, if that can achieve our goals and objectives to alleviate people out of poverty, while making sure all the ethical checks and balances are in place, I don’t see a problem with that.
Q: You were a police chief before this line of work. How does that experience affect your view of development?
A: I was involved in international issues dealing with public safety, dealing with situations in poor, developing countries, exchanges of training, other opportunities for law-enforcement people in those countries. I believe I have a pretty good handle on what the situations are like in some of these difficult, poor countries, having been there and having interacted with some of their officials.
Q: What perspective does that give you?
A: When I go to these places, I make it an absolute requirement that I meet with not only the political people, but I meet with civil society, businesspeople, human rights people, I meet with police chiefs or police commissioners, I meet with NGOs, people who are receiving services and aid. I meet with media people. I think I do my homework very well.
This interview was published in the May 6, 2013 iPad edition of Maclean’s.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Postmedia hears that as much as $800 million in funding for CIDA might have just lapsed.
But experts and critics charge letting hundreds of millions of aid dollars lapse is indicative of incompetence on Fantino’s part – or an intentional effort to reduce aid spending in the hopes no one would notice.
“We don’t find out until almost a year later,” said Canadian Council of International Co-operation president Julia Sanchez. “These are cuts in effect. Massive cuts without any transparency.” “The CIDA minister may spin this as prudent financial management, but the real fact is that the decision to not spend these funds was not debated in Parliament, not reported to Parliament or its budget office, and most obviously not debated publicly,” said Jackson.
Liam Sweet is concerned.
An anonymous former CIDA colleague of mine put it bluntly and suggested that several programs were indeed frozen in the same manner as Haiti, calling the Haiti freeze only the “tip of the iceberg.” Indeed, the official stated that as of early January 2013 Pakistan had been without a country strategy for going on two years, and therefore had seen no new bilateral project approvals in that time. Between January and the end of March, a single new project to support elections in Pakistan was approved – the first in two years. Other countries had been treated similarly. Still, requests for much-needed support – even those in line with CIDA priorities like maternal, newborn, and child health – pile up awaiting ministerial approval. Arguing that this suits the government of the day perfectly as their top priority is deficit reduction rather than aid, my former colleague paints a bleak picture of the priorities of the leadership within Canada’s aid agency. Through even the informal freezing of these programs, CIDA is wilfully under-spending its precious aid budget in some of the most complex and deserving of its recipient partner countries.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By The Associated Press - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 8:34 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Another document dictating the language of communication from the office of International…
OTTAWA – Another document dictating the language of communication from the office of International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino has surfaced a day after he denied the existence of any such directives ordering messages be in English only.
On Monday, The Canadian Press obtained an email dated July 11, 2012, that was a written by a manager to some employees at the Canadian International Development Agency.
The email listed seven instructions for ministerial correspondence which had been discussed at a previous meeting.
The fourth point, which was written in English, stated, ”Unless we hear otherwise, all letters are to be in English to be signed off.”
The directive was amended after it was questioned internally.
”As we discussed earlier, there has been a change to item 4,” the same manager wrote in a July 19 email. ”Please respond to correspondence in the language they were received — obviously this is limited to French or English.”
Seven months later, the directive was revived by Fantino’s office.
“I would like to reiterate that ALL correspondence signed by the minister be sent in English,” said the email from Fantino’s office on Feb. 14.
“In special cases, ie (Haitian Prime Minister Laurent) Lamothe, then it makes sense, but for example, for the Ethiopia trip thank you letters to staff, we noted twice that we had some in FR (French). I understand that we know the recipients first language is French however the minister can write in English if he chooses to do so.’”
Fantino was within his rights to do so under the Official Languages Act, the message noted.
Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser has agreed to investigate the matter after a complaint from the New Democrats, who say the order might contravene the Official Languages Act.
A report on Sunday by The Canadian Press about the emails brought a swift denial from Fantino.
“This is categorically false, there was no such directive,” he said in an email. “Francophones, like all Canadians will continue to receive letters from the minister in the national language of their choice.”
