By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 29, 2013 - 0 Comments
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, asked on the West Block yesterday why the RCMP’s senior officers can’t meet with opposition MPs without first notifying his office.
Tom Clark: I want to ask you something about the RCMP because there’s been this e-mail circulating around the last few days from the commissioner of the RCMP instructing his senior members, his senior brass not to accept meetings or luncheons with parliamentarians or with senators until it is cleared by your office. Is that true?
Vic Toews: I don’t clear as the appropriate[ness] of any interview. Interviews are done all the time with the RCMP without them clearing it but there is a communications protocol that does take place between the RCMP and my office, absolutely. I’m responsible for the RCMP. I need to know exactly what the RCMP is doing and saying because if I go into the House of Commons and I have no idea what is being said, I’m at a distinct situation where it appears that I’m not carrying out my responsibilities to the House of Commons. So the communication discussions that go on between us, I think are quite normal and certainly were in effect under the prior Liberal government as I recall.
Tom Clark: So any MP, and I guess that would include Conservatives MPs cannot meet with senior members of the RCMP without a clearance from your office, that’s what you’re saying?
Vic Toews: Well they don’t clear it with my office but essentially what happens, especially if it’s MPs from my party, they’ll come to me and say, look I want to talk to the RCMP and I’ll refer them to an individual and that’s the end of it. I don’t see any more of that. But the RCMP clearly has to communicate as an entity, especially on issues of national and public security.
It’s actually not quite clear from these responses what the “protocol” is, but it seems at least one lunch has been cancelled after the minister’s office was not first notified.
When this was raised in the House on Friday, Candice Bergen, Mr. Toews’ parliamentary secretary offered that, “If parliamentarians need to, or want to, meet with RCMP or other officials, the appropriate place for them to do that is in parliamentary committees.”
Update 1:52pm. In the interests of clarity, I asked Mr. Toews’ office if senior RCMP officials had to notify the minister before meeting with opposition MPs. Here is the response.
The Commissioner of the RCMP will meet whom he chooses, when he chooses. It is also appropriate that he approve meetings of his staff. The appropriate place for Parliamentarians to interact with officials, RCMP or otherwise, is at Parliamentary Committees. If a Member of Parliament has concerns relating to the RCMP, we would encourage them to bring those to the Minister. However, none of this impacts the ability of any Member to speak with their local RCMP on law enforcement or other local matters.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
Here is Mr. Trudeau’s full interview with Tom Clark, including the hotly contested moment in which he might have said decibels when he should have said decimals, which seems to have been deemed a matter of profound import on Twitter yesterday.
At just after 5pm on Saturday, the following email went out to supporters of the Trudeau campaign.
Over the past number of months we have offered Canadians proof that politics can be done differently — that it can be positive, trustworthy, and inclusive.
We owe this success to you and your willingness to be a part of this change. Your hard work, your support, your generous donations — but most importantly, your willingness to share our message of hope with others.
Now, we need to make sure that message isn’t drowned out by negative advertising and cynical attacks — and that’s going to take more money than we have right now.
I need you to make a donation today, no matter what size. We need to be ready, and we need to demonstrate our resolve.
After what I saw in Toronto today, I know we can make this happen. Our strength and success over the next week — and over the coming months — depends on you:
Thanks for being a part of this.
That followed a similar plea that went out last Wednesday, following a report that the Conservatives were prepared to attack.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
From the interim Liberal leader’s exit interview with Tom Clark on Sunday.
Tom Clark: You and I have been doing interviews for a few years shall we say, yeah, more than a few years. You’re probably one of the most unscripted politicians I know. You don’t use talking points. You don’t use notes. You don’t even prepare for Question Period, it just happens. Talk to me a little bit about what you see in terms of the state of our parliamentary democracy right now, where everything seems to be read from a sheet of paper and there doesn’t seem to be that spontaneous engagement in public policy. What are your thoughts on that?
Bob Rae: I think it’s too bad, I mean yeah, I think you’re right. The only thing I’d say in my own defence is I actually do prepare for Question Period. I think there’s a big difference between being unscripted and unprepared.
