By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 0 Comments
After some fussing from the fussy David Christopherson over the fuzzy nature of the last federal election, Nycole Turmel returned to the fore to wonder aloud about the precise location and utility of some $3.1 billion in funding originally allocated for the purposes of preventing terrorist attacks.
“Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are saying that losing track of $3.1 billion is no big deal,” she reported. “The Prime Minister says there is a lack of clarity. The President of the Treasury Board says it was the Liberals’ fault.”
Across the way, Tony Clement, the president in question, furrowed his brow and appeared confused, perhaps not quite agreeing with Ms. Turmel’s account in his regard. (Perhaps he didn’t so much blame the Liberals, as merely note their complicity.)
“However,” Ms. Turmel continued, “let me read this quote: ‘One would think there would be some element of shame regarding today’s report, but there is none whatsoever.’ That was the Prime Minister talking about the Liberal boondoggle in 2005.”
And, in the interests of consistency, that previous rush to judgment should serve as the model now.
“So,” Ms. Turmel asked, “is the Prime Minister now ready to show some contrition?”
If he was, it was not obviously conveyed in words. Continue…
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 - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 5:41 PM - 0 Comments
David Christopherson, in furious form, stood to recount the events of Friday morning.
“Last week, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who once described EI as… ‘lucrative‘ defended her new quota system by describing the unemployed as… the bad guys.’ ”
At least in so far as Diane Finley had in fact spoken the phrase “bad guys,” Mr. Christopherson was correct. It is merely in the entire context of those words that the New Democrat led the House astray.
The official opposition had been pestering the minister on Friday morning about a report that quotas had established for inspectors charged with rooting out fraud of the employment insurance system. In the midst of this, Ms. Finley—on two occasions—suggested the New Democrats were on the wrong side of this matter. “Mr. Speaker, with respect to the employment insurance program,” she said, “it is very important to note that, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys.”
Perhaps this was a prepared line—an attempt to turn an attack around. Perhaps Ms. Finley came up with this in the moment in a fit of frustration. Either way, the New Democrats have apparently decided to see Ms. Finley’s oversimplification and raise her a distortion.
“Law-abiding out of work Canadians deserve better than to be treated like criminals,” Mr. Christopherson declared. “Why is the government cutting EI just when people need it to the most?”
Here John Baird was provided an opportunity to be reasonable. “Mr. Speaker, my friend from the NDP has it all wrong,” he scolded. “The minister made no such statements. He is flat-out wrong.”
A few moments later, Nycole Turmel stood to read the charges against Ms. Finley en francais. “Tell the truth!” protested a voice from the government side.
Perhaps for the sake of not being too blatant about all this, each of the men and women on the opposition resisted the urge to yell back, “you first!” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 2:38 PM - 0 Comments
I sat down with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in the leader of the opposition’s office yesterday. Here is a transcript of our conversation, slightly abridged and edited.
How do you see the last year for you and the NDP? Do you feel you’re winning? Do you feel you’re getting somewhere?
We’re doing well. And the Abacus poll was confirmation of that … I dare say that we’ve been through a rough 18-month cycle. I mean, we started off in 2011 with a huge high, May 2. We realized then … It was interesting. I don’t think I’ve told too many people this story. I sat down with Jack shortly after, like two, three days after the election and when we became official opposition, he was asking me to become opposition House leader, it was a great feather in my cap. And then he said something to me that was quite interesting, he said, you know, this is a huge challenge. And I was just expecting him to be so effusive with the breakthrough and everything and he said, no, no, this is going to be a huge challenge. So then the huge challenge became all the bigger with his loss. And then we had to really work hard through a long, seven-month leadership where we were missing a lot of our frontbenchers who were in the campaign and then we had to rebuild.
When I held the little press conference up in Toronto after the leadership, the next day, I used an expression that came to spontaneously, I said, we’re going to have a cascading transition under the sign of continuity. So I was so lucky, like somebody like [chief of staff to Jack Layton] Anne [McGrath] stayed with me long enough to hand off to [current chief of staff] Raoul [Gebert], overlapped with Raoul … So a couple of the other changes that took place were like that. We brought in a few people, the core team you still recognize when you see them around us. And so it’s been a huge challenge in terms of the structure and the organization, but some of the good points for me after becoming leader: in August I was doing my parish visit in Quebec, I would be in places like Vercheres—Les Patriotes, where Sana Hassainia is our MP, and be in a community hall on a Sunday morning with several hundred people who had all paid as part of a fundraiser, but she had municipal officials there, you know the mayors and the councillors, she had community groups, she had the schools and stuff like that. They’re getting settled in, they’re putting down roots. The same day I was at a corn roast for Helene LeBlanc and she had about 600 people and a lot of the cultural communities, so they’re setting down roots, they’re doing their fundraising, they’re getting well known in their communities, they’re in their local papers, so that part’s coming together.
