By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Furious David Christopherson stood and invoked original sin.
“Mr. Speaker, on February 17, the Prime Minister answered in the House that: ‘All senators conform to the residency requirements,’ ” the NDP deputy recalled.
Mr. Christopherson would seem to have the date wrong, but otherwise the Prime Minister does seem to have said this.
“The Senate audit report contradicted this and concluded that Senator Duffy’s primary residence was Ottawa not P.E.I. Yet when the final report was tabled, this key paragraph had been erased,” the New Democrat now charged. “Last night, we learned that the Prime Minister’s former communications director, now a senator, helped whitewash the Duffy report. Can the government tell us whether anyone in the PMO was aware that this report contradicted their Prime Minister?”
In an alternate universe, of course, Mike Duffy was never appointed to the Senate to represent Prince Edward Island. In a third, and even better, universe, there was never even a Senate to which to appoint him.
It was here James Moore’s duty to stand and lead the government response, John Baird apparently elsewhere recovering from having to stand 23 times yesterday.
“Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Senate report does reflect the findings of the auditor, the auditor, by the way, that both the opposition and the government agreed should be brought in, an independent, outside auditor,” Mr. Moore offered with the first of 22 responses for him this afternoon. “The report reflected that finding. I understand, of course, that new questions have been raised. That is why the Senate is looking at the matter again, and that is also why the Ethics Commissioner is looking into this, as is the Office of the Senate Ethics Commission.”
And to them you can apparently add the RCMP.
“These questions are being raised,” Mr. Moore continued. “They are being put forward. They will be answered.”
It is nice to think that they might, because as of now there are almost only questions without answers. And while new questions do indeed continue to be raised about this and that and who did or did not do whatever however, the question that has been with us since nine days ago when CTV reported the existence of some kind of arrangement between Mr. Duffy and Nigel Wright remains primary.
What the hell happened here? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM - 0 Comments
The afternoon was not without new clarification. Or at least an attempt at such.
Picking up where yesterday had left off, Thomas Mulcair endeavoured to sort out the precise value of John Baird’s assurance that the matter of Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy had been referred to two independent authorities.
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday afternoon, 11 times the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the Duffy affair was going to be investigated by independent authorities, independent bodies, independent officers. When my colleague, the House Leader of the Official Opposition asked him what those were, he could not give an answer,” Mr. Mulcair recounted. “Twice during the afternoon the Prime Minister’s Office said that they were referring to the Senate’s Ethics Officer. Later it corrected that to say that it is the Senate committee, the same one that whitewashed Mike Duffy the first time, that is carrying out the investigation.”
“Ahh!” sighed the New Democrats.
Along the government’s front row, Vic Toews grumbled in Mr. Mulcair’s direction about a “bribe” (seemingly a reference to the matter of Mr. Mulcair and the mayor of Laval).
“Does the minister not realize,” Mr. Mulcair asked, “that is about as credible as Paul Martin asking Jean Chrétien to investigate the sponsorship scandal?”
The New Democrats enjoyed this reference and stood to applaud their man.
Mr. Baird now stood to quote himself. “What I did say yesterday was, and I quote: ‘Furthermore, this matter has been referred to two independent bodies for review,’ which is nothing like what he just said,” Mr. Baird explained, seeming to stress the word referred.
It is not actually clear what this should clarify, although, as it turns out, it now seems the Senate Ethics Officer is indeed reviewing the matter. So there’s that. Unfortunately, there is not much else on offer. Or, rather, not much else that the government seems either willing or able to offer. Continue…
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 - 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 - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:45 PM - 0 Comments
It is important to keep this much in mind: This might be as good as it ever gets for Justin Trudeau.
He is, in the estimation of one poll released last week, in position to become the 23rd prime minister of this country. In the three weeks he has been leader of the Liberals, the party has raised more than a million dollars, the sort of pace that would finally challenge the significant financial advantage the Conservatives have enjoyed in recent years. Another poll suggests the attack ads that the Conservatives have used their riches to deploy are failing to deeply undermine Mr. Trudeau’s standing with the public.
All of which is all well and good, but not much, if anything, more than might have been said of Stephane Dion or Michael Ignatieff or Thomas Mulcair or even Nycole Turmel (thirteen months ago, with the interim NDP leader in place, the New Democrats were tied atop the theoretical standings). It did not end well for Mr. Dion, nor Mr. Ignatieff. It has not gone obviously well for Mr. Mulcair. (And the New Democrats had the temerity to dump Ms. Turmel a mere two days after she pulled them even with the Conservatives.) And so it must be understood that this might be the high point for Mr. Trudeau.
Where Mr. Trudeau is now along the arc of his story we can’t know now.
Where he is this evening, in the literal sense, is the Ottawa Valley, where the bugs are big enough to make a sound when they hit your windshield. Past Calabogie and Arnprior, but before Cobden, to Renfrew (pop. 8,218), an hour northwest of Parliament Hill. Past the water tower and the fast food franchises and through downtown to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 148, with a french fry stand in the parking lot.
