By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 0 Comments
House leader Peter Van Loan with a basket of candy. WIll leave the captions…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:03 AM - 0 Comments
So Peter van Loan asked Speaker of the House Scheer to allow a test vote wherein the Conservatives vote down all of May’s amendments in one go. Think about this for a second. van Loan’s logic implies,
1) The government is blindly, dogmatically opposed to any change being proposed by an independent MP.
2) A government shouldn’t have to actually demonstrate this knee-jerk opposition through voting down everything May proposes. Instead they should just have to do it once.
3) The substance of the amendments is of zero importance. Even if all 80 amendments span totally different subjects and sections of legislation, they should all be grouped together as one *because of who proposed them.*
If Mr. Van Loan’s proposal were ever implemented, it would be a profound loss for parliamentary democracy in this country. It would cross a line that, however much it has been trampled, is still faintly there: we would be done even with the principle that the legislature and its individual members mattered as something other than pawns of the party leaders. You could argue that a single MP should not be able to prevent the House from passing legislation (consider the use of the filibuster in the United States), but that’s not the situation here. At most, Elizabeth May will have tied up the House for a day or so. I defer here to none other than Joe Oliver, who, during the vote marathon on C-38, acknowledged that the opposition had a right to force those votes and that the country was not imperilled as a result (scroll down to the 7:25pm entry).
Meanwhile, former Liberal house leader Don Boudria says the rules should be changed to limit the amendments that can be proposed at report stage. Of all the ways the House of Commons might be reformed, I’m not sure limiting the ability of the opposition to delay the passage of legislation should be anyone’s priority. The Conservatives apparently aren’t interested. Nor, really, should they be. One day, presumably, they will be in opposition. And someday, one imagines, they will want to delay a piece of legislation. Those members of the government side who were Reform MPs in 1999 will understand this very well.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM - 0 Comments
As per the Speaker’s ruling this morning, there will be a maximum of 47 votes on C-45 at report stage. For the sake of comparison, there were 157 votes required to get through C-38 in the spring.
The independent member’s motions are an interesting question. They require some attention, because the independent member does not sit on committee. However, they should not be dealt with in such a manner that they represent, effectively, a harassment of the balance of the House. Compared to the several hundred amendments proposed by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands in June, on Bill C-38, her proposals as of today’s date are slightly less unreasonable. However, the fact remains that the rights of individual members of Parliament must be balanced with the ability of the majority of the House to dispatch its business with some reasonable, practical speed. Allowing a single member of Parliament to hold the House hostage in a voting marathon is simply not reasonable.
I propose the following arrangement, which could, in future, extend to other government bills. Report stage motions submitted by a member of Parliament who is not part of a recognized party shall be selected in the manner provided for by our rules. The selected motions may be grouped for debate in the usual fashion. Subject to the next point, the voting patterns for the motions would be set in the usual manner, as required by the ordinary practices of considering legislative amendments. However, one amendment per independent member of Parliament would be chosen to be a test vote. The voting pattern for the rest of that independent member’s motions would only be implemented if the test motion were adopted. A rejection of the test motion would be inferred as a rejection of all that member’s proposals. Therefore, the balance of the independent member’s motions would not be put to the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Among Michael Chong’s objections to C-290, Joe Comartin’s sports betting bill, is the manner in which it passed the House. Via email, I asked him how the bill ended up passing unanimously. Here is his explanation.
I did not know it was going to be passed unanimously.
I made my intention to request a standing vote (and my opposition to the bill) known. Normally, that happens at end of the second hour of debate at third reading when members “stand five” to request a standing vote.
Report stage and first hour of debate at third reading took place on Friday, March 2nd. The second hour of debate was to have taken place several weeks later. That never happened because, that Friday, debate was forced to collapse, the question put and adopted unanimously.
As to why the members lined up to speak were told not to get up and speak thereby collapsing debate, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the House leaders.
Instead of two hours of debate at third reading, C-290 seems to have received 20 minutes of debate.
I asked the NDP if the party’s House leader or whip told any NDP MP not to speak to the bill. The NDP says no.
I asked Peter Van Loan’s office if Conservative members were told not to speak to C-290. The Government House leader’s office responded that “no one who opposed the bill sought an opportunity to speak on the day of debate in the House.”
