By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Scene. After offering a general appeal for clarity from the government—”What is happening on your side?” she begged—Nycole Turmel narrowed her complaint to a specific article of speech. In this case, a conjunction.
“Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety said ‘information obtained by torture is always discounted. However…’ What does he mean by ‘however?’ she asked. “There is no ‘however.’ There is no ‘but.’ Torture is either condoned or it is not. Which is it? No ‘however.’ No ‘if.’ No ‘but.’ ”
Rising as today’s stand-in prime minister, Peter MacKay offered a perfectly straightforward response that entirely avoided the question. “But! But!” the New Democrat side mocked. “But! But!”
Ms. Turmel tried again, this time en français. Mr. MacKay did likewise. “Mais!” the New Democrats chirped. “Mais!”
Switching to English and stepping forward, the Defence Minister attempted to put this all in perspective. Or possibly to read aloud from a script he’d recently submitted to television producers. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM - 0 Comments
Will the Conservatives change the eligibility age for old age security? Will the age increase from 65 to 67, yes or no?
Will the eligibility age for OAS benefits increase from 65 to 67? Yes or no? When will this measure go into effect?
Bob Rae then added one of his own.
I would like to ask the government today if it could at least make a commitment that none of these changes that it is talking about will take place until after 2015, so, at the very least, Canadians will have an opportunity to vote on the changes being imposed on them by the government.
In response, Diane Finley offered only that “anyone who is young enough, like myself, or people younger than I, will have time to adjust their plans for their own retirement.” Ms. Finley is presently 54 years old. She turns 55 in October.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 3, 2012 at 6:36 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from the interim NDP leader on a meeting with the Prime Minister.
I have just concluded a face to face meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The meeting was cordial and focussed on the upcoming budget. I urged Mr. Harper to ensure that the upcoming budget does not harm families or cut the services they rely on in these tough times. I also urged him, in the face of rising unemployment numbers and yet another plant closing today, to ensure his budget focusses on real job creation above all else. I shared with him what I have heard from Canadians in the past month. Too many families are worried about their jobs and their future. Too many of them are waiting months for the unemployment insurance they’ve paid for their entire lives. These Canadians know that with further budget cuts coming, it will be even harder for them to make ends meet.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed the relationship between the federal government and the provinces, which I believe requires immediate improvement. Canadians want the federal government to work with the provinces to improve front-line health services for Canadians. I asked him to listen to those like the Quebec Premier who don’t want to see the federal government act unilaterally in cutting Old Age Security for future generations.
It was a good discussion and I believe the Prime Minister understood my concerns. I hope that he will act on them in the upcoming budget. In these tough times, the government simply can’t leave families out in the cold. It’s time to focus on job creation, and on helping families make ends meet.
And a report from the Prime Minister’s Office. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 5:52 PM - 0 Comments
Will the Prime Minister be cutting Old Age Security benefits, she asked, yes or no? Will the age of eligibility be raised to 67, she wondered, yes or no?
“We want an answer,” she concluded.
In response, the Prime Minister had two answers. “Mr. Speaker, I was very clear. This government will not cut benefits for our seniors. I am very clear,” he declared. “At the same time, we will protect the system for generations to come.”
After jetting off to Switzerland and standing proudly before the global elite and bragging of his stewardship and boasting of “major transformations” to come, the Prime Minister seems suddenly shy. It is as if, having scaled the rhetorical heights, he was suddenly reminded why he generally avoids high places. And so now he is attempting to stall, perhaps even soothe, with a sleight of hand. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM - 0 Comments
Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu has some ideas on reducing prison expenses.
“Basically, every killer should (have) the right to his own rope in his cell. They can decide whether to live,” Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu told reporters Wednesday.
A victims’ rights advocate and now a senator, Boisvenu also says the death penalty should be considered in certain cases when there’s no hope of rehabilitation. He says limited use of capital punishment could save money. He cited the case of the Shafias — the Montrealers who were convicted this week of killing four female family members. Boisvenu estimates that it will cost Canadian taxpayers $10 million to keep them locked up.
