Amazing commentary this week. What’s even better is that the first 3 articles are by Conservatives.
Torstar (Joe Clark) – Harper’s Ottawa has all but abandoned the global arena
The Harper government is skilled at conveying, and controlling, its own image among Canadians. But sometimes the most disciplined guard goes down, and the government actually says what it means. In October 2012, in the heat and fatigue of war-torn Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and at the end of the summit of La Francophonie, Stephen Harper said: “I hope that in the future, La Francophonie and other major organizations will decide to hold a summit only in countries with democratic standards.”
iPolitics (Tasha Kheiriddin) – Who’s under the bus now?
Beep beep beep. That’s the sound of Senator Mike Duffy reversing the double-decker bus he drove over the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Marjory LeBreton and Stephen Harper today. And forward. And reverse. And forward. And … well, you get the idea.
If there was one phrase that stuck out from Duffy’s diatribe this afternoon, it was, “But there’s more”. For over twenty minutes, in his best television bombast, the former broadcaster lobbed a series of grenades at the government. There was, he says, a second cheque to pay his legal fees, ordered by the PMO
NP (Andrew Coyne) – To recap, the prime minister is not responsible for almost anything
To recap, the prime minister is not responsible. He is not responsible for appointing Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau to the Senate. He is not responsible for appointing senators from provinces in which they were not resident, and he is not responsible for their subsequent activities shilling for the Tories across the country at public expense.
And he is most certainly not responsible for the clandestine campaign, involving officials in his office, the chairman of the Conservative Fund Canada, and several leading Conservative senators, to repay Senator Duffy’s falsely claimed expenses on his behalf and conceal his misdeeds from the public. He is not responsible for his spokesman’s statements, even after the plot had been exposed, praising Mr. Duffy for “doing the right thing” and vouching confidence in his chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
iPolitics (Paul Adams) – Farewell Stephen Harper, tactical genius
The Senate scandal has already done us one favour: It’s put an end to the say-what-you-want-but-Stephen-Harper-is-a-brilliant-tactician meme. Imagine for a moment that you are Nigel Wright this week. Much more than Mike Duffy, you are the man who knows where all the bodies are buried.
iPolitics (Lawrence Martin) Can Harper hang on? Don’t bank on it
The danger for Harper now is that the floodgates are open and, as under Nixon, they’ll reach well beyond a single scandal. A pattern of abuse of power is being exposed on many fronts and it can’t be contained. That is why it will be difficult for Stephen Harper to hang on until the next election. It’s not just the Senate scandal. There is so much more that fits the same pattern. The in-and-out scam. The hidden G-8 slush fund. The billy-clubbing of adversaries. Allegations of vote suppression tactics aimed at skewing the electoral system. The duplicity on the F-35s and the Afghan detainees. The denial of free speech, not just to scientists and caucus members but all over town. The campaigns against media access. Contempt of Parliament. Suppressing damaging reports. Altering damaging documents.
MORE ON THE CURRENT SCANDAL
HuffPost – Senate Expense Scandal: Government Takes New Approach To Suspend Senators
(Will Harper have his way, or will the Conservative rift widen?)
Carignan said the vote, whenever it comes, will be a “totally free vote” for Conservative senators. But Sen. Hugh Segal, who has led the dissident Conservative charge against the suspension motions, said the fact that the suspensions are now a matter of government business will make it harder for him to vote his conscience. “I have to assess what I’m going to do between now and then. As a general principle, I’ve never voted against a government motion,” he said.
IN THE HARPER CROSSHAIRS THIS WEEK: PENSIONERS, WORKERS, VETERANS, PARLIAMENT
The following is a very disturbing article about the changes to the Board of Directors and the new investment strategy under the Harper government. Aside from the obvious moral issues, this new strategy might have a destabilizing effect on the CPP. Shouldn’t the CPP board be made up of independent investment specialists, actuaries and economists as opposed to the Harper appointed membership which seems to consist entirely of former and current CEO of large corporations. Is this not a conflict of interest?
HuffPost – Where Your CPP Money Really Goes
If you look at the CPP Investment Board of Directors, you will find that all but one executive was appointed since the determined change in strategy under the Harper government. These board members are skilled leaders from different industries, but no matter their background, most of them share something in common.