Inside the legion hall, blue plastic chairs are lined up before the stage. On the stage, father and son fiddlers warm up the crowd. Atop the stage is a picture of the Queen. Red and white Liberal signs are taped on the wood-panelled walls. Trays of triangle sandwiches (turkey, salmon, ham, egg and beef) sit on tables in the corner beside trays of vegetables and trays of cookies, cartons of juice (lemon ice tea, raspberry lemonade and lemonade) and urns of coffee and tea and the sort of small styrofoam cups that you might have thought were illegal to use by now. There is, of course, a lot of white hair here, but also parents with children and several men and women who are old enough to vote, but not old enough to have mortgages and young men with clipboards. Everyone is made to wear a name tag and the young men with clipboards will get the names and email addresses of 250 people this evening.
A Liberal last won this riding in 1997—there’s a small picture in the far left corner of the room here of Hec Cloutier posing with a veteran of D-Day—and with that Liberal running as an independent against the Conservative incumbent in the last election, the Liberals received just 6,545 votes here.
He arrives a little after 6:30pm and proceeds with the shaking of hands. He is wearing a white button-up shirt, open at the collar, slightly weathered jeans, a brown belt and brown sneakers. When he is invited to the stage he receives a standing ovation.
“What a pleasure it is for me to be back in the valley,” he says. “Here in Renfrew the welcome is always as warm as the sunshine and today it’s really warm indeed.”
Now a joke.
“What a great time of year it is. It’s spring and, like clockwork, the birds are singing, the buds are coming out on the trees, attack ads are appearing on TV,” he quips. “It’s the rite of spring here in Canada.”
The crowd laughs.
And now both a flattering assessment of the country and a segue to the problem Mr. Trudeau claims to aim to address.
“It’s been a wonderful past six months, through this leadership campaign,” he says, perhaps still getting used to the fact that that campaign is over, “I’ve managed to travel to all sorts of different corners across the country and everywhere, whether they’re Conservative areas or less-Conservative areas or Liberal areas or anywhere across the country, everywhere I meet Canadians who aren’t defined by the brand of politics that they follow or the colour or the approach, but are defined by a sense of optimism about our future. We are a people who are confident, forward-looking, engaged and ready, always, to roll up our sleeves and build a better country.”
Hurray for us.
“And that’s what we’ve lost a little bit of in the past days and past years in politics,” Mr. Trudeau says. “And that’s what I know Canadians are hungry to get back.”
The crowd applauds.
He talks here about the “politics of negativity, of division, of fear.” He says it will get you elected, but it leaves you unable to govern.
And then there is an explanation of the country that might best be reported at length.
“And let’s face it, Canada is an extraordinary, unlikely, country. We are defined by the fact that our ancestors, or ourselves, came to this country, from distant lands, trying to build a better future for ourselves and for our children and our descendants, and when we got to this land, whether it was 400 years ago or 40 days ago, we deal with the same thing. A country that’s too big, too empty and, notwithstanding beautiful days like this, too dang cold too many months of the year.”
Someone in the crowd suggests long johns, but Mr. Trudeau doesn’t pause to engage the joke.
“So what we do and what we’ve done throughout history is learn to lean on each other. You learn to succeed in Canada, it takes a lot of hard work, but no matter how hard you work, no matter how smart and capable you are, you need to know that you can rely on your neighbours in times of trouble,” he says. “And that’s universal. Here in this country, we’ve learnt how to lean on each other. How to build success as communities and as a country out of what was an inhospitable land. And those two facets of working hard and strong communities is what has shaped us into the modern country we are. We’re that one place in the world that has figured out how to be strong not in spite of our differences but because of them. Regardless of your background, regardless of where you settled geographically, or your religion or your language, Canadians are defined not by singular histories or culture, but by a shared set of values. Values of openness, respect, hard work, compassion, a willingness to be there for each other, a willingness to roll up your sleeves and drive to succeed, a desire for equality, for justice. These are the things that define us. And we had to learn how to define ourselves by these shared values because, on the surface, we are so different. And that’s what has made Canada just such an extraordinary success through the 20th century.”
There is something here. There is a hint of what could be a serious discussion about government and democracy and what we want and what we should hope for and how we should go about doing it.
He talks about inequality and resource and environmental concerns and fear and insecurity. He wonders aloud, rhetorically, why the politics of division is so effective. He mocks the government’s assurances (“We’re doing better than Spain,” he fake boasts). He says something has changed. And then he’s explaining the country again.
“The story of this country—that story of hard work and pulling together—built the premise, the basic promise of this country. That wherever you are from, whatever language you spoke, you could come to this country, work hard and you’d be able to create greater opportunities and a better life for your children here than you ever could have anywhere at home. And every successive generation has built on that, so that every coming year, every next generation, could expect better than the last. And that’s something deeply comforting in the very idea of progress that this country is built on. That you build for the future. That your hard work will provide for your shoulders for your kids and grandkids to stand on,” he says. “But now… for the first time perhaps… in the story of this country… people are worried that the next generation will not have the same or better quality of life than this. That our kids might not have greater opportunities than we did. And that’s incredibly destabilizing.”
