By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 0 Comments
“Hostility to expertise in all of its forms,” an admitted sociologist ventured the other day, “is the closest thing that Canadian conservatives have to a unifying ideology.” This was not entirely fair. For instance, the Prime Minister’s first chief of staff was a professor. And that professor was very much interested in the study of winning elections.
“Despite economic evidence to the contrary, in my view the GST cut worked,” the professor once said. “It worked in the sense that by the end of the ’05-’06 campaign, voters identified the Conservative party as the party of lower taxes. It worked in the sense that it helped us to win.”
But if the concern here is the application of expertise for the purposes of managing the national interest in a manner that reflects rigorous consideration, there is good news for pointy heads this day. On this, the second anniversary of the Harper government’s majority victory, a new day was heralded.
“Mr. Speaker, Conservative mismanagement is out of control. The President of the Treasury Board failed to protect the privacy of over a million Canadians and lost track of over $3 billion in security funding,” the NDP’s Mathieu Ravignat had charged. “What was he doing with this time one might ask? Apparently he was rebranding Government of Canada websites in Conservative Party blue. As if using department websites for political attacks was not enough, Conservatives have lowered the bar even further. Why are they not going after the missing $3 billion instead of rebranding government websites?”
Here the NDP seemed limited by low expectations. At the very least, we should hope that our government should have the wherewithal to do both.
“Mr. Speaker, we have already answered that,” Mr. Clement explained. “In fact, the Auditor General has already answered the question about the funds in question.”
Technically, the Auditor General has done no such thing. But let us not let that tiny detail obscure the moment that next came.
“But, let me answer about website colours. I would be happy to do so in the Chamber,” Mr. Clement now explained, smirking a bit and then leaning forward to read the iPad on his desk. “Apparently, different colours were tested with web specialists and it was found that blue worked best as a contrast to other aspects of the site and therefore blue was chosen.”
The Conservatives stood to cheer this explanation.
So blue just looks nice. It is not about matching official government advertising with partisan colour choice. It’s science. Or at least the considered opinion of those specialists who are specially trained and practiced at these things.
There might even be psychological grounds for the decision. Indeed, if blue is the colour of intellect and reliability, then perhaps the Conservatives are to be commended for deciding to associate such competence with government.
It is, granted, possibly too late to change Mr. Clement’s mind about safe-injection facilities or the census. But perhaps this new openness to specialized knowledge could lead the government to consult with criminologists about whether this guy should go to prison for three years in the interests of deterring crime.
Or perhaps specialists are not to be trusted with anything more than colour coordination. And winning elections.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:46 PM - 0 Comments
Six hours or so after Claude Patry’s move from the NDP to the Bloc, the House moved to the second hour of debate on the Bloc’s bill to repeal the Clarity Act last night. No less than five New Democrats—Mathieu Ravignat, Robert Aubin, Nycole Turmel, Francoise Boivin and Craig Scott—stood to dismiss the Bloc bill and commend their side’s Unity Bill. The task of defending the Clarity Act fell to the Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia.
The following is from Mr. Aubin’s explanation of the NDP perspective.
What does the NDP bill say compared to the bill introduced by the Bloc? It says very straightforward things. An association, whether a business association, a constitutional association, or even a romantic association, is based on trust. It starts with trust. We will not change the ground rules along the way. It would therefore be rather silly to claim that 50% plus one is enough to join Canada’s Constitution, but that in order to leave, you need 66%. The rules for entry and departure should be the same. The NDP’s job is to make Quebeckers feel respected and at home in Canada, thereby ensuring that the question does not come up again. If it does, then these are the conditions that will apply.
The question could not be clearer. At the beginning, I said that Quebeckers will be able to decide their future at a time of their choosing. Naturally, they will also decide on the question. The NDP believes, however, that with their experience of repeated referenda, Quebeckers have also gained maturity. We believe that it might be possible, should a third referendum be held, to follow the example of the Scottish model and agree in advance on the wording of a question that would have everyone live with the results when the referendum was over. This is a very mature approach that Quebeckers are prepared to adopt, except perhaps for those who are spoiling for a fight.
And this from Mr. Scarpaleggia.