In the case of the Shafias, Mr. Boisvenu apparently said “returning them to their country might be a tougher sentence than to keep them here, where our prisons are a lot more comfortable.”
Update 3:46pm. A statement (en francais) from Mr. Boisvenu. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, Canadians are bracing themselves for the deepest round of cuts since Paul Martin, cuts to services Canadians need, like the OAS and EI,” she offered.
Members of the government side audibly whined at this reference to the previous prime minister.
“These cuts will hurt people, hurt seniors, hurt jobs and hurt our communities,” Ms. Turmel continued. “When will the Prime Minister tell Canadians the bad news, on his next trip to Switzerland or somewhere else in the world?”
Last week, so far away from this place, the Prime Minister had been full of dramatic phrasing. “Major transformations,” he said. Demographics posed a “threat” to that which we “cherished.” The deep holes of Europe and the United States threatened to grow deeper. The very future of our society hung in the proverbial balance. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM - 0 Comments
CBC has the video. And here is the full text.
Thank you. Thank you everyone.
Tell me. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and take on Stephen Harper? Are you ready to fight for Canadian families?
For their jobs? For their healthcare? To fight the Conservative cuts to the services families rely on?
Well so am I. And so is this incredible team with me today. My friends, I’ve just spent two tremendous days with this team. Planning how we’re going to fight for families in this session.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
New Democrats say Lise St-Denis owes it to her voters to return to the polls. “If Lise St-Denis has confidence and an ounce of respect for democracy, she’ll let the citizens of her riding be the judge. If not, she’s unworthy of representing them.”
“New Democrats will continue to work on behalf of the citizens of Saint-Maurice–Champlain. They deserve someone in Ottawa who will stand up for them and represent their values,” concluded Turmel. “The families of the region can continue to count on us.” To demonstrate this, the leader asked Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières) and Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier – Maskinongé) to step in and bring the issues affecting the people of Saint-Maurice – Champlain to the House of Commons.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 6:26 PM - 0 Comments
After she’d finished, the Prime Minister stood and ignored her entirely. ”Mr. Speaker,” he said, “especially at this time of year, we all appreciate the chance to be Canadian.”
And why are we all so particularly appreciative this year?
“One reason is that our government and our country have a very good record in job creation and economic growth compared to other major developed countries,” Mr. Harper explained. “That’s the target of this government and we intend to continue to target the economy, growth and job creation.”
Later, one of Mr. Harper’s lieutenants would describe the government’s omnibus crime bill as a “gift” to all Canadians. (You were probably hoping for an iPad, but imagine all the fun your kids will have on Christmas day when they’re sentencing each other to mandatory minimums.) Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. It has been a long year. (Granted, no longer than any other year, but still, 365 days—or however many we’re at now—is an awful lot.) So you’ll forgive the Prime Minister if he didn’t seem all that interested this afternoon.
As Nycole Turmel hectored him about the latest problems to afflict the fabled F-35s, Mr. Harper fiddled with his mail, a particularly well-sealed envelope seeming to resist his attempts to open it. Apparently figuring he couldn’t get it open in the time allotted to Ms. Turmel to state her question, he put it aside long enough to get the gist of her complaint. He then stood and repeated his platitudes from memory.
“Mr. Speaker, I know very well that every time the government provides our men and women in uniform with the equipment they need, the NDP loudly opposes that and votes against it,” he sighed. “We are working on the best advice of the Canadian industry, including the Quebec industry, including our men and women in uniform in the air force, and we will continue to move forward and make sure that they have the best aircraft that are available when we have to replace the current fleet.”
So Support the Troops, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Continue…
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 - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 5:55 PM - 27 Comments
“Is that all you’ve got?” he cried again a second later, in case Alexandre Boulerice hadn’t heard him the first time.
