(Also, check out the BEST RANT OF THE WEEK at the bottom of this post)
National Post (Andrew Coyne) – Very little ‘fair’ about how Conservatives are pushing controversial Elections Act
(Damning commentary on the Unfair Elections Act by a former apologist for the Harper Conservatives.)
It is coarse to imagine the Conservatives are conspiring to fix the next election, in plain sight of everyone. If you were bent on suppressing the opposition vote, evading spending limits, and otherwise participating in electoral fraud, presumably you would not take the trouble to advertise this in legislation. On the other hand, if they are not up to no good, they are doing their best to convince people they are. The secrecy surrounding the Fair Elections Act, the failure to consult in advance of its drafting, the curtailment of debate after, the supreme indifference to legitimate criticism, all under the chilling oversight of the Minister for Democratic Reform, Pierre Poilievre, would be enough to make anyone nervous.
National Post – Andrew Coyne: In the Tories’ partisan Bizarro World, every critic of Fair Elections Act is biased
(Mr. Coyne nails it again)
Ideas previously accepted as axiomatic — that everyone has a right to vote, that those who don’t vote should be encouraged to, that public confidence in elections should not be undermined nor the integrity of their administrators lightly impugned — are now in play. The people who uphold these ideas — experts in election law, present and former elections officials, people with long experience in the legal and political worlds who have earned reputations for sound judgment — now find themselves dismissed as biased, or even bought. Because there are now “sides” to this question.
G&M – With this act, Conservatives might win the battle, lose the war I’m not sure whether Pierre Poilievre dreams of becoming a Republican when he grows up, but the Minister of State for Democratic Reform and his boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, should consider the mistakes of their U.S. brethren before ramming their flawed elections bill through Parliament. From its patronizing title to its self-serving provisions, Mr. Poilievre’s Fair Elections Act is a Conservative version of the kind of bills Republican state legislatures have tried to pass, in some cases successfully, as a seawall against the demographic tsunami threatening their party.
The Globe and Mail – The Harper machine is in disarray
What’s often been reputed to be a well-oiled machine has seldom been in such a state of disarray.
The young and extremely partisan Mr. Soudas, who had previously served in the Prime Minister’s Office as one of the so-called boys in short pants, was hired to be the party’s principal election organizer. But he meddled too much in trying to secure the nomination of his fiancée, MP Eve Adams, in a Toronto-area riding.
National Post – Dear Diary: Eve Adams gets her way if you like it or not
(Sorry, couldn’t resist)
I came home to find that Dimitri had lovingly prepared a candlelit dinner of spaghetti bolognese. “That’s so sweet, my pet” I told him, before upending the table onto the floor. “You know I went gluten free last week.” As he cleaned up the mess, I outlined his new campaign tasks: door knockings, several “persuasive” phone calls, and I’ll need him to swing by Conservative HQ to find some dirt on those rats at the riding association. He stammered something about losing his job — but I cut him off with a kiss.
Star – Harper government drives up youth unemployment: Goar
The Stephen Harper and his colleagues are sidelining young Canadian job seekers with their policies, their choices and their blind spots.
A government bent on lowering the living standard of Canada’s next generation couldn’t do a much better job than Stephen Harper and his colleagues have done.
The Prime Minister and his high-octane employment minister, Jason Kenney, have thrown one barrier after the next in front of young job seekers. Canada’s youth unemployment rate (15-24 years of age, both sexes) was 12.2 per cent when the Conservatives took power in 2006. Today, it is 13.6 per cent. But the numbers tell only part of the story. Hundreds of thousands of young people have given up their job search and gone back to school. Others have simply disappeared from the head count.
THE TRAVESTY OF THE “FAIR” ELECTIONS ACT
Huffington Post – Fair Elections Act: Public Prosecutor Not Consulted On Planned New Role
(The media is finally getting deeper into the Unfair Elections Act. This article reveals truly sickening information.)