(I’ve also asked the Liberals if any of their MPs were told to refrain from speaking and will post whatever I receive in response.)
Update 12:36pm. Liberal House leader Marc Garneau responds to my query.
As you know, Kevin Lamoureux did in fact speak from the Liberal side. No one else chose to speak. No MP was instructed not to speak and no direction to that effect came from either the Whip or House Leader.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon, the NDP sent up Robert Aubin to ask Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue about his portfolio. Mr. Penashue hasn’t been answering questions about his election campaign, but Government House leader Peter Van Loan pointed at Mr. Penashue to take this one. Only Mr. Penashue didn’t seem to get the message and so, after a couple of seconds, Mr. Van Loan pointed to Tony Clement, who then stood and responded.
The NDP tried again and Mr. Van Loan again pointed at Mr. Penashue and this Mr. Penashue got the message and stood and offered an awkward response. A third question about intergovernmental affairs was then directed to Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice. A final question, about Mr. Penashue’s election campaign, was taken by Pierre Poilievre, the designated government spokesman on questions of ethics.
Yesterday’s one response from Mr. Penashue was the first time he’s spoken in the House this fall and just the tenth time he’s spoken this year.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 3:13 PM - 0 Comments
On Tuesday afternoon, the NDP’s Kennedy Stewart rose during statements by members with the following.
Mr. Speaker, since returning from the summer session, Conservative MPs have been sullying this House with fabricated policies and outright untruths. The member for Lethbridge is the perfect example. Instead of representing his constituents in this House, he knowingly aids his Ottawa bosses in propagating these falsehoods. Canadians have become adept at recognizing when their tax dollars are being misused. When they see a member standing in this House to repeat statements they know are untrue, Canadians see right through it. The message is simple: the member thinks it is more important to stand and attack the NDP on behalf of his Ottawa bosses than represent his constituents. This misguided regurgitation of falsehoods by the Conservatives is nothing short of an embarrassment. I encourage the next speaker to find the courage to stand up and speak for her riding, do what is right for her constituents, what is right for this House and what is right for them.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Of all the festive games to be played on Halloween, shaming committee chairs is somewhat less messy than leaving a bag of flaming dog poop on a neighbour’s doorstep, but decidedly less fun than bobbing for apples. Alas, under the stodgy rules of parliamentary decorum, it was the best the NDP could offer this afternoon.
The New Democrats have been occupying themselves these days with attempting to convince various committees to take up study of C-45, the government’s latest budget bill. The Conservatives, soon after tabling the bill in the House, had said that they would allow the bill to be studied at 10 committees. The Conservatives vowed they would move a motion at the finance committee to do just that. But the New Democrats were apparently keen to see those studies commence post haste and so have been proposing motions hither and yon. Each of those efforts seems to have been stymied. And so now the New Democrats get to claim great umbrage.
“Mr. Speaker, this is simple,” Megan Leslie explained this afternoon. “A motion was proposed, we went in camera, and the motion never came out again.”
Ms. Leslie wondered if the chair of the environment committee—Conservative MP Mark Warawa—might stand and confirm that he was going to be scheduling hearings on C-45. To respond though stood Transport Minister Denis Lebel, who assured Ms. Leslie of the validity of the budget’s changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberals have an opposition day on Tuesday and they have tabled three options for the motion they will move that day, the first of which is just a little mischievous.
That the House agree with the comments of the Right Honourable Member for Calgary Southwest on March 25, 1994, when he criticized omnibus legislation, suggesting that the subject matter of such bills is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles and dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill; and that the House instruct the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to study what reasonable limits should be placed on the consideration of omnibus legislation and that the Committee report back its findings, including specific recommendations for legislative measures or changes to the Standing Orders, no later than December 10, 2012.
The first bit is reference to a point of order raised by a young Stephen Harper, in which the rookie Reform MP lamented for the abusive nature of omnibus bills that include various and unrelated measures. (I asked Peter Van Loan about the views of Young Stephen Harper at the time of the last budget implementation bill.)
