Canada after 2008 election

Written by  //  December 31, 2009  //  Canada  //  No comments

Our Democracy is Broken: How do we fix it?
CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen moderates a head-to-head debate between Maclean’s Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells on the state of Canada’s democracy. Guest panelists … including former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, former prime minister’s chief of staff Eddie Goldenberg, author John Ralston Saul and conservative commentator Rick Anderson. Nik Nanos weighs in with new numbers showing where Canadians stand on the issue. – A must-watch, digest and discuss debate.

For Harper, 2009 was a very good year
The Prime Minister had a very good 2009, blending policy successes with bare-knuckle political fisticuffs that left one opposition politician after another reeling.
His decision to prorogue Parliament for pretty much the rest of the winter has pundits and constitutional experts howling. Well we should howl. Shutting down the House and Senate for the second time in one year makes a mockery of Parliamentary government.
But prorogation leaves the Conservatives with a clear field and this Prime Minister with a deserved reputation as the most capable manager of minority government since Lester Pearson nearly half a century ago. In the legislatively vacant months to come, the Conservatives will prepare for the March 4 budget that must address the question of balancing the federal books after the stimulus program ends in 2011. … A survey released this week by Nanos Research has the Tories 10 points ahead of the official opposition and Mr. Harper’s approval rating double that of Mr. Ignatieff’s. The numbers suggest that the Conservatives would be foolish to seek an election, and the Liberals suicidal to force one.
The best prediction now is for a trip to the polls in the autumn, before the Conservatives are forced to bring down the 2011 austerity budget.
30 December
John Ibbitson: Proroguing Parliament – a travesty, yet clever
Move by Harper a defeat for those who think government should be honest, open and accountable
A senior government official, speaking on background, insisted that calculations concerning the Afghan detainees controversy played no part in the decision. Rather, said the official, the government wanted to give itself time and breathing room to think through how to manage the economy as it emerges from recession and to put in place a long-term strategy for balancing the budget. Don Newman: Setting the stage for a spring election
23 December
Proroguing Parliament not ruled out: Harper
A year after Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote, in his year-end media interviews he isn’t ruling out doing it again. If Harper were to prorogue, the Consumer Product Safety Act, as well as several crime bills dear to the Conservative government such as those dealing with auto theft, email spam, sex offenders, conditional sentences and white-collar crime, would be wiped off the legislative agenda. Moreover, parliamentary committees — including the special Commons committee probing the issue of possible Afghan detainee torture — could not sit.
22 December
Gerald Caplan: Is the Harper government playing the anti-Semitic card?
On Dec. 16, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, Multiculturalism, was in Jerusalem speaking at a conference on combatting anti-Semitism. All Canadians should know that Kenney and his government will not abide anti-Semitism. That, of course, is in sharp contrast to all other Canadian political parties that do abide anti-Semitism.
18 December
Gerald Caplan: ‘None of the above’ wins again
Harper’s blown it, Ignatieff is trapped, May has disappeared and the NDP are stalled – looking back on a dismal year for Canadian politics
19 November
Bureaucrats and critics often face wrath of Tories
(CTV) OTTAWA — Hell hath no wrath like a Conservative government scorned — just ask the string of bureaucrats, advocates and citizens whose reputations have felt the fury. Diplomat Richard Colvin is the latest to face a backlash from Tory benches. Conservative MPs at a special House of Commons committee called him a Taliban “dupe” after he provided an account this week of how government officials ignored or played down his reports of the torture of Afghan detainees.
6 November
Still wanted: a plan for national emergencies
(Gazette editorial) Auditor-general Sheila Fraser couldn’t have picked a better time to release her report on the federal government’s failure to adopt an emergency-response plan.
The chaotic roll-out of the H1N1 vaccine has been front-page news for days. The sight of line-ups of pregnant women, babies and the elderly fueled anxiety and anger among many Canadians in equal measure. With half of all N1H1 vaccine doses marooned in storage while various levels of government blame each other, did we even need Fraser’s report to know that Canada can’t handle an emergency? There is no flu epidemic; people are just nervous. And the response is still catastrophically disorganized.