Tom Clark: You make it look as if you don’t prepare which is the sign of a great actor.
Bob Rae: Well that’s what you have to do and yes there’s always time and moments for spontaneity but you have to know how to pivot. And I think there’s a whole lot to be said for that as what we look for in parliamentary committees and elsewhere. I also think that the scriptedness of it is really just the tip of the iceberg because it’s all based on the premise of deep control, of an effort to control message but also control response and muzzle people, and you know the ad campaign that you see and all this stuff, it’s all part of the same approach. And I do think it’s a terrible abuse of democracy generally and I think our whole political culture is suffering badly as a result of that. I think it’s very, very unhealthy.
Tom Clark: Give me some historical perspective because you’ve been around an awfully long time in politics; you’ve survived a long time. Was it better 30 years ago? Was it better 40 years ago?
Bob Rae: It was less scripted and it was more spontaneous, and it was more engaging. I mean you know when I first came into Parliament, Mr. Trudeau was the prime minister and I was sitting in the back row of where I’m sitting now. That corner seems to be sort of like my place. And Mr. Trudeau he would occasionally engage. He would get up and say well….sometimes a backbencher asked a question of the prime minister and now Mr. Harper will very, very rarely get up unless he’s got something he really wants to say. But sometimes Trudeau would just get up and just sort of okay buddy, let’s talk about this.
Mr. Rae and I talked at length about Parliament in 2011.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Finance Minister talks to Tom Clark.
Tom Clark: Let me take you domestically now to the question of the parliamentary budget officer. We know that Kevin Page’s term is up in March. You’ve had your ups and downs with Mr. Page. I think you’ve called him unreliable and unbelievable at times. However, this office was created by your government. Has it been a net benefit?
Jim Flaherty: Not yet, I think the idea … and I was there in those discussions in the early days of our government because I’ve been there since the beginning. The idea was that the parliamentary budget officer would kind of work like the congressional budget officer in the United States to report to the elected people in the House of Commons about how the government was doing in its budgeting, sort of being a sounding board, a testing board. He’s kind of gone off that course and I think that course was the right course and it could be very valuable to Members of Parliament of all parties, including my own party. But he’s been kind of wandering off and going in other places.
Mr. Flaherty suggests the PBO’s mandate might be adjusted, but he doesn’t quite clarify how and when he thinks Kevin Page has “gone off that course.”
As Stephen Gordon notes, if the idea is to match the congressional budget office, there is an obvious funding issue to address. So perhaps Mr. Flaherty could seek to address that as well. Perhaps the office could also be made a fully independent officer of parliament.
Turning to the Conservative party’s platform in 2006, the original goal was to “ensure truth in budgeting with a Parliamentary Budget Authority.” “Governments cannot be held to account if Parliament does not know the accurate state of public finances,” the platform explained. And so a Conservative government would: “create an independent Parliamentary Budget Authority to provide objective analysis directly to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy” and “require government departments and agencies to provide accurate, timely information to the Parliamentary Budget Authority to ensure it has the information it needs to provide accurate analyses to Parliament.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Parliamentary Budget Officer considers the F-35 experience.
Tom Clark: Let’s stick with the process for a second, from everything that you’ve seen; the process the numbers, do you believe that Canadians were deliberately misled about the costs of this program?
Kevin Page: Well very clearly, back in 2010 when we released our report, and a year later when the AG released his report, it was clear from the AG’s report that there were numbers that existed at DND that were much higher than what was presented to Parliament. And the Canadians saw the lower set of numbers. And things were taken out of those numbers to make the number as small as possible. So in that sense they were misled, clearly they were misled. And I think that’s a failure again in leadership, both at the public service level and I think because … and a failure politically but I’m more comfortable talking about the failure at the public service level.
Mr. Page also discusses the future of his office and says he’s not been contacted about who will succeed him in March.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
From the NDP leader’s interview with Tom Clark on the West Block.
