By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 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 - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 5:45 PM - 0 Comments
While the Conservatives lament via news release, four Conservative ministers tweet their best wishes.
Jason Kenney Congratulations to MP Jinny Sims on her appointment as my new (NDP) Critic for HM Loyal Opposition. Jinny’s smart, articulate & hard-working
Lisa Raitt Congratulations to MP Alexandre Boulerice the new critic for the Labour portfolio from HM Loyal Opposition.
James Moore Congratulations to Pierre Nantel, new Heritage Critic for the NDP. Looking forward to the debates ahead.
Pierre Poilievre Congrats to Olivia Chow on reappointment to Transport file. As NDP critic, she is tough and smart.
See previously: How this works
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Nycole Turmel wanted to talk about the apparently impending confession of Pierre Poutine. Pierre Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph. Ms. Turmel wanted to propose a public inquiry. Mr. Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph.
Switching to English, Ms. Turmel presented an itemized list of grievances.
“Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said he wants to change the culture of Ottawa,” he noted. “Changing the culture, like replacing Liberal scandals with Conservative scandals? A culture where people can rig elections? A culture where the Prime Minister does not answer questions? A culture with no accountability, no transparency? A culture of denial and partisan attacks? If the Prime Minister wanted to change the culture, he must take responsibility. Will he?”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
During QP yesterday, Pierre Poilievre stood and relayed a remark of the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding.
That sentence is taken from a memo that was released by Elections Canada, though heavily redacted, through an access to information request. For the record, the full observation reads as follows.
There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the final result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.
That memo is dated May 16. Two months later, the Chief Electoral Officer released his official report on the 41st general election. Under the heading “Electoral law enforcement,” Marc Mayrand explains that the commissioner received 1,003 communications. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM - 0 Comments
He chopped and swiped with his hand. He pumped his fist and jabbed his finger. He raised his voice and he scolded and he challenged and he dismissed. How dare the NDP, they who once propagated a phone campaign that directed disenchanted voters to call Lise St. Denis’s office, accuse him of wrongdoing. Who were they to stand here and challenge him? And with what evidence exactly? And the Liberals, they having recently employed someone who posted to Twitter excerpts of the Public Safety Minister’s divorce proceedings—perhaps they might just go ahead and apologize to the government for suggesting anything untoward.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 3:42 PM - 0 Comments
The government’s investments weren’t as advertised, but the future looks expensive. Supply management was put on the table and duly debated. The Royal Society asked us to think about euthanasia, but no one wanted to talk about it. The Conservative party has some reimbursements it might return. The NDP got set to debate itself as the contenders peddled their thoughts. The Liberals offered to realign the House at no extra expense. And a multi-party committee came together to consider matters of life and death. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM - 6 Comments
New Democrat MP Mathieu Ravignat asked yesterday whether the government would be pursuing the Conservative Party of Canada for the rebates it received as part of the In-and-Out scheme. Pierre Poilievre answered for the government.
Mr. Speaker, I thought the honourable member was rising today to apologize on behalf of the NDP. Just last week the NDP had to admit that it broke the Canadian election law, that it violated the law in attempting to use the power of the political donation tax credit in order to fund a third party organization. It did so in violation of the law. It has now had to admit it. On this side of the House, every single Conservative accused of wrongdoing has now been cleared. We are very pleased with the outcome. We will continue to stand by the fact that we followed all the rules.
In the case of the NDP’s violation—offering the party as a conduit for donations to the Broadbent Institute in Jack Layton’s memory—the commissioner of Elections Canada has confirmed that all improper donations were returned by the party.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 14, 2011 at 7:04 PM - 14 Comments
The Scene. After some hurling of invective over other issues, the House turned to the matter of Dean Del Mastro’s apparent willingness to upend the constitutional order by which this country has functioned for more than 144 years.