20 October
Gov. Gen. climbs down from ‘head of state’ debate
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean appears to have blinked after her stare-down with Prime Minister Stephen Harper over her use of the phrase “head of state” earlier this month to describe her position in Canada’s system of governance. Rideau Hall’s recently relaunched website has been substantially modified to raise the Queen’s profile and more clearly define Jean’s role as Elizabeth’s viceregal representative in Canada.
15 October
‘Conservative’ cheques cross the line, opposition says
Conservative MPs, for example, have been orchestrating cheque presentation ceremonies where the oversized ceremonial cheque contains the picture of the MP, the signature of the MP, Conservative Party logos or a combination of all three. (CBC) Some MPs Aren’t Afraid to Pick Up the Cheque ; (G&M) Partisan cheques put Tories in hot water
9 October
Scott Reid: Harper is what he is
And all the image-makeovers and piano playing won’t change that
His appearance was an enjoyable play against type and a great bit of theatre. But it was a brief departure from his political strategy — not an expansion of it. Harper is who he is. And his political strategy is firmly established. That’s one tune that won’t be changing anytime soon.
30 September
Canada’s stalled economy ‘a shocker’ – 0% growth
OTTAWA — Canada’s economy stalled unexpectedly in July due to mining shutdowns and a drop in construction activity, sending a “shocker” of a message to economists and the Bank of Canada that the country is still struggling to get out of the recession.
28 September
Stay course on the economy: Harper
Harper said 90 per cent of the stimulus funding has been pledged for more than 7,500 infrastructure and housing projects. This is the third economic update since the Conservatives agreed to issue quarterly reports in exchange for Liberal support for the Jan. 27 budget.
26 September
A crafty politician, yes, but doughnut strategy has holes
Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up? Is it the crafty politician who snubbed the UN in New York for a Tim Hortons double-double in Oakville Wednesday? Or is it the shrewd prime minister who embraced the world in Pittsburgh yesterday?
25 September
Don’t reduce Quebec’s clout, Tories warned
Redistribution. Plan to add seats in Ontario and West
New federal ridings may be coming to the suburbs

(CTV) The federal government is reportedly working on legislation to create as many as 32 new electoral ridings across suburban areas of B.C., Alberta and Ontario. Democratic Reform Minister Steven Fletcher is spearheading legislation on the proposed changes, according to The Globe and Mail. They could be presented to Parliament as early as this fall or early 2010, and would increase the number of MPs in the House of Commons to 340 from 308. (G&M) Catching up to the new Canada: Ottawa wants to add more seats
24 September
Canada’s deadlocked politics: The perpetual campaign
Forever on the brink of an election
(The Economist) Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, inherited from Britain, no longer suits what has become a four-party system (with a fifth group, the Greens, unrepresented in Parliament as its vote is spread too thinly). Although support for independence in French-speaking Quebec has declined, many Quebeckers still see sending the separatists of the Bloc Québécois to Ottawa as the best way to defend their interests. The Bloc holds 47 of Quebec’s 75 seats but refuses to take part in government; its strength makes it hard for anyone to win a majority. The spate of elections means that two-thirds of MPs have now served for less than five years. They have never experienced the stability of majority government, nor its relative civility—at least compared with today’s hyper-partisanship.
20 September
Norman Webster: What’s up with those chest-thumping bozos in Ottawa?
We’ve just been through an inglorious exercise when the country seemed destined for another election as welcome as swine flu. There were threats and posturing and a mighty thumping of chests that had the country’s political class delighted with itself, but which left the nation’s citizenry in incomprehension and incipient rage.
L. Ian MacDonald: The healing begins
The Montreal celebrations didn’t mend all the rifts between the Mulroney and Harper factions, but they were a good start – Harper, in New York for a speech, [called] Mulroney’s hotel suite, about 45 minutes before the big event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Conservative landslide in the 1984 federal election.