Come this spring, we’re pivoting, right? We’re going to be entering the third year. And so the consolidation phase has to be finished. We’ve got to start the preparatory phase for the next campaign. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael celebrates the season with the Opposition
The NDP held their annual holiday party in the Hall of Honour. Great lighting, booze bars, an oyster bar and food stations were spread over the Hall and and adjoining meeting rooms. It was one of the best parties held on the Hill.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. For as long as humans have possessed language it has been generally true that few good conversations involve the phrase “fecal contamination.”
Perhaps that’s why the Prime Minister stepped aside this afternoon to let Gerry Ritz respond to the bulk of questions; of the six questions he might’ve otherwise been expect to take, Mr. Harper rose to respond to only two. Or maybe this was some attempt to make up for Mr. Ritz’s initial absence when last the House was seized with the matter of suspect beef.
At issue today was how we handle our cow carcasses: specifically whether our attitude toward the presence of “spinal cord/dura-mater” depends on whether Canadian or Japanese citizens are expected to ingest the resulting hamburgers.
“Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the CFIA has confirmed that meat sold in Canada is as safe as that is exported to other markets, including Japan,” Mr. Harper attempted to reassure the House. “Indeed, it is the Canadian law in this regard.”
Nycole Turmel was unconvinced. Continue…
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 - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
A few minutes before 11, the Parachute Club’s Rise Up began playing over the speakers that had been set up in front of the steps that lead to Centre Block and the Peace Tower. A poster of Jack Layton—leaning forward, looking out intently, shirt and tie, but with the top button of his shirt undone—had been set up on an easel. A small crowd had gathered, some wearing orange shirts or carrying orange signs or clutching orange flowers. Two smaller photos of Mr. Layton adorned the steps, each adorned with a bottle of Orange Crush.
The song ended and the Peace Tower clock rang 11 times for 11 o’clock and the crowd of 200 or so got quiet and a fellow from the Broadbent Institute stepped to the microphone. “We were all moved by the outpouring of affection that followed Jack’s passing last year,” he said. “There was something comforting about so many people talking openly about love. But that was Jack’s greatest strength, his ability to pull people together.”
Next was Nycole Turmel, the Hull-Aylmer MP who stepped in for Mr. Layton last year. “On the first anniversary of Jack’s death,” she said, “we remember him as an exceptional man who fought with hope, love and optimism to make life for every Canadian.”
Finally, Paul Dewar, the Ottawa Centre MP who ran to succeed Mr. Layton as NDP leader. “I remember last year … talking to a couple of young people who had read the letter and then decided that they would leave their imprint. And they put in chalk, just across the way, because security wouldn’t let them do it here, the last paragraph of the letter. And it remained there for a couple of days, just by the bus shelter. And I thought, you know, that’s really what Jack was about, inspiring young people. And talking about, yes, love in politics. Talking about hope and optimism. And it’s really difficult to find politicians who talk about those ideas and sincerely mean it. Jack meant it.”
Love, hope and optimism. These are matters of faith. Which might make them hard to fathom in this context. Continue…
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, April 24, 2012 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
On the occasion of his departure from the NDP caucus, Bruce Hyer and I chatted today via telephone.
Q: So I guess first off, when did you start to think about becoming an independent MP?
A: I first started to think about it under the whipping by Nycole Turmel after Jack’s death … Immediately after Jack’s death, I was very concerned about his—however it came about—choice of interim leader. I knew it would not be good for the party, which it was not. I was concerned for a variety of reasons.
Q: You were concerned specifically about Nycole Turmel’s leadership?
A: I was concerned about Nycole. But it really became very difficult when I and my constituents were muzzled after the long gun vote.
Q: What were your concerns about Nycole Turmel?
A: There’s no point in going there now … although she is still the whip, which I find quite ironic. We’re into an issue about whipping and Nycole has moved from the head whipper to the assistant whipper now.
Q: So just to clarify, you had two concerns: one, you were concerned about her leadership in general and two, you were bothered by the fact that you were punished after the long gun registry vote?
