By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
The NDP’s Randall Garrison stood and declared the country to be taken aback.
“Canadians across the country are shocked that he personally approved filming immigration raids for reality TV,” Mr. Garrison reported, referring to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. “This is not some episode of Cops. These are real people and real officers doing a dangerous job. Filming is exploitative and can put individuals in danger.”
The producers of Border Security might rather Mr. Garrison describe their show as “a dynamic documentary series that offers viewers a front row seat to high stakes, bizarre reveals, and comical conflicts that are part of everyday life for border security officers,” but “real people and real officers doing a dangerous job” might easily be clipped for the next promotional poster.
“How could the minister be so reckless?” Mr. Garrison wondered. “Will he take responsibility and put an immediate end to this dangerous and offensive PR stunt?”
The New Democrats stood to applaud this query.
The concern here involves the presence of television cameras during the recent arrest of eight migrant workers in British Columbia—part of a reality TV show on the National Geographic channel (home as well of Wicked Tuna and Doomsday Preppers), as formally endorsed by Mr. Toews. Continue…
By Julie Smyth - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
Young MPs challenge attitudes about relationships between politicians and staffers
It has always been taboo for MPs to date staff, but the orange wave that brought a slate of young female politicians to Ottawa has changed the dating dynamic on Parliament Hill.
Rosane Doré Lefebvre, a 28-year-old Quebec NDP MP, is expecting a baby with her partner, George Soule, 32, a press secretary in the Opposition leader’s office. They kept the relationship quiet for a while, then got the party’s blessing for their continued romance—even though there are no specific rules mandating political staff or MPs seek approval to date within the NDP, or any other party for that matter. “Initially it was, ‘Okay, this thing happened,’ and then it became more serious. I spoke to the chief of staff. We wanted this to be more than just something that we hid and I didn’t want to do anything that would be a problem for the party,” Soule said during an interview in Doré Lefebvre’s office. “I think at the beginning I was a little bit nervous just in general about even dating an MP and what that would mean.”
Such relationships have been discouraged in the past because Parliament Hill has traditionally been dominated by older male MPs and young female staff members. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:14 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Rosane Doré Lefebrve wondered if the Public Safety Minister, given yesterday’s tone, might like to apologize to the family of Ashley Smith. The New Democrats present stood to applaud this suggestion.
Vic Toews stood and reported to the House as follows.
“Mr. Speaker, let me be clear on what I said,” he said. “This is a very sad case and our thoughts go out to Ms. Smith’s family. Some of the behaviour seen in these videos is absolutely unacceptable. Our government has directed Correctional Service Canada to fully co-operate with the coroner’s inquest.”
Ms. Doré Lefebrve was not impressed. ”Mr. Speaker, this is not really an apology, but that’s probably all he is capable of doing,” she scolded.
There were groans from the government side.
Hopefully Mr. Toews’ aim yesterday was not to scare opposition MPs away from this subject. It seemed, instead, to have had the opposite effect. Where on Tuesday afternoon, the case of Ashley Smith was not raised until the ninth opportunity, today it was the subject of five of the first eight questions. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. After eight questions about other matters, the House returned to the serious matter of Ashley Smith.
“Mr. Speaker, in her 11 and a half months in federal custody, Ashley Smith was involved in 160 use of force incidents. She was subjected to a barrage of inhumane treatment: pepper spray, tasering, duct tape, and chemical restraints,” the NDP’s Randall Garrison recounted. “We know our correction system failed Ashley Smith, and we know the correctional investigator has put forward basic recommendations to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. Once again I ask the minister, will he commit today to fully implementing these recommendations on dealing with mental illness in our correction system so there are no more tragedies like Ashley Smith?”
It was Vic Toews’ responsibility to take this. “Mr. Speaker, this is a very sad case. Our thoughts go out to Ms. Smith’s family,” the Public Safety Minister offered. “This tragedy continues to show that individuals with mental health issues do not belong in prisons but in professional facilities. At the same time, our government continues to take concrete steps on the issue of mental health in prison. Since 2006, we have invested nearly $90 million in mental health for prisoners and we have taken action to improve access to mental health treatment and training for staff.”
The NDP’s Rosane Doré Lefebrve stood and seemed to suggest that a tragedy was not the word to describe Ms. Smith’s fate: that this was not an accident that couldn’t have been predicted. “In the case of Ashley Smith, and too many women with mental illness, you could see it coming,” she said. She then restated the question. “It’s been a week since the NDP has been asking questions about the subject, whether the Conservatives will implement the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator of Canada,” she said. “Will the Conservatives follow the advice of the Correctional Investigator of Canada, yes or no?”
Mr. Toews managed two sentences in response—”Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with the correctional investigator. We review all of his recommendations.”—before turning the matter on the NDP. Nine months removed from explaining that opposition MPs could stand with the Conservatives or stand with child pornographers, Mr. Toews now fretted that the NDP was insufficiently conscious of the victims of crime. Continue…
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 - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday, the NDP’s Rosane Dore Lefebrve asked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews if he would put new airport surveillance measures on hold until an assessment could be conducted. Mr. Toews assured the New Democrat that “the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians are respected at all times,” but otherwise avoided answering the question directly.
A few moments later, Liberal MP Scott Simms asked if Mr. Toews would refer the issue to the privacy commissioner. Mr. Toews repeated his assurance and invited Mr. Simms to contact the privacy commissioner if he was concerned.
If the member wants the privacy commissioner to look at any practices inside the CBSA in this respect, I would invite him to make that request. I do not think CBSA has anything to hide.
Today, Mr. Toews seems to have decided to go ahead and do that himself.
A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he has told the Canada Border Services Agency to halt audio monitoring until a study of the privacy implications is complete. Julie Carmichael says Toews wants a privacy impact assessment from the border agency and recommendations from the federal privacy commissioner … Carmichael says it is important for agencies to have the right tools to catch smugglers and criminals. But she adds it is equally important that these tools do not unduly infringe on individuals’ privacy.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. From the far southwest corner of the room, Conservative MP Wai Young wondered aloud whether New Democrat MP Rosane Doré Lefebvre had children.
“Do you have children?” she asked, loudly, of Ms. Doré Lefebvre, who stood in her spot in the opposite corner.
“Do you have children?” Ms. Young repeated.
“You don’t have children!” she concluded.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre was, at the time, attempting to challenge the Heritage Minister on his opposition to an exhibit about sex at the local science museum. Apparently Ms. Young objected to Ms. Doré Lefebvre’s criticism. Apparently Ms. Young considered the question of whether or not Ms. Doré Lefebvre was currently raising children to be somehow relevant to this discussion.
Afterwards, Nathan Cullen rose and suggested that perhaps Ms. Young’s comments were inappropriate and an apology thus in order. Eventually, and shortly after first declining to do so, Ms. Young did apologize. The House then moved on to a discussion of when and how a member might properly use the adjectives “stupid” and “ignorant.”