Tom Clark: Let me take you to the other major story of the week and that is what’s coming up tomorrow, the F-35 report, the KPMG report is coming down. We basically already know what’s in it because the government has leaked most of the information. But what it comes down to is, that it’s going to cost this country about a billion dollars a year to have a fighter jet fleet. Is that an acceptable amount of money to you?
Thomas Mulcair: The problem in this case is that they never proceeded as prudent public administrators. There are rules Tom that exist to protect the public money. And in this case, they’ve always used the half lie. They say well no money has been spent on acquisition. Well of course no money has been spent on acquisition, the plane doesn’t exist yet but you’ve spent $700 million dollars so far on the process. Seven hundred million dollars by the way is the exact sum of money required to lift every senior in Canada above the poverty line. That’s exactly how much it would take. So they are pretending that that’s not even real money. It is real money. You’re right, I mean it’s going to cost a certain amount to keep a fighter fleet and we need one. It’s part of our national defence but you proceed in the normal way of public administration. You say exactly what your needs are. For example, it has to be able to work in the arctic. Who knew the F-35 can’t work in the arctic. It has to meet Canada’s needs. We have to define what those are and then the lowest conforming bidder gets the contract. Who knew? That’s what public administration is about. The Conservatives talk a good game when it comes to public administration, public management, public money, but they’re abysmal failures when it actually comes to doing the job. And that’s what the F-35 debacle is about more than anything else. It’s a fiasco of public management and the Conservatives are going to wear this one for a long time.
Tom Clark: So we know that they are going to be looking at alternatives but from your point of view, should the F-35 itself be off the table? Should we be only looking now at alternatives to the F-35?
Thomas Mulcair: You define your need, you define your price range, and then you go to the lowest conforming bidder. I’m not saying anything should be off the table, that’s the mistake the Conservatives made. Even when they got caught in their series of lies the first time and they were derisive and dismissive and they were mocking anybody who dared even question them. And we didn’t know anything about this, how could we even ask questions of a great military genius like Peter MacKay. Now they’re going to have to wear it. Of course we should be looking at other options but if the F-35 can meet those criteria, that’s too but you have to say what they are. They’ve never even done that basic exercise. That’s the real problem here. We have the CF-18’s right now. There’s something called the super…that’s the Hornet. There’s something called the Super Hornet, it’s very close and a lot of the preparatory work is already done. We’ve got teams that are already prepared to do that. That would be one of the first ones I’d look at. There are other planes in the world Tom that could be looked at, but again if we haven’t even defined what our own needs are, how are you going to be able to say that you’ve got the lowest conforming bidder?
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Bob Rae talks to Tom Clark about putting a price on carbon.
Tom Clark: But I want to move on to one other thing here and that is the question of whether we should be putting a price on carbon so that at some point down the road the government can move towards either a cap and trade system or a carbon tax. What do you think? What would you encourage your party to decide on that? Should Alberta…some form of carbon tax?
Bob Rae: Alberta and British Columbia have already indicated that they’re pricing carbon. That’s what BC is doing, Alberta is doing it. There are other provinces that are considering doing it. I thought Mr. Harper was in favour of that. I’ve heard Mr. Harper and many ministers; John Baird when he was Energy Minister, others saying that a price on carbon was a good idea. To me, I don’t know how we send signals to the marketplace about how we need to conserve energy going forward unless we have a coordinated approach to carbon pricing. Ironically now, it’s the producing provinces in Alberta and British Columbia that are leading the way in terms of saying yes we need to send a signal, so is Quebec saying the same thing. I think there is a very powerful consensus growing in the country that we need to have a national federal-provincial approach to the pricing of carbon. I hope it very much that the premiers and the prime minister can agree on this in the months and years ahead.
See previously: Bob Rae steps up to defend carbon pricing
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:27 AM - 0 Comments
“Let me just say that government of Canada puts as you know a very high priority on care for our veterans. This government has made enormous, billions of dollars worth of investments in programs particularly for the most needy veterans,” Harper told reporters at a news conference with the Philippine president Benigno Aquino.
“Obviously those programs are under constant review and we will continue to assess their suitability going forward.”
