Canada 2013-14: Politics

Written by  //  December 4, 2014  //  Canada  //  2 Comments

Harper’s Tories and Trudeau’s Liberals in dead heat: poll
If an election were held tomorrow, the Liberals would get 34 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives 33 per cent, according to the poll. The figures indicate the Liberals have slid four percentage points since September, while the Conservatives have seen a two percentage point gain.
Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats would receive 24 per cent of the vote nationally if a vote were held today, and don’t hold the lead in any of the 10 provinces, according to decided voters in the poll. Fifteen per cent of voters remained undecided, according to the poll.
21 November
Conservatives inadvertently give Justin Trudeau a leg up: Hébert
Never has a federal third party leader attracted as much attention from a ruling party as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
In so doing the Conservatives wanted to ensure that Trudeau would walk wounded into his first campaign but so far, it is Mulcair who has had the legs cut from under him.
By systematically treating Trudeau as the leader to beat next year, they have helped to enshrine his status as the top Conservative slayer in the mind of an electorate that has rarely been more motivated to look for such a champion.
Less than a year from the federal election, the Liberals are exactly where they want to be vis-à-vis the NDP.
In the contest for the title of main national alternative to the Conservatives, they stand head and shoulders above their opposition foes.
They should thank Harper’s team for working so hard at giving them a leg up.
16 November
Michael Harris: Harper has been losing friends for a decade — now he’s losing his base
(iPolitics) It is one thing when the political opposition goes after you. But when the winds of change begin to blow through your own camp, it’s time for a reality check.
The fact is, almost everybody seems to be getting tired of Stephen Harper — of his fear-mongering, his deceitful nature, his megalomaniac urge to control everything. For the first time, that might include his base. There is much to justify their sense of grievance.

14 November
No mention of John Baird?
Maher: Jason Kenney could be prime minister before next election
Harper is careful not to overexpose himself, and there are no signs that anyone in his party is scheming to unseat him, but the exasperation of those who don’t like him is starting to be a palpable force for change, and he is carrying heavy baggage that another leader could cast off. … It’s likely safe to assume that a politician as ambitious as Kenney wants to run the country, and I think he does, but nobody ever suggests he is plotting against the boss.
Others might seek the job — Rona Ambrose, Maxime Bernier, Tony Clement, Peter MacKay, James Moore and Lisa Raitt — but nobody but (maybe) them thinks they could beat Kenney. He’s such a good politician that he’d be a formidable campaigner, but many doubt that he can win the country. He is more socially conservative than Harper, and may not be willing to dodge a damaging fight over abortion, as Harper has done.
7 November
Canadian Federal Scientists, Professionals Union Launches Anti-Harper Campaign
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) The union representing scientists and other professionals in the federal public service is abandoning its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) says delegates to its annual general meeting have agreed the union should be more politically active heading into next year’s federal election.
In particular, delegates have agreed that the union should energetically expose the damage they believe the Harper government has done to federal public services.
31 October
Former PBO Kevin Page: ‘Ottawa is Putinesque’
Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a speech in Halifax on Thursday, comparing him to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
(Chronicle Herald) Page, asked to speak about accountability in Ottawa, said he thinks Canada has changed so much in recent years, it needs a long, drawn-out American-style election to air all the important questions.
“I don’t see this government changing, and I see them dismantling institution by institution. We need to start the debate now.”
Page said he hopes to see science and the environment become key election topics, as well as health care.
19 October
L. Ian MacDonald: Parties ready to spend Flaherty’s billions
(iPolitics) What to do with the surplus? It’s the question everyone’s asking in Ottawa.
On Radio-Canada’s Les coulisses du pouvoir Sunday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said “this surplus will be used to build solutions for the long term,” notably in education and infrastructure.
As it happens, he’s aligned with public opinion in a new EKOS poll for iPolitics and Radio-Canada, in which 43.8 per cent of respondents say the surplus should be used to increase transfers to the provinces in health and education, while 30.2 per cent think it should go to paying down the federal debt. Only 15.5 per cent favour tax cuts, while just 7.2 per cent think it should go to new program spending. … All of which comes ahead of Ottawa’s fall update on the budget. … it can be a big deal, as it will be this year, a budget in all but name, delivered in the House of Commons by Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
Oliver looked to be all set to deliver the update in either the last week of October or the first week of November, between the Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day break weeks. But that was before the price of oil plummeted by $15 a barrel, taking the TSX down with it into correction territory—10 per cent below its September peak
17 October
Maher: Stephen Harper and the ‘merchant of venom’
American research shows that attack ads can help tuned-out voters engage, particularly when campaigns are forced to respond to one another’s attacks. At their best, they can create real debate, highlighting the contrasts between candidates.
In Canada, for the past two elections, only the Conservatives have mounted effective attack ads — and a lot more of them — so observing our elections has been as dispiriting as watching a one-sided boxing match.
4 October
Conrad Black: The Tories’ best strategy? Replace Stephen Harper
If Harper really, seriously, wants his government re-elected, he should let it change leaders. That does not appear to be his pleasure and I can’t blame a man for wanting to keep his job, but he must know that if he doesn’t, his countrymen will be profoundly tempted to do it for him. The only federal leaders in Canadian history to win four straight elections were Macdonald and Laurier; the only person in any serious democracy to do so in the last century was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Stephen Harper is distinguishable from them.
23 September
Jonathan Goldbloom wants to represent Mount Royal
He is competing against the mayor of Cote St. Luc, Anthony Housefather, to be named the Liberal candidate for the riding, taking over from long-time MP Irwin Cotler.
“I think there’s an enormous window of opportunity where we can change the debate In Quebec and focus less on national unity and more on rebuilding our city, with Coderre, with Couillard,” said Goldbloom.
Lest we forget: Minister orders MUHC to cancel PR contract — Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has ordered the McGill University Health Centre to cancel the remainder of a $600,000 contract with a Montreal PR firm, saying it’s a waste of money given that the MUHC already has a public-relations department. (22 July 2014)
19 September
Libman, Wajsman facing off for Conservative candidacy in Mount Royal
(CTV) The founder of the defunct Equality Party and a well-known newspaper editor are facing off for the Conservative nomination for the riding of Mount Royal.
Robert Libman made his official announcement Thursday evening before 200 supporters at a Cote des Neiges hotel.
His main rival for the nomination will be well-known newspaper editor and political advisor Beryl Wajsman. … Wajsman has a long history of working in the riding, and was an aide to Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who was first elected in Mount Royal in 1999.
12 September
Andrew MacDougall: Sucking policy down the black hole of process
(Ottawa Citizen) The press love speculation more than you and I like our summer vacation. They love elections even more; that’s why the press will now take any piece of news and stuff it into the corset of election speculation. The Harper government could announce a cure for cancer next week and the headlines would read: “Cancer cure boosts prospect of Harper re-election.” They can’t help themselves.
It’s not just the press. No one in Ottawa can help themselves. As much as Ottawa tries to reach the high ground of substance, it too often sinks into the swamp of process. It’s not what happens that matters, but how it happened. Who’s up, who’s down, who’s in, and who’s out; this is Ottawa’s stock and trade.
Rob Ford drops out of Toronto mayor’s race, Doug Ford to run in his stead
(National Post) Unable to “commit to the heavy schedule required for a Mayoral candidate,” Rob Ford will instead seek reclaim his old position as city councillor for Ward 2 in Etobicoke. Ford’s nephew, Mike Ford, was originally running for the Etobicoke spot but withdrew his candidacy Friday. He will now run to be Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 1.
4 September
Brian Mulroney gives Stephen Harper piece of his mind
Brian Mulroney is pulling no punches on the 30th anniversary of his majority election win, chastising Stephen Harper on everything from foreign affairs to the spat with Canada’s top judge
It wasn’t all critiques. Not only did Mulroney repeatedly praise Trudeau, but also NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, calling him “the best opposition leader since John Diefenbaker.”
25 August
Tory majority in 2015 unlikely as downward trend in polls continues: experts
(Hill Times) The downward slope of Conservative party fortunes has continued in political polls this summer and experts say the party’s relentlessly combative approach has alienated middle-ground voters and has whittled support down to only a hardcore loyal base, which won’t be enough to hold onto a majority government.
21 August
Two very different views
Den Tandt: Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears newly energized in this year’s Arctic tour (with video)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is using this year’s Arctic summer tour – his ninth consecutive such trip – to do something novel, given how these northern sojourns have evolved into extended photo opportunities; he’s test-driving next year’s federal campaign, and the stump speech in particular. And there is change afoot.
For one thing, the PM has made some additions and subtractions to his message that, taken together, are quite telling. For another, he’s delivering the lines with more zip and gravitas than he has since before the Senate spending scandal turned Ottawa on its head, as I hear it. Preparing for retirement, or a sinecure as head of a conservative think tank, he is not.
6 reasons to roll your eyes during Stephen Harper’s visit to the Arctic this week
(Press Progress) 1. The environment: a great backdrop until it melts
The North offers many stunning backdrops to juxtapose Harper with the majesty of Canada’s raw, untamed wilderness that gives our nation’s leader the aura of a rugged, intrepid frontiersman.
But it’s hard to believe someone is so attuned to nature when they’re also muzzling climate scientists and shutting down the distant early warning detectors of climate change in the arctic.
Just two years ago, Harper axed Canada’s Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL) on Ellesmere Island whose focus was on climate research and helped discover the first hole in the ozone layer above the arctic in 2011. At a cost of $1.5 million per year to operate and producing a treasure trove of internationally recognized data on climate change, the lab offered Canadians and the planet a huge return-on-investment.
Harper cut it anyway. But hey, at least the photos turned out great:
17 August

