Canada in 2010

See also: Canada 2020
Globe & Mail Year in Review —The year that was in Canadian politics
Policy Options (IRPP) The year in review, December 2010
Wednesday-Night.com for Canada; Canada budget 2010 and the economy; Canada in 2010: Immigration; Canada Healthcare; More posts on Canada

Tough choices ahead as little-known pension changes take effect

The changes provide another example of the Conservative government’s increasing use of budget legislation to pass a wide range of policies that are not spelled out in the original budget documents.[Italics added]
Worrisome trend found in Parliament sitting less, expert says
(Toronto Star) Canada’s MPs are spending less time at work in the House of Commons — only 119 days this year — and passing ever fewer bills.
It’s a trend that at least one parliamentary procedure expert finds worrying.
… [Queen’s University political scientist Ned] Franks says governments have compensated for prolonged parliamentary timeouts by increasingly cramming all manner of unrelated legislation into massive omnibus bills, which allow for little individual scrutiny of the various measures.
They’ve also resorted more frequently to passing general enabling legislation, giving the government broad discretion to act in future without going back to Parliament for approval. … Franks said the government pushed about half of a normal year’s legislation through in a single bill — this year’s massive budget implementation bill which included varied measures dealing with all manner of subjects from environmental assessments to the post office to the future of Canada’s atomic energy industry…
The upshot is that the government evades scrutiny and Canadians are left in the dark about what their federal politicians are up to. Paul Wells: Election windows in 2011: There’s only one
27 December
Tory-created watchdogs appear unable to uncover wrongdoing
The three independent federal watchdogs created by the Conservative government operate largely behind the closed doors of their own offices and, after one was exposed this fall for having done little in three years, critics are asking questions about the effectiveness of the other two. … Karen Shepherd, who was hired to ensure that politicians are not being unduly influenced by their well-connected friends, has never found anyone guilty of breaking the rules in the year and a half that she has been Commissioner of Lobbying.
And, in more than three years as Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson has discovered just one person, a Liberal MP, to have violated the Conflict of Interest Code. At the same time, she has absolved cabinet ministers, Conservative staff, a Conservative MP and the government itself of myriad alleged indiscretions.
11 December
Conrad Black: Four ideas for a better Canada and a better world
8 December
The Globe & Mail warns against any complacency: Academic rankings
Once top performers in international scholastic tests, Canadian students are quickly being overtaken by their counterparts in China and Korea How Canada is becoming outclassed in school Measured against 65 other countries, Canada places fifth overall in reading, seventh in science and eighth in mathematics in the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development’s education assessment released Tuesday.
7 December
Korea and Finland top OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance
(OECD) … latest PISA survey of reading literacy among 15-year olds … for the first time tested students’ ability to manage digital information.
The survey, based on two-hour tests of a half million students in more than 70 economies, also tested mathematics and science. The results for 65 economies are being released today.
The next strongest performances were from Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. Full results here.
Canadian education ranked among world’s best
(CBC) Canadian students are among the top performers in the world, according to an international educational survey of half a million 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries.
Students in Canada tend to perform well regardless of their socioeconomic background or the school they attend.
The latest figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, released Tuesday, show Canada scored its best in reading, earning sixth place behind Shanghai-China, Korea, Finland, Hong Kong-China and Singapore.
Quebec students front-runners in PISA scores
(The Gazette) Quebec students outperformed their Canadian peers and finished near the top. … The Canadian results also show comparisons with previous PISA test scores dating back to 2000 when the first survey took place.
About 23,000 15-year-old students in Canada took part in the 2009 assessment, including more than 3,000 from Quebec’s French and English schools. Sixty-five countries and economies took part in the testing. … Quebec placed sixth overall in the math assessment
4 December
Conrad Black: The Liberals shall rise again
Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Stéphane Dion are intelligent men, and the Liberals retain the advantage in access to cutting edge academics and professionals. It should not be beyond the wit of these leaders to patch together some interesting ideas that would get even the consumptive cynics of the political press buzzing about some novelty in the camp of the Liberals.
The political media have no love for the Conservatives, who are competent but not especially popular and widely believed to be a monolith whose every move beyond basic administration is widely thought to be wholly political. The media are ready to proclaim a Liberal renaissance, if they had anything to work with.