The country is doing well, but as individuals we are feeling the strain, he says. He has a statistic on median family income. He takes note of where he is and there’s a tangent about our history of military sacrifice and then it’s back to what division has wrought: a sort of hiding and settling.
“That’s. Not. Good. Enough,” he says.
To listen for the first time is to wonder where he’s going with all this and whether he’s really ready to engage in a philosophical debate about achieving the collective good. His speaking style is not too overwrought. His left hand is halfway into his pocket and he gestures with his right. He is smooth and loud and generally without affectation.
“What I see right across the country is, more now than ever before,” he explains, “Canadians don’t believe that politics is a useful tool to achieving those big, collective dreams for ourselves.”
There is still, he adds, a “a very strong sense of citizenship in Canada.” And then he elaborates and expands and then there’s a bit about our willingness to take a position on big issues like climate change and peace in the Middle East. And then he’s back to our ability to believe in politics.
“But politics? Politics has ceased to be a meaningful way for ordinary citizens to help shape their community and their world, particularly the politics that happens down the road from you in the House of Commons. And that’s what we have to turn around.”
Fair enough. But how? With speeches like this? With someone like Mr. Trudeau? With a new app? With open nominations at the riding level and more freedom for MPs, sure, maybe. But what else?
There are the bones of something here. Or, rather, there are the guts of something. At some point it needs the structure and ability of muscle and bone.
“What I’ve seen over the past six months and what I’ve continued to see as I get out across the country is people who want to believe that politics can matter once again,” he says. “Can be a place where we talk about big words like vision and a long-term plan and robust, meaningful solutions that’ll have an impact on the next generation. But we’ve grown cynical. And we’re not sure that’s possible anymore. And collectively, as Canadians, we’ve begun to despair.”
There is an argument here. Or at least an argument to be made. There is something deeply important here. Or there could be. About how Stephen Harper has governed and how Mr. Trudeau wishes to govern and how we want to govern ourselves. About what politics is and should be. About how we imagine ourselves as a collection of 35 million people.
It is an argument that Stephen Harper has been quietly engaging for seven years. It is an argument that Thomas Mulcair quietly confronted last month (“We don’t have to accept less. We can strive for more.”) And it is an argument Mr. Trudeau now seems to be building towards here in Renfrew in the company of a couple hundred people and several varieties of sandwich.
“And that’s why over the past six months of this leadership and into my three weeks as the leader of the Liberal party of Canada now…”
The crowd applauds.
“I have seen people responding, incredibly positively, to the idea, not that we’re going to bring in all the answers, but that the Liberal party of Canada is once again going to ask Canadians to help us build those solutions.”
He mocks the Liberal tendencies toward self-satisfaction and arrogance and he talks about rebuilding the party and this idea of doing that in collaboration with Canadians.
“That sense of trust we have to rebuild doesn’t come from convincing Canadians to once again trust politicians,” he says, “but from convincing Canadians that there are politicians who trust them.”
The crowd applauds, but it’s not clear what this means. And it can’t be known what this will amount to as it pertains to what Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals will offer the country in 2015.
What he has to offer now is the idea of him and a sense of what he might do. He has the broad strokes of what might be an interesting stump speech and a raw ability to deliver it. He has some favourable polling results and the party has a million dollars and the young men with clipboards have another 250 names and email addresses. There are so many more days between now and when it might all amount to something. And so much depends on Mr. Trudeau and his advisors and, of course, fate. Potential is a wonderful thing. But it is theoretical.
At about 7 o’clock, his advisor gives him the sign to wrap it up and Mr. Trudeau finishes on a rousing note. A woman comes on stage to thank him and present him with a bottle of maple syrup. And then Mr. Trudeau walks off the stage and down to the floor of the legion hall, where a line forms around the room of those who want to shake his hand or get his autograph or have their picture taken with him or some combination thereof. He pulls people in close for photos and flashes a toothy grin. Young women and old women giggle in his presence. It takes him more than a hour to get through the line.
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 - 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 - 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 - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 5:39 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair offered a simple premise.
“Mr. Speaker, a year ago the Conservatives created a new accelerated approval process for hiring temporary foreign workers,” the NDP leader offered. “They allowed them to be paid 15% less than Canadian workers doing the same job. That is an incentive to hire temporary foreign workers instead of Canadians. Today, Conservatives are begging Canadians to believe that this time they are really going to crack down, but Conservatives have not removed the incentive to hire temporary foreign workers. Why have they not changed the 15% rule? Their message is still, ‘Work for less or you’ll be replaced.’ ”
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney rejected this premise entirely.
“As always on this matter, Mr. Speaker, the NDP is wrong,” Mr. Kenney declared. “I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition has been improperly briefed or whether he knows he is wrong when he says that the rules allow for foreign workers to be underpaid. That is not true. People cannot come into this country to work on work permits unless they are paid at the prevailing regional wage rate. However, of course, in every occupation there is a range and this allows for some people to be paid as long as Canadians are paid within that range, at the same wage level.”