Here’s Stephen Harper’s plan to win the 2015 election
(Ottawa Citizen) It will be built on four pillars: Economic management and tax cuts; a hard-nosed approach to crime; a “principled” foreign policy that stands up to international tyrants and terrorists; and a simple mantra to discredit and destroy Harper’s biggest threat — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

L. Ian MacDonald: The collapse of the Conservative fold
(iPolitics) Normally, political types wouldn’t pay much attention to a poll released in mid-summer. Last week’s EKOS poll for iPolitics was, however, something different.
It’s not just that it shows the Conservatives in deep trouble, just over a year before the October 2015 election. It’s the size of the sample (2,620 Canadians) and the time in the field (an entire week from July 16-23) that make the findings impossible to dismiss.
This isn’t the one bad poll in 20. And it wasn’t a one-night stand. The Liberals now lead the Conservatives by 38.7 to 25.6 per cent, with the NDP at 23.4 per cent. In effect, the Liberals have doubled their vote from the 18.9 per cent they received in the 2011 election, while the Conservatives have plummeted from 39.6 per cent to the mid-20s.
7 August
Editorial: Tories haven’t grasped the cost of wedge politics
When will the Conservatives under Harper learn that reputation-besmirching politics imported from the U.S. are repellent to Canadians, and a losing proposition in Quebec?
Mont Royal shaping up to be a battleground in next federal election
Not only are two high profile local figures, Anthony Housefather and Jonathan Goldbloom, running for the Liberal nomination,… Former provincial MNA and Equality Party founder Robert Libman is hoping to make a political comeback and will seek the Conservative nomination in the riding
5 August
Alison Redford resigns seat, leaves politics
(Calgary Herald) Less than three years after she stunned the Tory establishment by winning the party leadership to become Alberta’s first woman premier, the 49-year-old lawyer has abandoned provincial politics entirely.
“I recognize mistakes were made along the way. In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently,” she said.
“That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made.” Read Redford’s complete statement: ‘It’s time to start the next chapter of my life’
25 July
Trudeau Liberals Widen Lead Over Conservatives, Poll Suggests
Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals would be in majority government territory if an election were held tomorrow, a new poll suggests.
(HuffPost) According to a survey from Forum Research released Thursday, the Liberals have widened their lead over the governing Conservatives to 16 points. Forum has the Grits at 44 per cent support, followed by Stephen Harper’s Tories at 28 per cent and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP at 18 per cent.
Trudeau has the highest approval rating of the main three federal leaders at 46 per cent, followed by Mulcair at 40 per cent and Harper at 33 per cent.
18 July
Harper’s three political options to manage the Duffy affair
By David McLaughlin, former chief of staff and advisor in Conservative party politics federally and provincially
(Globe & Mail) … First, he can strive to ensure the story becomes all about Mr. Duffy’s individual actions and not his own or the PMO’s. With 31 charges in play, Canadians could well be tempted to conclude there is a pattern of unsavory behaviour beyond anything the PMO might have enabled. While the Senator held public attention with his highly-charged statements on the scandal, it provided little personal redemption that he can call upon now. Challenging that notion is the $90,000 cheque and how that actually came about.
Second, he can seek to change the story from the Senate to more favorable political or policy issues like the economy or international leadership – or whatever suits the governing Conservatives better. Prime ministerial announcements command attention. That did not work last year with either the Cabinet shuffle or the Throne Speech. But strong gains for the opposition parties have not exactly materialized either. The Conservatives may be in second place in national polls but their support is stubbornly resilient.
Three, he can continue to undermine his political opponents through ramped-up negative political advertising, outflanking them on values issues, and forcing divisions between the Liberals and the NDP on key political files. Strong by-election performances by the Liberals suggest limits to this gambit.
14 July
Celine Cooper: It’s Trudeau vs. Mulcair here
The Harper Conservatives, whose policies have not been popular with Quebecers, won’t have a chance in this province in 2015
Beyond keeping their nose out of Quebec’s internal politics (the “don’t poke the bear” approach), neither the ebbing of sovereignist sentiment nor the PQ’s truncated tenure should be directly attributed to Harper’s governance. It is disingenuous for him to suggest otherwise.
The shift has more to do with demographic factors — the aging boomers and the growing generational gap. As I have written previously, young francophones in the province might not be as likely to buy into the notion of Quebec sovereignty, but they don’t feel any great attachment to Canada or the federal ideal, either.
And why would they? Consider Harper’s ultra-monarchist bent, his appointment of unilingual anglophone officers of Parliament, the Senate scandals and tussles over Supreme Court nominations.
A number of the Conservative Party’s policy initiatives — including attempts to bulldoze through an aggressive law-and-order omnibus bill, the end of the gun registry and changes to employment insurance — have not endeared him to voters here.
19 June

A comprehensive – and highly flattering – profile of Nigel Wright from 2011 underlines Stephen Harper’s incredibly coldblooded treatment of him
The Walrus April 2011: Mister Right
How has Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper’s new chief of staff, reached the top of the business and political worlds without making enemies?