With regard to the threshold that would have to be met in a referendum to begin negotiating Quebec’s independence with the rest of Canada, the Liberal caucus fully supports, with the strongest and deepest conviction, the Clarity Act, based as it is on the Supreme Court opinion to the effect that the threshold must be much higher than the 50% plus one rule. There are number of reasons for this condition. First, the 50% plus one rule is not 50% plus one in reality; voter turnout at the polls is never actually 100%. We know that if you snooze, you lose, but do you deserve to lose your country and your citizenship forever if illness or some other situation makes it impossible for you to exercise your right to vote?
In the event that the “yes” side won a slight victory, would there be the broad popular consensus needed to move forward with the difficult negotiations with the rest of Canada? On the day after this kind of result, will Quebec fall into a bitter political deadlock that would undermine economic stability?
The Conservatives, meanwhile, were quite eager during QP this morning to suggest the NDP caucus was rife with separatists.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM - 0 Comments
Bruce Cheadle provides another accounting of how much the Harper government has increased public spending on advertising to promote itself.
Meanwhile, NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat has filed the following order paper question.
With regards to advertising by the Government of Canada during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013: (a) what was the total cost for advertising; and (b) what was the cost for each advertisement shown?
The government has 45 days to respond.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 7, 2012 at 12:10 PM - 0 Comments
This morning’s QP has just concluded. The F-35 procurement was, predictably, a particular point of opposition concern. Below, a sampling.
Jack Harris. Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives don’t even know how to cancel a project properly. The deliberations of a cabinet committee on operations has been leaked and after years of defending the F-35s in the most insulting way to anybody who commented, the government will now reportedly restart the whole process, as the NDP has demanded for years. This issue has shown the worst of Conservative mismanagement. Will they stop these backroom leaks and share the truth with Canadians and release and table the KPMG report today?
Jacques Gourde. Mr. Speaker, we are determined to continue with our seven-point plan and our exhaustive and transparent process to replace the CF-18s. The government has received the KPMG report and it is examining it. The government will talk about this publicly before the end of this Parliament.
Jack Harris. Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve to know the truth and yet the Conservatives have been hiding the truth from Canadians for years. The cabinet leaks are everywhere, the KPMG report is supposedly out, there’s a program here that no one will defend and now costs are estimated to be north of $40 billion. A litany of Conservative failure and mismanagement. When will they come clean, admit their misguided plan has failed and finally agree to have an open and transparent competition? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Fourteen MPs missed five or fewer of those 157 votes: seven New Democrats, four Liberals, one Conservative, one Bloc MP and Elizabeth May. The NDP’s Fin Donnelly, Jasbir Sandhu, Jinny Simms and Mathieu Ravignat were present in the House for every single vote. Government House leader Peter Van Loan, the NDP’s Jonathan Tremblay and Ms. May* failed to register one vote each.
Among other party leaders, Bob Rae missed 34 votes, Stephen Harper missed 49 votes and Thomas Mulcair missed 58 votes.
Each of the parties was working in shifts of varying length and design—the Conservatives working with relatively short and relatively regimented cycles, the New Democrats seeming to use much longer intervals.
(*Ms. May was present for that vote and stood to register a vote, but due to some confusion over whether she was voting yea or nay, her vote was not counted.)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM - 6 Comments
New Democrat MP Mathieu Ravignat asked yesterday whether the government would be pursuing the Conservative Party of Canada for the rebates it received as part of the In-and-Out scheme. Pierre Poilievre answered for the government.
Mr. Speaker, I thought the honourable member was rising today to apologize on behalf of the NDP. Just last week the NDP had to admit that it broke the Canadian election law, that it violated the law in attempting to use the power of the political donation tax credit in order to fund a third party organization. It did so in violation of the law. It has now had to admit it. On this side of the House, every single Conservative accused of wrongdoing has now been cleared. We are very pleased with the outcome. We will continue to stand by the fact that we followed all the rules.
In the case of the NDP’s violation—offering the party as a conduit for donations to the Broadbent Institute in Jack Layton’s memory—the commissioner of Elections Canada has confirmed that all improper donations were returned by the party.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 2 Comments
The private members’ bill set to be debated tomorrow is C-306, put forward by Mathieu Ravignat, the NDP MP for Pontiac.
This enactment provides that a member’s seat in the House of Commons will be vacated and a by-election called for that seat if the member, having been elected to the House as a member of a political party or as an independent, changes parties or becomes a member of a party, as the case may be. A member’s seat will not be vacated if the member, having been elected as a member of a political party, chooses to sit as an independent.