The Liberals may well, of course, decide to pursue one of their other options—the motion on food safety, for instance, might be deemed more immediately relevant. But with a second budget implementation bill due anytime now, this could be a way to restart the debate on omnibus legislation.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
By my count, 57 Conservative MPs have used the phrase “carbon tax” in the House of Commons since the House returned on September 17 (a total of 12 sitting days). The prize for the most-prodigious talking-point spouter goes to Shelly Glover, who has referenced the phrase eight times (for the purposes of this study, I’m not counting multiple uses of the phrase in the same intervention). Peter Van Loan, Kellie Leitch and the Prime Minister himself have made seven interventions that included the phrase. Eve Adams is coming on strong though, using the phrase four times just yesterday.
If my math is correct, that leaves 105 Conservative MPs—excluding the Speaker—who have yet to demonstrate their loyalty to the cause.
Here, again, is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 2:59 PM - 0 Comments
Among the Conservaties who stood in the House this week and criticized the NDP’s stance on cap-and-trade were Kyle Seeback, Peter Van Loan, Gord Brown, Leon Benoit, Shelly Glover, Chris Warkentin, LaVar Payne, Gerry Ritz, Pierre Poilievre, Christian Paradis, Rick Dykstra, Randy Hoback, Pierre Lemieux, Ed Fast, Tony Clement and Andrew Saxton. These individuals—like Phil McColeman, Joe Preston and Ed Holder, who attacked the NDP last week—were all Conservative candidates in 2008 when the Conservative party platform included a commitment to pursue a continental cap-and-trade system.
Here, again, is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister wasn’t present for Question Period this afternoon. He had a photo op to attend to. As a result, it was Peter Van Loan’s responsibility to stand and lead the Conservative response this day. History will make notice of this only because it was under Mr. Van Loan’s leadership today that the Harper government fully embraced a satirical approach to political discourse.
After two Conservative MPs had been sent up to mouth this month’s talking point—Rick Dykstra deserves special mention for managing to accuse the NDP leader of both not backing down on cap-and-trade and not sufficiently defending it in the House—Thomas Mulcair stood and ventured his own version of events.
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Prime Minister what his government is doing to help the unemployed. The Prime Minister’s answer was bring in more temporary foreign workers,” Mr. Mulcair reported.
“Can the Prime Minister tell us,” the NDP leader asked this afternoon, “exactly how bringing in more temporary foreign workers will help unemployed Canadians find jobs?”
In response, Mr. Van Loan deferred to an impressive-sounding number (“770,000 net new jobs”) and scary-sounding monsters (“ job-killing carbon taxes”). Mr. Mulcair had some numbers of his own. ”Mr. Speaker, there are still over 300,000 more people unemployed today than before the 2008 recession. That is the fact,” Mr. Mulcair asserted. “Wrong! Wrong!” cried various Conservative voices.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
On a CBC panel yesterday afternoon—the relevant discussion starts at about the 5:40 mark—Peter Van Loan was asked about the difference between what the NDP proposed in 2011 and what the Conservatives proposed in 2008.
The difference, he said, is that the NDP is “looking to take revenue.” He then said there were lots of cap-and-trade systems across the world that don’t involve the government “taxing.”
As Stephen Gordon explained yesterday, there are two ways to do cap-and-trade: either the government sells pollution permits to companies and the government gets the revenue or the government gives away the permits to companies and the companies get the revenue from selling the permits to each other. Either way, the market establishes a price on carbon.
And there, at least so far as the Conservatives are concerned, is where any distinction disappears. Because a few hours before Mr. Van Loan spoke on television yesterday, Conservative MP John Williamson was up in the House, explaining as follows.
Cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon. That makes it a carbon tax.
Here, again, are the reasons why the current Conservative position is farcical.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 7:25 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. John Baird pointed at Thomas Mulcair and laughed.
Conservative MP Andrew Saxton was on his feet a couple rows back, claiming that the leader of the opposition had spent the summer promoting the idea of a tax on carbon. Mr. Baird apparently thought this was funny. Mr. Saxton had been preceded by Shelly Glover. And Mr. Saxton and Ms. Glover would be followed by Conservative MP John Williamson, all rising in the moments before Question Period to recite their assigned talking points.
Peter Van Loan had accused Mr. Mulcair of favouring a carbon tax this morning at a news conference to mark the start of the fall sitting. Two hours later, the Conservative party press office had then issued a “fact check” repeating the claim. Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney posted the talking point to Facebook. Tim Uppal, the minister of state for democratic reform, tweeted it. Minister of International Co-operation Julian Fantino tweeted it too.