Nigel Wright celebrated by Conservatives as he leaves Ottawa behind
(CTV) Conservatives — including the Speaker of the House of Commons — have been feting Nigel Wright as Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff leaves behind Ottawa and a brutal year to return to the private sector.
Wright resigned his post a little over a year ago following the revelation he had secretly paid $90,000 of Sen. Mike Duffy’s contested expenses. The prime minister repudiated Wright publicly, calling him responsible for the “deception” and saying he was dismissed. Then this spring, the RCMP said there was no evidence to support a criminal charge against Wright over the $90,000 cheque.
Two parties for him over the past week point to the respect — and even gratitude — Wright continues to command inside Conservative circles, in spite of his tumultuous year.
Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer held a private dinner for Wright on Monday at his official residence outside Ottawa. Attendees included junior minister Maxime Bernier, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre and party lawyer Guy Giorno. Bernier described it as a “dinner among friends,” but declined to elaborate. Scheer footed the bill for the get-together, the Speaker’s office noted.
That event was preceded by a larger gathering last week at a pub in Ottawa’s Byward Market — ironically called The Brig. MPs, Conservative party movers and shakers and Parliament Hill staffers showed up to bid farewell to Wright as he rejoins private equity firm Onex Corp. The company’s CEO has said Wright could be destined for the firm’s London office.
16 April
Mike Duffy still under RCMP shadow as Nigel Wright looks to the future
Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, is relieved that the RCMP won’t be laying criminal charges against him and is expected to move back into the private sector — but suspended Sen. Mike Duffy’s future is much more uncertain.
The RCMP has essentially wrapped up its investigation into Duffy’s Senate expense claims and the $90,000 personal cheque he accepted from Wright to pay back his questionable housing expenses. The file is now under discussion with the Crown attorney’s office.
31 March
Inside Dimitri Soudas’s last days atop the Conservative Party
How Stephen Harper’s hand-picked choice to fight the 2015 campaign found himself on the firing line
Dimitri Soudas’s second coming with the Conservative Party of Canada began in the glow of Stephen Harper’s approval last December with a show-of-hands vote by the party’s national council at 24 Sussex Drive. It ended a scant few months later, during a conference call that saw that same inner circle rubber-stamp his departure.
26 March
Tories vent over perceived nomination meddling by top party operative
‘I am in a totally untenable situation in this matter,’ warns organizer
The Tory MP, her boyfriend at Conservative HQ, and the battle for a coveted Toronto-area riding — it’s a combination that’s causing friction and recriminations in Conservative circles.
The controversy centres on the party’s promise to hold open nominations across the country leading up to the 2015 federal election, after years of protecting incumbent MPs.
Some grassroots members in Ontario are appealing to the party brass to address what they perceive as favouritism and interference by Dimitri Soudas, the party’s executive director.
Soudas’ partner, MP Eve Adams, is running for the nomination in the new riding of Oakville-North Burlington.
25 March
With Friends Like Harper: how Nigel Wright went from golden boy to fall guynigel_wright
The corporate insider Nigel Wright engineered Stephen Harper’s rise to prime minister and became his closest confidant. As chief of staff, he acted as a conduit between Bay Street and the PMO—until Harper thought he could make the Senate scandal go away by cutting Wright loose
(Toronto Life) Wright has toiled tirelessly in the backrooms of the ­Conservative party machine for 30 years. He was one of ­Harper’s biggest supporters and an unofficial advisor since the late 1990s. They were close friends who respected and trusted each other. And then Wright was thrown under the bus.
On Bay Street, Wright’s friends are legion. The list includes some of the biggest names in Canadian business—Gerald Schwartz, Peter and Anthony Munk, the Jackmans—as well as many lesser-known but no less influential corporate leaders and political organizers. Harper’s treatment of Wright—and his inept handling of the entire ordeal—has forced many of them to re-evaluate the prime minister. Not only has the crisis challenged their perception of his political infallibility, but it has made them question his judgment. As one senior Conservative said to me, “If this is going to be a contest in terms of who Bay Street values more, I don’t like Harper’s odds.”
1 March
The inimitable Conrad Black chimes in: Quebec’s ticket back to Canada
The Harper government is not long on inspiration; it has put all its presentational eggs in the basket of prudent government. There is no flair, no panache, no humour, no vision, and not much charm or empathy. There have been no interesting initiatives, apart from the prime minister’s brilliant visit to Israel, for many months, and the government now looks merely like placemen, throwing raw meat to their more reactionary supporters with floggings of the dead horse of harsher sentencing and humbug about marijuana. The whole regime is starting to look like it is simply waiting to be defeated, manoeuvring to ensure that Nigel Wright doesn’t have to give evidence under oath, though its record in office has been adequate to avoid the creation of an unstoppable public desire to turn them all out of office.
Whether Trudeau or the French Canadians realize it, he is their last ticket to resume the great role they played in the whole country from Lafontaine to Jean Chrétien, including 37 out of 38 years with prime ministers from Quebec between 1968 and 2006. If he fails, the French Canadians will be just another group of hyphenated Canadians, semi-autonomously festering and playing house in their capacious and over-lyricized ghetto of Quebec.
The second intriguing aspect of a Trudeau government arises from the endless prattling at the Liberal convention about a “national strategy” for almost everything. Tiresome, evasive and vacuous as much of this undoubtedly was, it does reopen the possibility of public sector-private sector co-operation that has been responsible for most of the grand projects that have built the country, including the railways, the great hydro-electric projects, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Air Canada, atomic power, the Trans-Canada Highway and pipelines, and most large cultural initiatives.
Conservatives losing ground, grim polling numbers suggest
Fewer people in Ontario, B.C. identify as Conservatives, Manning Networking Conference poll finds
28 February
Andrew Coyne: The Manning Networking conference is a gathering of the Conservative party in exile
If last year’s conference was notable for its cognitive dissonance — speaker after speaker laying out a robustly conservative vision, followed by effusive praise for the government that has discarded virtually all of it — this year’s edition seems marked more by a deliberate, if unstated parting of the ways. Nothing was said out loud, no knives were unsheathed, but this had the feel of a group of people preparing for a post-Harper party. From the title (“Next Steps”) to the speakers, a banquet of potential leadership contenders, the tone is of serious people who want to talk about serious ideas, stripped (mostly) of the hyper-partisan rhetoric and name-calling: the grown-ups, the good faith Conservatives.
27 February
Chris Alexander Praised Liberal MP’s Ties To Ukraine Weeks Ago
Though Conservatives have denied opposition MPs a place in Canada’s delegation to Ukraine, it was only a few weeks ago that Immigration Minister Chris Alexander pointed to a Liberal MP as an example of the close ties between both nations.
During an emergency debate on the Ukraine crisis on January 27, Alexander suggested there isn’t another member of Parliament — in either party — who can match rookie MP Chrystia Freeland’s proficiency with (sic) the Ukrainian language.
“I am looking over at the member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, a new member in this place, who speaks a high quality of Ukrainian.
“I can understand her Russian but the quality of her Ukrainian is certainly second to none in this place and probably second to none among parliamentarians in NATO countries. That speaks to our strength as a nation in understanding what Ukraine is going through and in living that reality because of who we are.”
Freeland, a Ukrainian-Canadian, has a bachelor’s degree in Russian history and literature from Harvard and master’s degree in Slavonic studies from Oxford. Her mother helped draft Ukraine’s constitution.
Joe Clark: Harper Should Shoulder Part Of Blame For Keystone Delays
He said the government deserves some of the blame if the project is stalled. If the Harper government hadn’t spent a couple of years shouting at the environmental movement, he said, it might not have attracted such opposition.
Clark told the audience that the belligerence began with verbal attacks by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, and continues to this day with environmental groups having their tax status threatened.
All of that, Clark said, got noticed by U.S. environmentalists who carry some influence in the White House.
Former prime minister Joe Clark says he can’t understand why the Harper government would bar the opposition from a delegation to Ukraine and suggests its combative approach to international issues sometimes hurts the country.
… Clark said he regularly involved opposition parties on foreign missions — and Canada benefited as a result.
John Ivison: Growing petty, Harper’s Tories see crisis in Ukraine as a chance to score political points
This is the type of conduct that turns reasonable people off the Conservatives, suggesting that partisanship should stop at the water’s edge
26 February
Conservative attacks on Justin Trudeau not working, Stephen Harper’s former campaign manager says
Justin Trudeau ‘very hard to attack personally’: Tom Flanagan
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former campaign manager says the governing Conservatives are falling short in their personal attacks on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and will have to shift their emphasis to his policies.
In an interview with Postmedia News, Tom Flanagan spoke of how Trudeau has been seemingly untouchable since he won the party leadership nearly a year ago and of how Harper’s own reputation as a negative politician has only been further sealed in the public’s mind.
25 February
Conservatives defeat NDP bid to take electoral reform act hearings on the road
The NDP wanted hearings across the country to give voters a chance to learn about the rule changes and express their views where they live.
However the Conservative government rushed the bill through second reading in the House and says anyone who wants to talk about the legislation is welcome to come to Ottawa and testify at committee.
The government expects to have the legislation, which it has dubbed the Fair Elections Act, through the Commons by the summer break and passed by the Senate by next fall in order to give Elections Canada time to enact the changes for the 2015 general election.
24 February
Some Conservatives don’t buy Star leak explanation, but looking at long game to win next election
(Hill Times online) Some Conservatives don’t buy the explanation given for how internal party strategy documents made it to The Toronto Star earlier this month, a senior Conservative source said, and they’re worried such breaches could become more common.
While Tories contacted for this article were unfazed by the content of the leaked documents, the leak itself was worrisome.
“The concern is more about the leak than the substance, just how it got out,” a Conservative source told The Hill Times on a not-for-attribution basis.
A 70-page slideshow presentation the Conservative Party’s executive director, Dimitri Soudas, delivered to its national council earlier this month at a downtown Toronto hotel and other documents were sent anonymously to The Toronto Star on Feb. 9. The paper immediately broke several stories outlining the contents in what made for fascinating reading for those outside the Conservative bubble.
17 February
How Conservatives are setting stage for 2015 election: Analysis
The permanent political campaign, version 2014, has hit a new level of sophistication. Some might call it cynicism, but let’s call it what it also is: impressive.
Think of it as a three-act play. A power play.
First, there are the Conservative government’s proposed electoral law changes. Then there is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign strategy, revealed this week in documents obtained exclusively by the Toronto Star. Finally, there is Harper’s budget target for a fat 2015 surplus and big tax cuts that his political rivals would be hard-pressed to repeal.


