By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 7, 2012 - 0 Comments
Acquisitions of Nexen and Progress Energy will go through
The Harper government has approved both CNOOC Limited’s $15.1-billion acquisition of Nexen Inc. and Petronas’ $5.2-billion acquisition of Progress Energy Resources Corp., while announcing new guidelines for foreign investment in Canada.
In separate statements released after North American markets closed on Friday, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said he was satisfied that the acquisitions by Malaysia’s Petronas and China’s CNOOC were likely to be of net benefit to Canada. Paradis said both companies had “made significant commitments to Canada in the areas of: governance, including commitments on transparency and disclosure; commercial orientation, including an adherence to Canadian laws and practices as well as free market principles” and “employment and capital investments, which demonstrate a long-term commitment to the development of the Canadian economy.” Initially, Malaysia’s Petronas $6-billion bid for Progress Energy was rejected by the federal government and the company later revised its proposal.
“Our statements today will not satisfy everybody,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said shortly after the announcements were made. “Some believe you are either ‘for’ foreign investment under all circumstances, or that you must be ‘against’ foreign investment under any circumstance. Practical government rarely permits such simplicity.”
Under the new guidelines, the acquisition of oil sands companies by foreign state-owned enterprises will only be found to constitute a new benefit for Canada in “exceptional circumstances.” And, despite today’s decision on Nexen, the prime minister seemed eager to draw a line on such investments, saying these decisions marked “not the beginning of a trend, but rather the end of a trend.”
“To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead. That was never the purpose of the Investment Canada Act. It is not an outcome that Canadians would ever support. It is not an outcome any responsible government of Canada could ever allow to happen,” the Prime Minister explained.
Beyond the oil sands, acquisitions by state-owned companies will be reviewed to consider the control or influence to be exerted on the Canadian business, the control or influence likely to be exerted on the larger industry and the control or influence likely to be exerted by the foreign government over the state-owned company.
“In light of growing trends, and following the decisions made today, the government of Canada has determined that foreign state control of oil sands development has reached the point at which further such foreign state control would not be of net benefit to Canada,” Harper said. “When we say that Canada is open for business, we do not mean that Canada is for sale to foreign governments.”
The Conservative government’s decisions drew mixed reviews.
David Detomasi, a professor of international business at Queen’s University, said the two deals forced Ottawa to clarify the Investment Canada Act’s “net benefit” test, which was used to quash the takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan two years ago. “I think the Harper government was caught a little bit flat-footed when these bids were made,” he says. “I think they realized that whatever precedent they set was going to be something they were going to have to live with. And that’s because there are likely other deals in the offing.”
Even so, it will be a tough balance for Ottawa to strike, according to Detomasi. Recovering crude from the oil sands is a massively capital-intensive business and there aren’t enough deep-pocketed Canadian companies capable of making the necessary investments. And many foreign companies—particularly those in China—are state-owned. “Unfortunately, they’re the ones with the cash.”
The opposition New Democrats declared themselves “profoundly disappointed” with the Nexen deal, suggesting that proper public consultation did not occur before the decision was made. “Canadians should be very apprehensive about the long-term economic and environmental consequences,” Peter Julian, the NDP’s natural resources critic, said in a release. “In the past, these kinds of takeovers have resulted in job losses. In October, the NDP called for the government to reject the CNOOC acquisition.
While saying that the Liberals welcome investment—”we do need investment in the oilsands and in other industries”—Liberal trade critic Wayne Easter also expressed concerns. “There’s still really no clarity. We still don’t know the details. We have no idea what those rules really are,” he said. “Are all state-owned enterprises being handled the same, whether it’s China or any other country? Should there be different criteria, given the strategic planning of some countries versus others? Is there reciprocity here? I’m led to believe there’s not. There should be reciprocity in terms of how Canadian investment in China is handled in a similar way to Chinese investment in Canada.”
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said her government was “pleased” with the Harper government’s decisions, but that Alberta would be seeking clarity on how “exceptional circumstances” will be defined.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 5, 2012 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today announced the Government’s intent to adjust the Employment Insurance (EI) Working While on Claim pilot project.