25 November
CBC’s At issue panel considers possibility of a Cabinet shuffle
23 November
Food becomes strategic
(Globe & Mail) The decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government to block the acquisition of Potash Corp. by BHP Billiton is the latest signpost in the global dynamic around who controls energy, agriculture and other strategic natural resources.
Potash, a previously obscure potassium compound that is a key input to fertilizer production, was seldom thought of as a strategic resource, at least not by the public. As the Harper government moves to update the Investment Canada Act and offer more detail on why the BHP bid was blocked, greater insight will likely be offered on why Canada’s agricultural sector in particular is strategic. The growing problem: Canada slips from agricultural superpower status
28 October
Energy superpower — policy midget
Government has been reluctant to show leadership after the controversial National Energy Policy
By Tim Barber and Eugene Lang, co-founders of Canada 2020
(Ottawa Citizen) This week marks the 30th anniversary of another such policy effort. On Oct. 28, 1980, the Trudeau government introduced the National Energy Program, and in so doing ensured this country would not have a serious conversation about energy strategy for another three decades.

24 October
L’indépendance se fera grâce à l’énergie, soutient le PQ
Pour aspirer à réaliser un jour l’indépendance, le Québec doit miser sur le gisement d’hydrocarbures d’Old Harry, dans le golfe Saint-Laurent, faire croître son industrie forestière et retirer des redevances satisfaisantes d’une exploitation «responsable» du gaz de schiste. Voilà l’essentiel du message que le PQ a livré à ses militants en fin de semaine à Saint-Hyacinthe.
23 October
Conrad Black: An icon of Quebec’s misunderstood past
The Great Darkness was not dark, and the Quiet Revolution was not quiet. Napoleon famously said: “History is lies agreed upon.” Henry Ford, of all people, said: “History is bunk.” In Quebec today, they would both be correct, and this is an unhealthy thing in any society.
22 October
Le projet de Legault reçoit un fort appui
Mirage ou réalité, la simple évocation d’un nouvel acteur dans l’arène politique provinciale a modifié l’échiquier.
21 October
Potash politics put Tories on spot
(Globe & Mail) What worries the minority Harper government, as it reviews BHP Billiton bid for Potash Corp is that it risks alienating a provincial Premier on the eve of what could be an election year. The Conservatives hold 13 of Saskatchewan’s 14 federal seats and are facing the prospect that their four-year-old government may be defeated on their 2011 budget.
17 October
Brother André canonized in Vatican ceremony
With upwards of 5,000 Canadians in St. Peter’s Square to witness the event, the Holy Cross brother from Montreal was formally canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in a ritualistic outdoor ceremony Sunday morning.
Brother André — who died in 1937 at age 91 — is only the second native-born Canadian saint, and the first from the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
1 October
She opened her heart to Canada
(National Post editorial) Whether championing the cause of female victims of violence, seeking to get children involved in the arts, or raising awareness of the plight of the Haitian people, as governor-general, Ms. Jean embodied the adage “the personal is political.” She took her job to heart — and opened her heart to Canada. In return, her country did the same.
Opposition calls for minister’s head over document block
The pomp and ceremony of the new governor general arriving didn’t stop the opposition parties from calling for the head of [Christian Paradis] one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers Friday. The call follows the resignation of a senior political aide late Thursday
30 September
Book on Harper has PMO seeing Liberal red
Entitled “Harperland: The Politics of Control,” it is the first major book which reviews in detail how Mr. Harper has taken such a tight grip of the federal political landscape since becoming prime minister. Inside Harperland The Prime Minister’s Office is, predictably, dismissing Lawrence Martin’s fascinating new book … as the work of a Liberal sympathizer. In fact, it is stunning that so many insiders would speak so candidly (if carefully) to someone supposedly in the enemy camp, especially while Harper still wields power. Just don’t blame the messenger. Martin was only holding the tape recorder.
28 September
Don Martin: A GG who delivered
She will now enter the history books as someone who delivered energetic dignity and charismatic charm to the job domestically and internationally. And when Canada needed her to make the right Constitutional call against a coalition government coming to power at the worst possible time, she delivered.
26 September
Harper’s (long-gun registry) index – Just the facts – or, more to the point – the statistics.
