By Julie Smyth - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
If anyone had predicted several years back how Maxime Bernier might indulge a landmark mid-life birthday, it likely wouldn’t have been training for a 100-km run.
The Quebec MP, who turned 50 this year, is halfway through eight months of preparation for a gruelling ultramarathon in September to raise funds for a local food bank, la Fondation Moisson Beauce.
Bernier’s plan is to run the length of his riding of Beauce, Que., starting in the south end at Saint-Ludger, crossing 10 municipalities, and ending at Saint-Bernard in the north. His goal is to run the entire 100 km in less than 12 hours, with no walking breaks and only slowing his running pace to eat or drink.
“People in my riding they say, ‘Maxime, it’s crazy to do that,’ ” the MP said during an interview in Ottawa.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM - 0 Comments
In having his office intervene yesterday with Manulife’s mortgage rate, the Finance Minister managed the neat trick of earning the disagreement of all of Thomas Mulcair (“It’s Banana Republic behaviour”), Bob Rae (“That’s ridiculous”) and, now, Maxime Bernier.
“Me, personally, I would not dictate to businesses what prices to decide,” he says. “It’s the market. It’s supply and demand that decides the prices. It is the case for interest rates, it is the case for other products too.”
In Toronto to pick up some new shoes, the Finance Minister explains himself.
“Our concern, my concern, for a number of years with very low interest rates is to ensure that people can afford their mortgages when interest rates go up,” said Mr. Flaherty Wednesday in Toronto, where he toured a Roots factory and tried on a new pair of shoes as part of a long-standing pre-budget tradition.
“That’s the concern. It’s a concern for the Canadian people that they’re careful and that they don’t assume that very low interest rates like we have now will continue indefinitely, because they won’t. Inevitably, interest rates will go up, so that’s the concern,” he said.
It is probably good that this happened after the Manning conference.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Maxime Bernier demonstrates for a French TV crew where he hides his car keys.
Near the start of the film, a camera crew follows Bernier as he tosses a bag into his car and drives himself to Parliament Hill. On his way, he stops his car so he can go for a morning jog before work. He parks the vehicle, and is seen leaving the keys on top of a front tire — his bag still inside the car. “Don’t show this to anyone,” Bernier says in French before taking off…
Bernier, who tells the film crew that he does not use a chauffeur or fly first class while on government business, told CTV News off-camera that the whole thing was just a joke. He also gave a statement to CTV News late Tuesday night, saying: “”I never carry any government documents in my personal car. My office and I comply with all Government of Canada security guidelines concerning the treatment and transportation of government documents.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. With the benefit of a few days hindsight, Thomas Mulcair stood to review the week just passed.
One day last week, the NDP leader recalled, the Finance Minister had said a balanced budget would be delayed. But a few days later, Mr. Mulcair noted, the Prime Minister had said the budget would be balanced by 2015.
“So who is right?” he begged, holding out his hands and turning his palms upward.
This business of projecting the government’s future budgetary balance became officially silly somewhere between October 14, 2008 and October 17, 2008. And in that regard, Mr. Mulcair’s question is moot. Who is right? Conceivably, eventually, the Conservatives will be. It simply stands to reason that if you keep making predictions, you will eventually get at least one of them right.
Alas, promising that “the budget will be balanced at some point probably” does not project the sort of certainty we demand in our political leaders. And so here stood Tony Clement to convey the latest version of the official reassurances. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
As Don Martin noted, Maxime Bernier’s script last week was focused on the idea that the NDP was proposing a new infrastructure tax.
The story originates with a proposal Olivia Chow submitted to the Transport committee on October 28. Ms. Chow proposed that the committee “should explore the topic of infrastructure funding and examine a comprehensive set of policy options. The committee’s recommendations should then inform Infrastructure Canada as the federal government designs a post-2014 long-term infrastructure investment plan.” Ms. Chow listed five “potential policies to examine,” the fourth of which was a “penny tax”—a “one percent municipally-levied value added sales tax.” (I’ve copy and pasted Ms. Chow’s proposal below in its entirety.)