NDP MP Yvon Godin is pushing ahead with the official complaint even though he says civil servants working for Fantino were told verbally last Feb. 22 that people who write to the department in French can receive a response in French.
CIDA officials said the agency and Fantino respect the Official Languages Act.
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 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM - 0 Comments
Two weeks ago, officials from the U.S. State Department and the United Nations expressed concern about Julian Fantino’s comments about Haiti. In an interview with the Vaughan Citizen, Mr. Fantino responds.
And Mr. Fantino had strong words for anyone who would put Canada’s contribution to Haiti’s recovery in a bad light. “Shame on them. It’s unfortunate that people have run off without full information about what we’re going to do. These comments from (UN representatives and U.S. State department representatives) are irresponsible when matched with our commitment. We should be thanked upside down and sideways. We pledged $400 million over two years in March 2010 at an international donors conference and we are one of very few countries that actually meets its commitments,” he said in defending Canada’s participation in the rebuilding effort in Haiti since a devastating earthquake killed upwards of 300,000 people three years ago, left 300,000 homeless and caused an estimated $12.5 billion in damage.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
A pair of missives from Julian Fantino have apparently been pulled off the CIDA website on account of the partisan sentiments expressed therein.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
In an interview Monday, Lamothe agreed with Fantino, saying he had also hoped to see more improvements on the ground. Lamothe is now urging Ottawa to allow his government to assume a bigger role — alongside Canada — in the decisions involved in rebuilding Haiti, particularly on infrastructure projects.
“For any future co-operation, when it’s decided to resume, we will ask the Canadian government to focus on the priorities of the Haitian government,” he said by telephone after meeting with Canada’s ambassador to Haiti in the capital of Port-au-Prince. ”Basically, the development assistance, because of the perceived weakness of Haitian institutions, was routed directly to NGOs (non-government organizations) and Canadian firms… That weakened our institutions.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 4:47 PM - 0 Comments
After seeming to suggest last week that foreign aid to Haiti had been suspended—CIDA later denied the suggestion—and musing aloud about garbage removal, Julian Fantino releases a statement to explain the government’s current position on assisting the country.
While the results of specific projects have largely met expectations, progress towards a self-sustaining Haitian society has been limited. Our government has a responsibility to maximize the value of Canadian taxpayer dollars. That is why Canada is reviewing its long-term engagement strategy with Haiti, like we do with all of our programs. We continue to make progress on areas of long-term development that we have previously committed to, and we stand ready to offer our support for the people of Haiti should future humanitarian crises arise.
However, we remain concerned with the slow progress of development in Haiti, in large part due to weaknesses in their governing institutions. We want to improve the results achieved and better address the needs and priorities of the Haitian people. Doing so requires greater leadership, accountability and transparency from the Government of Haiti so that they can take a greater role in the development of their country.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP’s International Cooperation critic explains her concerns with some of CIDA’s recent moves.
Economic growth is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. But not all economic growth is sustainable or leads to sustainable poverty reduction. The private sector can contribute to international development, but we are deeply concerned by the approach the Conservative government is taking to its public-private partnerships. CIDA’s focus should be creating the best conditions for development for local communities, not for Canadian industry. It matters who is in the driver’s seat. Unlike Minister Fantino, we do not think extractive industries are the most appropriate partners for our aid agency …
With Minister Fantino’s recent announcement, CIDA is straying away from what was once a clear and coherent vision for development assistance. While the private sector can play a role in development, CIDA’s objective should not be to open new markets for Canadian businesses abroad. That is the mandate of the International Trade department. It is time for Minister Fantino to learn his file and assume real responsibility for Canada’s development agenda.
Julian Fantino, the minister for international cooperation, responds (and manages to get a carbon tax reference into the second sentence).
I am also proud to say that CIDA works with the extractive sector to ensure it is transparent, accountable, sustainable and maximizes local benefits. The fact is that constructive NGOs understand this direction. They are working with us towards these objectives and are achieving meaningful results. CIDA’s collaboration with Plan Canada and IAMGOLD, for example, will train 10,000 youth in 13 communities of Burkina Faso so they can compete for higher paying jobs in their communities.