25 September
Jeffrey Simpson: That bang? It could’ve been Stephen Harper shooting himself in the foot
Within seconds of the long-gun registry vote in the Commons, this being the era of the blog, a conventional wisdom began to congeal that the Conservatives had lost the parliamentary battle but would win the electoral war. This wisdom was … instantaneous, apparently ubiquitous, certainly debatable and quite possibly wrong.
24 September
Bay St. exec named PM’s new chief of staff
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named Toronto business executive Nigel Wright as his next chief of staff, government sources tell CBC
Wright, the managing director of Onex Corp., is a Harvard University-trained Bay Street lawyer and banker who previously worked as a speechwriter and policy adviser to former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
22 September
Gun registry survives Commons vote
MPs voted to save the gun registry, with enough New Democrat MPs voting with the Liberals and Bloc Québécois to scrap a Conservative private member’s bill aimed at killing the 15-year-old federal program.
The vote was tight, with 153 MPs voting in favour of a motion introduced by the House public safety committee to scrap Tory MP Candice Hoeppner’s bill, compared with 151 voting against the motion, which would have kept the bill alive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he would not let the vote deter him from his fight to kill the registry. Even the BBC took note. Canada’s government loses bid to end gun registry
PotashCorp files to halt BHP bid
PotashCorp has stepped up its defence against a $39bn hostile bid from BHP Billiton, asking a Chicago court to block the bid and accusing the miner of misleading shareholders
Earlier in the day
Long Gun Registry Is Cheap, Fair, Saves Lives
Just when it’s in Tory crosshairs, program is showing its potential.
(The Tyee) Shockingly, the slogans and arguments of the NRA are getting increasingly popular among gun owners throughout Canada. If the motion on September 22 manages to stop Bill C-391 and save the long gun registry, the government needs to stop working against police chiefs and the RCMP and help them to send out a single, strong message. The registry is cheap, fair and can save lives. Listen to the cops: Keep the long-gun registry
21 September
Don Martin: Flaherty’s rant signals Tories keen on an election
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has a way with numbers, a solid grasp of fiscal policy and stands tall in cabinet as a vertically challenged force of charismatic Irish personality.
It’s beneath his award-winning credentials to rant against his political opponents, particularly the day after parliamentary forces have regrouped under a collective promise to work constructively toward improved Commons civility.
But Flaherty has a history of following even bad orders from Stephen Harper’s office, the prime ministerial example being the end to political financing he inserted into a fiscal update two years ago, which almost cost the Conservatives their government.
So on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Conservative MP Michael Chong begged MPs from all parties to pass his plan for a less cantankerous Commons, Mr. Flaherty went berserk. John Ivison: Jim Flaherty road tests Tory election message
Tasha Kheiriddin: A backlash against the know-it-alls
On Wednesday, the House of Commons will decide the fate of the federal long-gun registry. If Candace Hoeppner’s private member’s bill dies, the registry will survive, and the debate will be over — for now. But the groundwork on the Conservatives’ next election narrative will have just begun.
20 September
Dan Gardner: The virus infecting U.S. discourse has reached the border
(Ottawa Citizen) Arguably the most important of the many psychological biases identified by researchers is “confirmation bias.” It’s a simple and powerful concept: Once we believe something, for any reason, good or bad, we will happily and uncritically embrace anything that confirms the belief while harshly scrutinizing — or simply avoiding — anything that contradicts it.
The abrupt resignation of Kory Teneycke [is] important. As vice-president of media giant Quebecor, Teneycke intended to do more than create what critics called “Fox News North.” The hiring of zealots. The inflammatory rhetoric. The conspiracy fantasies. The sheer unreasonableness. Teneycke is infected with the American virus — and he intended to pass it along to a major Canadian media company.
16 September
Harper’s bureaucracy orders no alarms, no surprises: Documents
Federal bureaucrats are going to extraordinary lengths to create a “zero-surprise environment” for the Harper government, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News. Media requests that used to be handled by government experts and communication staff across Canada now require a small army in Ottawa to answer, say the documents obtained this week under the access-to-information law.
14 September
NRA involved in gun registry debate
(CBC) The National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group in the United States that advocates fewer gun controls, has been actively involved in trying to abolish Canada’s long-gun registry for more than a decade, CBC News has learned.
