By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
This might otherwise have been the week that a government with a notable aversion to the legislature was reelected in a vote that included the ballots of just 52% of eligible voters. This might otherwise have been the week that Peter Penashue, he of the disputed campaign finances and boasting of holding up public projects in Newfoundland for the sake of a highway in Labrador, was soundly defeated in a by-election. Instead this was the week of Mike Duffy. At least in those places where it was not the week of Rob Ford. Or the mayor of Laval’s envelopes.
This was more specifically, at least in Ottawa and at least where people care about how public officials are behaving in regards to public funds, the week of Mr. Duffy’s housing allowance. Something like $90,172.24, including interest and some disputed per diems, spread over a few years.
Could this possibly have been worth that much? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 12:14 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leader invites your questions.
Michael Ignatieff tried something like this in the fall of 2010—see here and here for examples. I don’t recall whether Mr. Ignatieff actively solicited questions as Mr. Trudeau is doing now, but (as Susan Delacourt notes as well), during its earliest days in the House, the Reform party had phone and fax lines through which constituents could submit questions that would be asked in the House (note the Speaker’s concern about that gambit).
During the last election, the Liberals promised that, if elected, they would create a “People’s Question Period,” during which the Prime Minister and various cabinet ministers would take questions from the public.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 4:22 PM - 0 Comments
On Wednesday, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott was the only Conservative MP to support NDP MP Libby Davies’ bill to implement a sodium reduction strategy. Mr. Vellacott even sent out a news release to advise that he was the “sole Conservative MP to vote across party lines” on the bill.
Ms. Davies’ bill set to implement the recommendations of the expert panel that Tony Clement convened in 2007, but that Leona Aglukkaq declined to pursue in 2010. The panel was subsequently disbanded and the Harper government later declined to partner with the provinces on a reduction strategy.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:41 PM - 0 Comments
And so we return to the existential question of Mike Duffy’s place in this world.
“Even the bogus investigation by his hand-picked cronies in the Senate,” Thomas Mulcair charged, rather audaciously and perhaps imprudently, in the Prime Minister’s direction this afternoon, “found that Mike Duffy does not maintain a primary residence on Prince Edward Island. The Constitution requires that a senator ‘be a resident of the province for which he is appointed.’ The Conservatives now admit, through their own bogus investigation, that Mr. Duffy is not a resident of PEI, yet still say that he is qualified to be a senator from PEI. Why is the Prime Minister allowing this continuous fraud by the Conservatives in the Senate?”
The Prime Minister’s interpretation of the day’s news differed somewhat.
“Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, an independent external auditor was brought in to examine all of these expenses,” Mr. Harper explained. “He looked obviously at the expenses of three particular senators who have had some difficulty.”
Let us from this day forward remember this moment in Senate history as the Great Difficulty. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 4:24 PM - 0 Comments
As promised, the Conservative MP stood before Question Period and delivered a statement about female gendercide.
Mr. Speaker, twenty thousand Canadians from all walks of life gathered here today in front of the Parliament Buildings. They are asking Canadian leaders to end discrimination against women and girls occurring through global gendercide. Female gendercide is the systematic killing of women and girls just because they are girls.
The UN says that over 200 million girls are missing in the world right now because of female gendercide. The Canadian Medical Association revealed that this barbaric form of discrimination is occurring in Canada. The statement “It’s a girl” should not be a death sentence. Gendercide is the ultimate form of discrimination against women and girls. A huge thanks goes to the thousands across Canada standing up against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. I also want to thank Lucky Gill with Global Girl Power.
It’s not clear whether Mr. Warawa was on the government whip’s list of those scheduled to make a statement. I didn’t see any other Conservative MP stand on the right side of the House, but conceivably one of the Conservatives seated to the immediate left of the Speaker could have been standing.
Update 10:09pm. A tweet from Mr. Warawa suggests he wasn’t on the whip’s list.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1:05 PM - 0 Comments
The Auditor General appeared at the Public Accounts committee last week to testify about his latest report. Conservative MP Andrew Saxton asked him directly about the $3.1 billion.
Andrew Saxton: Some people have been claiming that the government lost $3 billion. Is this an accurate portrayal of your report?
Michael Ferguson: What we reported in the chapter on spending on public security and anti-terrorism initiative was that there was $12.9-billion worth of budget allocations to some 35 departments and agencies. When we looked at the reports that agencies made to Treasury Board Secretariat about their spending under these initiatives, it totalled $9.8 billion, so a difference of roughly $3 billion that we tried to get an explanation for why there’s that difference between the budget and the actual, and we were not able to get that explanation. So what we were trying to do was understand what that difference was and where it came from. That’s how I would characterize what that report included.