Second (or Third…) Time’s the Charm for women
(Samara) Academic literature identifies the nomination process – the process by which a political party selects a candidate to run in an election – as being a key hurdle for women to overcome in the electoral process, with political parties playing a significant role as gatekeepers of the nomination process
Political parties play key roles as gatekeepers and recruiters in the nomination process. For most MPs, their “ask” came from a personal connection in the party and not an organized effort to look for an ideal candidate. According to some of the MPs interviewed, even when specific policies and targets for recruiting are adopted by political parties, these are inconsistently applied at the local level. Often, the reason for this is described as the central organizations of political parties not wanting to interfere with the grassroots process of local associations selecting their candidates. However, there are many times when pressure is exerted by central organizations of the party on behalf of a “star candidate,” with or without the support of the local association. This was the case for a couple of MPs interviewed. One thing is for certain: a more concerted effort from the parties to simply asking more women to run would go a long way to getting more women to say yes.
Young politicians no longer a novelty in Canada
Newly elected Nunavut MLA David Joanasie, 30, is just the latest in recent crop of younger politicians
Entering politics at a young age is nothing new. Joe Clark was just 39 when he became prime minister of the country, having been first elected to Parliament at age 33 in 1972. Bob Rae won his first seat in the House of Commons at age 30 as an NDP MP in a 1978 federal byelection.
We take a look at some recently elected politicians who’ve attracted attention for their young age.
Meet the new generation of politicians
Canadians should take note of the results of the municipal election in Alberta’s capital last week. The new mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson, inspired Edmontonians with a campaign clearly driven by a compelling vision of what his city is and could be. Iveson is a highly intelligent city councillor, deeply knowledgeable about municipal issues and policy, and an uncommonly effective communicator. He is also 34 years old.
The election of Iveson in Edmonton and re-election of Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, along with the continuing tenure of Gregor Robertson in Vancouver, leaves Canada’s three largest western cities with a trifecta of young, dynamic, urban city-builders as mayors.