“Mr. Speaker, in the past month the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has been called out by the Canadian judiciary, the Ethics Commissioner, the bar association, but now the senior law clerk of the House of Commons is warning that his behaviour at committee is interfering in the independence of the courts that is both unconstitutional and ‘unlawful,’ ” the NDP’s Charlie Angus reported. “Either the government respects the constitutional limits of Parliament or it does not.”
In his seat across the way, Mr. Del Mastro slapped his own hand and laughed.
“I have a simple question,” Mr. Angus declared. “Will the government rein in this rogue member, yes or no?”
It was here Heritage Minister James Moore’s responsibility to clarify that it was, in fact, Mr. Del Mastro’s duty to do as he has been doing. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 4:27 PM - 3 Comments
Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport, responding this afternoon to the NDP’s Alexander Boulerice, who asked if the government would allow a parliamentary inquiry into the G8 Legacy Fund to proceed.
Mr. Speaker, there already has been an inquiry into it. There has been an exhaustive review by the interim Auditor General. If I could quote a truly great Canadian, “The facts have not changed.” Everyone could take a moment now to recognize that truly great Canadian, ladies and gentlemen, the honourable member for Calgary East.
The member for Calgary East is Deepak Obhrai, who was, until yesterday, the Conservative MP assigned to handle questions about the G8 Legacy Fund when John Baird is absent from the House.
Today’s round of Legacy Fund questions after the jump. 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 Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 7:44 PM - 100 Comments
The Scene. Shortly after 3:30 pm, the Speaker rose and over the next 17 minutes neatly explained how he had come to find that the government had breached the privileges of the House of Commons for the second and third times in 12 months. Charges of contempt may now follow.
So there. And so what now?
Just an hour before Mr. Milliken’s latest decisions, there was a great burst of laughter, seemingly from a member of the government side, when a Liberal dared report one of last night’s votes as an expression of the “Canadian people’s House.” Perhaps his seatmate had, at that precise moment, told him a very funny, but entirely unrelated, joke. Hopefully that’s all it was. But if we’ve come to the point where the very words seem humorous, the very notion ridiculous—and to no less than a member of this place—then we perhaps have a larger problem. One that no ruling of the Speaker will be able to remedy.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 6:34 PM - 222 Comments
The Scene. Mr. Harper’s government, as the government of Canada is now to be known, stands accused of various breaches. Of violating electoral law when it won office. Of withholding information demanded of it by Parliament. Of employing a minister who has misled Parliament. Of employing a minister who has misused government resources for his party’s gain. Of paying an exorbitant amount of money to disappear a woman who once held the title of “integrity commissioner.” And yes, of renaming the federal government in the Prime Minister’s own surname.
And so, of course, the government side this afternoon was as gleeful and aggressive as it has ever been. It roared and cheered and mocked and jeered. It laughed and lashed at its critics, it delighted in itself. It was loud and proud.
Mr. Harper sat and smiled and shared the odd chuckle. He reclined as best he could in his chair and fiddled with the cord of his desk’s earpiece. When he stood to answer the Liberal leader’s charges, he shrugged and sighed. If he was the least bit concerned, a tiny bit chastened, it was impossible to tell.
But, of course, he hardly ever appears daunted by such stuff. Indeed, if there is one thing that defines this Prime Minister it is his unrelenting undauntedness, his undaunting relentlessness. He is a man of the post-shame world. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM - 121 Comments
The Scene. Aside from the obvious, what is the difference between Jason Kenney and Bev Oda?
Two weeks ago, the latter became the subject of various questions related to the ethical standards by which she takes her ministerial responsibilities. And so she sat. And sat. And sat. And sat. And sat some more. And when she did finally stand, she didn’t have much of anything to say.
Last week, the former became the subject of various questions related to the ethical standards by which he takes his ministerial responsibilities. And so, today, he stood and stood and stood and stood some more. Indeed, of the eight questions posed on the matter this afternoon, Mr. Kenney answered (or at least responded to) each and every one.