Development is not about dependency; it is about helping those in need get a leg up so they can prosper. This is a concept that the tax-and-spend NDP fundamentally do not understand. While the NDP would prefer to fund endless talk shops, I am committed to ensuring our development assistance is accountable, transparent and results-focused.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 7:25 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. John Baird pointed at Thomas Mulcair and laughed.
Conservative MP Andrew Saxton was on his feet a couple rows back, claiming that the leader of the opposition had spent the summer promoting the idea of a tax on carbon. Mr. Baird apparently thought this was funny. Mr. Saxton had been preceded by Shelly Glover. And Mr. Saxton and Ms. Glover would be followed by Conservative MP John Williamson, all rising in the moments before Question Period to recite their assigned talking points.
Peter Van Loan had accused Mr. Mulcair of favouring a carbon tax this morning at a news conference to mark the start of the fall sitting. Two hours later, the Conservative party press office had then issued a “fact check” repeating the claim. Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney posted the talking point to Facebook. Tim Uppal, the minister of state for democratic reform, tweeted it. Minister of International Co-operation Julian Fantino tweeted it too.
Last week it was Conservative MPs Phil McColeman, Susan Truppe, Joe Preston and Ed Holder. The week before that it was Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Back in June, the Conservatives launched television attack ads that repeated the claim.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
Julian Fantino tries to parse CIDA’s budget.
“In actual fact, the CIDA budget has not been cut. We’ve just been more selective, if you will, in how we spend Canadian taxpayers’ generosity,” Julian Fantino told reporters on a conference call from Burkina Faso, in West Africa. The federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in April called for almost $380 million, or 7.5 per cent, to be cut from the Canadian International Development Agency, which is Fantino’s department…
Stephanie Rea, Fantino’s spokeswoman, contacted The Canadian Press after the conference call to clarify her minister’s remarks. While she agreed that CIDA’s overall budget had in fact been cut, she said Fantino was referring to the portion of his budget that dealt with “humanitarian assistance.” ”Our budget measures protected all of our humanitarian dollars,” said Rea. She was unable to provide specific figures as of Tuesday evening.
Postmedia reported in April that a dozen countries would see their foreign aid from Canada reduced.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
Participating in a panel on Power & Politics yesterday, Chris Alexander offered the following version of recent history on the F-35.
“There was a misunderstanding, to some extent, in the Canadian public opinion, to some extent perpetrated by the opposition who claimed that a decision had been made, contracts had been signed, obligations had been undertaken and that is not the case.”
This is a rather remarkable assertion.
Mr. Alexander is relatively new here—he was just elected last May—so perhaps he was unaware of what the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister were saying about the F-35 procurement through 2010 and early 2011. And perhaps he was so distracted with the adjustment to public office that he missed what Julian Fantino was saying last November. But here are a bunch of quotes to compare and contrast with Mr. Alexander’s understanding of the “misunderstanding” that concerned the F-35. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM - 0 Comments
It’s really unfair—and that’s why I take exception to the Toronto Star article—how you can be so critical of a nation, in our own country, that is so lauded, and appreciated, and recognized elsewhere in the world…be it NGOs, Canadian government, Canadian funds, are touching the most needy people, in the most destitute situations all over the world. And yet right at home here we’re being [pilloried]. And that’s so, so childish. It’s immature. It’s total lack of appreciation for the goodness of Canadians and what we’re doing around the world.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
“This is not a time for panicking. It is a time for people to work together at all levels and find solutions that actually will deal with these people in a preventable way,” Mr. Fantino, the International Development Minister, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. Perpetrators of these types of crimes have not been deterred by the criminal justice responses that existed for many years, he said. “That is why we are stiffening things up somewhat to make the consequences more meaningful and more certain. And, although that’s not the cure-all and the end-all, it does provide some answers.”