The Harper government did not consult the director of public prosecutions about its controversial plan to put him in charge of the investigative arm of Elections Canada — a move that departs from a long-standing principle that prosecutors and investigators should be kept separate. The plan to hive off the commissioner of elections from Elections Canada and move him under the auspices of the director of public prosecutions is a key component of a proposed overhaul of election laws, which has been almost universally panned by Canadian and international electoral experts.
CBC News – Public prosecutor not consulted on election law overhaul
The Harper government did not consult the director of public prosecutions about its controversial plan to put him in charge of the investigative arm of Elections Canada.
The plan to hive off the commissioner of elections from Elections Canada and move him under the auspices of the director of public prosecutions is a key component of the government’s proposed overhaul of election laws.
It’s a departure from a long-standing principle that prosecutors and investigators should be kept separate.
The Hill Times – Partisan poll supervisors could lead to intimidation on election day, say critics
Appointing central poll supervisors from partisan lists is neither fair nor appropriate and could undermine Canadians’ confidence in the democratic process, election administration expert Harry Neufeld says, while the NDP warns the Tories would make use of the changes to increase their partisan presence at the polls. Bill C-23, the elections bill, would change the way all four election administration positions at any given polling station are appointed. Three of them—deputy returning officers, poll clerks and registration officers—are already appointed from lists provided by the candidate of the party that finished first (deputy returning officers) or second (poll clerks) in the previous election.
Huffington Post – Fair Elections Act Will Hurt Aboriginal Voting: First Nations
Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for the bill, has repeatedly stressed it is reasonable to expect people to properly identify themselves before they vote. He cites 39 different pieces of identification that can be used.
Christiansen, a status Indian who has lived most of her life on reserve, has a different perspective.
“I have reviewed that list and unlike Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre, who has numerous pieces of identification in his wallet, most First Nations people do not have any of those — much less one that contains an address,” she said.
Status cards, for instance, are government-issued photo ID but have no address on them. The cards expire and can take years to renew, the committee was told.
iPolitics – Fraser tells MPs she’s greatly disturbed by Poilievre’s words
It was electoral reform theme day on Parliament Hill.
The day began with Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre taking a blistering run at critics of the Fair Elections Act and progressed as a volley of returned fire from those critics, including former auditor general Sheila Fraser, who was blunt before both House and Senate committees examining the bill.
“It troubles me greatly… disturbs me greatly, to see comments that are made, and I will be quite blunt, by the minister… attacking personally the Chief Electoral Officer,” Fraser said. “This serves none of us well. It undermines the credibility of these institutions.”
iPolitics – Fraser holds her own on Fair Elections Act
Poilievre has also spent more than a week attempting to frame Fraser’s views on the bill as the product of a conflict of interest stemming from her role as chair of an Elections Canada advisory board. Since Fraser gave an interview last week characterizing the Fair Elections Act as an “attack on democracy,” she has been painted by the government as part of a sort of Elections Canada cabal whose criticism of the bill represents a difference of opinion with the Tories but whose motives are somehow suspect.
Fraser, once described by the prime minister as a woman of courage and integrity, called Poilievre’s language about Mayrand this morning “unfortunate” and indicated she never expected to see an independent officer of parliament treated so poorly.
“I think it is very unfortunate when an officer of Parliament is treated that way,” she said, adding that she finds Mayrand a “honourable man.”
The Globe and Mail – Fair is foul: We’re being told a tall tale on election fraud
Once upon a time, I shall begin this column. Because with the Fair Elections Act, currently being sped through the House of Commons as though it were about to turn into a pumpkin, the Conservative government has ceased to tell Canadians legends or folk tales.
Those are yarns generally grounded in the belief that the events at their core are, on some level, true – and what we are being told is a fairy tale. Bill C-23 is the Fairy Tale Elections Act.
rabble.ca – Pierre Poilievre does not speak the truth
The 34-year old Minister of State will not debate, of course.
He only appears one on one with interviewers — who don’t seem, by and large, to buy his snake oil, and who generally ask some tough and skeptical questions.