Perhaps the government took an operational decision to spare Mr. Kenney the sort of mockery that Ms. Oda had endured. Perhaps they have recently revived their commitment to ministerial accountability. Perhaps from now on there’ll be no more hiding of ministers in plain sight.
All of which would certainly go to what the Conservative side is fond of claiming: that it is a government of standards. That it, no matter how loudly the likes of Ralph Goodale protest, regards its responsibilities quite seriously. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM - 38 Comments
The Scene. To his credit, Pierre Poilievre, the fresh-faced and ambitious young parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, does not take himself too seriously.
“We are building the country,” he sighed in response to a Liberal question this afternoon about the in-and-out affair, “rather than tearing people down.”
Now so long as you have paid even a little attention—or watched even a little television—these last five years, you will understand this to be a hilarious statement. Indeed, so long as you do not believe Mr. Poilievre to be completely delusional, you must regard this statement as an attempt by Mr. Poilievre to make a joke—a knowing wink, a cheeky taunt.
Mind you, the punchline here is not merely that the government side hardly lives up to the genteel principles of respect and manners invoked by Mr. Poilievre. Rather, the joke here is that it’s all a joke. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:07 PM - 99 Comments
The Scene. Bev Oda stood this to day to audibly commit various words to the official record. Really, it was the least she could do.
In keeping with the government side’s “operational decision,” John Baird stood to take the first two questions asked of the International Cooperation Minister this afternoon, but then the Liberals asked generally about the functioning of Canada’s development agency. Here Ms. Oda motioned to Mr. Baird that she could take this one and so she stood and mouthed various platitudes.
Then though, Liberal Anita Neville stood with her supplementary, wondering if, while she had the minister’s attention, she might ask some questions specific to the handling of KAIROS. And so she did. And so Ms. Oda apparently felt compelled to stand again. What followed from her had absolutely and precisely nothing to do with the particular issue at hand. But she spoke words. And she did so while standing. And that was apparently more than enough for members of the government side to leap up and applaud her when she’d finished.
Less enthusiastic was the response to another day of questions about how the Conservatives funded their campaign for high office in 2006. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:04 PM - 141 Comments
The Scene. Imagine, if you will, that it was 2003 and several Liberal party officials, two of them sitting senators, were accused of violating the election laws of this country. Imagine that a department of government created by the prime minister had decided to pursue charges in this regard. And imagine that, in responses to questions about this matter in the House of Commons, the prime minister sent up his parliamentary secretary with something like the following.
“Mr. Speaker, this is, of course, a five-year-old accounting dispute.”
Imagine how incensed Stephen Harper, seated across the way in the opposition leader’s chair, would have been to hear such a response, how angrily he would have condemned this as galling and outrageous and unacceptable. Indeed, imagine how he might have waxed philosophic about democracy and the moral authority to govern.
Good thing then that Mr. Harper was absent this day, away from the House of Commons as his parliamentary secretary, Pierre Poilievre, stood to say this much on the Conservative party’s behalf. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 6:55 PM - 101 Comments
The Scene. At the risk of giving away the surprise ending, let us start with this afternoon’s profound revelation. You may wish to sit down first and are advised to put on a helmet or some other kind of cranial reinforcement to prepare for the fact that what was revealed here today may well blow your precious mind. Moments of such insight into the meaning and workings of the world that surrounds us are so rare. Indeed, it is possible that some of you may not yet be prepared to process and accept what was made clear to those of us in the House this afternoon.
But let us now say and hear what needs to be said and heard. Let us be honest with ourselves and each other. And, specifically, let us know this: according to a national organization whose stated purpose is to advocate on behalf of independent business owners, most of this country’s business owners would prefer to pay less in taxes on the revenues their businesses generate. Not more, less. Surely not since the Canadian Federation of Independent Little Girls announced in 1925 that its members would not, if offered, be adverse to accepting the gift of a pony has our understanding of human behaviour been so fundamentally altered.
And let the record show that it was Pierre Poilievre—a man they call “Skippy”—who brought this reckoning upon us. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office helpfully assures the country that Pierre Poilievre is not a threat to national security.