18 September
The Liberals wanted him, the Tories won him over
Michael Ignatieff attempted to recruit diplomatic celebrity Chris Alexander to be a candidate for the Liberals, but disagreements over party policy on Afghanistan prompted him to reject the offer and join the Conservatives instead.
10 September
Video reveals ‘real Harper’: Ignatieff
“This in-camera speech by Mr. Harper has settled once and for all his character as a Conservative leader but also has revealed the true values — the spiteful attitude towards institutions, spite towards Canadians who are helping other Canadians, spite for our institutions,” Ignatieff said in Montreal.
Harper rallies faithful to work for majority government
3 September
Chances of fall federal election appear to increase
(Gazette) As a tumultuous political week comes to a close, all four federal parties appear to be in stasis, with each saying that someone else will have to bend to make Parliament work. Notably though, neither Layton nor Duceppe appeared to accuse Ignatieff of precipitating what could be the country’s second election campaign in less than a year. Instead, they put the onus on Harper to make nice with his political opponents.
1 September
Ignatieff vows to erase deficit with no new taxes (We hope he did not add “read my lips”)
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff pledged Wednesday to erase the projected $50-billion federal deficit if elected into government — and to do so without raising taxes.
31 August
Liberals will move to topple Harper government
(CTV) Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will no longer support Stephen Harper’s minority government.
Sources have told CTV News that the Liberals will put forward a non-confidence motion to force an election this fall — although they need the support of the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois for that to happen.
30 August
Harper cabinet unleashes flood of patronage
OTTAWA — Weeks before Stephen Harper named some of his closest Tory friends to the Senate, his cabinet quietly approved a flood of appointments to federal boards that also rewarded party faithful. At least 20 of the 111 appointments made Aug. 4 went to identifiable federal and provincial Conservative donors and supporters.
Some of the bodies involved were: the Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada Pension Plan review tribunals, employment insurance referee boards, the parole board, coastal pilotage authorities, port authorities and museum boards. The rush of appointments followed a little-noticed series of judicial appointments to superior courts across the country in July. That round brought the total number of superior court judges appointed by the Harper government to 201 since 2006. It also further fuelled opposition claims that the prime minister has abandoned election promises of transparency and merit-based public-service and judicial appointments.
Jeff Jedras: If Harper really wanted to reform the Senate, he would
Reading Stephen Harper’s defence to criticism of his appointment of a slew of his close associates and cronies to the Senate, and a number of editorials from that dastardly Liberal media defending his orgy of pork, the main justification seems to be this: If he wants to reform the Senate, he has no choice but to stuff it with Conservative hacks.
28 August
Janice Kennedy: Getting mean and distinctly ugly
(Ottawa Citizen) … It’s a state of mind, a summation of everything that is small and cribbed and contemptible — not unlike the sour (and embarrassing) one-line statement of perfunctory condolence on Wednesday from our own prime minister. [These] people possess a meanness of spirit that goes beyond simple politics. They’re responsible for a creeping diminution of vision and values. In Canada, which used to appreciate largeness of soul, they even have a government platform, thanks to Stephen Harper and company.
Harper Names New Senators, Including Campaign Manager (Update1)
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed nine members to the country’s Senate, including the director of his party’s last two election campaigns and his former spokeswoman, saying they will help pass crime bills being stalled by opposition parties. The new members include Doug Finley, the Conservative Party’s national director for the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, former spokeswoman Carolyn Stewart Olsen, and former Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Demers. The appointments will bring the Conservative Party’s membership in the Senate to 46, compared with 53 for the Liberal Party, and six from other parties or independents. There are no more vacancies. More
5 August
Un deuxième membre de l’entourage de Stephen Harper démissionne
OTTAWA — Un autre membre de l’équipe politique du premier ministre Stephen Harper est sur le point de quitter ses fonctions. La directrice des communications stratégiques, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, a annoncé mercredi qu’elle prenait sa retraite. Son départ est le deuxième à survenir au sein de l’équipe des communications du premier ministre en autant de semaines.