“Concerns have been raised regarding the new EI Working While on Claim pilot project,” said Minister Finley. “We have listened to those concerns and today I am announcing our intent to make adjustments to the new pilot program.”
The current pilot project allows claimants to keep 50 cents for every dollar they earn from working while on claim. It removes the previous pilot project’s cap on earnings, which clawed back 100% of earnings over $75 or 40% which discouraged Canadians from accepting more available work.
Under the adjustment announced today, those EI recipients who were working while on claim between August 7, 2011 and August 4, 2012 will be given the option of reverting to the rules that existed under the previous pilot program. This change will go into effect January 6, 2013, but it will be applied retrospectively to August 5, 2012 – the start of the new pilot program.
For those who choose this option, their EI benefits will not be reduced on earnings made while on claim for the first $75 or 40 percent of their benefits, whichever is greater – the same as the previous pilot program. However, all earnings above that threshold will reduce their EI benefits dollar for dollar.
Beginning January 6, 2013, eligible claimants must make the request to revert to the old pilot parameters within 30 days of their last EI benefit payment. For claims that have already ended, claimants will have 30 days from the introduction of this option.
Eligible claimants will be required to make this request for any subsequent claims for the duration of the new pilot project, which runs from August 5, 2012, until August 1, 2015. For an eligible claimant who does not choose to be considered under the previous pilot rules, all current and future claims will be processed under the new Working While on Claim pilot rules.
For an eligible claimant, if they make the decision to opt for the previous pilot, they will not be able to revert to the new pilot during the same EI claim. In addition, if, in a subsequent claim, they receive Working While on Claim benefits under the new pilot introduced on August 5, 2012 they will not be allowed to opt for the old pilot should they file another claim the following year.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. It was of something Peter Van Loan said in his third response yesterday that Thomas Mulcair asked his first question today.
“Does the Prime Minister agree,” the NDP leader asked, “that employment insurance is, to quote his House leader, ‘an incentive for people to be unemployed?’ ”
Mr. Harper stood and clarified the necessity of employment insurance and asserted his interest in seeing people find jobs. Then he attempted to deal with the details.
“In the past, the way employment insurance worked was that individuals who went back to work lost dollar for dollar everything that they gained when they returned to work,” he said. “For the vast majority of people that is what happened. We are trying to make sure that Canadians can go back to work and continue to benefit.”
Mr. Mulcair proceeded to venture that Mr. Harper was not much interested in helping the unemployed. And, further, that Mr. Harper’s lack of interest extended to various people and concepts. ”Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not interested in meeting with the premiers. He is not interested in working together. He is not interested in the unemployed,” the NDP leader alleged. “He will travel around the world to Davos, to South America, to China but he will not even sit down with Canadian premiers. In seven years he has only met with the premiers once, the worst record of any prime minister.”
There was grumbling from the government side.
“Why will the Prime Minister not even listen to the people on the ground?” Mr. Mulcair asked. “Why will the Prime Minister not work together with his own fellow Canadians here at home?”
Mr. Harper has actually met with the premiers en masse twice—in November 2008 and January 2009. But the Prime Minister had an even more impressive-sounding number to table here. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM - 0 Comments
Mike Moffatt responds to Wayne Easter’s defence of supply management, specifically the concern that eliminating supply management would open the Canadian market to cows that have been treated with growth hormone.
A brief 1998 piece by Canada’s Parliamentary Research Branch found that products from rBST cows were almost certainly being sold in Canada: “It is very likely that products such as cheese and yogurt made from milk produced by rBST-treated cows have been imported into Canada. In fact, the use of rBST has been approved in the United States since February, 1994. In that country, milk from treated cows is considered to be as safe as milk from untreated cows and there is no labelling requirement concerning rBST on dairy products.”
In short, dairy supply management does not stop U.S. dairy products from being sold in Canada. Eliminating supply management would not prevent Canada from limiting the sales of dairy products from rBST-treated cows.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Wayne Easter defends supply management.
By eliminating supply management and opening our border to “cheap” milk and dairy products we would be doing indirectly what is illegal directly, namely placing on the retail shelves dairy products produced through the use of a growth hormone. Currently in the US, 17% of the 9 million dairy cattle are injected with this growth hormone.