But interviewers cannot be experts in everything. Despite their best efforts, Poilievre throws out a whole lot of howlers that his interlocutors do not usually challenge.
The Globe and Mail – Bruce Anderson: Conservatives will only lose fighting Sheila Fraser
When in 2004 Ms. Fraser made the case that Canadians were being ripped off, it was only a matter of time before the Liberal Party was kicked out of office. In the evidence she tabled and the way she made her case, she earned a reputation as someone who could be trusted to tell it like it is.
This week, she weighed in on the Fair Elections Act, joining a large chorus of critics, but with a voice that will stand out. She seldom discusses politics, and appears to carry no partisan ambition. Asked by the Chief Elections Officer to provide an evaluation of the bill, she found it nothing less than an “attack on democracy.”
(What is the Fair Elections Act? Read The Globe and Mail’s easy explanation)
How the Conservatives respond to her critique of their bill is no trivial matter.
Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Polievre has said the bill is terrific as it is. He allows that it’s possible someone might find a flaw and a way to improve it. But he seems not to have heard of any yet. His cocksure style makes it easy to imagine the government will do little but pay lip service – actually more like curled lip service – to ideas from outside the Conservative Party tent.
Some Tory partisans seem tempted to dismiss Ms. Fraser as someone with no relevant expertise. As rebuttals go, this is a terrible choice, and will backfire badly if they persist with it.
The Broadbent Institute – How the (Un)Fair Elections Act would play out on the ground
The perception that a Conservative party agenda is written into the so-called ‘Fair Elections Act’ has the national media and pundits talking. And for good reason. In light of recent Conservative run-ins with Elections Canada and the RCMP, the skepticism towards the changes to the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Commissioner of Elections Canada are understandable
While the media focus on these elements of the Act is warranted, there are other aspects of the bill that are equally troubling because of their potential effects on local campaigns in Electoral Districts (EDs) across the country.
National Post – Former campaign worker granted immunity after he gives evidence in ‘Pierre Poutine’ robocalls case
Former Guelph Conservative campaign worker Andrew Prescott has given evidence related to the alleged involvement of two other campaign staff in the “Pierre Poutine” robocalls case, sources say.
With an immunity agreement in place, Prescott gave evidence to prosecutors regarding the only person accused in the case, Michael Sona, as expected, but also provided information about Ken Morgan, who was the manager of the Guelph Conservative campaign.
Morgan moved to Kuwait in 2012 and is still believed to be living there. To date, he has never spoken to Elections Canada investigators about his role in the campaign at the centre of the robocalls scandal.
Prescott, who has repeatedly stated that he is innocent of wrongdoing in the scheme to misdirect opposition supporters, reached a deal with prosecutors in January that gives him some protection from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.
HARPER’S TREATMENT OF VETERANS: CANADA’S SHAME
Huffington Post – Romeo Dallaire: Tory Complaints Over Veterans Costs ‘Pissing Me Off’
But he said he’s been hearing privately from politicians who complain about the price tag: the Conservative government spends roughly $3.8 billion each year on the Veterans Affairs Department.
“And I say: Oh, yeah?” said Dallaire, describing how he walks them through the dollar cost of equipping and deploying the military on missions like the recently concluded 12-year mission in Afghanistan.
“And then I say, ‘Now that they’re home — and the ones that are injured — they cost too much?’ This has been sniffing its way around the Conservative hallways and it’s pissing me off.”
The Ottawa Citizen – Peter MacKay’s Afghanistan Wishes; Rewriting History One Wish At A Time
“I don’t think the ferocity of the mission perhaps dawned on even military leaders, let alone political leaders of two different governments,” he said. “In retrospect, we could have perhaps prepared our soldiers better through both equipment and training,” he added.
Also on his list of “wishes” were better services for those who are now suffering from PTSD/mental health issues from overseas operations.