Le directeur des communications de M. Harper, Kory Teneycke, qui s’est fait le porte-parole du cabinet du premier ministre pendant la majorité de la dernière année, avait à son tour annoncé, la semaine dernière, qu’il quitterait la scène politique au cours du mois d’août.
13 July
(Maclean’s) One hundred and thirty-four economists, including 15 past presidents of the Canadian Economics Association, sign a clear letter of support for proper budgetary support and institutional independence for the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The contrast with Michael Ignatieff’s stumblebum Liberal opposition, and with a government that wants credit for creating the PBO as an institution but doesn’t want any actual sass from Kevin Page, is striking. More
10 July
For the record: Harper’s misguided attack on Ignatieff
Immediately after those remarks were made, Dimitri Soudas, the prime minister’s press secretary, told reporters that Harper’s remarks on Ignatieff were incorrect and that he had misinformed the Prime Minister about them. The prime minister’s staff said the remarks they misattributed to Ignatieff may have been made by an academic during a television interview.
For the record, Ignatieff, in London, England, earlier this week, said something about Canada’s presidency of the G8 that was remarkably similar to what the prime minister said. Here’s Ignatieff:”Huntsville should be a place where we will make substantial progress redefining and refocusing the G8 itself.”
26 June
Info watchdog takes aim at Harper’s stone wall
Marleau is probing complaints about the PCO’s handling of access-to-information requests by Canadians. In particular, he wants answers on 150 cases that involve “administrative” issues – complaints that could include the PCO’s demand for photocopying costs, other fees and time extensions. Marleau, who announced his retirement this week, made clear there’s no reason why such complaints could not have been informally resolved long ago, saving the time and effort of a drawn-out investigation as well as the frustration of those making the requests.
2 June
The Obama Effect — Political Attack Ads Backfiring for Canada’s Prime Minister
(HuffPost) The warm glow of Obama positivism is even being felt up in Canada. The current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unleashed venomous attack ads challenging the patriotism of his opponent, Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian who was a professor for many years at Harvard University. But a new poll shows that while the ads have caused some voters to think less of Ignatieff, an even greater number of voters think less of Harper for running the critical commercials.
2 April
Take 2: G20 group photo snapped again after Harper’s absence
The traditional photo of the G20 leaders was reshot after Prime Minister Stephen Harper missed his opportunity Thursday to be in the first snap.
31 March
John Parisella: Canada, Obama, and the G20
Whether it is energy, Afghanistan, global warming, fiscal stimulus, or auto bailouts, it seems the Canadian government is constantly scrambling to adjust to the policy initiatives of Barack Obama and his administration. While Obama is unquestionably leading, we seem to be following.
31 January
John Moore: The Liberals made us do it
There’s a hilarious right-wing talking point making the rounds on talk radio to explain why the Conservatives brought in a great lumbering leviathan of a left-wing budget this week: The Liberals made them do it.
You can’t blame the true believers for trying. After all, Jan. 27 marked the death of the Harper agenda and the end of a 21-year quest to bring genuine conservative policy to bear on this country.
In accepting the need for stimulus spending and putting Canada on a course to five consecutive years of red ink, the Tories didn’t put water in their wine: They just drank the water. The budget is so outrageous: It not only pays unprofitable companies to make cars, it provides consumers credit to buy them.
22 December 2008
Harper appoints 18 senators
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper filled all 18 vacant Senate seats on Monday, a move he was expected to make some time before Christmas. CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy, former journalist Pamela Wallin, defeated Conservative MP Fabian Manning, former Olympian Nancy Greene Raine and aboriginal leader Patrick Brazeau are among some of the familiar names who now have a job in the Red Chamber and who will collect an annual $130,000 salary.

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