… Liberal MP John McKay, in whose riding the shootings took place, said there are better ways to spend crime-fighting dollars than the measures introduced by the Conservatives. But “to be candid about it, I frankly don’t know that any legislation can deal with something like this,” Mr. McKay said. “This is some immature individual who decided that they are going to solve their problems at the end of a barrel of a gun.”
Meanwhile, Vic Toews laments for judges who have refused to abide by mandatory minimum sentencing legislation.
“We are very concerned about the courts doing that, because illegal firearms — especially those smuggled in from the United States … minimum prison sentences are absolutely essential to create a strong deterrent against that kind of activity,” Toews said in an interview with Prairie network Golden West Radio. ”These guns are being used by gangs in order to perpetrate the kind of violence that we’ve seen on our streets.”
For last week’s print edition, Colby Cosh looked at the two rulings this year in Ontario that have found the mandatory sentences inappropriate.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
A joint statement from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino (the Conservative MP for Vaughan) on the shooting in Scarborough last night.
“Our Government was very saddened to hear about this shooting in Toronto last night. We condemn this brazen shooting and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
“Canadians are concerned about violent crime, that’s why over the past six years our Government has introduced tough-on-crime legislation, like the Safe Streets and Communities Act, to keep dangerous criminals and gang members off the streets and out of our communities. We have also taken steps to ensure our border is open to legitimate travel and trade but closed to criminals and gun smugglers.
“Our Conservative Government has introduced mandatory minimum penalties for all serious firearms offences. We call on the Opposition to support victims and our actions to improve the safety of Canadian families. Canadians can count on us to stand up for victims and to continue strengthening our justice system so that those who commit serious crimes, particularly with firearms, serve serious jail time.
“Illegal guns and the criminals who use them have no place in our society. Our Government is committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians comes first in Canada’s justice system.”
By Adam Goldenberg - Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
Adam Goldenberg is a Kirby-Simon Fellow at Yale Law School. He was Michael Ignatieff’s speechwriter. Follow him on Twitter at @adamgoldenberg.
Bev Oda’s resignation had as much to do with abortion as it did with foreign aid.
She left with neither a bang nor a whimper. After eight years in Parliament, six as a minister, she was simply gone, vanished, disappeared. Pushed out of the helicopter of political expediency, perhaps, or fed to the sharks beneath the Cabinet table.
Since her OJ trial, the international cooperation minister’s prospects, long a stretch, had turned to pulp. She could have resigned herself to the backbenches. She resigned her seat instead.
Her departure is no cause for celebration; it says much more about our politics than it does about Ms. Oda. Our standards have become so superficial that, where once we expected accountability, we demand damage control, instead.
Ministers are now mouthpieces. We judge them by their spin in Question Period and their sound bites in scrums. The federal Cabinet is so flimsy, so insubstantial, that a six-year veteran can be felled by a single glass of $16 orange juice.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 5:41 PM - 0 Comments
In the wake of Bev Oda’s announcement yesterday that she is leaving politics and her post as minister of international cooperation, the Prime Minister announced a quick, compact cabinet shuffle today. It’s interesting primarily because Bernard Valcourt, a veteran of Brian Mulroney’s cabinet who returned to federal politics in last year’s election after an 18-year hiatus, now rises into the sensitive position of overseeing military equipment purchases.
That job opens up because Julian Fantino is being moved over into Oda’s slot, which puts the former head of the Ontario Provincial Police in charge of the foreign aid file. It is, for the most part, a responsibility that need not be particularly high-profile or high-pressure—Oda managed to draw the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
But the far more intriguing element here is that Fantino had previously been associate minister of national defence, charged specifically with overseeing major procurements. And into that important niche Harper has decided to place Valcourt, the New Brunswick MP who was, in different stints, Mulroney’s minister of consumer and corporate affairs and minister of fisheries and oceans.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM - 0 Comments
Per the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Julian Fantino moves to International Cooperation to replace Bev Oda and Bernard Valcourt becomes the associate minister of defence, replacing Mr. Fantino at that spot.