13 September
Hébert: New chief-of-staff must stand up to PM, end Conservatives’ missteps
… it has become harder and harder to keep track of the self-inflicted wounds Harper and his strategists have wrought upon themselves.
There was the post-election fiscal statement that almost cost Harper his second mandate; the decision to prorogue Parliament last winter to delay the inevitable moment of reckoning on the Afghan detainee disclosure issue; the move to embrace a maternal health initiative for the Third World with little thought to the abortion angle; the summary firing of Helena Guergis from the Conservative caucus; the bizarre decision to do away with the long form of the census and, just recently, an asinine move to finance a new hockey arena for Quebec City at a time when the government is stressing the need for fiscal austerity.
Federal scientists being ‘muzzled’
Ministerial approval required before speaking with media
(Ottawa Citizen) The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.
10 September
Tasha Kheiriddin: An arena in every pot
Talk about going from bad to worse. Yesterday, not only did Prime Minister Stephen Harper skate around the idea of funding a new Quebec arena, he mused that paying for one would mean… paying for all. Apparently, equality of opportunity now applies to pro sports facilities.
9 September
A new chief of staff could herald another Conservative turn
… the Prime Minister is reportedly looking to Bruce Carson, a former Harper adviser who is very much the opposite of Mr. Giorno. Mr. Carson is currently serving as executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment in Calgary. Energy and environment are two of his specialty areas, as well as native affairs. He returned briefly to Ottawa to help shape the Keynesian budget the Tories brought in at the beginning of 2009. He has a comfortable, trusting relationship with Mr. Harper. While at the PMO, he was frequently able to take some of the ideological emotion out of the debate, or at least cool the temperatures. He also enjoys a close relationship with Environment Minister Jim Prentice, one of Mr. Harper’s most powerful ministers.
3 September
Guy Giorno leaving PMO
Stephen Harper’s chief of staff will reportedly step down before the end of the year
26 August
Lawrence Martin: Is there an old-style Tory in the House?
Is there a moderate Tory left in this land? There are many, of course. It’s just that they have no voice. They might as well be in cement shoes at the bottom of Lake Nipigon.
Along with Mr. Harper, today’s dominant players are John Baird, Jason Kenney, Rob Nicholson, Vic Toews, Stockwell Day and the PM’s chief of staff, Guy Giorno. All could probably serve comfortably under Dick Cheney. For an idea how the party has changed, and how conservative governance has changed, recall some of the senior figures under Mr. Mulroney: Mr. Clark, Don Mazankowski, Flora MacDonald, Lowell Murray, Barbara McDougall, chief of staff Hugh Segal. Most of them could have served comfortably under Lester Pearson.
RCMP report: long-gun registry cost effective, efficient
Unreleased report has been in government’s hands since February
an RCMP report evaluating Canada’s long-gun registry has concluded the program is cost effective, efficient and an important tool for law enforcement. RCMP Report Canadian Firearms Program Evaluation
24 August
Stephen Harper and senior Conservative Ministers cleaned up this morning at the 2010 Conservative Patronage Awards, presented for outstanding achievement in political cronyism. The [386 Conservative insider] appointees include former Conservative cabinet Ministers, 16 former MPs, 44 past candidates, campaign workers, and top donors who contributed over $572,000 to Conservative coffers.
18 August
Meet the Tory hit list
(Globe & Mail) The following high-ranking people have left their jobs in the past few months. They have variously resigned, been sacked or replaced, or not had their appointments renewed.
Marty Cheliak The RCMP Chief Superintendent is being replaced as head of the Canadian Firearms Program, the Mounties confirmed on Wednesday. Pat Stogran critical of government after term not renewed. The federal government is not renewing the retired colonel’s three-year term as ombudsman because it’s time for a new advocate to offer new perspectives. Munir Sheikh The career civil servant resigned as Canada’s chief statistician to protest against Ottawa’s controversial decision to kill the mandatory long-form census. And the list goes on.
6 August
John Baird named new House Leader in cabinet shuffle
Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched the next phase of his minority government on Friday with a small cabinet shuffle that suggests he is preparing more for political warfare than peace in the coming months.