“I wish we could have, perhaps, been able to reach out into our country’s mental health providers to enlist their support that’s needed now,” MacKay said.
HARPER’S ENTOURAGE: HAVE WE NOT REACHED THE BOTTOM YET?
Huffington Post – Tory Senator Linda Frum: Elections Canada In Conflict Of Interest For Promoting Voter Turnout
Conservative Senator Linda Frum says Elections Canada’s efforts to increase voter turnout put it in a conflict of interest.
Frum has made the argument before while promoting her party’s Bill C-23 (Fair Elections Act), but a tweet on the subject Wednesday promoted backlash on social media that led the senator to attempt to reframe her position.
After pollster and pundit Bruce Anderson asked if anyone had a transcript of Frum’s previous comments on the Chief Electoral officer, the senator tweeted that “Elections Canada should not have a vested interest in recording a high voter turnout. That’s a conflict.”
Huffington Post – 3 Tory Staffers Interfered In Access To Information: Watchdog
(Public Works investigating itself? Not likely.)
OTTAWA – The Information Commissioner of Canada has found evidence of “systemic interference” with access to information requests by three Conservative staff members, and suggests bringing in the police.
But Public Works Minister Diane Finley, who oversees the department where the interference occurred before her time, won’t be sending the matter to the Mounties. Her office linked the findings against the three staffers to a related case that did not result in criminal charges.
The Globe and Mail – Police raid home of man PMO endorsed to head Montreal port
Quebec’s anti-corruption unit has raided the home of a former municipal bureaucrat who was once heavily promoted by the federal government to take over the Montreal Port Authority.
The investigation got a boost earlier this year when the city of Montreal lifted solicitor-client privilege and allowed all lawyers involved to freely discuss their knowledge of events with UPAC investigators, a city spokesperson said.
As part of the early morning raids, police searched the home of Robert Abdallah, the director-general of the city of Montreal from 2003 to 2006. In 2007, Mr. Abdallah was the Conservative government’s favoured candidate to become the president of the Montreal Port Authority.
UPAC also seized documents at the residences of former Montreal city councillor Frank Zampino and construction magnate Antonio Accurso.
The pair, who both had an involvement in the water-meter contract, were also strong backers of Mr. Abdallah’s candidacy at the Montreal port.
The Globe and Mail – Harper’s former adviser to release book in early May
(Some are biting back)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is reputed to be a man with a penchant for control, a leader with a grip on the Conservative communications machine.
So when one of his former advisers several years ago wrote an insider book called Harper’s Team, the Prime Minister’s Office, the author says, asked him not to publish it.
That writer, Tom Flanagan, now is back with a forthcoming book, Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age, that speaks of Mr. Harper in “Nixonian” terms, as a man who “believes in playing politics right up to the edge of the rules, which inevitably means some team members will step across ethical or legal lines in their desire to win for the Boss.”
ANOTHER LOSS IN COURT FOR THE HARPER GOVERNMENT
The Globe and Mail – Supreme Court deals another blow to Harper
The Conservative government’s attempt to detain thousands of prisoners for longer periods has been blocked, in the newest in a series of crushing defeats at the Supreme Court of Canada.
The 7-0 ruling comes after three unanimous or near-unanimous defeats in the past month, including a rejection of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s latest choice for a position on the court, Justice Marc Nadon, whom it ruled ineligible.
BEST RANT OF THE WEEK
Posted by Douglas Connors on Facebook in response to Pierre Poilievre’s self-aggrandizing announcement that he was “acclaimed” to run in the riding of Rideau-Carlton:
(An excellent summary of the Conservatives’ excuse-making, blame-shifting and character assassinations)
So…If I got this right…
The media is inherently biased against you, so your boss doesn’t answer questions and had the PMO produce his news clips.
The public service is inherently biased against you, so you must make huge cuts while not telling anyone, including your fellow Parliamentarians, what or how much you are cutting.
The foreign aid providers are inherently biased against you, so you must destroy CIDA and the roundtable at which they coordinate their NGO activities.