And per this tweet from the Prime Minister’s director of communications, that’s it.
So much for all that cabinet speculation.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM - 0 Comments
The only thing more fun than a cabinet shuffle is speculating about a cabinet shuffle. The Star, Huffington Post, CBC and Postmedia have your first guesses, including mentions of Peter MacKay, Bev Oda, Julian Fantino, Christian Paradis, John Duncan, Peter Kent, Vic Toews, Maxime Bernier, Denis Lebel, Rob Nicholson, Jason Kenney, James Moore, John Baird, Chris Alexander, Michelle Rempel, Candice Hoeppner, Kellie Leitch, James Rajotte and Greg Rickford.
That leaves just 144 Conservatives (excluding the Prime Minister) left to be speculated about between now and whenever Mr. Harper goes to Rideau. Actually, 145 if you include the stuffed dog that participated in last week’s C-38 vote marathon.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
Mr. Speaker, it is true that the costing figures are available from the joint strike fighter program in the United States, but what we have said is that we want those figures, that would be cost estimates from the Department of National Defence, to be independently validated. The secretariat has asked for more time to do that. It wants to do this comprehensively. It is also looking at independently validating the cost assumptions that the Department of National Defence is using and meeting the recommendation of the Auditor General.
In other news, it’s now been 50 days since I asked Julian Fantino’s office to account for the auditor general’s suggestion that National Defence already had the numbers for a 36-year lifecycle estimate.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 6:18 PM - 0 CommentsThe Scene. For the second time in two days, Jason Kenney was compelled to objectively explain for the opposition the extent of the Harper government’s unparalleled greatness.
“Mr. Speaker,” the Immigration Minister declared, “the reality is that no government in the modern history of Canada has done more to invest in giving the equipment necessary to our men and women in uniform.”
The general concept of “modern history” is said to describe all time since the end of the Middle Ages, or something like the last 500 years. In that sense, the governments that saw this country through the first and second world wars might quibble with Mr. Kenney’s presumption of peerlessness. If, on the other hand, Mr. Kenney meant something like “recent history,” he might be right. Of course, it might also be noted that none of this country’s other recent governments have spent so long at war.
“The government has consistently reacted to support our men and women in uniform, giving them the modern equipment that they need,” Mr. Kenney continued, “and at every step of the way, the NDP and Liberals have opposed our efforts.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Geist dismisses Vic Toews’ attempt to link the case of Luka Rocco Magnotta and the government’s “lawful access” legislation.
The Toews comments continue the longstanding trend of unsubstantiated claims by government officials about lawful access. In this case, there is simply no question that law enforcement can obtain the necessary warrant on customer name and address information (if an ISP refused as part of an investigation) and police have presumably obtained warrants for far more detailed information. Moroever, the surveillance capabilities at ISPs mandated by C-30 – which focus on real-time surveillance – appear completely irrelevant given that Magnotta fled to France. In fact, reports indicate that there were early warnings about Magnotta and the video openly available that were dismissed by police.
Bruce Cheadle considers the Eaton Centre shooting in the context of Conservative crime policy.
That the lesson — do the crime, do the time — apparently hasn’t sunk in after more than six years of Conservative rule could be construed as an admission of failure. Nicholson declined an interview request Monday but his office, in an email, listed various gun crime provisions it has enacted and stated “our government has a solid track record when it comes to cracking down on gun crime.”
Christopher Husbands faces one charge of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in regards to the shooting at the Eaton Centre. The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder of life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years was established in 1976. In December 2011, the Harper government repealed the “faint hope” clause for those convicted of first-degree murder.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 4, 2012 at 4:11 PM - 0 Comments
Following an exchange this afternoon between the NDP’s Christine Moore and Associate Minister of Defence Julian Fantino, the NDP’s Matthew Kellway goes for the joke.
Mr. Speaker, with responses like that from our colleagues, it is no wonder the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is “tired of procurement problems”. She should join the club. It is big and we are getting jackets made.