Criticizing supply management in favour of the “blameless market” is relatively easy. What is more difficult is to ensure a system that provides Canadians with safe and secure food products at reasonable prices while returning fair prices to producers. The current supply management system does that. Why some promote transferring market power from producers and consumers to a system that allows the exploitation of both by global corporations is beyond me.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
Despite—indeed, because of—Wayne Easter’s statement that no Nazi salute was made during last week’s C-38 votes, Joe Oliver rose after QP today to press the case, alleging that Mr. Easter and Liberal MP Hedy Fry engaged in inappropriate gesturing. Mr. Easter again asserted innocence, but Conservative MP Chris Warkentin suggested he should apologize anyway. After an intervention by Bob Rae, the Speaker said he would review the video footage. (Ms. Fry responds via Twitter.)
Below, the transcript of today’s discussion. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Wayne Easter says no such gesture was made during last week’s C-38 votes.
In speaking with The Guardian, Easter said he pointed at Harper because the prime minister was bowing like he was an emperor. ”Why don’t you go over and shine his shoes and why don’t you salute him,” Easter said he shouted to the Conservatives.
Joe Oliver’s original complaint and the resulting discussion are here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:44 PM - 0 Comments
Picking up where the discussion left off yesterday, Nathan Cullen returned to his point of privilege this afternoon after QP, repeating his concern that MPs are not receiving the information they need to assess C-38.
Peter Van Loan, Elizabeth May and Wayne Easter added their interventions.
Below, the transcript. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Beyond the matter of the toy shuttles and beneath the daily debate over the F-35 procurement, there is an intriguing dispute playing out in the House.
Nearly a month ago now, Bob Rae rose on a point of privilege and attempted to make the case that the House had been misled on the F-35 file. The Speaker could not find a question of privilege in Mr. Rae’s comments, so the interim Liberal leader tried again the next day.
Mr. Rae’s argument was twofold: first, that while ministers were telling the House that the government accepted the conclusions of the auditor general, two departments of government officially disagree with some of the auditor general’s findings; second, that “if in fact it is true that the government accepts the conclusions of the Auditor General’s report, the Government of Canada is admitting that for a period of 21 months it misled the Parliament of Canada.”
After some quibbling with this from the government side, the House went on break for two weeks.
Upon the resumption of business last week, Peter Van Loan offered a full response from the government. The next morning, Nathan Cullen tabled the NDP’s position. That afternoon, Liberal MP John McKay added ten points of his own. He was then followed by Wayne Easter. Last Thursday, Mr. Rae responded to Mr. Van Loan. Yesterday, Mr. Van Loan responded to Mr. Rae. Though the Speaker is now pleading for the House to leave the matter with him, Mr. McKay has suggested he might have more to add.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM - 55 Comments
The Scene. On the third day, she did stand. Bev Oda did rise up on her own two feet. She did speak publicly in response to a question posed by a Member of Parliament on the opposition side of the House. She did fulfill, in this regard, her responsibility as a minister of the crown in this democracy of ours.
Alas, it was nothing to do with the decision to reject a funding request from a group named KAIROS. It was nothing to do with how that decision was explained. Nothing to do with how a relevant document came to be so sloppily edited. Nothing to do with how Ms. Oda had explained that editing. Indeed, barring a sudden turn tomorrow, it seems Ms. Oda will escape this week without having to answer any of the questions that arose out of her statement to the House on Monday afternoon.
The government swears she has been responsible in this regard, but they won’t let her take responsibility. The government applauds her abilities, but won’t let her stand. The government expounds on her courage, but they won’t let her speak.
“I’ve been very clear to my ministers that they are responsible for the decisions they make,” the Prime Minister apparently said today.