Yesterday on West Block, Tom Clark asked Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney about the treatment of veterans, including the Last Post Fund. Here’s the transcript. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Maj0r-General Lewis MacKenzie says a new Avro Arrow should be considered, but figures the fix is in for the F-35.
Tom Clark: Do you think the fix is in for the F-35?
General Lewis MacKenzie: I do. I do. I think…I worked in a bureaucracy for a while; only one year here in Ottawa but I know how these things work and when a submission or a request comes in, it goes down to the sharp end, sharp end comments and then it comes back up and you get your answer. This feasibility study was in the hands of the PMO, the Minister of National Defence; General Lawson, congratulations now the CDS when he was deputy commander of NORAD. I kept getting the same feedback. It was like talking points coming back. I’d like somebody outside the military family and those that support the military family from within the government to at least pass judgement on it and give us an opinion.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Kevin Page talks to the West Block.
Tom Clark: Your term runs until March of next year. You can be fired before then. That brings up an interesting question, why hasn’t the prime minister fired so far? You’ve drawn the wrath and ire of his ministers.
Kevin Page: Well I think our work you know for the most…has been of relatively high quality and I think people they see that we actually are doing our job. So, you know if I was to get fired and I do work at pleasure of the prime minister and if it was for doing our job, for doing our job, I wouldn’t be upset personally if that was the case. But again, we are doing our job. This is what the government wanted when they were in opposition and I think you know there was a lot of political support for us over the course of this week in the House of Commons. And I get emails, literally hundreds of emails since we released legal opinion on Monday from Canadians who are concerned about it so again, if we don’t have public engagement on this issue, if there is just disengagement or cynicism then I think we all suffer.
In the latest issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review, the editors reprint Mr. Page’s opening statement to the government operations and estimates committee on the topic of reforming the estimates review process.
One of the key principles underlying responsible parliamentary government is that the House of Commons holds the “power of the purse”. The House must be able to satisfy itself, as the confidence chamber, that all spending and taxation is consistent with legislation, Parliament›s intentions, and the principles of parliamentary control. When this is accomplished, Parliament is serving Canadians. In my view, this is rarely accomplished.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 28, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
In interview with Tom Cark, Bruce Hyer says he is enjoying independence, he’ll never go back to a party that whips votes and he has sympathizers.
Well, I certainly do know Tom that since I decided to become an Independent not only can I say what I want, think what I want, vote the way I want, but I’m finding myself already more effective. I’ve got more questions in Question Period. I’ve got more statements. I get to give more speeches. I get to be my own person and more importantly, I get to stand up for my constituents as well as my conscience …
You know it’s quite interesting Tom that many of the caucus members, I’m not going to identify them individually, but well over a third of the caucus members have expressed considerable sympathy for why I did it and kind of agree with me. And interestingly, many of those are the young Quebecois MP’s who believe more in democracy than they do in party discipline.
Without names or corroborating evidence, it’s difficult to know what to make of Mr. Hyer’s claim of support. Quebec, though, would seem to demonstrate how the party system and the focus we place on the party leader serve to get candidates elected. To look at it one way: Of the 1.6 million Quebeckers who voted for the NDP in the last election, how many would’ve voted for the New Democrat candidate if that candidate had been running for a different party?
Of course, Quebec in the 2011 election is an extreme example. But the general idea still holds. Our elections are contests of potential prime ministers and their parties. Is that because voters want it to be so or because they see it to be so in Ottawa? Do voters want party and leader to be what matters or do they simply understand our politics that way because of how subservient the average MP is? Which came first: the system or the public’s understanding of the system?
As for Mr. Hyer’s claim to be more active, I count 12 interventions in his first three weeks of independence versus three interventions in his last three weeks as an NDP MP. Perhaps he’s adopting Elizabeth May’s approach to the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM - 0 Comments
I also support the party’s existing policy on further decriminalising the possession of marijuana for any use with the goal to eliminate the influence of organised crime on the production and distribution of marijuana. In order to make good on those policies, we first need to replace the Harper government with its wrong headed ideological approach to criminal issues. This is why party members should think about who is best positioned to beat the Conservatives in 2015.
