IS GLASNOST COMING TO HARPER LAND?!!
May 2013 federal polling averages
The Liberals averaged 40% in polls conducted in May, a gain of 6.6 points from their April averages. This is the highest Liberal number on record (going back to January 2009, as will be the case for the rest of this post) and the largest month-to-month gain by any party since the New Democrats jumped nine points between April and May 2011.
The Conservatives averaged 27.6% support, a drop of 2.6 points and the lowest number they have put up since at least the beginning of 2009. This is the fourth consecutive month of decline for the Conservatives, and the gap between themselves and the Liberals is the largest since the Tories had a 12-point lead over the Liberals in April 2011.
iPolitics (Michael Harris) – Who can save the Conservatives? Nobody obvious
The essential reason that no Harper cabinet minister can ride to the party’s rescue is that they are all part of the problem. They all bought in to the model Harper built for winning and holding power. But the model was flawed, the principles it espoused were inimical to civil public life, and now people are throwing off this Steve-Power that he tried to pass off as conservatism and democracy. If Canadians no longer want the organ grinder, why would they want the monkeys?
CBC – Trudeau to compensate charities that paid him to fundraise
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is offering to compensate charities that paid him to participate in fundraising events, saying “political leadership is about raising the bar on openness and transparency.”
Trudeau’s decision follows a complaint by the Grace Foundation of Saint John, N.B. last week, saying they lost thousands of dollars after they paid Trudeau $20,000 to speak at an event nine months ago.
REVELATIONS OF ELECTION FINANCING FRAUD CONTINUE
CBC – Tory MP’s campaign alleges Elections Canada ‘vendetta’
(Last week Glover and Bezan fighting Elections Canada, this week Watson and Adams)
Watson’s campaign was told early last month that it had overspent by $10,799.94, partly because Elections Canada changed the value of signs used in the election.
It’s not clear how Little assessed the value of the signs. In a July 2012 letter to Elections Canada, he said the small signs used by the campaign were worth $1 each and the large signs $10. Elections Canada recorded the commercial value at $6.77 for the small signs and $39.55 for the large ones, for a difference of $8,612.43. Little then tried to change the filing to remove a $5,765.71 phone bill that the campaign never paid.
CBC – Expenses claimed by Tory MP include cupcake, steakhouse
The 2011 campaign of Conservative MP Eve Adams is trying to claim $2,777 in personal expenses, including salon visits and dry-cleaning costs, as her campaign works more than two years after the election to close the file.
There are also multiple entries for costs incurred after the May 2, 2011, election, including a purchase three weeks later at Glitz Cupcakes for $2.63 and several restaurant charges as late as July 11, 2011.
Ottawa Citizen – Library and Archives Canada private deal would take millions of documents out of public domain
Library and Archives Canada has entered a hush-hush deal with a private high-tech consortium that would hand over exclusive rights to publicly owned books and artifacts for 10 years.
The plan is scheduled to be announced publicly on Friday and according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, a gag order has been placed on everyone involved in the project until then.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff and others told about the plan have had to sign non-disclosure clauses but it isn’t clear why the process has been wrapped in such a dark cloak of secrecy.
CBC – Scholars, authors wary of government review of Canadian history
Ramsay Cook, a Governor-General’s Award-winning author and professor emeritus at York University, said he suspects the government’s motives are driven less by curiosity than by politics.
“I think the problem is that governments, when they interest themselves in history, they have answers already of what they believe Canadian history is, whereas trained historians ask questions about the past. We have questions, but they have answers, which means they have an agenda.”
PROTECTING THEIR RICH BUDDIES?
CBC – Revenue Canada rejected secret tax haven files
The Canada Revenue Agency had an early chance to gain access to what is believed to be the largest-ever leak of tax-haven data, containing financial information on hundreds of Canadians involved in secretive offshore accounts, but missed out because of a policy of not paying for information, sources have told CBC News.
On Monday, Revenue Minister Gail Shea rose in the Commons to say the government now has access to the data – over two months after the first media reports.
SUPPRESSING INFORMATION AND DISSENT
CTV – Injured soldier who testified about struggles given discharge notice
An injured Canadian soldier who testified about his struggle for health benefits has been notified that he will be discharged in six months, despite assurances from Defence Minister Peter MacKay that he would suffer “no ramifications” for speaking out.
Vancouver-native Cpl. Glen Kirkland, who nearly died in Afghanistan five years ago when he was ambushed by the Taliban, said mere days after his impending discharge.
Huffington Post – Feds Want To Extend Permanent Secrecy Blanket Over 11 New Agencies
Proposed new rules would forbid a number of federal officials from forever discussing sensitive aspects of their work. The officials would include the prime minister’s national security adviser, federal lawyers who work on terrorism cases and intelligence analysts in the Privy Council Office.
The Harper government wants to pull the cloak of eternal secrecy over past and present employees of nine federal agencies and those who used to toil at two now-defunct branches.
Winnipeg Free Press – Training manuals for Parliament guides boost Senate, praise two-party system
Summer students hired as tourist guides for Parliament Hill and area have been trained to praise the Senate and disdain democracies with three or more political parties.
A training manual for the 2013 summer season features an eyebrow-raising section about the value of the Senate, now embroiled in expense scandals and ethical breaches.
CONTINUING EMBARASSMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE
iPolitics – Harper speech to UK Parliament ‘not prime ministerial’ says Labour MP
While the British conservative base seems to have been generally pleased that Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a stop in London to speak to members of both Houses of Parliament Thursday, one shadow cabinet minister was annoyed by Harper’s partisan tone.
John Spellar, the Labour party’s shadow minister for foreign and commonwealth affairs, told iPolitics Friday he found Harper’s address to the members “distinctly partisan,” saying parts of the speech would have been more appropriate for “a meeting of the parliamentary Conservative party.”
Huff Post – John Baird Says Canada Not Among 60 Nations Signing Landmark Arms Treaty
Canada isn’t saying whether it will join more than 60 other countries in signing a landmark treaty to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade.
The federal government hasn’t decided whether it agrees with the UN’s arms trade treaty, despite having voted to move it ahead in the first place, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday.
In defending the decision not to sign immediately, Baird suggested the government sees a potential link between signing on to the treaty and the now-abolished long gun registry.
The Tyee – Human Rights Clause in EU Pact Gives Harper Gov’t Pause
It’s good that the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations have stalled. But the cause of the most recent impasse is a damning comment on the Harper government’s thinking.
To conclude the CETA negotiations, the Conservatives have been willing to undercut municipalities’ right to “buy local,” grant foreign investors special rights to sue governments and significantly increase drug costs, but they are drawing the line on human rights commitments. According to a recent Embassy article, a significant stumbling block to finalizing CETA negotiations with the European Union is a political text that commits both sides to basic human rights standards.
In the Canada-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement, the sticking point is a clause giving either side the ability to suspend CETA if the other engages in serious human rights violations. Ottawa says it’s concerned that this provision could be abused in a trade dispute and that tying an economic accord to human rights commitments unduly impinges upon this country’s sovereignty.