Gilles Duceppe quashes rumours he’ll seek Bloc leadership
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe says he’s not going to turn back the clock and return to his old job as party leader.
Despite a mountain of speculation in the wake of Daniel Paillé’s surprise resignation Monday, Duceppe said he’s already ruled it out.
The chatter was fuelled by the fact that he refused to answer a question about the possibility of running during an interview with Le Devoir
Duceppe said he did not answer the question originally out of respect for Paillé, who resigned Monday after learning he has a form of epilepsy that requires him to give up the gruelling schedule of a party leader.
15 December
Canada Post logoStephen Maher: Competitors may lead push to keep Canada Post transition in line
(Postmedia) Denis Coderre, posed a good question Thursday about Canada Post’s decision to end door-to-door mail delivery: “Les maudites boîtes, y vont les mettre où?”
Changing technology likely means we have no choice but to do away with home mail delivery, but there’s reason to worry both about Canada Post’s ability to manage the change and the federal government’s will to supervise the Crown corporation.
So far, the signs are not encouraging. Canada Post announced its plans Wednesday, the day after the House of Commons rose for its Christmas break, which means the government won’t face opposition questions until the new year.
Lisa Raitt, the minister responsible, issued a statement saying the government supported the change, but declined interview requests, cravenly sidestepping her responsibility to explain a decision that would affect the daily lives of millions of Canadians.
To understand why she is hiding, and why we should be nervous, consider that only the most urban third of Canadians still receive home delivery from Canada Post. The Conservatives are not competitive in most cities, which means they don’t have good political reasons to explain the changes, or to make sure that they are carried out in a responsible way…. In the unforgiving world of electoral politics, strategists can’t afford to spend too much time worrying about people who will never vote for their party. See Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Cutting Canada Post: It’s About More Than Mail
13 December
Jason Kenney’s Rob Ford comment sparked profane rebuke from Jim Flaherty
Toronto mayor’s admitted drug use causes Conservative caucus rift to erupt on Commons floor
(CBC) Bitter divisions inside Stephen Harper’s cabinet over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford recently erupted on the floor of the House of Commons and triggered a profane battle between two of the prime minister’s most powerful ministers.
Several cabinet and caucus sources said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was unable to hold back his fury after Employment Minister Jason Kenney became the first member of Harper’s cabinet to call on Ford to resign on Nov. 19.
The finance minister, who is an old friend of the Ford family, got word of Kenney’s public upbraiding of Ford and confronted his cabinet colleague once the two were seated in the Commons for the daily question period.
7 December
Paul Wells: Dimitri Soudas and the PM’s future
Welcome back, then, to Dimitri Soudas, who guided the communications for Canada’s Olympic effort almost all the way to the Olympics, then announced he was launching his own PR firm — a day before the PMO announced his appointment as Conservative Party executive director.
Just as in 2000, one gets the impression that things have been hurried a bit, and for the same reason: unhelpful speculation about the leader’s longevity.
Soudas will be busy: after years of effort and millions of dollars spent, the Conservatives don’t have the updated and functional database they wanted; they have 338 candidates to nominate; and they are not sure what their message for an election is supposed to be. There was speculation that Soudas’s arrival signals the possibility of a snap spring election (the Harper-departure narrative has already vanished down the memory hole), but the party has a stunning amount of heavy lifting to do before it will be able to snap much of anything. I have never been willing to bet that Harper would wait until October 2015 for an election, no matter what the never-obeyed “fixed election date law” might say; my belief that he could well jump the gun played a big role in deciding when to publish my book about him. But neither does he seem to be in any shape to call an election in the next few months.
Harper loyalist Dimitri Soudas named executive director of Conservative Party of Canada
(National Post) Soudas was known for an often acrimonious relationship with the media when he was heading Harper’s communications efforts. … He also ran into controversy last year when his name surfaced in connection with the appointment of a chief executive at the Montreal Port Authority in 2007. … Some pundits, including the Post‘s John Ivison, have said that the Soudas appointment increases the chances of a snap election being called.
Liberals Solidified Lead Over Conservatives, Poll Suggests
(Canadian Press) Pollster Allan Gregg says the latest numbers not only reinforce the split byelection results last Monday, but demonstrate a significant shift is underway in terms of both the Conservatives and Liberals.
“What you have is two things happening at the same time,” said Gregg. “You have the Liberal core constituency is coming back to where they always were and over the last year you’ve seen a fairly significant erosion of the Conservatives’ core constituency.”
25 November
By-elections a litmus test for opposition strength, Senate scandal impact
(Maclean’s) Canadians will cast their votes in four federal byelections today in what is being perceived as much more than just a litmus test for the Conservative government.
It’s also being viewed as a gauge for which opposition party would be the best alternative to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories.
[The Senate scandal has] put a whole new twist on byelections, which are usually viewed as being about local issues with little effect on the general election to follow down the road.
24 November
Michael Den Tandt: Trudeau’s hopes get an assist from his opponents
Monday’s four federal by-elections – Bourassa in Montreal, Toronto Centre, Provencher and Brandon-Souris in Manitoba – are a bellwether; the most important indicator we’ve had, since the previous round in November of 2012, of who’s doing well and who isn’t, in Ottawa.
If the polls are anything close to accurate – which is a substantial “if,” admittedly – the Liberals will win Bourassa by a comfortable margin; Toronto Centre by a smaller one; come a close second in Brandon-Souris, or win it by a nose in an upset; and lose Provencher to the Conservatives. For Trudeau, anything less than two wins (Toronto Centre and Bourassa) would be a rebuke; three wins (adding Brandon-Souris) would be a big victory.
For the New Democrats, a win in Toronto Centre would be huge – catapulting their star candidate there, Linda McQuaig, into a leading role at NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s side, and dealing a grave setback to Trudeau via the loss of his own star candidate, Chrystia Freeland. For Trudeau likewise Toronto Centre is a must-win; not only is Freeland already a key member of his team, but the seat has long been a Liberal enclave, having previously been occupied by former Liberal leader Bob Rae.
23 November
Poll puts Liberals ahead in three byelection races
As voters head to the polls in four federal byelections, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lead the competition in three races according to a new Forum Research poll.
(Toronto Star) The federal Liberals maintain a lead in three of four ridings up for grabs in Monday’s byelections, according to a new poll from Forum Research.
Liberal candidates lead their opposition by more than 10 points in Toronto Centre, the Montreal riding of Bourassa, and the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris, according to the poll.
In Toronto Centre, former journalist and Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland leads the NDP’s Linda McQuaig by a comfortable 13 points, with 48 per cent of respondents indicating their support to McQuaig’s 35 per cent. Conservative candidate Geoff Pollock languishes in third, with 13 per cent. Those numbers are little changed from the previous week, according to Forum.
The bloody battle for Brandon-Souris
(Winnipeg free Press) Circumstances have conspired to turn byelection into barometer of national mood
21 November
Paul Wells: Harper’s Brandon letter, the demon weed and Justin Trudeau
This is extraordinary: a letter from a sitting prime minister to voters on the eve of a by-election. … Harper has not set foot in any of the ridings that will vote next Monday, but now he has sent a form letter over his signature to voters in Brandon-Souris. The letter mentions the Liberals exclusively. The NDP, which came in second in 2011 with five times the Liberals’ vote, do not rate a mention in Harper’s letter. … The Conservative plan to use Trudeau’s numerous comments on marijuana against him is much bigger than Brandon-Souris.
… I believe the Conservative campaign against Justin Trudeau on marijuana legalization is by far the most ambitious partisan exercise they have undertaken since their ad blitz against Michael Ignatieff in the first few months of 2011.
15 November
The tragic tale of Rob Ford continues
Rob Ford: The week that was
After last week’s bombshell revelations, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford continued to dominate headlines here in Canada and around the world.
13 November
No doubt the government will manage to bury this proposal
Editorial: Public money, partisan advertising
(Ottawa Citizen) Partisan political advertising masquerading as vital government information or public service was not invented by the Conservative government. The Liberals did the same thing in their time, but since 2006, the Conservative government has taken the practice to such intolerable new heights, it has become an abuse of power. It must be stopped.
On radio and television, in newspapers and online, the Conservatives are using taxpayer money to tell Canadians what a wonderful job their government is doing, blurring the line between partisan commercials and genuine public service advertising. That is why Ottawa South MP David McGuinty is right to propose legislation to rein in partisan advertising by all governments now and in the future. All federal lawmakers should consider it on its merits. The Conservatives, after all, brand themselves as defenders of the taxpayer.
3 November
Warren Kinsella: an open letter to Conservative delegates
(The Sun) When asked about the $90,000 Wright gave to Duffy to cover questionable expenses and protect his leader, Harper was vicious. “One person [is] responsible for this deception that person is Mr. Wright. It is Mr. Wright by his own admission!” Harper thundered.
It was an extraordinary spectacle, and not merely because Harper knows that his authority is slipping away. It was extraordinary because Nigel Wright is no ordinary Conservative. …
Wright conquered on Bay Street as a lawyer and a deal-maker, to be sure, becoming a millionaire at a very young age. But blue Tory blood ran through his veins – and there are only a handful of unelected people in this country who gave as much to conservative causes. Fundraising, policy, organization: Nigel Wright did it all.
On Tuesday, while Stephen Harper cast him as a liar and a wrong-doer in the privileged confines of the House of Commons, Nigel Wright maintained a stoic silence, as he has throughout this sordid affair. While the most powerful man in Canada attempted to destroy his reputation, Wright said nothing. …
If there is anyone of my generation who has devoted themselves more selflessly to the Conservative Party, I do not know who it is.
Andrew Coyne: Conservatives’ closed door convention doesn’t win them any new friends
(National Post) … the impression was that of a party closing in on itself, of a leadership that accepts no blame for the depths into which the party has sunk, but that sees itself as wholly the victim of outside enemies. As a short-term strategy for preserving internal unity, this has its uses. The problem is that the list of enemies keeps growing, and as it grows, starts to include more and more of the party’s staunchest supporters. Some of the prime minister’s closest confidants and advisers are now on the list, from Tom Flanagan to — the scapegoat of the month — Nigel Wright.
Add to the list of the excommunicated, also, commentators of such unimpeachably conservative character as Tasha Kheiriddin (former president of the Progressive Conservative Youth Federation) or Sun Media’s John Robson, who have become increasingly agitated by the direction the party has taken under its current leadership. In time, the list will surely also have to include Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay. It may already.
1 November
Andrew Coyne: Harper speech parody of a parody of an empty cliché
(Montreal Gazette) You have to understand: He is not ever going to change. He is not ever going to admit error or show contrition or “let people see his heart” or “share his vision” or do any of what the dimestore philosophers in my chosen trade advise him to do.
And so we get this damp recital of past slogans, this parody of a parody of an empty cliché of a speech, this 4,000-word migraine. A strong, stable national government! Protect our economy amid global uncertainty! For those who work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules! For our children! And the generations to come!
31 October
Jonathan Sas: Conservative convention bodes badly for Canada
With the media microscope focused squarely on the Senate scandal and the frayed integrity of the Prime Minister’s Office, Canadians aren’t likely to pay much attention to what transpires on the convention floor.
They ought to. The policy resolutions that pass provide as good an indication as any of how Prime Minister Stephen Harper will go about deflecting the heat and shoring up support for his government among the party’s base.
There is a persistent view that Mr. Harper has pragmatically governed in the centre, in a way that, if anything, has alienated the hard-right of the party. Under this interpretation, Mr. Harper has moderated his Reform ways and largely kept his “base” in check. Wacky resolutions at Conservative conventions are therefore so much meaningless hot air.
The Conservative’s record, however, tells a different story.
Though the list of right-wing “accomplishments” is long, several demonstrate how out of touch Mr. Harper is with mainstream Canadian values: brazen attacks on labour groups and collective bargaining rights; tax cuts that benefit the wealthy; the erosion of public programs and cuts to services; the dismantling of environmental regulations for resource extraction; evidence-averse “tough on crime” policies such as building more prisons and instituting mandatory minimum sentences.
Jason Kenney: Nigel Wright A Capable Man With ‘High Ethical Standards’
One of Stephen Harper‘s top ministers has defended Nigel Wright as a man of “high ethical standards,” even as the prime minister throws his former chief of staff under the bus.
30 October
Comments are growing more and more brutal: Andrew Coyne: To recap, the prime minister is not responsible for almost anything
(National Post) The notion that Stephen Harper should bear any responsibility for the actions of his staff, or indeed his own, is one of those quaint relics of a bygone age, like outdoor showers or honesty. There was a time when public office holders were expected to take responsibility for these things, as a matter of personal honour if nothing else. But conventions last only as long as they are observed. Today, the prime minister clings to his position — I was the victim of a conspiracy involving everyone around me — as tightly as Senator Duffy clings to his paycheque.
It may be in Nigel Wright’s power to destroy Stephen Harper: Chantal Hébert
Is Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, the evil mastermind behind a scheme to cover up Mike Duffy’s controversial expenses?
Only a saint or alternatively someone with a guilty conscience would continue to play dead as his former boss wreaks irreparable damage on his or her reputation.
Jonathan Sas: Tory convention agenda bodes badly for Canada
Amid the Senate scandal, few will be paying attention to this week’s Conservative Party convention. Too bad – it holds clues about where Canada’s going.
(Toronto Star) The policy resolutions that pass provide as good an indication as any of how Prime Minister Stephen Harper will go about deflecting the heat and shoring up support for his government among the party’s base.
There is a persistent view that Harper has pragmatically governed in the centre, in a way that, if anything, has alienated the hard-right of the party. Under this interpretation, Harper has moderated his Reform ways and largely kept his “base” in check. Wacky resolutions at Conservative conventions are therefore so much meaningless hot air.
Harper’s record, however, tells a different story.
Senate scandal looms over Tory convention
(Calgary Herald) — Counter-summit to provide ‘alternate vision.’ For a few days this week, the political centre of gravity will shift from Ottawa to Calgary. The federal Conservatives — who were originally supposed to hold their convention in the city in June, only to see it washed away by the massive floods — will try again Thursday, with the shadow of the Senate scandal looming over Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The convention will be met on Thursday and Friday by a “counter-summit” of left wing and environmental activists, including scientist David Suzuki and Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow, intended to present an “alternative vision” to the Conservative government.
And on Wednesday, federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be in Calgary to speak at the Petroleum Club and hold an evening rally.
28 October
NDP candidate touts deep roots in new Toronto by-election video
Oct 28 2013 — Gloria Galloway — Globe and Mail — The battle of the journalists/income equalizers in Toronto Centre continues with a new video from NDP contestant Linda McQuaig that takes an indirect jab at her Liberal opponent for being a parachute candidate.
27 October
Michael Den Tandt: Mulcair is doing the work in the Senate scandal, but Trudeau will reap the rewards
Trudeau knows the Conservative core base is off limits to him; he knows, likewise, that he can count on baby boomers who voted for his father, and a share of the youth vote. But for victory he needs large numbers of voters best represented, in the current Senate fight, by dissident Red Tory Sen. Hugh Segal, or Conservative conscientious objector Sen. Don Plett, or backbench rebel MP Peter Goldring. Trudeau only has to make it acceptable for wobbly 2011 Conservatives to come over to him on a trial basis. He doesn’t have to make them love it. The Liberal leader’s Keystone push in Washington, therefore, is no coincidence. Nor was its timing, just after the Throne Speech.