But when interviewed by Tom Clark this past weekend—starting at the 8:28 mark here—and asked directly whether he would decriminalize marijuana, Mr. Mulcair responded in the negative.
No. I think that that would be a mistake because the information we have right now is that the marijuana that’s on the market is extremely potent and can actually cause mental illness.
He suggests something like the LeDain commission could be created to study the issue.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 63 Comments
An abridged version of the Prime Minister’s interview with Tom Clark.
“But you know, look … Well look, Tom … Look … Well look, Tom … Well look … Well look … Look … Well look, Tom … And look … And look … Well, first of all, look … Look, Tom … And look … Look.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 6:55 AM - 3 Comments
Rugby Canada and the New Zealand High Commission held a special fundraising Legends of…
Rugby Canada and the New Zealand High Commission held a special fundraising Legends of Rugby dinner at the Museum of Nature. Defence Minister Peter MacKay (right) with Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti.
MacKay with rugby star Rod Snow.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 1:12 PM - 0 Comments
From the Inkless emailbox:
Tom Clark and CTV to Part Ways
Toronto, ON (September 7, 2010) – Tom Clark, host of CTV News Channel’s POWER PLAY WITH TOM CLARK and former CTV News Washington Bureau Chief, has moved on to pursue other opportunities, it was announced today.
In his almost four decade long association with CTV, Tom Clark has become one of Canada’s most respected journalists. In that time, he served as CTV’s China Bureau Chief, CTV Washington Bureau Chief, host and senior correspondent of CTV’s W5, as well as reporting from seven war zones, natural disasters and political upheavals. Clark witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the student uprising in Tien An Men Square. He covered almost every federal election in Canada since 1974.
“CTV is extremely proud of its long association with Tom Clark, and wishes him well in his future endeavours,” said Robert Hurst, President CTV News. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 9:15 AM - 7 Comments
The final All-Party Party organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer packed 200 West Block….
The final All-Party Party organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer packed 200 West Block. The building is scheduled for major maintenance and will be closed for years. Below, Liberal Senator David Smith (left) and Tory Senator Nancy Ruth take to the dance floor.
Liberal MP Siobhan Coady.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 11:19 AM - 176 Comments
From yesterday’s Power Play with Tom Clark on CTV News Channel, footage of most of the show, featuring Ed Broadbent complaining about the goings-on at Rights and Democracy; Aurel Braun complaining about Ed Broadbent; MPs complaining about Rights and Democracy, except for the Conservative fellow who complains about Paul Dewar; and Mike Robinson and Rick Anderson, rising above the fray. I had believed only Steve Paikin, on the public broadcaster TVO, would be able to devote a full hour to this controversy. Tom Clark is full of surprises.
There was a journalists’ panel at the bottom of the hour, and the guy sitting next to Joel-Denis Bellavance sure had a lot to say, but that doesn’t appear to be part of the online archive.
UPDATE: From the Inkless emailbox, this missive from Ezra Levant.
Hi Paul. In your Power Play segment, you mentioned that the 2007 audit of R&D was leaked to me by Aurel Braun.
In fact, I did not receive it from him. And as you probably know, that audit was reveleaed in a scoop by the National Post’s Graeme Hamilton, based on an access to information request. You can read Hamilton’s original story on the audit here: http://ezralevant.com/Waste%20at%20R%26D.pdf
Always happy to reflect other arguments. I’ll note, however, that I can’t find any reference to this later audit, which tells a dramatically different tale, anywhere on Ezra’s site.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 15, 2009 at 6:57 PM - 4 Comments
Stephen Harper’s press conference is here.
Michael Ignatieff talks to CTV here.
Jack Layton talks to CTV here.
Gilles Duceppe talks to CTV here.
Video of a cat playing with a cardboard box, after the jump. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 13, 2009 at 7:12 PM - 22 Comments
CTV’s Tom Clark has some questions for John Baird. Hilarity ensues.