Last week it was Conservative MPs Phil McColeman, Susan Truppe, Joe Preston and Ed Holder. The week before that it was Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Back in June, the Conservatives launched television attack ads that repeated the claim.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:45 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives promise another omnibus budget bill, Nathan Cullen mixes his metaphors.
“Will I be surprised if they play parliamentary games and obstruction? No, I won’t be,” Van Loan said in an interview. “I guess we’ll have to deal with that.” Indeed, the second budget bill — just like the first — will almost certainly face fierce resistance from opposition parties who say they’re prepared, if necessary, for another fight to stall the legislation and highlight its potential impacts on Canadians.
“They (the Conservatives) are hunkering down again. I guess they didn’t take any lessons from what happened in the spring,” said NDP House leader Nathan Cullen. “These guys are pretty obstinate. They believe their orders come from on high.” Cullen said the NDP has asked for meetings with Van Loan to discuss the Tories’ priorities for the fall session, but have been turned down. “I hope they put some water in their wine,” he said, before adding: “We don’t mind going toe-to-toe.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
A short history of Conservatives speaking excitedly about the creation of a parliamentary budget officer.
Stephen Harper, October 6, 2004. We believe that an independent, non-partisan parliamentary budget office should produce forecasts of revenues and spending which are universally available and accepted by all parties and experts of all stripes. Such a body would ensure that the government is genuinely accountable for taxpayers’ dollars and that we maintain fiscal discipline at the federal level.
Monte Solberg, October 7, 2004. We want to argue very strongly that this independent parliamentary budgeting office be established much in the same way that the Auditor General’s office is established. It would be an independent body that would answer to Parliament and would not be part of the government. It would not be a situation where the government could manipulate the figures to its own ends. Independent officers of Parliament would make these determinations so that in the end the public, the markets and all concerned could have confidence in these numbers and know that this was not some great manipulation that was going on for the political benefit of the government. Surely, in a modern democracy I do not think that is an unreasonable request. In fact it makes eminent sense. This is nothing new. It happens in other countries. It happens certainly to the south of us, our closest trading partner. We have the congressional budgeting office where political parties really cannot play political games with the numbers because they come from an independent body. That is what we want to see, and it is reasonable.
Ted Menzies, November 15, 2005. The need for an open flow of information to Canadians can be secured by establishing a parliamentary budget office and the immediate need to provide Canadians strong, more transparent auditing and accountability laws for the federal government.
John Baird, April 6, 2006. One of the most important roles of Parliament is to hold the Government of Canada to account for the use of taxpayers’ dollars. To do this effectively, parliamentarians need objective and fact-based information on how the government spends funds. That will be an important part to the parliamentary budget authority that we will propose next week.
Diane Ablonczy, April 26, 2006. There would also be an independent parliamentary budget authority that would provide a financial reality check on the nation’s finances. This individual would also provide a reality check on proposals by House of Commons committees and proposals in private members’ bills. Again, because numbers that have been given to the House in different other settings have been, shall we say, not as reliable as they should be, we will put another reality check and another balance in place.
Peter Van Loan, February 15, 2008. In an e-mailed statement, Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan said the parliamentary budget officer will be free to provide “objective analysis” of budget and economic issues as they see fit. The budget officer reports to the Speakers of the Commons and Senate, not the government, he said. ”The government is committed to respecting the independence of the [position], and to providing this office with whatever information and assistance it requires to fulfill its important mandate.”
Peter Van Loan, March 14, 2008. “As promised in the Federal Accountability Act, the Parliamentary Budget Officer will provide independent analysis to Canadians on the state of the nation’s finances,” said Minister Van Loan. “With his expertise in economics, Mr. Page is a fine choice to fill this position.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 5:55 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. “Mr. Speaker, this spring we saw the Conservatives abandon the very principles they claim they came to Ottawa to defend,” Thomas Mulcair declared this afternoon. “Ramming through their Trojan Horse budget bill.”
“Wrong!” called Conservative MP Jeff Watson.
“Gutting their own Federal Accountability Act,” Mr. Mulcair continued.
“Wrong!” chirped Watson.
“Treating their backbench MPs like a rubber stamp,” Mr. Mulcair went on.