Andrew Saxton: Thank you. Now, can you please tell me if the reports that were done by the public security and anti-terrorism initiative, or more commonly known as PSAT, if the PSAT reports were for internal government use or for external use?
Michael Ferguson: My understanding is that the reports were given to Treasury Board Secretariat as part of Treasury Board Secretariat’s role in monitoring these initiatives, and we expected that they would then be used as a summary reporting tool to Treasury Board itself. So all of that is internal reporting. There was never a summary report prepared for Treasury Board, however.
Andrew Saxton: During this period of time, did individual departments report their normal planned spending and actual spending to Parliament?
Michael Ferguson: Certainly there’s the normal process whereby departments report their budgets and actuals across all of their activities, and that goes on every year.
Later, Liberal MP Gerry Byrne asked for clarification.
Gerry Byrne: I have a quick question on chapter 8. Could you help clear up some confusion that I think exists in many people’s minds? If the government can’t readily identify specifics of what $3.1 billion was spent on, how can Parliament be confident it was spent properly and within statutory and policy guidelines?
Michael Ferguson: What we were looking for—Again, this was a very large initiative. This was a horizontal initiative. It included a lot of departments. It had specific identified objectives, things that were trying to be achieved. Also there was this mechanism put in place for Treasury Board Secretariat to collect information that could be used for monitoring purposes. We felt that would have been the important information to produce summary level data about what was spent, what was it spent on, and what was achieved. That wasn’t done so there’s no overall summary picture that can go forward to anybody. Now in general, of course, any dollar that goes out of the federal government’s bank account is subject to all of the controls in place in those departments. But that doesn’t mean that it’s captured in a way that it can reported against this type of initiative.
Gerry Byrne: Understood. Thanks. In this context, we had a situation not long ago where there was abuse of parliamentary authority. Parliament had voted and authorized certain expenditures for the Canada Border Infrastructure Fund . We later found out that it was spent on gazeboes, 200 kilometres away from the border. Is there a risk that some of the $3.1 billion may not have necessarily been spent on what Parliament had approved it for?
Michael Ferguson: Certainly the first part of trying to answer that question is to look at what the budget appropriation was, what was spent, and then trying to analyze that difference. The one thing that was occurring in this case was that there was this process for reallocation, and they were tracking when RIA allocations happened. There’s just nothing captured in terms of the total amount of the reallocations. What’s hard to say is how much of that difference was things that we just now spent, how much of it were things that were reallocated and went through the proper process to be reallocated. It’s not possible based on the information we have to answer the question of whether anything was spent on things outside of these initiatives.
Gerry Byrne: Mr. Auditor General, you would suggest to the committee that there is a risk, then?
Michael Ferguson: I guess I would have to say that there would be a risk because there is not enough information to answer the question completely.
For further information there is what Scott Clark and Peter DeVries, two former finance officials, wrote about the Auditor General’s report.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM - 0 Comments
The House is currently debating the NDP’s motion on the $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding. Earl Dreeshen, the first Conservative to speak to the motion, objected on the grounds that the premise of the motion is wrong—that the money is not, as the NDP motion puts it, “missing.”
The Liberals are proposing an amendment that calls for wider reform to the estimates process.
“; and that in order to avoid losing funds in the future, the House request that the government take all actions necessary to transition to Program based appropriations according to the timeline provided to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.”
Liberal MP John McCallum explains.
“The Liberal Party agrees that it is essential for Parliament to track down the $3.1 billion lost by this Conservative government, but equally, we must fix the way Ottawa spends money to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. That is why we are proposing to amend today’s NDP motion so that it not only provides a chance to look backwards, but also a solution going forward.
Currently when Parliamentarians vote on appropriations they are forced to approve huge blocks of money, allowing the funds to be shuffled around behind closed doors. Unfortunately this system can result in funds going missing. If instead we voted to approve funding directly by program, money would be tied to those programs and thus be nearly impossible to lose track of.
Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page called for this system because it puts spending decisions back in the hands of Parliament; and in fact, Minister Clement has already examined this proposal in response to a recommendation by the House of Commons Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. It is now simply a matter of having the will to implement it.
Canadians elected us to be effective managers of the public purse. We hope that all MPs will agree and support our amendment and the entire motion.”