That subtle Harper touch
If you were Prime Minister, and you were tired of the unnecessarily hostile atmosphere that has predominated in recent sessions of Parliament, fed up with the needless bickering and infantile name-calling, tired of aimless Question Periods dominated by puerile partisan antics designed to avoid any intelligent work being done, and you wanted to remedy the situation by introducing a more professional approach overseen by someone with a diplomatic touch and the ability to co-operate effectively across party lines to achieve the government’s objectives, who would you NOT appoint as Government House Leader? (CTV) John Baird says he’ll be a ‘pussycat’ in new post
8 July
Johnston named Canada’s next governor general

University of Waterloo head says replacing Michaëlle Jean ‘touches me profoundly’
David Johnston, announced as Canada’s next governor general on Thursday, is pledging to be a “stalwart defender” of Canada’s heritage, institutions and people. 7/22 Maclean’s comments: Getting serious: a choice of substance over showmanship After weeks of speculation, the Prime Minister’s Office said the Canadian legal scholar and president of the University of Waterloo has been approved by the Queen and will take over on Oct. 1 after Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean’s term ends.
2 June
Canadian Council for International Co-operation Loses Federal Funding
The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) – the leading national voice of civil society international development and anti poverty organizations – appear to have lost the two-thirds of their funding which came from CIDA. This is yet another example of the Harper government refusing to fund independent research and advocacy. Over the last while, we have seen the effective demise of – among others – the Canadian Policy Research Networks; the Canadian Council on Social Development,; and the Canadian Council on Learning , leading to a serious shrinkage of the space for reasoned policy discussion in Canada.
1 June
The Oliphant decision
Don Newman: Brian Mulroney under oath
On February 20, Brian Mulroney returned to the government conference centre off Parliament Hill, to the applause of more than 400 people.
He had come to discuss and be recognised for the significant role he played in the reunification of Germany 20 years earlier.
Flash forward to Monday of this week, in a conference room just down the hall from where that first welcome reverberated.
This time, Mulroney’s reputation was sliced, diced and skewered by the man who conducted a judicial inquiry into the former prime minister’s business arrangements with Canadian-German businessman and lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.
21 May
Sports tycoon appointed to Senate
David Braley, the B.C. Lions owner dubbed the CFL’s “great benefactor” for buying the troubled Toronto Argonauts, gives generously to medicine, sports and the Conservative Party of Canada. For that support — $99,000 over six years according to the Liberals — the opposition parties say Braley was rewarded Thursday with a Senate appointment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The 68-year-old auto parts tycoon shrugs off the criticism and says he doesn’t believe his backing of the Tories had much to do with it.
8 February
John Ibbitson: Proroguing Parliament – a travesty, yet clever
Move by Harper a defeat for those who think government should be honest, open and accountable
All we lose is a chance to talk. Had Parliament reconvened Jan. 25, as originally planned, MPs could have debated the priorities for the coming budget; the government’s plans – oh, sorry, lack of plans – to meet its Copenhagen promise to do something, some day, about fighting global warming; whether and how to reform pensions in both the public and private sector; Canada’s future commitments in Afghanistan. That is what Parliament was to have talked about through February, before it was silenced.
29 January
Stephen Harper takes control of Senate
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed three experienced Conservative provincial politicians to the Senate to fill five vacancies. The two other appointees are community activists.

22 January
Thousands turn out at rallies to protest proroguing of Parliament
Harper appeared unmoved by the rallies Saturday. He was asked several times about the rallies during a morning news conference. His repeated answer was basically that the government was busy.
18 January
Only in Canada: Harper’s prorogation is a Canadian thing
(National Post) It turns out, no other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours — not Britain, Australia or New Zealand — has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators.
Only three times has this happened, all in Canada — first in 1873, when Sir John A. Macdonald asked the governor general to prorogue Parliament, in order to halt a House of Commons probe into the Pacific Scandal. … No prime minister dared use prorogation to such effect again, until Stephen Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament in 2008, so the Conservatives could evade a confidence vote.
7 January
Prorogation hurtles ‘out of dusty law texts into the mainstream’
Most Canadians are aware that the Prime Minister has suspended Parliament until after the winter Olympics and they are, by and large, not pleased with the decision, polls released Thursday suggest

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