“He was in a rush and what he did was wrong but he recognizes that, he apologized for it and we think that’s appropriate,” said Harper’s spokesman Andrew MacDougall. “When they say security breach, it’s not like he smuggled in explosives or something,” he said.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, May 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM - 4 Comments
MPs from all parties joined the long lineup on the Hill to pay homage…
MPs from all parties joined the long lineup on the Hill to pay homage to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champ and Quebec native Georges St-Pierre. He was invited to the Hill by Heritage Minister James Moore. Below, left to right, Moore, St-Pierre and NDP MP Glenn Thibeault.
Treasury Board President Stockwell Day with St-Pierre.
Liberal MPs Navdeep Bains (left) and Justin Trudeau duke it out.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 6:20 PM - 44 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister’s empty chair did not seem likely to answer, but Michael Ignatieff went ahead anyway and wondered whether Mr. Harper might commit to restoring the funding of 11 women’s groups whose cuts came a day after a Conservative senator profanely advised an audience of aggrieved advocates to mind their p’s and q’s.
John Baird stood in Mr. Harper’s place to claim both facts and platitudes. ”Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear,” he said, “this government is giving a record amount of funding to support women’s groups. We do have one big criteria, we want less talk and more action.”
The House was left to judge the applicability of this. Mr. Ignatieff was not satisfied and rose again to expand on his exposition.
“Mr. Speaker, when women’s groups speak out, they get their funding cut,” he reviewed. “When public servants like Richard Colvin testify, they get smeared. When independent watchdogs try to do their job, they get fired. When Parliament asks tough questions, the Conservatives shut the Parliament down. When will the Conservative Party and the government stop intimidating their critics and start listening to them?”
There was much whining and yapping from the government side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 3:53 PM - 4 Comments
Rock Plaza Central, critically acclaimed for their songs about robot horses, make a protest video (sort of featuring our own Andrew Coyne).
Lead singer Chris Eaton explains.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, February 5, 2010 at 5:59 PM - 9 Comments
A special reception was held on the Hill to mark the beginning of Black …
A special reception was held on the Hill to mark the beginning of Black History Month. This year marked the 150th anniversary of William Hall receiving the Victoria Cross. He was the first black person, first Nova Scotian, and first Canadian sailor to receive the award. A special stamp was unveiled to honour Hall.
Liberal MP Marlene Jennings (centre) and Bloc MP Nicole Demers.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM - 25 Comments
The Hill Times discovers that Rob Nicholson was vice-chair of a Parliamentary committee that, in 1988, advised against pursuing mandatory minimums. Mr. Nicholson’s director of communications attempts to explain the distance between that report and the Justice Minister’s current rhetoric.
Geneviève Breton, Mr. Nicholson’s (Niagara Falls, Ont.) director of communications, said in an email to The Hill Times that the justice system and the drug world are different than they were 22 years ago, and therefore the government’s response has also changed …”Parliament is expected to draft and enact laws that clearly articulate the legislators’ intent, which is reflective of the values of the citizens who elected them. It is the role of the legislator to give guidance to the judiciary on maximum penalties, as well as on minimum penalties. For certain offences, our Government firmly believes that a minimum period of incarceration is justified,” Ms. Breton stated.
By Scott Feschuk - Monday, December 21, 2009 at 6:01 AM - 25 Comments
UPDATE: SeanStok wins! Take an e-bow, Sean. Thanks to all for your definitions and your votes: the Monday caption challenge resumes in the new year.
Using only my instincts (and the bones of 14 chickens), I’ve selected three finalists for the 2009 Definition Challenge. Do what you will with them. Winner gets a $50 Amazon.ca gift certificate and, in the spirit of the holidays, a purple nurple*.
* Gift certificate optional.
Meanwhile, the caption challenge and mailbag are taking a holiday hiatus. The merriest of the season to you all. I’ll be the guy at the Continue…