“Double wrong!” Watson cried.
“Using closure a record number of times,” Mr. Mulcair proceeded to general grumbling and mumbling from the government side, “electoral fraud, slush funds and, of course, ministers travelling the world staying in luxury hotels and taking $23,000 limo rides on the taxpayers’ dime.”
On all of this the leader of the opposition had two questions. “How can a former member of the Reform Party defend this behaviour?” he asked. “This summer, will the Prime Minister just shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic or will he get his Conservative cabinet under control?”
This being the last Question Period for nearly three months, it was now Mr. Harper’s turn to impart best wishes for the summer ahead. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:44 PM - 0 Comments
Picking up where the discussion left off yesterday, Nathan Cullen returned to his point of privilege this afternoon after QP, repeating his concern that MPs are not receiving the information they need to assess C-38.
Peter Van Loan, Elizabeth May and Wayne Easter added their interventions.
Below, the transcript. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. For an omnibus bill, an omnibus question.
“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives’ Trojan Horse budget will slash vital public services that Canadians rely on: food inspections, border security, research and development, housing, health care, employment insurance, Old Age Security. The list goes on and on,” Thomas Mulcair reported.
There were grumbles and objections from the government side.
“The Conservatives cannot even tell Parliament the details of their own proposals or how much they will cost. If the Conservatives are so proud of all these cuts, why are they hiding them?” the leader of the opposition asked, the first of three questions tabled with his opening opportunity. “Why are they ramming them through? If they are so good, why not study them?”
Here Peter Van Loan stood and asserted that which apparently renders all else moot. ”As a result of our Economic Action Plan, consistently opposed by the NDP, we have delivered for Canadians over 760,000 net new jobs so far,” the Government House leader sang. “Economic Action Plan 2012 continues on that path.”
It is a wonder we went so many years referring to that annual document of federal accounting as a “budget.” Such a dreadful word, it practically begged for Orwellian adjustment. It is further to wonder why the finance minister hasn’t been redubbed the Economic Action Minister. Or why the government has stopped with “economic action.” Why not the Bountiful Riches And Everlasting Happiness Plan for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Canada? Jim Flaherty could start calling himself Captain Awesome.
In any event, this was mere segue. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen rose after QP this afternoon on a point of privilege to argue that the Conservatives were in breach of the House for failing to disclose information about spending cuts to be carried out as a result of C-38.
Here is a copy of the letter Mr. Cullen sent to Speaker Scheer earlier today to explain his concerns.
And here is the transcript of Mr. Cullen’s comments in the House (and Peter Van Loan’s response). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 6:58 PM - 0 Comments
A statement released this afternoon by Government House leader Peter Van Loan.
“The Harper Government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Our Government’s economic policies have made Canada an island of stability in a troubled global economy. Our Economic Action Plan has helped create nearly 760,000 net new jobs since July 2009.
The global economy is fragile and challenges remain – as witnessed by ongoing events in Europe. Canada is not immune to these global challenges. The NDP and Liberals want to send billions of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars to bail out European banks. The NDP and Liberals’ dangerous economic incompetence is a threat to Canada’s economic recovery.
Unfortunately, the NDP and Liberals are putting their narrow partisan interests ahead of Canadian families and jobs. The NDP and Liberals are continuing their efforts to delay and obstruct the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act. This important legislation supports job creation, responsible resource development, small businesses and vital sectors of the economy. The bill has already received the longest House debate and Committee consideration of any budget bill in over two decades.
Our Government has been moving forward with this important economic initiative in Parliament in an orderly, productive and hard-working way. The NDP and Liberals’ obstruction and delay is a threat to Canada’s economic growth and prosperity.
As the global recovery remains fragile – especially in Europe – Canadians want their government to focus on what matters: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. We are doing exactly that by implementing Economic Action Plan 2012.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
During yesterday’s QP, Bob Rae put Dominic LeBlanc’s heckle on the record.
Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government House leader announced, in all solemnity, that the Department of Foreign Affairs had conducted a full and open competition with respect to the cost of $20,000 limos in Davos, Switzerland. If the government can conduct a full and open competition for limousines in Davos, can the government please tell us why it cannot have a full and open competition for a $9 billion purchase of F-35 planes?