PENNY COLLENETTE: Duffy’s quest for revenge: A threat to the government?
Not all are engaged with the top players in the party, but Mr. Duffy certainly was – with both the Prime Minister’s then-chief of staff Nigel Wright and party fundraiser Irving Gerstein, who was also a colleague in the Senate. But solely engaging at the top in politics can often be a fatal flaw – because there will be no one to catch you when you fall.

A reminder: Guergis, Bernier, and the PM’s secrets

PAUL WELLS: What the scandals say about Harper’s management style (23 April 2010)

Rebel to realist: How politics changed Stephen Harper and how he is changing Canada
( Stephen Harper began his political career in the 1980s as a conservative renegade advocating a fiscal and democratic revolution. But over time, he appeared to bend his explicitly held principles to the demands of political power. Even so, he has deftly – perhaps permanently – stamped his brand of conservatism on the country.
Mark Kennedy, parliamentary bureau chief for Postmedia News in Ottawa, examines how – 20 years after Harper was first elected to Parliament, and 10 years after he took over the leadership of his party – the once-impatient revolutionary has changed, and how Canada has changed with him. (Five-part series)

16 October
Hill media boycott Conservative caucus photo-op over restrictive one reporter rule
(Hill Times) Throne Speech day and the opening of a new session of Parliament got off to a rocky start for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as his media officials barred Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters from his caucus room speech to begin the day, and the Commons issued security plans for the ceremony that included steel gates in front of Parliament as a ‘precautionary measure.’
14 October
Sean Silcoff: Conservatives to push for a more consumer-friendly Canada in Throne Speech
The Conservative government is setting its sights on cementing a reputation as the Consumer Party of Canada.
In a series of interviews this weekend, Industry Minister James Moore said Wednesday’s Throne Speech will unveil the government’s plans to enact consumer-friendly measures. Those include a move to force television service providers to let subscribers pay for only those channels they want. Mr. Moore also suggested the government may enact protections to prevent airline customers from being bumped from overbooked planes, clamp down on mobile roaming charges in Canada and control hidden credit card fees.
The government’s consumerist push has indeed become conspicuous in recent months, centring on its moves in the wireless phone sector, a source of widespread consumer discontent. It picked a public fight with Canada’s three incumbent wireless carriers, signalling it would do whatever was necessary to create greater competition in the sector – including blocking takeovers by incumbents – and launching a blistering PR offensive to countervail a public campaign by the telcos. The Conservative Party used the government’s tough stance in wireless to appeal to donors.
The Conservative plan to become Canada’s Natural Governing Party
(National Post) Traditionally viewed as a collection of misfits who couldn’t keep power once they achieved it — and who stabbed each other in the back during opposition — the Tories are now a political powerhouse. But can they win a fourth-straight election, in 2015? The last time a Conservative prime minister did that was in 1891, under Sir John A. Macdonald. Expect Wednesday’s throne speech to be focused on this goal.
Here’s how the Conservatives hope to become Canada’s Natural Governing Party.
17 September
Michael Den Tandt: Tom Mulcair’s Linda McQuaig problem