Tony Clement is apparently reluctant to commit to that can kind of accounting, on account of the cost—$70 million—to transition to such a system.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 8:38 AM - 0 Comments
Independent MP Bruce Hyer has tabled two bills that would
make it a crime to refuseimpose a regulatory penalty on those who refuse to provide information requested by the parliamentary budget officer and auditor general respectively.
Hyer argues that there should be penalties for lack of compliance. “The jobs of the PBO and AG are extremely important for Canada. The PBO provides independent analysis of the government’s spending estimates and trends in the Canadian economy. The job of the AG is to hold the federal government accountable for its stewardship of public funds. Obviously, both need full access to the information in order to carry out their duties. Today’s complete lack of consequences puts limits on these Officers’ ability to scrutinize the expenditures of the government… and thus limits how Parliament can hold the government to account.”
Update Friday, 3:36pm. Via Twitter, Mr. Hyer notes that his bills wouldn’t make it a crime to obstruct the PBO and auditor general. Corrections above and in the headline.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 11:29 PM - 0 Comments
In a speech delivered yesterday, Pierre Poilievre explains why the Harper government wants input into collective bargaining at crown corporations.
It is a lovely principle. One that could be equally applied to comprehensive estimates reform, a fully independent and well-funded parliamentary budget officer, the independence of government backbenchers, the independence of parliamentary committees and the importance of government transparency and disclosure.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 6:24 PM - 0 Comments
And so it has been nearly three years since we, the previously vulnerable people of this vast land, were freed from the tyranny of the most-accurate data. Nearly three years since Tony Clement took a stand against all those interested in a particularly reliable basis for understanding the demographics of this country. Nearly three years since the Harper government vowed that Canadians should not be made to answer questions that no one seems to have been interested in asking.
And yet, oddly, with the release today of the results of the National Household Survey, that tribute to personal freedom and individual rights, Thomas Mulcair seemed rather uncelebratory.
“Mr. Speaker, today we have begun to see the consequences of the Conservatives’ backward decision to kill the mandatory long form census,” the NDP leader declared this afternoon. “Experts at StatsCan have confirmed that the data in the Conservatives’ new survey is deeply flawed. It contains contradictory information and 30% of Canadian families did not even bother filling it out. That is five times more than the last census.”
It seemed here that Mr. Mulcair had decided to hate freedom.
“The Prime Minister is not just satisfied to make public policy based on flawed information, that is his goal,” Mr. Mulcair ventured. “We have been calling on the Conservatives to reinstate the mandatory long form census for over three years. Will the Prime Minister finally listen?”
To listen, of course, is one thing. To heed is quite another. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 4:16 PM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats will ask the House of Commons on Thursday to demand documentation related to the $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding that the Auditor General has questioned.
That, in light of $3.1 billion of missing funds outlined in Chapter Eight of the 2013 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada, an order of the House do issue for the following documents from 2001 to the present, allowing for redaction based on national security: (a) all Public Security and Anti-Terrorism annual reports submitted to the Treasury Board Secretariat; (b) all Treasury Board submissions made as part of the Initiative; (c) all departmental evaluations of the Initiative; (d) the Treasury Board corporate database established to monitor funding; that these records be provided to the House in both official languages by June 17, 2013; that the Speaker make arrangements for these records to be made available online; and that the Auditor-General be given all necessary resources to perform an in-depth forensic audit until the missing $3.1 billion is found and accounted for.
In terms of the vote on that motion, I wonder for now what argument the government could make for opposing this motion.
Thomas Mulcair asked the Prime Minister during QP this afternoon if the government would support the NDP motion, but the Prime Minister offered no direct response. I’ve asked Tony Clement’s office if the government will be supporting the motion, but have not yet received a response.
By Patricia Treble - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM - 0 Comments
Call the royal household what you will–prim and a tad proper are common descriptors–but don’t call it inefficient or methodical.
Merely a day after Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would not attend the upcoming Commonwealth leaders summit in November and Prince Charles would go in her place, the monarch and heir were together at the State Opening of Parliament in London. When the joint appearance was announced a few weeks ago, it caused only a murmur among royal watchers, since the Prince of Wales hasn’t attended the annual event since 1996. Now it’s clear that yesterday’s announcement and today’s appearance at Parliament were part of a greater scheme. As the Daily Mail stated, “Charles’ presence at Parliament today suggests it is also part of the carefully-choreographed plan to share the burden of responsibility.”