That said, the answer to Mr. Mulcair’s actual question was apparently yes. Indeed, an hour and 45 minutes later, Mr. Kenney convened a news conference to declare that, a year after it was the introduced, the 15% rule was no more. Only, as Mr. Kenney explained, for entirely different reasons. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM - 0 Comments
At 2pm, the Speaker’s parade—a ceremonial photo op, a silly show of hallowed tradition—proceeded down the West corridor of Centre Block toward the House of Commons. Preceded by one marching guard and flanked by three more—To protect the Speaker from what? A sneak attack by the Queen?—strode the sergeant-at-arms, carrying the large golden mace that must be in place for the House to conduct its business, and the Speaker and his clerks in their three-cornered hat and robes. Once the official party was safely inside, the large wooden doors were shut and the official business of the nation began for another day.
Something like a dozen reporters had gathered at the gallery door, anxiously waiting for the House to be called to order. This was something like four times the usual attendance—the larger crowd here in anticipation that one of the duly elected adults sent here to represent the people of this country might stand up in his or her place without having first obtained the permission of the party leader he or she is supposed to support. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM - 0 Comments
At noon, the House moved to government orders. To present S-7, the Combatting Terrorism Act, stood Candice Bergen, parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety.
“In closing,” she concluded shortly thereafter, “I would like to express my deepest condolences to all of those who have suffered as a result of the despicable acts that occurred in Boston this last week. The way that the city has come together has been an inspiration for all of us. They have shown the world that fear would not define them and I would hope that Canadians, if such a thing would happen, would do the same thing.”
So let us say that it is not fear, but general awareness of fearsome possibility that guides us now.
“At the same time, I would like to say that it is so important to ensure that Canada has the necessary laws and tools to prevent such a heinous attack,” Ms. Bergen continued. “We want to make sure that we are fully prepared and that we can combat terrorism and possible future terrorist acts, as well as making sure that anyone who has been involved in terrorist acts in Canada is dealt with. We have to ensure that the evildoers are met with the justice that they deserve. Otherwise, we as parliamentarians have failed our most basic duty: To protect Canadians.”
Up first was Charlie Angus, who quibbled with nothing less than the fact that this debate was happening now. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 6:20 PM - 0 Comments
To Joe Momma then, where Murray Rankin, the bespectacled and button-downed national revenue critic for the official opposition, stepped before the cameras this morning to pose beside the proprietor of this bike shop, a tattooed young man in a white t-shirt and newsboy cap.
“We would like the hypocrisy to be exposed,” Mr. Rankin explained. “They said they wouldn’t raise taxes and here we are, a little bit later, in this very same store, pointing out that they are.”
This is most certainly fair play. It was Jim Flaherty who used this establishment for a photo op last fall. And it was Jim Flaherty who stood in the House less than a month ago and said he would not raise taxes. And it is the budget Mr. Flaherty tabled that day that raises taxes on the importation of hundreds of products from dozens of countries. And it was this government that championed the few tariffs it decreased as “supporting Canadian families and communities.” And it was this government that once screamed and cried about the very idea of a tax on iPods. And it was this Prime Minister who gave his word that, so long as he was prime minister, there would be “no new taxes.” And it was this Prime Minister who once mused that “I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”
“I feel misled more than anything,” offered the bike shop owner.
Fair enough. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 15, 2013 at 6:01 PM - 0 Comments
On the matter of RBC, Thomas Mulcair leaned forward and loudly conveyed his indignation. The Prime Minister stood and accused the New Democrats of hypocrisy, reporting that NDP MPs had previously advocated for temporary foreign worker permits. Mr. Mulcair returned to his feet and sketched a thorough denunciation of the government’s attitude toward the working class. And Mr. Harper stood and ventured that it was the NDP who needed to explain.
Not that much of anyone was here to see any of this.
In the moments before Question Period, the man on the front page of today’s newspapers sat in his new spot along the front row at the far end of the room. Wearing a high white collar, his wavy hair parted to the side, Justin Trudeau resembled somewhat the fellow who played John A. Macdonald in that movie. The press gallery was nearly full to capacity, as was the front row of the Prime Minister’s gallery. On the floor, Joyce Murray stopped by to give Mr. Trudeau a hug. Tony Clement and Randy Hoback and Pat Martin and Nathan Cullen shook his hand. On his way to his new seat, Bob Rae stopped in front of Mr. Trudeau and presented him with a small wooden box, within which was a pen that once belonged to Wilfrid Laurier. Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner stood and, as is his habit on special occasions, read aloud an original poem.
And then everyone waited for the sixth, seventh and eighth questions of the afternoon. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:17 PM - 0 Comments
Within the Palais des congres de Montreal, a complex series of boxes, decorated with brightly coloured glass and perched above the freeway, where Stephane Dion once became Liberal leader and where, if memory serves, Michael Ignatieff blew kisses from an escalator to supporters below, the president of the NDP called the meeting to order. And with that there was a complaint. It was in the opinion of a man referred to as Barry, apparently a fellow from the socialist caucus, that the 30 minutes set aside on Saturday afternoon to hear from an organizer of the Obama campaign be allotted, instead, for policy discussion. Barry seemed rather unimpressed with policies of President Obama’s administration.