From Mulcair’s point of view — that of a still-new leader, parachuted in from Quebec’s provincial Liberals, and confronted with the tricky task of shoving his left-leaning partisans towards the pragmatic centre — there could not be a more problematic candidate than McQuaig. Indeed, it would be better for Mulcair now if his party loses this by-election, which has yet to be called.
That’s because, throughout her lengthy career as an author and activist, McQuaig has consistently repudiated the neo-liberal economic orthodoxy that Mulcair insists he and his party now accept.
12 September
Michael Adams: The myth of conservative Canada
(IRPP | Policy Options) Have Canadians undergone a sea change in their values, adopting new attitudes toward the role of government, and social beliefs that will more often than not deliver power to conservative parties?
The evidence from our polling and social values research at Environics shows the contrary. Canadians are not calling for a dramatic retreat of government from our lives, nor do they show signs of embracing greater conservatism on social issues.
Definitions of conservatism vary, but small government and low taxes are widely accepted as conservative principles. Is distrust of government as an institution, or unwillingness to pay taxes to advance the work of government, widespread among the Canadian public? Are Canadians becoming more like many Americans in seeing government as wasteful and inefficient (if not downright evil), and in believing that to get something done properly — be it prisons or health insurance or education — it’s best to leave government out of the picture?
We find little evidence of growing hostility toward government among Canadians.
27 August
Keep this score card handy:
Harper shuffles PMO staff in effort to shake off controversy
23 August
Éric Grenier — Canadians getting more and more unhappy with prorogations: polls
The Prime Minister’s plan to prorogue Parliament until October, when he will return with a new legislative agenda and a Throne Speech, is relatively routine. But in large part due to his own use of prorogation in the past, opinion has hardened against the measure.
Prorogation is merely a means to wipe the slate clean in Parliament and start fresh, something that majority governments often do. But the recent uses of prorogation has turned the public against the parliamentary mechanism.
22 August
John Ibbitson: Why prorogation is good for Trudeau and bad for Mulcair
Mr. Mulcair’s complaint that the Prime Minister ended the session in an effort to duck questions on the Senate expenses affair is disingenuous. The Opposition Leader well knows that a mid-term prorogation is routine in the life of any government, especially one that has just gone through a cabinet shuffle.
The one-month delay will give ministers time to master their new portfolios and the government time to craft a Speech from the Throne that will set the agenda for the coming two years.
But Mr. Mulcair’s impatience is understandable. The longer Parliament stays dark, the more time Mr. Trudeau gets to do what he does best: tour the country and attract new supporters to the Liberal Party.
Contrary to cliché, however, a month is actually not a long time in politics. And when Parliament returns in October, Mr. Mulcair will be back to doing what he does best: making life miserable for the Prime Minister in Question Period.
19 August

Harper to seek prorogation of Parliament

Conservative government plans October throne speech
(CBC)  “There will be a new throne speech in the fall, obviously the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that. We will come back in October, is our tentative timing,” Harper told reporters in Whitehorse Monday. [Why does he seem to make a habit of making major announcements from places that are remote from Ottawa?] Harper is in the Yukon on the second day of his annual summer tour of the North.
The move was not unexpected. The government managed to pass much of its outstanding legislation before rising for the summer break, and Harper undertook a major shuffle of his cabinet in July as he passed the halfway mark of his mandate.
It will be the third time since Harper took office in 2006 that he has sought prorogation. He first used the tactic in 2008 to successfully out-maneouvre the opposition’s attempt to unseat him and form a coalition government. He prorogued again in 2010 in the midst of a controversy over Canada’s treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and ahead of Vancouver’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Of course, proroguing would not have anything to do with the fact that Before the summer break, Harper had been under fire daily in the House of Commons over the continuing scandal involving the expenses of senators, including three Conservatives he appointed.
Harper’s Conservatives out of step with Quebec
Maybe Harper’s party doesn’t want to alienate social conservatives in the rest of the country. But the absence of Canada’s governing party, in contrast with the presence of the other major parties, made it look more as though the Conservatives have written off not just the gay vote, but most of Quebec.
(Montreal Gazette) For more than a decade, politicians have marched in Montreal’s annual gay-pride parade.
There were a record 49 of them in this year’s parade on Sunday, including Mayor Laurent Blanchard, the four leading candidates for mayor in November’s election, and several city councillors. But it wasn’t only Montreal municipal parties that were represented.
15 August
Paul Wells: Andrew MacDougall and the PMO’s strange stability
I’m not saying Harper only hires people who think like him. Just about every person in MacDougall’s job has urged the PM to be more open and less combative. It’s just that they rarely win those arguments, and eventually they leave.
Of course the current environment in the PMO is tougher than it’s been for a while. Harper just had a chief of staff resign in disgrace. There are really substantial scandals rocking this government. The opposition seems to be getting its act together, although gratifyingly for Conservatives, it continues to do so in duplicate. This morning some Hill denizens were asking who would take the job of speaking for this PM, knowing the rocky road ahead. And yet someone will be along before you know it. And then gone in much the same way. The constant is Stephen Harper.
9 August
Kelly McParland: Ottawa slumbers, but Senate revelations keep pouring in

It’s possible that Canadians aren’t paying much attention to this, given the summer lull and the public’s notoriously short attention span. But the red flag for the Tories lies in the evident diligence of the police investigation, and their apparent success at uncovering ever-more evidence of unsavoury activities. At some point the report will be made public and a response will be required. The damage from the Sponsorship scandal that sunk the Liberals wasn’t solely from the dirty deeds, but from voters’ view that the Liberal response wasn’t adequate.
Liberals, NDP ready to grapple for federal riding in Montreal – once the byelection is called
( … the federal riding of Bourassa – a riding that will be fiercely sought after once a byelection is called. The parties with the most at stake are the Liberals, NDP and – this time – the Green party. Liberal Denis Coderre, who represented Bourassa for 16 years, stepped down in June to run for mayor of Montreal.
Justin Trudeau needs this riding, to prove he can win in Quebec. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair must show he still has strength, and that the “orange wave” is still churning. And the Greens have a high-profile candidate [former NHL hockey player and son of Haitian immigrants, Georges Laraque] who could steal support from either.
A hub of immigration, Bourassa is home to the largest Haitian community in Canada.
7 August
Why media personalities are fighting over Bob Rae’s riding