The Conservatives might now wish to suggest that the NDP is proposing such a tax, but, when the committee discussed Ms. Chow’s proposed study on November 1, Conservative MP Ed Holder specifically asked Ms. Chow about the idea and Ms. Chow responded as follows (emphasis mine).
Mr. Chair, a few years ago, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the big city mayors came up with the one-cent GST proposal. If you want me to go and find details of how that one-cent GST works, I could do so. This is not a new idea. It is something that has been proposed by the municipalities and the big city mayors. They ran a big campaign on it.
Is that a good idea? I don’t know. I think it’s useful to take a look at what had been proposed in the past and what other countries have done. I’m not saying that any of them make complete sense, but at a bare minimum, we should look at and seriously consider some of the proposals that have come directly from municipalities and big city mayors.
That was a substantive proposal that was given to us, I believe, seven years ago. Is it in this kind of format? Not completely, but I think at a bare minimum we should take a look at it. Does any of this make sense? Is it applicable to Canada? Perhaps yes, perhaps not. That is why at a committee we should look at other examples and decide whether this whole GST question does or doesn’t work for us.
I was trying to answer the question about where that came from.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities raised the idea in its 2012 report (see page 17) on the state of Canadian cities. An April 2011 discussion paper from the Canada West Foundation made the proposal and Casey Vander Ploeg explains that proposal here.
Below is Ms. Chow’s submission to the Transport committee. Continue…
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 Paul Wells - Monday, May 14, 2012 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
Any Conservative gains in the province will have much to do with insider Denis Lebel
Just about the only good word to be said for the faceless government ofﬁce towers in downtown Ottawa is that you can get an excellent view from their top ﬂoors. Denis Lebel steered a visitor toward the ﬂoor-to-ceiling windows lining two walls of his 29th-ﬂoor ofﬁce.
“My colleagues tell me this is the best view in Ottawa,” the minister of (take a deep breath) transport, infrastructure and communities and minister of the economic development agency of Canada for the region of Quebec said. He pointed down to the Chaudière Falls, the Supreme Court building, and the Parliament buildings arrayed far below.
“This is the highest ofﬁce in the building,” Lebel said, leaning forward conspiratorially as he delivered his patter. “Nowhere to go but down.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have launched a website (mulcairsndp.ca) to compile their exposés of the NDP shadow cabinet.
The latest target is Alexandre Boulerice, whose support for Quebec Solidaire should apparently disqualify him from occupying a senior role in the NDP caucus.
See previously: Nycole Turmel and the sovereignists
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
Tories gathered at the Hard Rock Café in Ottawa on Wednesday night.
Tories gathered at the Hard Rock Café in Ottawa on Wednesday night.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM - 0 Comments
In this week’s print edition, I write about Brad Trost, Stephen Woodworth, abortion and the Prime Minister. For that I sat down with Mr. Trost a couple weeks ago in his office. Here is a slightly abridged transcript of that conversation.
Q: I wanted to start with Mr. Woodworth today. What did you make of that?
A: Everyone, I think, in Ottawa, knows I’m a pro-life Member of Parliament. I don’t see how scientifically there’s any question about when human life begins. And politically I don’t understand why Canada is the only democracy that really has no legislation whatsoever. I mean, let’s face it, we’re more socially conservative than France and France has abortion legislation after 14 weeks. Sweden does, we’re more socially conservative than Sweden. I don’t get where the disconnect is on this one. People can agree to disagree. My board of directors, Conservatives in Saskatoon-Humboldt, they’re all over the board on this. By and large they’re mostly like-mind because my riding has a huge devout Catholic proportion. It’s like 42% Roman Catholic, and not like Quebec, they’re a fairly observant lot. So that’s reflected in the nature of my constituency and my voters, but my board of directors includes a couple pro-choice people and they respect and some of them tell me I’m doing a great job on a whole range of issues. So I think we can have a good dialogue on this and it wouldn’t be what I’d like, but I still can’t figure out why Canada can’t have some legislation like Sweden or France or Germany has. This puzzles me.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 6:26 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Turning to the English portion of her remarks, Nycole Turmel attempted to round on the Prime Minister.