In fairness, he did not say specifically “when” or “how” his ministers are so responsible. And we are clearly now at a point where only by asking with the correct combination of passwords can we expect to get at the truth. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 7:45 PM - 160 Comments
Stephen Harper stood this afternoon before a room of past and present cabinet ministers, current and former members of parliament, power-brokers, diplomats, hangers-on and swells—the size of the crowd woefully overwhelming Parliament’s air conditioning system on a truly sweltering day in the capital—and toasted the career of Jean Chrétien, the man who once seemed to epitomize everything Mr. Harper campaigned to change, everything that was wrong with this place, everything that brought Mr. Harper to office four and a half years ago.
Mr. Harper spoke of a “great Parliamentarian” and a “great leader” and his “long and successful service to Canada.” “For this passion and dedication, Jean Chrétien deserves our admiration and our thanks,” Mr. Harper said. “And he deserves to look back on his record of service to our country with pride and satisfaction.”
And then Mr. Harper said this. “Partisan differences are a healthy and necessary part of our political culture and process. But on an occasion such as this, we remember that they are transcended by a deep, enduring consensus, a shared understanding that our freedom rests also on the limitations imposed on those partisan differences by our constitutional traditions and the rule of law.”
Perhaps it was just the heat, but these words seemed heavy. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 12:05 PM - 40 Comments
In terms of what a compromise might look like, we refer again to some of the options already explored for establishing a forum that might safely review sensitive documents. The interim committee on national security that studied these sorts of issues in 2004 was chaired by Derek Lee, but also, perhaps notably, included the following members: Joe Comartin, Wayne Easter, Marlene Jennings, Serge Menard, Kevin Sorenson and Peter MacKay.
Also instructive is the parliamentary sub-committee on combatting organized crime which functioned largely in camera and reported to the House in 2000. That committee included members from all parties, including the aforementioned future defence minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 16, 2010 at 2:16 PM - 34 Comments
From QP this morning, Wayne Easter attempts to put two and two together. Or connect the dots. Or whatever the appropriate phrase is here.
Mr. Speaker, Richard Colvin is a diplomat with 20 years of distinguished service to Canada. He remains a high-level employee of the government in perhaps our most important foreign mission, the embassy in Washington. When Mr. Colvin and others raised serious allegations, the government said he was not credible. However, when the Prime Minister got second-hand information from Mr. Gillani, known as Big Daddy G, the government fired the Status of Women minister, booted her from caucus and called in the police. Why the hypocritical double standard?
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 3:18 PM - 14 Comments
After a week off to accommodate all that thinking in Montreal, here is the return of our weekly, and wholly arbitrary, ranking of the ten most worthy, or at least entertaining, MPs, excluding the Prime Minister, cabinet members and party leaders. A celebration of all that is great and ridiculous about the House of Commons. Last week’s rankings appear in parentheses. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 6:43 PM - 63 Comments
The Scene. “Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister,” Bob Rae said quite matter-of-factly. And this being Question Period, the Speaker allowed him to proceed.
“What was supposed to be the Canadian signature initiative on maternal health has been described as completely inadequate by the two major allies, that could get to a microphone, both the United States and the United Kingdom,” Mr. Rae continued. “I wonder if the Prime Minister can explain how such a major diplomatic setback could be occurring in the build up to the G8 which Canada is hosting.”
The Prime Minister stood to put Mr. Rae at ease.
“On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, the initiative on maternal a child health is supported throughout the G8. Of course G8 countries will have different priorities in terms of the specific things they fund. Particularly on the issue of abortion a number of G8 countries have a different position,” Mr. Harper said, without actually saying what his government’s position is.
“Whether it comes to our role in Afghanistan, our sovereignty over our Arctic or ultimately our foreign aid priorities,” Mr. Harper declared, “it is Canada and Canadians who will make Canadian decisions.”
Happy Conservatives leapt to their feet to applaud their leader’s coming-of-age. Indeed, the Prime Minister has surely matured greatly in the seven years since he felt Canada should stand with the Brits and Americans and go charging into war. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 5:51 PM - 13 Comments
The Liberals sent up their designated expresser-of-outrage, Mr. Wayne Easter, to question the government side this afternoon about Helena Guergis’ latest trouble. Her response was as follows.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the staffer in question, she called me today. She advised me of the situation. We discussed it. We did discuss that it was inappropriate. She apologized and assured me that it will not happen again.