But don’t think that this shift means there will be co-monarchs or it’s a sign that “after more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning” as Time intoned. That’s jumping the gun. The Queen is firmly in control. Instead, it’s a recognition that Elizabeth, 87, and her husband, Philip, 92 in June, can’t continue their crushing schedule of 300-400 engagements a year without help. As the Independent said, “But–taken together–the moves highlight the increasingly high-profile role that Prince Charles is expected to take supporting his mother in state affairs in the coming months and years. It will involve increasing co-ordination between the diaries of senior royals–with the duke and duchess of Cambridge taking on many more official duties.” The Windsors rarely do anything quickly or in haste. Instead, incremental–even glacial–change is their preferred modus operandi. Charles has been taking on more and more of the Queen’s duties for years, including holding investitures (as does Princess Anne).
Even Camilla got into the supporting act, wearing a fabulous Boucheron tiara and a rather regal looking white gown (royal women only wear white to this event). Though Charles has officially stated that she’ll have the title of “Princess Consort” when he accedes the throne, in part to dampen anger left over from the Diana years, there seems to be a slow shift in perception that Camilla will actually take the title of queen. As the Daily Mail caption stated, “Camilla dressed the part of a queen-in-waiting in a sparkling tiara that has been in the royal family for over 90 years.”
Still, given the Queen’s good health–even with the occasional gastro bug–it could still be more than a decade before we see a King Charles III on the throne.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
Liberal MP John McCallum has asked the government to explain where in the public accounts he might find information about the unaccounted for $3.1 billion.
As previously noted—Warning: Spoiler Alert—this might prove difficult.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 11:19 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservative MP is planning to make a statement on Thursday about sex-selective abortion.
On Thursday, Warawa intends to stand up in the House to talk about female “gendercide” – the systematic killing of women, which includes aborting females. And he will do it without a spot on his party’s speaking list, by catching the eye of Speaker Andrew Scheer, who in a landmark decision ruled late last month that MPs are allowed to make statements and ask questions without their party’s consent.
If Scheer recognizes him on Thursday, Warawa will be able to make his statement weeks after the issue of MP freedom was brought to the forefront of Parliament. “My involvement with speaking up against gendercide continues,” Warawa said in an interview.
The government would thus seem to have two options. It can, as it seemed to do two weeks ago when Mr. Warawa previously promised to stand and attempt to catch the Speaker’s eye, put him on the whip’s list for Thursday. In which case, he wins. Or it can ignore his stated intention and Mr. Warawa can stand of his volition until the Speaker recognizes him. At which point, he wins.
See previously: What the Speaker’s ruling means
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 11:09 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, Thomas Mulcair recalled, it was discovered that the Conservatives had lost track of $3.1 billion. The Auditor General, Mr. Mulcair declared, has regularly suggested that the Conservatives be more transparent. And so what, Mr. Mulcair wondered, have the Conservatives done to date to find that $3.1 billion.
Jason Kenney, leading the Conservatives this day, was unimpressed.
“Mr. Speaker, as usual,” Mr. Kenney lamented, “the question of the honourable Leader of the Opposition is not fair.”
Life, alas, is not fair. But protesting that fact tends to be counter-productive.
The Auditor General, Mr. Kenney explained, had said that the money hadn’t been used in a way in which it should not have been. Thus, it is all good.
Mr. Mulcair, mostly eschewing his notes to engage the government side directly and with the benefit of something the government seems unable to account for, was confidently unpersuaded. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Dan Harris challenged the government on Friday on the subject of Marc Garneau’s not being invited to a celebration of the Canadarm. Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister, was rather dismissive in response.
This afternoon, Mr. Calandra took a moment to apologize.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM - 0 Comments
In theory, I’m told, all statements by Conservative MPs are to be vetted by the government whip’s office (I’ve asked Gordon O’Connor’s office for clarification, but the whip’s office tends not to comment on such matters). Mr. Rathgeber seems to have not submitted to that process. He was scheduled to deliver a statement on Friday, but it’s unclear whether he spoke because he was on the approved list despite not submitting his statement or because he stood and caught the Speaker’s eye.
Either way, an MP stood in the House and said something without the approval of his party’s leadership. So that’s… something.
Meanwhile, in comments to the Hill Times, Conservative MP David Tilson raises the possibility for conflict when some MPs are operating according to the whip’s list and other MPs are standing and hoping to catch the Speaker’s eye.