“We don’t need Jeremy Bird to lecture NDPers on the virtues of the American bipartisan political system,” he ventured. “Labour and the NDP aren’t here to take instruction from political operatives of the White House. But we do have some good advice for our American sisters and brothers, for our fellow workers in the United States. Follow the example of the NDP, form an independent political party based on your unions, break with the Democratic party.”
Joe Cressy, a Toronto organizer who has worked for Olivia Chow and Paul Dewar, stepped forward to speak against Barry’s proposed amendment. “Friends, we have had a great start to this convention already and let’s keep this positive energy going,” he said. “We must build on our momentum by maintaining a packed agenda that has everything from learning how to organize and fundraise better to hearing from our leader, Tom Mulcair, to, yes, learning from the Obama team on how to mobilize those who…”
His final words were drowned out in applause. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
Megan Leslie stood to plead confusion. Within the budget, she said, were tax increases. But the Prime Minister, she recalled, had promised not to raise taxes. So why, she wondered aloud, had the Prime Minister allowed the Finance Minister to contradict him?
“Mr. Speaker,” declared the Prime Minister, “it is quite the opposite.”
Mr. Harper did not then explain how so. Instead, he alleged a number of tax increases that the NDP was apparently proposing.
Ms. Leslie tried again. “Why,” she wondered, “did the Prime Minister not keep his promise?”
The Prime Minister again insisted on talking about the NDP. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I know very well that the NDP favors higher taxes and taxes to finance larger deficits and higher expenses.”
Ms. Leslie was unimpressed. “Mr. Speaker, I understand why the government’s backbench is frustrated,” she responded. “Answers like that have been frustrating me for quite some time.”
The New Democrats laughed.
This is, most immediately, Ted Menzies’ fault. It was the minister of state for finance who yesterday pronounced that there were no tax increases to be found in last week’s budget. More specifically, he said “no one would find” tax increases in this budget. As a wager, this was a poor one. As a challenge, it had the unfortunate quality of having already been met—Mr. Menzies making it in response to a question about tax increases that had been found in the budget. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
“You know, there’s two schools in economics on this,” Mr. Harper once said, “One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I’m in the latter category. I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”
“I give you my word: As long as I will be prime minister … there will be no new taxes,” Mr. Harper had said two years before that.
Perhaps that was merely a commitment to refrain from inventing entirely new taxes that had not previously existed. But otherwise it is to wonder if the Prime Minister was a touch disappointment when he opened the budget book last Thursday and found that, not only hadn’t the Finance Minister eliminated all taxes, but he’d seen fit to budget for several increases in the cost of civil society. If he was heartbroken to read as much, it is surely a testament to Mr. Harper’s commitment to party loyalty that he has not yet gone rogue and pronounced the budget to be unworthy of his support.
As it is, it must have been rather odd for the Prime Minister to have to stand in his place this afternoon and defend such a document.
First for the opposition this afternoon was David (Furious D) Christopherson, the NDP deputy whose floppy hair has a way of bouncing in time to his indignation. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly after Conservative Brian Jean had stood to accuse the New Democrats of advocating for a “job killing carbon tax” and Conservative MP Scott Armstrong had stood to say that “the policy of the NDP is to go south to recruit foreign criminals to come to Canada” and Conservative MP David Wilks had stood and claimed to possess “a long list of attacks on Canadian interests from the NDP” and Conservative MP Robert Sopuck had stood and ventured that the NDP leader “leader rejects sound science and works hard to kill Canadian jobs” and Conservative MP James Bezan stood and said Thomas Mulcair had “attacked Canadian jobs, attacked Canada’s national interests and took up the cause of a convicted cop shooter” and shortly before Justice Minister Rob Nicholson stood and declared that “New Democrats are never on” the side of victims of crime, Stephen Harper stood and declared himself quite disappointed with Mr. Mulcair’s tone.
“Mr. Speaker, Peter Penashue broke… the… law,” Mr. Mulcair had enunciated, now pausing for effect. “If our law and order Prime Minister considers Peter Penashue, a known lawbreaker, to be the best Conservative MP, what does that say about the rest of his caucus?”
In fairness, Mr. Harper had not said that Mr. Penashue was the best member of the Conservative caucus, rather that he was the best MP that the riding of Labrador had ever had. Though perhaps that description too raises questions about how the Prime Minister measures quality.
Regardless, Mr. Harper was now profoundly saddened. “Mr. Speaker, obviously, I disagree with that categorization,” the Prime Minister sighed. “I am sad, but not surprised, to hear that kind of negative campaign from the—”
He could not finish because the New Democrats had burst out laughing.
The Speaker called for order and returned the floor to Mr. Harper.
“Mr. Speaker, in Labrador, Minister Penashue,” the Prime Minister continued, apparently still struggling to come to grips with the reality of Mr. Penashue’s resignation, “will be able to point to a record of respecting his promises, working against the federal long gun registry and for such things as the Trans-Labrador Highway, the Lower Churchill project and obviously for the strong record that he has presented to the people of Labrador.”
