CONS ERVATIVES’ CONTINUING ATTEMPTS TO RENDER PARLIAMENT IMPOTENT
Commons Speaker rejects Tory arguments, upholds MPs’ rights to oppose government
(Is this Scheer madness? If so, give us more!)
The Canadian Press – The Speaker of the House of Commons has flatly rejected Conservative procedural arguments in order to protect MPs’ roles in holding to account a majority government.
The latest Conservative omnibus budget bill — which cleared its final vote Wednesday in the Senate — sparked a procedural battle over how many separate votes the opposition could force, and which MPs would be allowed to propose changes.
Mr. Scheer’s ruling stressed that holding governments to account is an indispensable privilege of elected MPs, and reminded Mr. Van Loan that Canada has a “parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy nor a so-called administrative democracy.”
For a government to disparage and, more dangerously, delegitimize the vital constitutional role of the Opposition is tantamount to highjacking the legislative branch for its own narrow, self-serving purposes. In doing so, the government undermines the very essence of parliamentary democracy. It also mocks the supremacy of Canada’s Constitution, the foundational law of our democracy.
As for the Elections Canada investigation, there are questions as to whether the new commissioner of the agency, Yves Côté, has the courage to press hard on the case. A former associate deputy justice minister who worked closely with Minister Rob Nicholson, Mr. Côté is viewed as a cautious bureaucrat.
(“A cautious bureaucrat”. I think this is just a polite way of saying that he will do what he is told to keep his job – no Kevin Page here.)
FIRST NATIONS ARE IDLE NO MORE IN CHALLENGING THE HARPER GOVERNMENT
Sitting in her home in Edmonton Tanya Kappo typed #Idlenomore on her Twitter account on November 30th to promote an event of the same name happening in Alberta a few days later.
It was retweeted by seven people. It was that tweet that started it all. And it shows no signs of letting up.
Bill C-45, also titled the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, is the second budget implementation act and includes extensive amendments to more than 60 laws. First Nations groups throughout Canada have raised their concerns about the amendments to the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Indian Act, as they affect reserve land management and designation processes.
Spence said the Canadian government was trying to “isolate” and “assimilate” First Nations people.
“This process of marginalizing our political leadership, along with the enforced segregation of our people is part of a deliberate (attempt) to isolate our people, marginalize our people and ultimately assimilate our people so that our rich heritage can be wiped out and the great bounty contained in our traditional lands be made available for exploitation by large multi-national companies,” said Spence.
THE F-35 DEBACLE CONTINUES TO AMAZE AND DISGUST
So, just to be clear, they’re still spinning us. Even now. Even after all that has gone before, even with the release of its own specially commissioned independent review by the accounting firm of KPMG, the Conservative government still can’t bring itself to tell us the whole truth about the costs of the F-35.
When the Harper government announced its intention to buy the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Lightning II in 2010, government ministers trumpeted the benefits to Canadian aerospace companies.
The air force’s research, largely based on information from the U.S. manufacturer, suggested Canadian industry would be in line for as much as US $12 billion in manufacturing or spare parts contracts over the lifetime of the project.
Industry Canada quietly lowered those expectations last spring, to US $9.85 billion, following a blistering report from the auditor general on how the program has been managed.
Despite six on-the-record comments from the prime minister himself stating there was a contract to buy these budget-wrecking, flying pianos, despite explicit House of Commons references by Defence Minister Peter MacKay to “the actual contract” Canada signed to acquire 65 jets for $9 billion, there was Alexander spouting the PMO’s on-demand version of reality. It doesn’t square with any known facts, as Andrew Coyne has so forcefully reminded everyone.
No one in Canadian history has told a bigger whopper to Canadians than the minister of defence did on the true cost to taxpayers of the F-35 program.
Even those who still believe in the Accountability Act and the Tooth Fairy will admit that there is a lot of cheese between the $16 billion figure doggedly promoted by MacKay and the $45.8 billion figure released this week by accounting firm KPMG. Don’t be dazzled by the obfuscations, the hair-splitting, the metaphysics of punditry. The government is and was obliged to provide all the costs of the project, not just the ones that minimized the reality check. Instead, it practiced fact-suppression.
DID BAIRD STRAY FROM THE SCRIPT ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS?
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the Globe and Mail in an interview last Thursday that Harper had told Netanyahu that Canada was opposed to Israel’s plan to build thousands of new homes in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem. ….. Asked for clarification on Monday, Harper’s director of communication Andrew MacDougall replied by email: “The call on Dec. 1 was a call from Prime Minister Netanyahu to Prime Minister Harper to thank Canada for its vote at the UN.
VIC TOEWES HAS GOT YOUR BACK – SO STICK EM UP!
OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are considering sweeping recommendations from an influential government firearms advisory committee to loosen Canada’s gun control laws, the Star has learned.
The proposed changes would touch on many of the remaining restrictions on firearms and critics say would pose a risk to public safety.
The proposals include getting rid of the “prohibited” category of firearms and reclassifying weapons such as certain handguns and assault weapons as “restricted” only, and extending the duration of owner licences from five to 10 years — a move the RCMP warns would strip away an important safety check.
(Looks like the RCMP has a muzzle on now too)
The RCMP refused the Star’s request for comment or technical information Wednesday, deferring to the department of public safety.
WHO YOU GONNA CALL? HARPER’S UNION BUSTERS!
OTTAWA – A Conservative MP who has said his private member’s bill was not part of the government’s agenda has been attending closed-door meetings with senior government players and a vocal anti-organized labour organization – a revelation that is raising red flags among critics.
Merit Canada, an anti-organized labour organization that is a vocal proponent for the bill, has frequently met with senior staff members in the Prime Minister’s Office and at Finance Canada as well as a host of Conservative MPs to discuss Bill C-377, according to records on the Lobbying Commissioner’s website.
Well, there we have it. The Conservative government has just rammed Bill C-377, legislation which will saddle unions with ridiculously detailed, costly financial reporting requirements, through the House of Commons. “Why does the bill target only labour organizations and not all organizations?” retorted Wayne Marston, an NDP MP. “There are other organizations in the country that receive the benefits of tax breaks … Is this not discriminatory?”
That’s a peculiar inconsistency that even a Conservative MP, Brent Rathgeber, has echoed concerns about. “The list of entities that benefit from being operated on dollars that are not taxable… is indeed a long one,” he wrote in a blog post criticizing the bill. “The Law Society, The Bar Association, even the Chamber of Commerce operate entirely on fees that were tax deducted…”
Nonetheless, labour organizations will now be obliged to publicly disclose their financial activities at a level of exacting detail not demanded of any other entity benefiting indirectly from tax deduction rules (and that includes registered charities, to which the bill’s proponents are so fond of comparing unions).