A: Absolutely. And it’s not about me or my ego, it’s about many things. It’s about my ability to do my job to which I was elected. And so my effectiveness was curtailed during that very long period. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 10:12 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.
“I want to offer my warm congratulations to Thomas Mulcair on winning the leadership contest in the New Democratic Party. I know Mr. Mulcair well and look forward to working with him to ensure Parliament acts on behalf of all Canadians.
“I also want to congratulate the NDP for a successful leadership convention, particularly in opening up the selection process to Canadians across the country.
“I also want to salute Mme Nycole Turmel for the integrity she showed as Interim Leader of the NDP. Her grace was apparent as she courageously carried out her duties admirably in the wake of the tragic passing of Jack Layton.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, March 23, 2012 at 1:55 AM - 0 Comments
Green turban for St. Patrick’s day, popcorn at the Sens game, and a closet fiasco
The one time Turmel could not smile
NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel will step down after the party selects a new permanent leader at its March 23-24 convention. One of the job perks has been a new wardrobe. When she became interim leader, party staff went through her closet. Only a few items survived. Because her riding and home is in the National Capital Region, she did not live much at Stornoway; her legacy at the residence of the leader of the Opposition is that she updated the main floor washroom to be wheelchair accessible. The bathroom upstairs is too cold and the water is always freezing, but that will be a challenge for the new leader. Turmel smiles so much that her staff kept telling her to stop looking happy during question period. Her most moving moment as deputy leader was seeing firsthand the First Nations’ crisis in Attawapiskat. She says after that emotional experience there was no danger of her smiling when she grilled Stephen Harper about the reserve crisis. Aside from QP, her only interaction with the PM has been a meeting on the upcoming budget and a few nods and hellos when they passed each other.
Tim Uppal goes green
A special St. Patrick’s Day party was held in the office of Tory MP James Rajotte. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wore bright green socks and encouraged Tim Uppal, minister of state for democratic reform, to get festive. Uppal wore a green turban. The Sikh MP almost exclusively wears blue turbans and confessed he had to borrow the green one. Treasury Board President Tony Clement sported a tie that was only barely green. Clement was happy he scored a green hat at the party, which he said he planned to wear to a Van Halen concert on the actual St. Patrick’s Day in Toronto. Clement is a huge rock fan and noted that in his youth he could rarely afford concerts, but now he has opportunities to see some of his favourite oldies when he gets a chance. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the most frequent wearer of green, had a regular green tie—he has bushels of them because people send them to him. Someone quipped that Clement should have taken one of Flaherty’s hand-me-downs.
When Cotler threatened to strike
This month would have been the 100th birthday of Canadian poet Irving Layton. Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was a student of Layton’s from Grades 7 to 9 at the Jewish Herzliah Junior High School in Montreal. Layton taught Cotler all of his secular courses. “He never stuck to the curriculum,” says the MP, who credits the poet for lighting the fire in his belly for social justice causes. In the 1950s, Cotler says, parents wanted Layton fired because they thought he was a Marxist and cited concern over sexual imagery in his poetry. Cotler says the poet was so loved by students that a protest was organized and the students threatened to strike. The school was told: “If you fire him, we’re gone.” The parents backed down.
Invented butter in the middle?
Speaker Andrew Scheer was recently recognized at an Ottawa Senators game, where the hockey franchise pointed out that Scheer was once the lad who served popcorn at the hockey games. Scheer maintains he was a superb popcorn server and jokes that he invented the butter-in-the-middle technique.
May and Macphail
As reported previously in Capital Diary, a free-standing closet in the House opposition lobby was moved to create a small space for the four members of the Bloc Québécois, which doesn’t have official party status. Green party Leader Elizabeth May was outraged that the moved closet blocked the bust of Agnes Macphail, the first Canadian female MP. May wrote a letter to Speaker Andrew Scheer. The closet was moved again and the Macphail bust was back in full view just in time for International Women’s Day earlier this month.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a…
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a special all-party reception in the Hill hosted by Tory Senator Nancy Ruth.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM - 0 Comments
Polls are now closed in Toronto-Danforth and returns should start appearing here soon.
Riding history and previous results are here.
8:58pm. The NDP’s Craig Scott takes the first poll with 49 of 79 votes.
9:02pm. This advert, from Liberal candidate Grant Gordon, was also interesting. Mostly because of who was leader of the Liberal party less than a year ago and what that individual did before entering politics.