So Mr. Penashue might not have rightfully won a seat in the House of Commons, but at least while he had it, some things happened that the people of Labrador might have reason to be happy about.
The House proceeded to other matters, but after Rob Nicholson had declared his concern for the victims of crime, Bob Rae detected a segue back to Mr. Penashue.
“Mr. Speaker, the victims of the latest Conservative crime are the people of Labrador. Those are the victims we need to stand up for,” Mr. Rae ventured. “It is now clear that there was a completely orchestrated-from-central-casting resignation by the minister. Peter Penashue held press conferences. He used government money to hold press conferences. He placed ads. The Conservative Party transferred money to the riding association in Labrador. The entire thing was orchestrated by the Prime Minister of Canada and orchestrated by the Conservative Party of Canada.”
There was not a question here, but the Prime Minister stood anyway.
“Mr. Speaker, the member for Labrador has taken the correct action,” Mr. Harper said. “The people of Labrador will decide.”
But, once more, the Prime Minister was besmirched.
“They will have the difference between that kind of negative, ugly campaign,” he said, drawing laughs from the Liberals, “and, on the other side, a record of positive achievement for the people of Labrador by minister Penashue and, obviously, we will respect the decision of the people of Labrador.”
Mr. Rae saw another segue.
“Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister wants to see ugly, he and his cabinet colleagues should simply look in the mirror and assess their own conduct—”
The Conservatives groaned their displeasure. The Speaker called for order.
“I do not think we need to make those kinds of personal characterizations,” Speaker Scheer suggested. “It is certainly not adding to the debate today.”
Mr. Rae pleaded innocence. “Mr. Speaker, if looking in the mirror produces unacceptable results,” he offered, “it is hardly the fault of the people who are asking the questions.”
The interim Liberal leader again failed to register a question, but the Prime Minister stood again nonetheless.
“Mr. Speaker, I think the real problem is the positions that the Liberal Party of Canada has on issues that matter to the people of Labrador,” Mr. Harper ventured. “The people of Labrador value the seal hunt; they value investments in their infrastructure and in their Internet; and they certainly value the Lower Churchill hydroelectric electric project.”
The questions about the former minister persisted and it was Pierre Poilievre who took up the cause of defending his honour.
“Mr. Speaker, in anybody’s mind, writing cheques for nearly $50,000 is a clear admission that Conservatives broke just about every law in the book during the Labrador campaign and that they knew they broke them,” Liberal MP Gerry Byrne charged. “With that said, the Prime Minister also knows that sanctions with serious consequences remain inevitable against Mr. Penashue and his party. With absolutely nothing left to lose under those circumstances, a byelection is about to be called to try to dull some of that reality. Does the Prime Minister really feel that holding a byelection could ever trump the rule of law in Canada and that the process of justice might actually be able to be turned off for a byelection?”
Somewhere in this distance, or perhaps only in Mr. Poilievre’s head, a string quartet began to play the national anthem.
“Mr. Speaker, there they go, launching a nasty, negative campaign full of slurs,” he sighed. “Never did a slur create a job. Never did a slur protect a traditional aboriginal way of life that Peter Penashue has fought for.”
The anthem swelled. Watching at home, mothers gathered their children to listen. In office towers, business halted. In the fields, plowing ceased. Tears trickled down the cheeks of grown men.
“Never did a slur help a school child in a remote community have access to the world through high-speed Internet, the way Peter Penashue delivered. Never did a slur protect CFB Goose Bay,” Mr. Poilievre continued. “Slurs do not do that, but Peter Penashue did.”
And lo was the nation stirred and lo did all who heard Mr. Poilievre now rush to Labrador, cheques in hand and the Elections Act in mind, to donate the maximum allowable funds to Mr. Penashue’s re-election campaign.
For sure, Mr. Poilievre was so very right. And thus it is to wonder why so many others waste so much of their and our time with such empty words.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair wanted to talk about tax havens and about how Kevin Page had been blocked from studying the issue and how the Canada Revenue Agency has apparently identified more than 8,000 “offshore tax cheats” (to use Mr. Mulcair’s phrasing). The Prime Minister wanted to talk about what a terrible thing Mr. Mulcair had done.
“I am rather surprised to be getting a question like this on the economy from the leader of the opposition after he travelled to Washington to fight against Canadian jobs,” Mr. Harper pleaded with a shrug and a shake of the head after offering a perfunctory sentence in response to the actual question asked.
“Shame!” called a voice from the Conservative side.
“The NDP can oppose Canadian jobs,” Mr. Harper concluded, “but on this side we are for Canadian jobs.”
The Conservatives stood to applaud their man’s clarification.
Mr. Mulcair ad-libbed a retort. “ Mr. Speaker, his project includes the export of 40,000 Canadian value-added jobs,” he declared, proceeding then to jab his finger toward the ground. “We will keep standing up for Canada.”
The New Democrats stood to applaud.
So we are split on the precise value to Canada of the Keystone XL pipeline—one of these men is categorically in favour, the other has his concerns; about half of the country sides with the former, a little less than that sides with the latter. Perhaps cap-and-trade, which both of these men have supported at one time or another and which the American president also happens to prefer, truly is the reasonable solution to this concern. If only Republicans didn’t control the House of Representatives and Mr. Harper hadn’t decided that what he once supported was the same as what he once opposed.