“If I was the last government member to make a statement in the House on the list, and was approved, and some guy stands up and makes a statement which precludes me from making a statement, they’re going against my democratic rights. They may say they’re losing their democratic rights, [but] I’ve been approved to speak, and now I’m being precluded from speaking,” said Conservative MP David Tilson (Dufferin-Caleton, Ont.) in an interview last week with The Hill Times.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 5:43 PM - 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 - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 1:59 PM - 0 Comments
Here is Elizabeth May’s news conference on her bill to amend the Elections Act. Near the end, she claims that another MP might come forward to propose a similar bill.
Colin Horgan noted four weeks ago that the Reform party’s policy book in 1989 contained a similar sentiment.
“We believe in accountability of elected representatives to the people who elect them, and that the duty of elected members to their constituents should supersede their obligations to their political parties,” the 1989 Reform Party manifesto stated.
It also contained a proposal: “The Canada Elections Act must be amended to eliminate clauses which place Members of Parliament in a position beholden to their national Party Executive or Leader rather than their constituents (such as the provisions for the signing of nomination papers). This is essential.”
There is some reason to fret about what such a change might bring about.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
Scott Clark and Peter DeVries explain the problem with the $3.1 billion in unaccounted-for anti-terrorism funding.
Given the sensitivity of this issue and the size of the amount missing, it is surprising that Treasury Board did not undertake a detailed analysis of what happened to this $3.1 billion, prior to the release of the Auditor General’s report. There was certainly sufficient time to do so. This would have saved the Government considerable embarrassment. Instead, it is viewed as a major blow to their credibility as sound managers of the public purse…
Once again the ability of Parliament to oversee government spending has been eroded. Parliament should ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) to undertake a review of the missing $3.1 billion. It simply cannot be shrugged off as “lacking clarity” and “bureaucratic error” and a claim that better controls will be put in place so that it won’t happen again.
The Prime Minister’s assertion yesterday was that “all spending has been reported and accounted for,” but no detailed accounting of the $3.1 billion has yet been released.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Officially, C-60, the first budget implementation act of the year, requires 128 pages to print. Government House leader Peter Van Loan gave notice yesterday that he’ll move a motion of time allocation today to limit debate at second reading to a total of five days.
We support efforts to help Crown Corporations manage public resources responsibly. We believe that this initiative may have unintended consequences on the successful operation of some corporations. It is important that these consequences are understood and addressed.
We will be writing to the Government to share our concerns about C-60, and to request a meeting to ensure that Ministers have accurate information on CBC/Radio-Canada’s record, both at managing public resources and delivering on its mandate.
The New Democrats, meanwhile, have tabled their proposal for splitting the bill. The motion was denied yesterday at the finance committee, but, for the record, here is what Peggy Nash proposed.
“That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures be amended by removing the following clauses:
a) clauses 136 to154 related to the Investment Canada Act;
b) clauses 161 to 166 related to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program;
c) clauses 174 to 199 related to the proposed Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act;
d) clauses 213 to 224 related to the National Capital Act and the Department of Canadian Heritage Act;
e) clauses 228 to 232 related to the Financial Administration Act and collective bargaining between Crown corporations and their employees;
That the clauses mentioned in section a) of this motion do compose Bill C-61; that Bill C-61 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology;
that the clauses mentioned in section b) of this motion do compose Bill C-62; that Bill C-62 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
that the clauses mentioned in section c) of this motion do compose Bill C-63; that Bill C-63 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development;
that the clauses mentioned in section d) of this motion do compose Bill C-64; that Bill C-64 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;
that the clauses mentioned in section e) of this motion do compose Bill C-65; that Bill C-65 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates;
that Bill C-60 retain the status on the Order Paper that it had prior to the adoption of this Order; that Bill C-60 be reprinted as amended; and that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.”
The Conservatives have said they would like different parts of the bill sent to different committees for study, but we don’t yet have the details of their proposal.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May has just now tabled a bill that would remove the Elections Act’s requirement of a party leader’s endorsement for an individual to run in an election under a party banner, at least in ridings where a riding association exists to endorse the candidate.
Here is the full text of the bill. Bruce Hyer is apparently seconding it.
I wrote about Michael Chong’s suggestion of doing so two years ago. It would be, potentially, a very real and very significant change to the system.
Ms. May has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning to discuss her bill.
Update 6:30pm. One caveat: As has been noted, this is not the only bill Ms. May has on offer. She tells me she’s not sure yet if the above bill will be the one she brings forward when her turn arrives.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister again raised the notion of special deals for China yesterday as an explanation for the government’s decision to increase tariffs.