The Heritage Minister did not clarify what precisely he found lacking in news that, as The Globe and Mail put it this morning, “the RCMP is probing allegations that members of the Quebec construction industry tried to use Conservative contacts all the way up to the Prime Minister’s Office in a bid to influence the choice of a new president of the Montreal Port Authority.” But if Mr. Moore didn’t think that much was worth a query or several, he was no doubt mollified as the range of the opposition’s concerns this day became clear: everything from ethical lapses to alleged failures by this government in regards to conditions on native reserves, firearms licensing, international climate talks, asbestos exports, employment insurance, food safety and poverty.
Foremost among concerns this afternoon was Peter MacKay’s fish story. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 6:35 PM - 23 Comments
The Scene. James Moore, today’s substitute prime minister, had enough to say about the government’s maybe withdrawing from Kyoto that it was not until his third response to NDP leader Nycole Turmel that he needed to start whining about the actions of a Liberal government that last held office nearly six years ago. Conversely, in response to a question from Bob Rae about the travel habits of Peter MacKay, Moore had but three sentences to offer before he had to start ranting about how terrible the Liberals had been.
So it could be worse. To this rallying cry, the government holds steadfast.
The explanation for Mr. MacKay is altogether more straightforward and thus more complicated. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 8:03 PM - 57 Comments
The Scene. Recently returned from Attawapiskat, Nycole Turmel attempted to enlighten the Prime Minister this afternoon on the situation there. ”It’s terrible,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s worse than anything you can think of.”
She described the shacks and the tents and the trailers and moldy mattresses and the lack of heat and water. When, she wondered, staring him down, would the Prime Minister show some leadership and go see so for himself?
The Prime Minister didn’t have much more to say this than what he’d said the day before, except to say that the Aboriginal Affairs Minister would have more to say soon enough. For his own part, Mr. Harper offered his impressive-sounding number of choice. “Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, this is not acceptable when the government invests more than $90 million, to see such a result,” he said.
For sure, $90 million sounds impressive.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, November 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. …
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. See winners here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 21, 2011 at 6:39 PM - 11 Comments
Unlike most of his recent predecessors, Mr. Harper has never seen fit to name a deputy. He stands alone. And so when he cannot stand or when he chooses not to (at some point he stopped showing up on Mondays), it had typically been the duty of John Baird or Peter Van Loan to stand and mouth the official bromides. Of late though Mr. Harper has chosen to disperse the burden of parliamentary accountability upon no less than five pairs of shoulders: Messrs Baird and Van Loan, Peter MacKay, Jason Kenney and James Moore. Each day the Prime Minister is away, no matter what has been asked or what actually relevant minister might be around to handle the question, it is one of these sturdy men who rises to handle the first questions of the NDP and Liberals.
So today, for instance, it was Mr. Moore’s job to stand and explain the government’s policy on the treatment of water sewage. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 7:14 PM - 16 Comments
The Scene. It began with a rousing cheer for Nycole Turmel. The official opposition was perhaps behooved to loudly endorse their interim leader after a Conservative backbencher had used the House’s preceding minute to read aloud some scripted bit about how disgraceful Turmel had behaved on some matter or another.
“Mr. Speaker, over the past few months we have witnessed a protest movement on a scale never seen before,” she ventured. “The Occupy movement is denouncing economic disparity.”
There were grumbles and groans from the government side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The leader of the official opposition’s statement on Remembrance Day.
Today, tomorrow and all year long, we have a duty to salute the fallen by standing up for the living—through proper home care, fair pensions without clawbacks and support that heals the terrible wounds of war.
So let us ensure that every veteran is taken care of—in service and in retirement. Let us promote the values of peace and justice, for which our soldiers have given so much. And let us continue the fight to make our country, and our world, a better place for future generations.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 1:17 PM - 70 Comments
(This post last updated at 8:24pm.)
Both the Ottawa Citizen and CTV are reporting word of a settlement in the in-and-out case, possibly in relation to the charges against four Conservative party officials. Full history of the in-and-out controversy here.
Update 1:18pm. Canadian Press has details.