9:08pm. Ten polls into the night, the NDP share of the vote is just below where it was for Jack Layton last May (58.2/60.8). Conservative share is down nine points, Liberal share is up 12. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Nycole Turmel wanted to talk about the apparently impending confession of Pierre Poutine. Pierre Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph. Ms. Turmel wanted to propose a public inquiry. Mr. Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph.
Switching to English, Ms. Turmel presented an itemized list of grievances.
“Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said he wants to change the culture of Ottawa,” he noted. “Changing the culture, like replacing Liberal scandals with Conservative scandals? A culture where people can rig elections? A culture where the Prime Minister does not answer questions? A culture with no accountability, no transparency? A culture of denial and partisan attacks? If the Prime Minister wanted to change the culture, he must take responsibility. Will he?”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 6:31 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Asking about a new report of political belligerence, Nycole Turmel eventually rounded on the Prime Minister.
“Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must take responsibility,” she ventured. “He created a culture in his party: victory at any cost is what matters.”
Mr. Harper was unmoved. Or at least undaunted. ”What I would say is this,” he said. “The Conservative party always accepts the verdict of the voters. We have accepted the verdict of the voters when we have won and also when we have lost. I would encourage the other parties to accept the verdict of voters as well.”
So there. As one of the Prime Minister’s backbenchers put it recently, this is all about “sore losers.” The public has passed its verdict. And the Conservatives have won a sufficient number of seats in this place to form a government. And that means, should they so choose, they can sit here for another three-and-a-half years. And there’s not much anyone can say to change that.
Of course, that also means—at least until they find a way to avoid this place entirely—that they must sit here most afternoons and listen to these inquiries and provocations. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP has tabled the following motion for debate tomorrow.
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, within six months, table amendments to the Elections Canada Act and other legislation as required that would ensure that in all future election campaigns: (a) Elections Canada investigation capabilities be strengthened, to include giving the Chief Electoral Officer the power to request all necessary documents from political parties to ensure compliance with the Elections Act; (b) all telecommunication companies that provide voter contact services during a general election must register with Elections Canada; and (c) all clients of telecommunication companies during a general election have their identity registered and verified.
Asked by Nycole Turmel about it this afternoon, the Prime Minister seemed to indicate the government side supported this motion (Mr. Harper’s spokesman seems to concur). Conservatives on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee previously voted to reject a proposal from the Chief Electoral Officer.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, she recounted, Mr. Harper had said that only the Liberal party had been involved with American firms to facilitate its telephone campaigning. Alas, she explained, it turned out the Conservative party—or at least some of its candidates—had done likewise. Would the Prime Minister admit that he was wrong? she wondered. And, furthermore, would he admit that the Conservative party had made fraudulent calls?
The Prime Minister was unmoved. “Mr. Speaker, I gave clear answers regarding the activities of the Conservative party of Canada,” he professed. “All this information has been available to Elections Canada since the beginning. Now is the time for the opposition, which has spent millions of dollars to make hundreds of thousands of phone calls, to give all its information to Elections Canada.”
Ms. Turmel tried again. Mr. Harper, switching to English, repeated himself.
“Of course,” he assured, “I answered questions very clearly about the activities of the Conservative party of Canada. Those calls are all very well documented. All that documentation is available to Elections Canada, and has been available since the beginning. What is not available is all of the information that is coming from the opposition, the NDP in particular. There is a complete lack of transparency on the hundreds of thousands of calls that they made. They should give that information to Elections Canada.”
If the government’s implication was not obvious as yet, the Prime Minister’s dutiful parliamentary secretary made matters clear a moment later. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
How not to look like an interim leader
Bob Rae…, the “interim” Liberal
How not to look like an interim leader
Bob Rae, the “interim” Liberal leader, has been making all the right moves to look more and more like the party’s permanent leader, and even the unofficial official leader of the Opposition. On the Hill, it’s all about positioning. The Liberal leader typically holds his Wednesday post-caucus meeting press conference outside the doors of the House of Commons. NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel holds hers outside the party’s caucus meeting room with a backdrop of coat racks. Rae often brings a few MPs along with him. Once he had the entire caucus positioned behind him, including the Liberal senators, making his numbers look hefty. Rae is also asking more questions during question period, popping up when the Liberals get their second round of questions, in addition to his guaranteed question spot in the leaders’ round. Liberal MP Hedy Fry says, “We want him to ask the questions. He does the best job.” But having Rae ask more questions also means the Prime Minister has to get up more. With the Bloc losing official party status, the PM, for the most part, just answers questions from leaders of parties officially recognized by the House and now there are just two.