Anyone who supports the right of Palestine to exist is inherently biased against you, so you must cut their funding.
Anyone who dares ask a question about our role in Afghanistan is inherently biased against you — and is a Taliban-lover — so you must not release information on possible torture.
The Opposition is inherently biased against you, so you must spend tons of citizens’ resources trying to obliterate it.
The Supreme Court (and all Courts) are inherently biased against you, so you must destroy Canadians’ faith in the system by crying: “Activist judges!”
The Constitution is inherently biased against you, so you must try to sneak amendments to it in Omnibus budget bills, which also happens to be unconstitutional.
Our electoral conventions are inherently biased against you, so you must portray a coalition as being anti-democratic.
The Senate is inherently biased against you, so you must stuff it with hacks who don’t even live in the provinces they represent, which also happens to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court nomination process is inherently biased against you, so you must become the first party to ever botch a nomination AND pass an unconstitutional budget in order to do it.
The Chiefs of Police are inherently biased against you, so you must smear them when they comes out in favour of a long-gun registry, or you must smear the RCMP for storing guns left in plain sight during a natural disaster.
Human Rights Organizations are inherently biased against you, so you must sic Ezra Levant on them at any given time
The lawyers at the Ministry of Justice are inherently biased against you, so you must never take their advice and spend citizens’ money on hiring private lawyers to take on your legal wild goose chases.
The people at the Bank of Canada are inherently biased against you, so you must never borrow money from it at lower rates to service our debt, but borrow it from private banks instead.
The provincial and territorial Premiers are inherently biased against you, so your boss should never meet with them all, at one time, in one place.
The people are inherently biased against you, so you must engage in the largest suppression of human rights in Canadian history.
The voters are inherently biased against you, so you must never have any open meeting at which citizens can just show up, you must creep their Facebook pages, block those who believe different from you from your events, and never allow the PM to be alone among the great unwashed.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer your party appointed is inherently biased against you, so you must engage in character assassination.
The Head of Statistics Canada (which was one of the Top 3 independent statistics organizations in the world before your vandalism of it ) is inherently against you so you must pretend he made claims in support of you that he indeed never made… so much so that he resigned from his dream job in protest.
Provincial and Territorial Chief Electoral Officers are inherently biased against you, so you claim with a straight fact that you know better what it is they are saying than are they (?!?)
The Chief Electoral officer is inherently against you (even though you’ve “won*” the last 3 elections) so you must castrate and humiliate him, and attempt to destroy the confidence Canadians have in our electoral commission (which is touted as being THE preeminent electoral body in the world).
And now Sheila Fraser is inherently biased against you that you claim her opinion can be bought for about $200/month!!!
Either many among you are soon gonna wind up in a rubber room with PJs that lace up in the back and a complimentary hockey helmet from being this paranoid that everyone is out to “gitcha”, or many among you are going to end up in jail for having committed the greatest fraud in Canadian history upon Canadian citizens (and bleeding the treasury dry in the process).
Sorry there Pepe le Pewlièvre, but when you guys went after Sheila, you guys “jumped the shark” as they call it in TV land. Methinks the reason for which you were acclaimed is because now, only the neediest of media-whores would attempt to throw their hat in the ring for a Conservative nomination, given you guys are working hard to achieve a two-seat repeat!
* 2006: In-and-Out. After denying for years they did anything wrong, they finally admitted it and settled.
*2008: Broke their own fixed election date law (just like Marois did in Québec) to sneak in a win before the economic crisis (which they say they did not see coming, when they had data in June and July indicating it was already upon us) hit REALLY hard.
*2011: Robofraud, vote-moving, and Out-and-In (instead of In-and-Out) You or your party has never actually won one of your elections yet without cheating and have shown many times over that you and your party have consistently proven that you possess neither any respect for our Constitution, nor any basic comprehension of what it actually says (which is a requirement of the job you hold) so why would any Canadian trust you or your party on electoral law reform today?