Robert Astley was the President of Sun Life. CPP purchased $109 million worth of stock in Sun Life. (See CPP domestic portfolio and foreign portfolio, PDF)
Ian Bourne is Chief Executive Officer of SNC-Lavalin. CPP invested $21 million in SNC-Lavalin in spite of the company being plagued by ties to the Gadhafi regime and fraud charges that are still winding through the courts.
Canada.com – Opposition, unions say watered down labour code will endanger Canadian workers
New federal labour code regulations introduced in the Conservative government’s fall budget bill will gut health and safety protections for Canadian workers and make it more difficult for employees to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, say opposition parties and labour groups. The changes unveiled in the Harper government’s sweeping 321-page fall budget implementation bill will redefine what is considered “danger” in federally regulated workplaces and retool the “refusal to work process,” according to the budget document. As well, the legislative amendments will “remove all references to health and safety officers and to confer on the Minister of Labour their powers, duties and functions.”
Huffpost – Injured Canadian Military Troops Booted Before Pension Qualification
Gravely injured troops are being booted from the military before they qualify for a pension, despite assurances to the contrary from the Harper government. A former reserve combat engineer was let go last Friday on a medical discharge after begging for months to remain until hitting the 10-year mark.
NP – Watchdog to investigate government’s $7B budget surprise after Ottawa announces shrinking deficit
(In the midst of the Senate drama Flaherty announces that the budget deficit will be $7 billion less than originally projected. If you believe that……)
The No. 2 man in the Parliamentary Budget Office says officials have asked the Finance Department for clarification…. “But at what cost to Canadians?” says NDP finance critic Peggy Nash. “This is exactly why the PBO was created and it goes to the heart of accountability for the government. What are the programs and services that have been affected? They won’t say.”
Liberal critic Scott Brison says the government’s continuing job cuts are a “fatwa” on the public service — politically driven, and not about helping the economy.
GreenParty.ca – Curtain falls on rights of individual Members of Parliament
Multiple Parliamentary Committees have now passed the Conservative motion to shut down the rights of individual Members of Parliament. For Members falling outside of the Conservative, NDP, or Liberal caucuses, the motion shuts down their rights to amend legislation at Report Stage.
“This coordinated effort proves that these motions are coming directly from the Prime Minister’s Office,” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “Despite holding the majority of votes in the House, and therefore the ability to pass any Bill he chooses, Prime Minister Harper appears so allergic to Parliamentary debate that he is attempting to eliminate the opportunities for MPs from smaller parties and independents to table and speak to their amendments. This isn’t just contempt for the rights of MPs, it is contempt of Parliament, and we will not let this matter lie.”
MAKING CANADA UNRECOGNIZABLE
G&M (Jeffrey Simpson) – The Supreme Court deserves better
(Here we go again. Another lawsuit against the Harper government. Guess who’s paying for this.)
The Parti Québécois government, gearing up for a possible election and therefore especially anxious to attack Ottawa, has launched a legal challenge against Justice Marc Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
The PQ claims that Justice Nadon has been living outside Quebec for a long time, hasn’t sat on a Quebec court (he sat on the Federal Court) and hasn’t practised law in Quebec for two decades.
National Newswatch (Frances Russell) Now’s The Time For All Good Citizens To Come to the Aid Of Their Democracy
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has leaped upon this gaping hole in the public’s grasp of their governmental institutions like a cat on a mouse. Since taking office, he has strode like a bull in a china shop through our enfeebled parliament and confused electorate, overturning virtually every precedent and standard of parliamentary democracy.
He’s made himself into Canada’s King Louis XIV, the Sun King. He summons — and prorogues – parliament whenever it suits his political agenda: ie. whenever he’s in political trouble.
G&M – Let’s bring Ottawa’s political staffers out of the shadows with a code of conduct
(Political staffers should work out of party offices and be paid with party dollars.)
A number of recent government controversies have highlighted the role of the “political staffer,” such as the current Senate scandal, the gas plant cancellations in Ontario, the B.C. Liberals’ “ethnic outreach strategy,” and various interferences in freedom of information requests.
But who are these political staff? Who hires them? Who pays them? What is their purpose? And to what extent can Canadians hold them accountable for actions that breach the public trust?