Instead, we come to what seems a defining fight for these two men.
Mr. Mulcair, now en francais, returned to his concerns about tax evasion. According to the main estimates, he noted, the budget of the Canada Revenue Agency was due to be cut by $100 million. Mr. Harper, in response, managed two sentences in French, before switching back to English, his preferred language for haranguing. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:37 PM - 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 Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:35 PM - 0 Comments
Perhaps the F-35 is best understood as a Senate with wings. Or perhaps the Senate is the F-35 that we mistakenly assigned to guard our democracy.
Either way, they are both now easy jokes.
“Mr. Speaker, yet another report from the United States is raising disturbing questions about the F-35,” Thomas Mulcair reported at the outset this afternoon. “Serious problems have been identified with the aircraft’s radar, helmet and cockpit design. Pilots report that the plane is actually incapable of flying through clouds.”
The New Democrats laughed.
“Who knew that this was one of the requirements,” Mr. Mulcair quipped.
The New Democrats laughed again.
“Worse yet, the former head of the U.S. Navy is now suggesting that the F-35A, the model Conservatives plan to buy, should be scrapped entirely,” the NDP leader concluded. “Will the Prime Minister give a straightforward answer? Will he admit that he has made a mistake and agree to full, open and honest competition to replace the CF-18, yes or no?”
The Prime Minister would do no such thing.
“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper declared, “the government has been very clear.”
Indeed. Mr. Harper’s government has been very clear. And not just once on this file, but twice. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair smiled as James Moore concluded his first response. The NDP leader had asked the government side to account for the dispatch of investigators to check on the recipients of employment insurance and Mr. Moore had stood to accuse Mr. Mulcair of mongering fear and to explain that this was about seeking to “protect the integrity of the system.”
Mr. Mulcair chuckled and crooked his head as he stood to respond. “Mr. Speaker, that’s it,” the NDP leader observed, “for the unemployed, we send the secret police, and senators, we do not even ask where they live.”
The New Democrats laughed.
So the first question this day had been both an expression of concern and a setup. And so the Senate seems to have returned to its natural place in our civic and societal order as an enduring subject of complaint and mockery. It is not that the Senate has reached some new low in recent weeks. It is merely that, after a period of relative quiet, we have once again found reason to variously question and lament its existence. It might make more fiscal sense, in this period of austerity, to convert the chamber into lofts, but then we wouldn’t have the Senate to kick around anymore. And what fun would that be? At least as a punchline, it might be forever relevant. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
Charlie Angus wanted to talk about the possibility that individuals appointed to the Senate to represent specific provinces did not sufficiently reside in those provinces. But Pierre Poilievre wanted to talk about how Mr. Angus had been the subject of a complaint made by the Ontario election boundaries commission.
“The Member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay submitted that the community of interest among farmers and people associated with agriculture in the farming area west and north of the City of Temiskaming Shores flowed north along Highway 11, and that there was no community of interest with people involved in agriculture in the electoral district of Nickel Belt,” the report reads, in reference to Mr. Angus. “The Member also expressed concern about the ability to serve constituents effectively if the communities along Highway 11 from the Town of Smooth Rock Falls to west of the Town of Hearst were included in the electoral district. This was the first hint of what the Commission considers to be inappropriate involvement by a Member of Parliament in the electoral redistribution process.”
Hadn’t the Conservatives, just two weeks ago, defended the involvement of parliamentarians in the boundary-drawing process? Well, yes. But they had also been responding, in part, to questions from Mr. Angus.
So… what exactly? Was Mr. Angus’ intervention somehow worse than the Conservative party’s mounting a public political campaign against the boundary commission? Was he merely guilty of the same offence he accused the Conservatives of committing? Were they both wrong? Did Mr. Angus’ wrong make the Conservatives’ actions somehow right? Did Mr. Angus’ actions somehow excuse whatever was going on in the Senate?
“He is the one who stands in the House and grandstands so regularly, putting himself on the highest moral level,” Mr. Poilievre explained a moment later.” He is the one who has been singled out for breaking the rules. He is the one who should stand and explain that.”
So perhaps Mr. Angus should stand and proclaim his offence a “big victory” and that would be that.
But ultimately Mr. Poilievre’s allegation is just that: hypocrisy. Whatever his actual title as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport or some such, Mr. Poilievre is something like the Minister of State for I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I? And he is very good at his job. Whatever you can accuse his side of doing, he can think of something that your side did that was somewhat similar in nature. Or he can suggest that you—at least if you are the NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice—are a separatist. Presumably the aim is to ensure that everyone is regarded as equally unworthy of your trust. His fellow Conservatives adore his performances. For sure, as song and dance routines go, Mr. Poilievre’s is certainly more entertaining than, say, Julian Fantino’s lo-fi grumble or Rob Nicholson’s perpetual disappointment in the opposition.