Peter Van Loan: Mr. Speaker, as we know, Canada’s aging CF-18 aircraft are nearing the end of their lifetimes. Therefore it is necessary, if people believe in supporting the military, something the Liberals do not have a record of doing, as we do by purchasing new equipment and by providing them with the equipment they need to do their jobs, to make a commitment to purchasing those aircraft. We have established a secretariat to deal with the purchase of new aircraft to meet those needs. We have in place a seven-point plan that deals with the best process to ensure the military gets the equipment it needs and taxpayers’ interests are protected.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly after 4:30pm this afternoon, Government House leader Peter Van Loan rose in the House to respond to Elizabeth May’s point of order. Ms. May then rose and suggested that Mr. Van Loan had missed her point.
Below, the transcript of their exchange. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:34 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP pressed the government again yesterday afternoon to explain the limo tab of three ministers who attended the Davos conference last year. Peter Van Loan’s explanation is that the vehicles in question were selected after a “competitive” process. This explanation prompted a voice from the Liberal corner—belonging to Dominic LeBlanc, I believe—to yell a query at the Government House leader.
You had a competition for limos, but not for fighter jets?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Apparently something of a fussy TV critic, Thomas Mulcair seemed not to appreciate the Stephen Harper’s demeanour during last night’s showing of “The Prime Minister & The Queen (And The Continent That Is Like A Plane That Is Running Out Of Runway).”
“Mr. Speaker, last night in London” Mr. Mulcair reported, seeming to sound out the city’s name in a certain la-de-da tone, “the Prime Minister mused about catastrophic events about to hit the Canadian economy. He laughed about Canadians having to face the most volatile stock market since the Great Depression.”
There were groans from the government benches.
On the matter of the stock market, the Prime Minister did seem to smile, perhaps in hopes of projecting reassurance or confidence or so as not to scare the Boomers watching at home who are fretting about their RRSPs. Mr. Harper did also seem to acknowledge that the last time Peter Mansbridge asked him about the markets, the Prime Minister had perhaps not expressed himself that well. But to suggest he had openly guffawed seems to apply a loose measure of frivolity.
In any event, the leader of the opposition was most interested in whether the Prime Minister had a plan for the next recession. And, if so, what was in that plan. To answer this stood Peter Van Loan, the Government House leader having apparently come away quite moved by last night’s broadcast. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM - 0 Comments
While she took a short break from the House this morning, the Green MP and I spoke about C-38 and her point of order. In the process, as you will see, she corrected my own mistaken impression of what yesterday’s intervention sought.
Q: When did you first start to think about moving this point of order?
A: To tell you the truth, last year. If you want to go back to Hansard, my very first question in Question Period, last June, was to Jim Flaherty to ask whether he planned to put forward an omnibus bill with many measures. And the response was no. And I was very relieved and I went to him afterwards and I said, so really, it’s not going to be one of these big ones? Because I hadn’t been in the House obviously—I wrote extensively on it, I read the bills, I blogged about them, in 2009 and 2010, that these were outrageous. So it’s been on my radar for a long time, that under Stephen Harper, obviously omnibus bills have come up before, that’s why there’s a lot of precedent for me to go through in Hansard, but really nothing like this, nothing like the last few years. I actually anticipated that Peter Van Loan might say, as he did yesterday, we’ve had much longer bills. Yeah. But only yours. And not ever challenged. There are no Speaker’s rulings on the omnibus budget bills of 2009, 2010. So the first piece of research that I asked the parliamentary library to do for me last year was on the procedural rules around omnibus budget bills. Because if there had been one last summer and I was so sure there would be one. And then I actually voted for the budget implementation bill last year because it was very clever, it was a series of measures that nobody could be against. It was removing the GST and HST on the sale of poppies to the Canadian Legion and reducing the licensing and fees required to operate a canoe or kayak. I mean, I’m not kidding, it was a bundling together of friendly moves. And it wasn’t unanimously passed, but I did vote for it. This time around, I didn’t expect this, I have to say. Having read the budget, the budget was quite bad enough that I wasn’t thinking, oh, I bet they’ll do worse in the budget implementation bill. Somehow it had receded in my mind. But the research had been done by the parliamentary library. Now, of course, I did substantially more research than the summary I got from the parliamentary library, but at least I had a grounding in the topic. Continue…