“The Conservatives are turning their backs on the world. The Conservatives are betraying future generations. They have set up bogus homemade targets and are not even a quarter of the way toward meeting this lame attempt at saving face,” she ventured in her particular way. “When will the Prime Minister take climate change seriously?”
This question was almost entirely rhetorical and almost definitely futile, but it was almost surely the query the NDP wanted on the evening news—a furious condemnation wrapped in a plaintive cry.
The Prime Minister was quite happy for the opportunity to stand and speak seriously. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
One part of the In-and-Out scandal came to an end with the Conservatives pleading guilty and claiming victory.
Romeo Saganash clarified himself and touted his skill. Niki Ashton asserted herself. Nathan Cullen continued to pitch cooperation. Paul Dewar set out his arts agenda. Peggy Nash won the endorsement of Alexa McDonough.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 10 Comments
Later, when The Globe asked for an interview with the minister over his concerns with the appointment, Mr. French emailed this edited version of his previous statement: “Minister Bernier has complete confidence that Mr. Ferguson will respect his engagement to learn French this year. The Minister believes he is fully qualified and the best man for the job.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:25 PM - 8 Comments
Through a spokesman, Maxime Bernier kind of sort of says something that might be considered a mild indication of some kind of dissent.
“While Minister Bernier would have preferred that the candidate chosen for the position of auditor general was already bilingual, the minister has complete confidence that Mr. Ferguson will respect his engagement to learn French this year,” said Bernier’s spokesman, Scott French, in a statement sent to Postmedia News.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 8 Comments
The Prime Minister says he is profoundly saddened by Nycole Turmel’s associations with sovereignists.
“I think it’s very disappointing,” Harper said when asked about Turmel by reporters while handing out scholarships at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. “I don’t know that I have a lot to say but I do think Canadians will find this disappointing. I think Canadians expect that any political party that wants to govern the country be unequivocally committed to this country. I think that’s the minimum Canadians expect.”
Mr. Harper’s own historical attitude toward Quebec politics might be said to be somewhat complicated. The NDP says, for instance, that there are two ministers in Mr. Harper’s cabinet who were previously associated with sovereignists. There is, as well, whatever he and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe discussed in 2004 and what he and Tom Flanagan wrote in 1997 about the role Quebec nationalists might play in bringing a conservative government back to power.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 103 Comments
This post last updated at 5:30pm.
The Globe and Mail discovers that Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc Quebecois.
According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail, the 68-year-old became a member of the Bloc Québécois in December, 2006, the year she retired as president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. She sent back her membership card to the Bloc on Jan. 19 of this year in a signed letter to then-Bloc MP Carole Lavallée. “Enclosed is my Bloc Québécois membership card, which I wish to cancel. I wish to state that my request has nothing to do with the party’s policies, I am doing this for personal reasons,” Ms. Turmel wrote. She then wished “good luck” to Ms. Lavallée, who went on to be defeated by an NDP candidate in the May 2 general election. In addition to her membership in the Bloc, Ms. Turmel made four donations totalling $235 to the party between 2006 and 2011, according to party records. The donations, which ranged from $35 to $100, were not made public because they are under the $200 threshold for disclosure by political parties.
12:41pm… The Globe reports that Conservative MPs and supporters were briefed on Ms. Turmel’s ties to separatists in a memo distributed late last week. The Star notes that some of these issues were raised in April during the election campaign. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, June 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Rae encourages May
On the first day back, Green Leader Elizabeth May… found herself
Rae encourages May
On the first day back, Green Leader Elizabeth May found herself in the last seat of the House. Seat 308 is where NDP MP Peter Stoffer used to sit. Liberal Leader Bob Rae turned around to May and told her that when he was first an MP decades ago it was his seat and that “in 32 years you can be where I am.” Last week also saw MPs busy moving offices. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies is getting a bigger office and is taking her desk with her. It once belonged to former prime minister Joe Clark and has a secret drawer. “I’ll drag it down the corridor myself if I have to,” said the Vancouver MP. Some parliamentarians were still being sworn in the day before the House resumed. One of them was Bloc MP Maria Mourani, who saw her party reduced to four seats. She jokes that at least she can say that 25 per cent of her party is female and a visible minority. (Mourani is Lebanese.) She feels the Bloc is now like cartoon characters Astérix and Obélix, two Gauls in a small village battling the Roman Empire. The day of his swearing in, the daughter of NDP MP Malcolm Allen went into labour. That meant his wife and family stayed with daughter Gillian Sheldrick and all Allen had for a supportive audience was a lone staffer. Keegan Sheldrick is Allen’s first grandchild.