Taking a development minute
When International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda travels the world meeting top country officials seeking Canada’s assistance, she is often the only woman in the room aside from her own female staff. Women on the ground can be a key to effective aid. When Oda froze new funding to Egypt after the uprising, the only exception was to help women’s groups, arguing that how women ultimately fare in Egypt will be the true test to whether democracy takes hold. Oda was appointed in August 2007 and is the longest-serving CIDA minister. Oda is hoping some of CIDA’s work will be showcased in a similar way that Canadian history got highlighted in Heritage Minutes. It’s an idea she is floating with her department. One example of such a moment could be when CIDA co-ordinated with aid groups in Afghanistan so that polio vaccinations could be administered to people in remote areas.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 2, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel.
New Democrats welcome the investigation by Elections Canada into the tens of thousands of complaints they received about election suppression activities during the last federal election. As we have said from the start, New Democrats will do everything we can to help this investigation and have been sharing information we receive with Elections Canada.
We regret the approach the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party have taken. They have tried to mislead Canadians. They have tried to blame the opposition. They have refused to take any responsibility-as they did with the in-and-out scandal, where they claimed total innocence right up to the moment when they pled guilty.
Canadians are sick of these scandals. Conservatives promised to clean up Ottawa scandals, instead they have just added new scandals of their own. Worst of all, Conservatives have tried to smear the tens of thousands of Canadians who have come forward with complaints of election suppression and harassment. Serious allegations are being made by well-meaning Canadians. Conservatives must stop their obfuscation and come clean about their role.
We call on Stephen Harper to direct the Conservative Party to immediately come forward and hand over all evidence they have to Elections Canada and the RCMP. This must include all documents related to the work they did with the firms RackNine, Responsive Marketing Group and Campaign Research, as well as any other firms that worked on direct communication with voters during the last election.
Honest answers are needed to restore faith in our electoral process. If the Prime Minister persists in using the reprehensible tactics he did during this week’s Question Period, if he continues to try and make a farce out of serious allegations while refusing to investigate the Conservative Party and hand over all relevant documents, there will be no choice but to call a public inquiry.
Ottawa is broken. But Canadian families can count on New Democrats to fix it.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday on CBC, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary said the Conservative party was investigating the allegations of election fraud. An hour later, on Sun TV, he said the Conservatives were not conducting an investigation,” the interim leader of the opposition recounted. “Could the Prime Minister tell us which it is? Are the Conservatives investigating, yes or no?”
Could the Prime Minister? Theoretically speaking, yes. Would he? Practically speaking, no.
“Mr. Speaker, the Conservative party has made available, from the beginning, all information to Elections Canada,” Mr. Harper said. “The Conservative party can say absolutely, definitively, it has no role in any of this.”
On what basis can the government say this? It is difficult to say.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Amid all else, the House voted unanimously last night—268 to 0—to approve the following NDP motion.
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should adopt Shannen’s Dream by: (a) declaring that all First Nation children have an equal right to high-quality, culturally-relevant education; (b) committing to provide the necessary financial and policy supports for First Nations education systems; (c) providing funding that will put reserve schools on par with non-reserve provincial schools; (d) developing transparent methodologies for school construction, operation, maintenance and replacement; (e) working collaboratively with First Nation leaders to establish equitable norms and formulas for determining class sizes and for the funding of educational resources, staff salaries, special education services and indigenous language instruction; and (f) implementing policies to make the First Nation education system, at a minimum, of equal quality to provincial school systems.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
“Canadians demand answers. They deserve better than another five-year runaround by the Prime Minister before their next inevitable guilty plea. The Prime Minister has it within his power to get to the bottom of this today, to identify the guilty parties and to ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he ventured, “or the Prime Minister will have proven that in no time at all he has become exactly that which he used to loathe.”
He stretched the vowel sound of this last word for the sake of indignation. Seated across the way, making a rare Monday appearance, the Prime Minister noticeably bounced in his spot with a guffaw. He chuckled again a moment later when Nycole Turmel suggested special by-elections might soon be in order.
The opposition members, their outrage pent up after four days of allegation and accusation, could not contain themselves. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, once again, the government has been repeatedly clear,” he said the day after that.
“Mr. Speaker, I was very clear,” he said the next day.
“We have been very clear,” he clarified the day after that.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Harper departed for China. He returned to the House this afternoon to pick up approximately where’d he left off. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, ”I think the government is very clear in this regard.”
The Prime Minister’s preference for rhetorical clarity thus established, it is likely worth reflecting on all we’ve heard these last few weeks. Continue…