The party is set to agree to what a caucus source called “administrative imperfection” for the way it handled advertising spending during the 2006 federal election. As a result, sources say charges against four senior Conservative officials – including two senators – for breaking the Elections Act are being dropped.
Update 1:24pm. Glen McGregor’s FAQ is probably the easiest way to get up to speed. Last March, the House passed a motion deeming the financing scheme to be “an act of electoral fraud.” Three years ago, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand explained his view in detail before a parliamentary committee.
Update 2:46pm. The Globe confirms.
In return, the Conservative Party of Canada and its fundraising arm are pleading guilty to lesser charges that characterize what took place as a mere error instead of intentional misconduct. At the same time, the charges against four Conservative officials – two sitting senators – are being dropped.
CTV reports the party has been fined $50,000. The Supreme Court will still apparently hear the separate dispute between the Conservative party and Elections Canada.
Update 3:24pm. A statement from Elections Canada. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM - 6 Comments
Two New Democrats—Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty—have been sanctioned by interim party leader Nycole Turmel after breaking with the party over this week’s gun registry vote. Mr. Rafferty expresses some confusion and says it’s his constituents who are now punished. Mr. Hyer posted the following on Facebook today.
I’d like to thank all my constituents (on both sides of the registry issue) for the incredible show of support for me over the last day or two. It means a lot to me that people appreciate the duty of those elected to represent the wishes of their constituents in Parliament first & foremost.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:32 PM - 10 Comments
“Mr. Speaker,” declared Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors, reading carefully from the piece of paper in front of her, “I will take no lesson from the opposition.”
Both sides variously roared with agreement and soon thereafter the farce of this afternoon’s proceedings moved from thinly veiled to unabashed. Switch “I” for “we” and the government might have an answer for everything and we might be able to pronounce closure on this entire business of parliamentary democracy for at least the next four years. Think of all the time that would free up. Not to mention the money saved on electricity bills when we no longer have to bother pretending there’s a reason to keep the lights on in here.
The hour had actually begun on a stridently serious note, at least insofar as there is surely nothing more serious than the gun. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 6:06 PM - 86 Comments
The Scene. At its essence, this debate over the long-gun registry was always a debate about paperwork. And so it is only right and fitting that it should end now with a fight over what should be done with that paper.
For the record, Article 29 of Bill C-19, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, states that “the Commissioner of Firearms shall ensure the destruction as soon as feasible of all records in the Canadian Firearms Registry related to the registration of firearms that are neither prohibited firearms nor restricted firearms and all copies of those records under the Commissioner’s control.” And variously this much is viewed as a waste of both information and money.
“Why,” Nycole Turmel asked this afternoon, “destroy two billion dollars of accumulated information, while the provinces and the police want to keep it?” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 7:32 PM - 14 Comments
The Scene. At some point some months ago, it was decided—by whoever makes such decisions in whatever underground lair the important decisions are rendered—that Tony Clement would not be standing in the House any more to account for his actions in regards to the G8 Legacy Fund. Presumably, this seemed like a good idea at the time. Conceivably, this was thought to be fine communications strategy, at least insofar as “communications” now mostly involves figuring out how best to steer conversations away from any kind of reflection.
This decision was likely based on the premise that the questions would eventually cease to be asked if Mr. Clement refused to respond. That the opposition parties would get bored or distracted or frustrated, and the questions about gazebos and such would subside and everyone would move on to something less consequential.
Alas, the solution has become a communications problem of its own. For here we are, months later, and the questions have not ceased. Each and every day (or nearly so), at least one MP from the NDP side is sent up to ask at least one more question of or related to Mr. Clement. And each and every day (or nearly so), Mr. Clement sits and does nothing on his own behalf, except maybe to mutter at the question asked of him or applaud the answer offered for him.
We arrive at this daily spectacle as a result of what must only be termed an epiphany on the opposition side. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 3 Comments
Rogers Communications celebrated their 50th anniversary in Ottawa at the Metropolitain Brasserie….
Rogers Communications celebrated their 50th anniversary in Ottawa at the Metropolitain Brasserie.