Canwest has helpfully compiled some of the nicer testimonials provided by her apologetic assistant.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:23 PM - 49 Comments
The Liberals sent Wayne Easter up yesterday to berate Jean-Pierre Blackburn for whatever it is that happened awhile back with the Veteran Affairs Minister and his tequila. The Conservatives permitted Mr. Blackburn to respond for himself. His two responses were as follows.
Mr. Speaker, I was at the airport a month ago. We had forgotten that there was a bottle of alcohol in our carry-on luggage. Of course, the bottle was confiscated by the security officials. I never asked for any preferential treatment whatsoever. I remained polite at the airport at all times. The security officials did their job and I respected their decision.
Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat that I did not ask for any preferential treatment whatsoever. I just would not do that. I repeat that I apologize to anyone I may have offended.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 19, 2010 at 4:53 PM - 13 Comments
Our weekly, and wholly arbitrary, ranking of the ten most worthy, or at least entertaining, MPs, excluding the Prime Minister, cabinet members and party leaders. A celebration of all that is great and ridiculous about the House of Commons. Last week’s rankings appear in parentheses. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 10:38 AM - 53 Comments
Buried in a Liberal motion yesterday was a proposal that the House direct “its Board of Internal Economy to take all necessary steps to end immediately the wasteful practice of Members sending mass mailings, known as ‘ten-percenters,’ into ridings other than their own, which could represent another saving to taxpayers of more than $10 million.”
The resulting debate starts here and, later, resumes here. The gist would seem to be that the government side opposes the motion on an assertion of free speech, while the NDP would like the program to continue with some kind of rule against negative content.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 12, 2010 at 4:40 PM - 23 Comments
And now the debut of a new weekly feature here at Beyond the Commons: a wholly arbitrary ranking of the ten most worthy, or at least entertaining, MPs, excluding the Prime Minister, cabinet members and party leaders. A celebration of all that is great and ridiculous about the House of Commons. Exact criteria will take shape over time, points for now will be awarded on general competence and ability to amuse me. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 6, 2009 at 2:46 PM - 14 Comments
Fun facts. From 1892 to 2005, Canada had a solicitor general. From Oct. 2002 to Dec. 2003, Liberal Wayne Easter, as noted here, held that title. From April 2003 to Dec. 2003, that position put Easter in charge of the federal firearm registry. And on Wednesday night, Easter voted to have long guns removed from that registry.
In July 2003, six gun owners showed up at Easter’s constituency office, reported that they had not registered their weapons and invited him to take action. He declined. “I don’t direct police operations,” he told Canwest at the time, “that’s up to the police to decide. And as I’ve said a number of times, the police know the difference between somebody trying to make a point politically versus concerns for public safety.”
Three months later though, with the release of statistics showing a drop in gun-related deaths, Easter was sought out for comment and seemed generally supportive of the registry’s general purpose. Canadian Press dispatch after the jump. Relevant portion in bold. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 6:46 PM - 90 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister’s chair, as an inanimate object, was unlikely to answer. But Michael Ignatieff insisted on asking anyway.
“Mr. Speaker, today we learn from the Auditor General that, for its entire time in office, the government has failed to develop any national emergency preparedness plan. That includes planning for epidemics and pandemics like H1N1. Does that not begin to explain why the government’s response to this crisis has been so slow and confused?” he wondered aloud. ”We have heard from the Minister of Health. When will we begin to hear from the Prime Minister? When will he stand up, take responsibility for the government’s mistakes and correct the situation?”
The Prime Minister was otherwise engaged with escorting the Prince and Camilla around rural Newfoundland. John Baird, Mr. Harper’s de facto deputy, was away as well, while the Health Minister was in Vancouver. No worries though, because this seemed to be a question about emergency preparedness and that is distinctly the purview of the Public Safety Minister and that minister, the typically unshy Peter Van Loan, was most certainly in his seat.
And yet, here came Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry and master flailler of arms.
“Mr. Speaker, let me dwell in the realm of facts,” Mr. Clement boldly offered. “The fact of the matter is that there have been six million doses of H1N1 vaccine that have already been delivered to the provinces and territories.