NDP needs a bigger bar
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM - 11 Comments
Maxime Bernier notes his cabinet appointment.
Small businesses, including those in Canada’s tourism sector, are the backbone of our economy. Entrepreneurship and economic development are topics that I have felt passionately about for a very long time. My native region, the Beauce, is often described as the kingdom of small businesses. I am thus very happy to play a role in our new government with the goal of maintaining the best environment possible so that Canada’s small businesses continue to prosper.
It should be noted that as a minister, I am like all my colleagues bound by cabinet solidarity and my public declarations must reflect the government’s positions. I therefore have less scope than I had as a simple MP to express my ideas and take public stands on various topics, as I did these past few years. The content of this blog will thus be a bit different from now on.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM - 65 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of this morning’s cabinet shuffle, wherein we find out which backbenchers we have to pretend to take more seriously for the next little while.
There’s been a steady stream of Conservatives arriving at Rideau Hall and the Prime Minister is due shortly. So far we seem only to know for sure that John Baird will be the next Foreign Affairs Minister. Presumably he will be counted on to bluster away opposition criticism of the government’s international endeavours, charm foreign officials and periodically convene breathless news conferences to report the latest breathtaking developments in our make-believe war with Russia. Presumably he’ll do fine. His image problem notwithstanding.
10:45am. Our Andrew Coyne is already deeply disappointed with all of this. Follow his Twitter feed this morning to watch his head explode repeatedly.
10:52am. The Prime Minister has now arrived. The swearing in is to commence in about 20 minutes.
11:04am. CTV reports a 39-member ministry, which equals an all-time high mark. Welcome to the new era of smaller government.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM - 3 Comments
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25…
At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25 000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing for her book The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future. Below, Porter with House Leader John Baird.
Belinda Stronach and Peter Mansbridge.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 1:42 PM - 40 Comments
An anonymous Conservative explains Maxime Bernier.
“It’s useful in inspiring the base and broadening public debate,” said one Conservative. “He’s mostly harmless, especially since the media knows he doesn’t speak for the government. I love what he’s saying.”
Meanwhile, the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair thinks Mr. Bernier should be ejected from the Conservative caucus if he has expressed an opinion that Mr. Harper disagrees with. From Mr. Mulcair’s scrum on Monday. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM - 41 Comments
Maxime Bernier doubles down on his criticism of Bill 101.
Some people say I am not a “real Quebecer” and are accusing me of “attacking Quebec” simply because I want to be more popular in the rest of Canada. They seem unable to conceive that it’s possible to have a different position than theirs on the basis of fundamental principles.
My position is this: Yes, it’s important that Quebec remain a predominantly French-language society. And ideally, everyone in Quebec should be able to speak French. But we should not try to reach this goal by restricting people’s rights and freedom of choice.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 3:59 PM - 27 Comments
The maverick from Beauce reassures everyone that he has not wavered in his maverickness.
As I have said and written several times over the past months, I believe that the private sector should be mainly responsible for this type of projects. Moreover, at a time when we have a big budget deficit to eliminate, financing sporting infrastructure should not be a priority. Providing funds to one project in Quebec City would also mean that the government has to fund other projects across the country to be fair to everyone, which would cost huge sums of money. I have not changed my position in any way on this issue.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM - 61 Comments
A senior federal official confirmed that the Saskatchewan project is a “test case” that will determine how the government deals with large sports infrastructure projects, including a politically charged proposal from Quebec City. The P3 program is deemed, at this point, to be the most likely source of federal funding for stadiums and hockey arenas.