But he is still no John Baird—the gleeful master of the glancing gotcha, the wizard of fleeting and tangential advantage. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 5:30 PM - 0 Comments
On Monday, Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, presented to the House of Commons the government’s main estimates. This was apparently cause for celebration. Indeed, according to Mr. Clement’s office, the main estimates “reflect the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to finding savings and returning to balanced budgets.”
“I think you will find that when you review the estimates, that they do reflect our commitment to sound fiscal management and the commitment to return to the balanced budget within the medium term,” Mr. Clement explained to reporters afterwards. “You will see that the estimates have decreased over the past four years so at this stage of the budgetary cycle, we are continuing to rein in spending. In fact, the estimates are down $4.9 billion from last year.”
But, with a budget still to be tabled, what importance should be attached to the estimates?
“Obviously, the budget is the main economic document of the government,” Mr. Clement clarified. “Having said that, the estimates is a signal of the direction of the government on some basic files and some basic portfolios so it is, I would call it a harbinger, perhaps, a signal of the kind of budget that we will have in 2013-2014.”
On Tuesday, a specific victory was identified and declared as Robert Goguen was sent up to note that, whatever the wild-eyed worries of the New Democrats, the main estimates showed “significant reductions” in prison spending. And lest anyone miss this point, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews followed up with a written statement sent out to reporters by his press secretary. “Last summer, we announced the closure of two prisons to save taxpayer dollars,” Mr. Toews was said to have said, “and yesterday in the Main Estimates, there were significant reductions in the cost of prisons.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Goguen and Mr. Toews, the estimates are apparently not to be taken too seriously. Or at least not quite as seriously as various members of the opposition are now taking them. At least so far as Mr. Clement is now concerned. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
Conservative MP Robert Goguen had apparently been up late last night, carefully reviewing the main estimates and he was keen this afternoon to rise shortly before Question Period and report back to the House with what he’d found. “Yesterday, in main estimates, there were significant reductions in the cost of prisons due to the influx of new prisoners not materializing,” the government backbencher celebrated, dismissing opposition concerns about prison spending in the process.
Mr. Goguen was being modest. At last report there were actually more individuals in prison than ever before. Which would seem to render those “significant reductions” all the more impressive. (Although the increasing violence in prisons might make it more difficult to feel good about frugality.)
This good news might’ve ruled the day were it not for those on the opposition side who’d also taken some time to review the estimates themselves. They were decidedly less enthused than Mr. Goguen.
“Mr. Speaker, at the same time that we continue to read in the estimates with respect to the cuts that are being made in front line programs, in foreign aid programs, in foreign affairs budgets, we now see that the CIC is increasing its advertising budget by $4 million, the Department of Finance is increasing its advertising budget by nearly $7 million, and the Department of Natural Resources is increasing its advertising budget by $4.5 million compared to the main estimates of last year,” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae reported, reading from a white piece of paper.
Now Mr. Rae wagged his finger in the Prime Minister’s general direction. “I would like to ask the Prime Minister how he can justify again this double standard where front line services are being cut but propaganda is being increased?”
Oddly, Mr. Harper begged to differ almost entirely. “Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister corrected, “those front line services are not being cut.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair stood first to mock.
“Mr. Speaker, Conservative Senator Mike Duffy has now admitted he mistakenly collected, maybe, about, $100,000 in Senate housing allowances. How does one accidentally claim $100,000 in living expenses? He says the form was too complicated,” the NDP leader reported sarcastically. “We also have Senator Pamela Wallin who has an Ontario health card while claiming to be a resident of Saskatchewan. She told the federal government that she lived in one province but told the provincial government that she lived in another. This would be unacceptable for any other Canadian. Why does the Prime Minister seem to think it is acceptable for his Conservative senators?”
The Prime Minister was away, so it was Peter Van Loan’s responsibility this day to offer the official reassurances. “Mr. Speaker, we have committed to ensure that all expenses are appropriate,” the Government House leader reported, “that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and to report back to the public on these matters.”
But Mr. Van Loan apparently sensed that Mr. Mulcair was not sufficiently serious in his concern for the Senate. “The reality is, if we want to see real change in the Senate, real change toward an accountable Senate,” Mr. Van Loan segued, “we need to embrace the Conservative proposal to actually let Canadians have a say on who represents them in the Senate. The NDP simply will not do that.”
So if you are truly upset with the actions of the senators Mr. Harper has appointed, you simply must agree to pass Mr. Harper’s legislation to reform the Senate. Neat trick, that. Indeed, if this has been the Prime Minister’s play all along, to appoint dozens of senators—and two former members of the press gallery at that—in the hopes that somehow someday they would do something to incite the sort of controversy that would leave everyone begging for change, he is precisely three times the brilliant strategist he is often thought to be.
Of course, if Mr. Van Loan really wanted to move ahead with Senate reform, he might invoke time allocation to bring the legislation to a vote. Unless the Conservatives now believe that such maneuvering, of which they have otherwise been so fond, is somehow undemocratic.
This much though was merely the preamble this day. Indeed, for perhaps the first time since Confederation, the Senate was only the setup and not the punchline. Continue…