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the leader of the Liberal Party understands the issue of tariffs. Let me be clear. The position of the government has been that we have progressively reduced a wide range of tariffs for all Canadians. Canadians have benefited from that to the tune of over half a billion dollars a year.
At the same time, we do not think it is appropriate to have special tariff reductions only for companies from countries like China. The Liberal Party apparently thinks that is appropriate. That is the wrong policy. The right policy is lower tariffs for Canadians and to ensure that Chinese companies pay their fair share.
That leaves only 51 other countries—the 71 other countries that are now subject to higher tariffs, minus the 20 who have trade deals with Canada—to account for.
Two weeks ago, Jim Flaherty suggested that increasing tariffs was about leverage in trade negotiations, but Mike Moffatt notes that Canada is only currently known to be negotiating trade deals with seven of the countries that are now subject to higher tariffs.
It also would seem to remain difficult to square the Harper government’s tariff increases with the Conservative party’s advertising in this regard.
In other news, Canada Border Services Agency has still so far failed to offer an explanation as to how imported iPods might be exempt from tariffs. It has been nearly three weeks since I asked.
See previously: A tax on imported blankets, The Commons: Ted Menzies challenges everyone to find a tax increase in the budget, A tax on bicycles, baby carriages and iPods, The Great iPod Tax Crisis of 2013, The iPod tax: The finance department responds, Will the Conservatives repeal the iPod tax?, Breaking news: Your imported hockey helmet will cost less and Letters from Justin
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:02 PM - 0 Comments
The parliamentary record counts 993 uses of the term “boondoggle” over the last 19 years before today. Here would be two more.
“Mr. Speaker, today’s Auditor General’s report is another scathing indictment of Conservative mismanagement,” Thomas Mulcair reported a few moments after Mr. Poilievre. “Conservatives have actually lost track of, wait for it… $3.1 billion.”
Lest this be confused with a mere $3.1 million, the NDP leader stressed that here was a word that began with a “b.”
“We all remember when the Liberals could not account for $1 billion in spending at HRSDC,” Mr. Mulcair mused. “Conservatives called it a $1 billion boondoggle.”
In fairness to poor Jane Stewart—and perhaps as a certain note of caution now—the billion-dollar boondoggle she came to be forever associated with was not actually worth nearly that much. Possibly it was something like $85,000. By one accounting, the total bill was $3,229. But then the “$3,229 boondoggle” is rather unalliterative.
“Will the Prime Minister hold his Minister of Public Safety accountable for this $3-billion boondoggle?” Mr. Mulcair asked, adopting something of a Preston Manning accent to pronounce this new boondoggle.
The Prime Minister stood here and declared all of this quite inaccurate. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 5:04 PM - 0 Comments
Nearer the end of Question Period this afternoon, the Speaker called on the Conservative MP for Vegreville-Wainwright and both Leon Benoit and another Conservative MP, Phil McColeman I believe, stood and began speaking. Only one of them, Mr. Benoit, is the member for Vegreville-Wainwright and eventually the other MP returned to his seat.
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber says Mr. Benoit was not on the government whip’s list of those backbenchers who would be asking questions this afternoon, meaning that Mr. Benoit had stood of his own volition, caught the Speaker’s eye and been recognized and possibly making him the first Conservative MP to do so since the Speaker’s ruling. Mr. Benoit has not yet confirmed as much himself, but here is the question he asked.
Mr. Speaker, development of our natural resources is very important for creating jobs, for adding to our economy, and for providing money for health care, education and other social programs. Opposition parties criticizing the government for not paying enough attention to protecting the environment as major projects like mines and pipelines are being developed are slowing this development, thus killing jobs and reducing funding for social programs. I would ask the Minister of Natural Resources for evidence that the government is in fact protecting the environment in the development of these major natural resource projects.
For the record, the response of Dave Anderson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources, was as follows.
Mr. Speaker, the National Energy Board in Canada is a strong, independent regulator. It is a world-class regulator that ensures pipeline safety. Our government has taken action to prevent pipeline accidents and to prove our ability to respond to any incidents that do occur. For example, we have increased the number of inspections of federally regulated pipelines by 50%. We have doubled the amount of annual audits. We have put forward new fines for companies that break Canada’s rigorous new environmental protections. We are there for Canadian communities. We are going to protect the environment and develop the economy at the same time.
Update 8:43am. Mr. Benoit’s office confirms he was not scheduled to ask a question.