“That’s what you said yesterday!” lamented a Liberal.
“We currently have more H1N1 vaccine per capita than any other country in the world,” Mr. Clement reviewed. “The vaccine is being distributed as quickly as it is being produced and there will be sufficient H1N1 vaccine available in Canada for everyone who in fact needs or wants to be immunized.”
“Merry Christmas!” chirped a Liberal, yesterday’s points and counterpoints now sufficiently covered. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 6:36 PM - 112 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister was not in his seat this afternoon when Question Period began. Which seems a shame. Not least because of the profound moment in the history of his government that he was not there to witness firsthand. The rest of us will at least be able to say we were there, that we saw it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears. The Prime Minister will have to suffice with seeing it on TV. Or perhaps hearing about it from a member of his staff.
Although, maybe it was best he wasn’t there after all. Indeed, in a way, it’s better he was spared the awful sight.
The session began simply enough with the obvious, the Liberal leader wondering aloud about a potential conflict of interest involving a Conservative senator and a sizable government contract. “Mr. Speaker, a pattern is becoming all too clear,” Michael Ignatieff posited. “The Conservative government is using stimulus spending to buy votes and reward its friends. This morning, we learned that one of the Prime Minister’s newest senators works for a company that has just won $1.4 million in infrastructure spending. At a time when the middle class is struggling, would the Prime Minister explain why infrastructure spending that is needed by all Canadians ends up in the hands of a member of his own—”
His time expired, the Transport Minister stood smirking to dismiss Mr. Ignatieff’s concerns. The Liberal tried again, this time en francais. John Baird once more swatted the question away. “Mr. Speaker, there is no reason to jump to the conclusions that the Leader of the Opposition does,” Mr. Baird declared. “If he has any evidence of any wrongdoing, rather than pontificating in this place, he should put his facts on the table and be accountable for those. We have been completely open, completely transparent with the infrastructure spending that we have made.”
The Liberals howled with mocking laughter.
“The grant in question was made by a crown corporation,” the Minister finished, “with no lobbying and no involvement whatsoever of my office or the office of the Minister of Public Works.”
Here, then, is where it happened. Where everything that once was up turned down. Where left became right, day became night and blue became red. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
And Kenney’s nickname
John Baird wondered about the PM’s outfit
Before Stephen Harper surprised the audience at the National Arts Centre’s gala fundraiser by playing the piano and singing a Beatles song, he was enjoying drinks at 24 Sussex with his wife, Laureen Harper, Transport Minister John Baird, and the PM’s former head of communications Sandra Buckler. Baird and Buckler didn’t know the PM was attending the gala, let alone that he would be performing. Ironically, notes Mrs. Harper, while at the house “my husband was playing the piano—dressed in black like Johnny Cash—and John said to Sandra, ‘He really should play at one of these events.’ Sandra agreed and it was the toughest moment of my life to keep my mouth shut.” Baird did think it was odd that the PM was all in black and that he at one point opened the door himself and told them all to get going, pretending he was staying behind. Baird tried to say something like “We aren’t in a rush at all.” As they left 24 Sussex, Mrs. Harper spotted the van that had the band in it. The musicians and PM had it planned so that they’d all head over together, undercover, for the surprise.
U.S. skimps on the water
Toronto Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett testified in front of the U.S. Senate. She was there to talk about why in Canada, in her words, “we pay less [for health care], live longer, and don’t have as many infants die in their first year of life.” The experience wasn’t quite like testifying in front of a Canadian Senate committee, she says. For example, in the U.S., Bennett was given a small bottle of water. In Canada there are glasses and pitchers. “I’m a big water drinker,” noted Bennett, who had to pace her sipping during her testimony because of the small amount made available. She also periodically forgot to turn her microphone on and off. In Canada, it’s someone else’s job to turn mikes on and off during committee hearings. Bennett had to explain to the Americans that Canada has a publicly funded health insurance system “and not socialized medicine—[that] as a family doctor I was not a public servant.” After testifying, she was taken to the U.S. Senate dining room for lunch, where she had some “pretty delicious crab cakes.” Continue…