By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 7, 2012 - 0 Comments
Keith Beardsley considers Peter Van Loan’s walk across the aisle, opposition delays and omnibus legislation.
The Official Opposition thought they had caught the government on a technicality and they wanted to force another vote which would have further delayed passage of Bill C-45, a bill with which they strongly disagree. What is so exciting about that? Why was it necessary for the Conservative House Leader to cross the floor? It is perfectly legitimate for any opposition party to use the full arsenal of tactics available to them to delay or defeat government legislation.
Perhaps the Conservative side has forgotten the tactics they used when one of their predecessor parties (the Reform Party) used every tactic available to them to stall and try to prevent the Nis’ga Treaty from being passed by the Chretien government. In 1999, the Reform Party forced 471 votes on amendments to the Nis’ga Land Claims Treaty. According to the CBC, it took 42 hours and 25 minutes to force recall votes on all the motions, including some as minor as the placement of a comma. Delaying or stalling the passage of a bill is a legitimate tactic in a democracy. While the Conservatives may not like anyone standing up to them or delaying their agenda in the House, the last I heard Canada was still a democracy and opposition parties are not required to do the government’s bidding.
Remember the last time the Conservatives were eager to see Justin Trudeau embarrassed on a public stage?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
I bet Justin Trudeau can’t believe his good fortune. In his wildest dreams he could never have imagined that a House of Commons committee would haul him in to testify about his comments even though they had nothing to do with natural resources. He must be jumping with joy at this request to appear before the committee. The Conservatives have handed him a gift. They have validated both his and the opposition parties attack lines. What better example of a draconian government that is abusive, heavy-handed and petty could they ask for?
The Trudeau campaign responds as follows.
Even though this government doesn’t respect Parliament, we do. And once we know the details of the request, Justin is open and looks forward to having this discussion and putting forward his position on natural resources and Alberta on the record.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 12:54 PM - 0 Comments
Keith Beardsley, a former Conservative official, laments for the spectacle of the House between 2pm and 3pm each afternoon.
For example, the Conservatives still read out their monotonous Member’s Statements or SO 31s, on the NDP carbon Tax. Really folks, those became old after the first few days of use. Somehow I can’t envision someone like former MP Myron Thompson standing up to read out that stuff. More than likely he would have told the boys in short pants where they could stuff their SO31.
It makes one wonder at just how spineless Conservative backbench MPs are when after this length of time they are still standing up to read that nonsense into what will become their personal historic record in the House of Commons. Generations from now that will be their legacy, something I am sure their grandchildren would be proud to know they participated in. Have they no shame? Perhaps the trained seal analogy is fitting.
What’s particularly interesting about Keith’s criticism is that he acknowledges being part of the team that turned members’ statements into live-action attack ads.
His criticism of the NDP is interesting too: the idea seeming to be that it would make more sense for opposition parties to dwell on a few topics each day rather than attempt to touch on a dozen different subjects.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
While in opposition from 2003 to 2006, we found that quite often our very last MP’s statement (the one just before Question Period started) was quoted in the media the next day. Simply put the media had arrived in the House for Question Period and they were paying attention to comments from the MPs. SO 31s delivered earlier in the sequence were largely ignored by the press.
Opposition parties are always looking for ways to get into the media and this became one way to do it. The added bonus was that the then Liberal Prime Minister had no way to respond to what was said. By putting a slight edge to the attack in the SO 31, you could unsettle the PM and distract him just before the Leader of the Opposition stood to ask the first of a series of 3 to 5 questions. Over time we began to use the last of our SO 31s as the equivalent to a question in Question Period especially when it was delivered by one of our attack dogs. The SO 31 allowed one minute of time to stand, while a question only allowed 34 seconds. That one minute statement also allowed more time to drive home our message than any question could. The added advantage for us was the Prime Minister had no way to reply but had to sit and take it.
He concludes it’s now time to change the rules.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 130 Comments
“In this case, the Minister’s decision was to reject the recommendation provided to her, and direct that CIDA not provide funding to KAIROS,” it read. “The Minister had reviewed the memo, made her decision not to approve the funding application, and asked her staff to follow through on it.
“The Minister was travelling out of Ottawa on the day that her staff completed the paper work to implement her decision, so they, with the Minister’s authority, applied her automated signature, which is used when required because a Minister is unable to personally sign a document, and indicated her decision on the memo by clearly indicating that she did NOT approve the funding application.”
This is close to the explanation offered to Embassy last October when a spokeswoman for Ms. Oda claimed it to be a matter of antiquated paperwork. Last week though, Keith Beardsley, a former member of the PMO, wrote that Ms. Oda could have simply not signed the document. Our Andrew Coyne suggests, if it was normal procedure, that there should be other documents with the same edit.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM - 60 Comments
Keith Beardsley, a former member of Stephen Harper’s PMO, sorts through the Oda Affair.
If the minister instructed someone to insert the “not” then she was probably under pressure to do so as a last minute attempt to stop the funding from going forward. Oda has been a minister long enough to know that simply refusing to sign the letter stops the funding process.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 11:24 AM - 19 Comments
Over the past few years two more exceptions were added. When you are in trouble another minister gets assigned to take your questions. It could be the House Leader or it could be whoever is filling in for the PM. This is a great defensive tactic but it is just that, a defence mechanism that lets a minister off the hook. In the Chretien years, to use a Liberal example, when a minister was under attack, they took the heat themselves, day after day. Just think of Jane Stewart and what she went through for quite a few weeks.
If the situation got serious in QP, Chretien would rise and defend the minister. That was a big media story. Over the last couple of years that has changed: questions about ministerial expenses, as an example, have been answered by the House Leader. Why? If the minister spent the money, the minister should be able to tell voters why. A minister is supposed to be responsible for the department and it seems logical that this includes ministerial expenses incurred when performing departmental duties.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 1:35 PM - 26 Comments
Keith Beardsley, a former aide to Stephen Harper, endorses two of Michael Chong’s recommendations for Question Period and explains the absurd degree of attention QP currently commands on Parliament Hill.
Few Canadians realize the amount of preparation involved for those 45 minutes of show time. Generally speaking, across the government, (and on the opposition side) the day starts with staff going through every conceivable news item in the early hours of the morning. Anything impacting on a minister or PMO is flagged and work started on finding out what does the minister need to know about the story and what are the answers required.
Sometime in the morning there will be a briefing session and QP issues will be discussed. Fine tuning of answers will take place and the daily QP briefing book prepared and updated. In total several hours work.
Around lunch time there will be a ministerial practice session with staff and then it’s off to the formal practice session at 1 PM with all other ministers and parliamentary secretaries present. At 2:15 when the Speaker rises and announces Oral Questions, its show time and bedlam is unleashed.