(Globe & Mail) Journalistic myopia also has much to do with it.
Toronto Star columnist and author Linda McQuaig is seeking the nomination for the NDP in a by-election slated for later this year. She will be competing for the nomination against the broadcast journalist and host Jennifer Hollett.
Whoever wins the NDP nomination will likely take on the author and former Globe journalist Chrystia Freeland, who is returning from stints abroad to seek the Liberal nomination for the riding.
two factors are in play. One is redistribution. … There is another, more subjective, reason for this obsession over Toronto Centre. The riding has always assumed an outsized importance in the minds of Toronto journalists, academics, artists and the like because so many of them live in it.
20 July
Jeffrey Simpson: Mr. Harper can punch, but he can’t recast
It is said by admirers that Mr. Harper is a master strategist, anticipating developments well before anyone else and planning how current decisions fit into a discernible pattern that will only appear logical in the fullness of time.
If so, Mr. Harper must have some tantalizing long-range perspectives for new policies, because for the moment, policies are in a rut. Major initiatives are stalled – trade agreements, job creation, skills upgrading. More “tough on crime” legislation will be hard to imagine, short of bringing back the noose. Military purchases are somewhere between farce and fiasco.
The government could try to recast how it sees and does politics, understanding that its style has turned off almost everyone but core Conservatives. That, however, would be asking the impossible.
19 July
Adam Radwanski: Three politicians who could use Bob Rae’s advice
If Mr. Rae has any remaining spare time, perhaps he could provide counselling to younger politicians who find themselves where he was 18 years ago. Because in his home province alone, there should be a strong market for some guidance on the art of political rehabilitation. … All of them seem to be afflicted with a lack of the sort of patience that stood Mr. Rae in good stead after the nadir of his political career, when his name was a dirty word through much of Ontario.
Mike DuffyballoonKelly McParland: Duffy may survive Senate scandal, ridicule is harder
(National Post) … public ridicule is a killer. Once you become a subject of laughter it’s tough to recover.
Such is the prospect facing poor Mike Duffy. Sen. Duffy has now become the subject of a giant inflatable balloon. The big blow-up Duffy is the newly declared “mascot” of a Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation campaign, symbolizing greed, graft, hucksterism and whatever other failings you want to read into it.
Giant Mike Duffy balloon lurks in the shadow of Parliament (video)
Cabinet shuffle over, now the war is on
Stephen Harper will come back fighting, writes Paul Wells
After all that, I suppose he could resign at the Conservatives’ rescheduled Halloween policy convention in Calgary. But that’s not the way to bet it. The Conservative leader looks more like a man preparing to stay and fight.
“Fight” is the operative word. In a cabinet shuffle that sent new bosses to the departments of Justice, Defence, Industry, Immigration, Health, Canadian Heritage and Public Works, one of the most talked-about promotions was relatively minor. Pierre Poilievre … entered the cabinet for the first time as a minister of state for democratic reform. This was noteworthy because “democratic reform” sounds as though it should embody the electorate’s fondest wishes for better politics, and Poilievre kind of enjoys being a jerk. … Together with Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan, who kept his job even though the papers were full of predictions that he’d be dumped, Poilievre’s new role suggests that, whatever Harper thinks his government’s faults are, a combative tone in Parliament isn’t among them.
17 July
Oh, To Be a Harper Enemy
(The Tyee) With a nod to Nixon, the PM proves you’re nobody in politics ’til somebody hates you.
Actor Paul Newman later said making the original list of 20 Nixon enemies (it was later expanded) was his greatest accomplishment. Being on the official Harper Enemies List would be an honour indeed. In certain circles it would be more prized than the Order of Canada.
The promotional potential would be immense. An annual ceremony announcing the new Enemies List names might well rival the release of the Giller Prize shortlist or the Hockey Hall of Fame selections for public excitement. Intense lobbying would precede the announcement — perhaps even ad campaigns, as with the Oscars. “Submitted for your approval: John Doe, who really frosted the PM’s balls this year.” Failing to make the enemies list would be crushing. It would signal that all your activism, all your organizing, all your hard work, was just so much dandruff on the PM’s shoulders. In politics, you’re nobody till somebody hates you.
15 July
At Issue analyses the cabinet shuffle and offers some interesting interpretations, especially of the elevation of Pierre Poilievre to Minister of State (Democratic Reform).
Harper makes major cabinet shuffle, including eight new faces
(Globe & Mail) The shuffle was widely seen as an opportunity for Mr. Harper to change the face of his government after a spring of scandal. Even though many of the old guard remain, which will ensure some continuity going forward, there are eight new faces, including four women.
Stephen Harper names eight new members to his cabinet, moves Peter MacKay out of defence
At 39 members, Harper’s new cabinet ties Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney’s as the largest in Canadian history Complete List
John Ivison: Shuffle of bloated cabinet isn’t one to transform government fortunes
… research suggests only one in three Canadians could pick any foreign or finance minister from a police line-up. This, as we are reminded daily in press releases, is the Harper Government and the word is written and handed down from the Prime Minister’s Office. The Conservatives now have a younger, more female-friendly team with which to enter the 2015 election but the public face remains very much that of the Prime Minister. More
(Jonathan Sas) Plus ça change… why Stephen Harper’s cabinet shuffle disappoints
(Broadbent Institute) Here are five important takeaways from today’s Cabinet shuffle.
10 July
Andrew Coyne: Beware those using Lac-Mégantic disaster to further their own agendas
As they sift through the ashes of their town, the grieving citizens of Lac-Mégantic can console themselves that their loved ones did not die in vain: they have served as useful props for the advancement of Tom Mulcair’s political career.
Althia Raj: Cabinet Shuffle: Harper Expected To Make Massive Changes, Bring In ‘New Blood’
Where the strong players go will indicate what the government’s message — beyond stable economic management and job creation — will be in 2015.
For example, a change at the top at Environment Canada could telegraph a renewed focus on the file.
But because the Tories don’t want to detract too much from their core message, we can expect Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to stay where he is.
8-9 July
Corporal Horton Versus the Harper Government
One Mountie’s attempt to get to the bottom of the Mike Duffy scandal.
(The Tyee) On June 24, RCMP Corporal Greg Horton filed an affidavit in Ottawa. It is 28 pages of single-space text, his detailed reasons for requesting a “Production Order” that will give him the full story of Senator Mike Duffy’s public life since late 2008.
It is also the greatest threat that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have faced, a threat they may not survive.
In saying that, I base my argument on what Corporal Horton’s meticulous account says about him, the RCMP, and the Government of Canada — and what it doesn’t. As he himself says, “This is an ongoing investigation involving high-level political officials. (Reprinted in the Toronto Star)

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The Coyne File
(compilation of columns on
Globe & Mail Commentary
National Post Full Comment
CBC At Issue

Andrew Coyne on the modern party leader: Pragmatic, disciplined and without political principles
Previously, party leaders were obliged to pretend to believe in policies before they could abandon them: now that first stage has been eliminated, freeing them to focus on slandering each other’s character and passing out baby pictures of themselves. The day is not far off when parties will have more or less ceased to exist except as extensions of the leader, which if nothing else would be clarifying.
Pride of place, of course, goes to the Conservatives, who have devoted most of the last decade to shedding any vestigial belief systems in the service of electing what they learned to call a Harper government. This was called “moving to the middle,” or in other words giving up, and was greatly applauded by the wisest heads as a sign of maturity. For as long as they continued to believe things they could never win power, and without power they could never put into effect all the things they no longer believed in. (13 April 2013)

8 July
Full Pundit: Rebooting Stephen Harpergood round-up of current punditry
Fuzzy Sweater and Kittens Guy didn’t work. Glowering Autocrat didn’t work. Could the Prime Minister succeed as a democrat?
Michael Harris: Stephen Harper is running out of fiction
(iPolitics) The PM’s answer, as always, is not change but optics. … The real question is: Will the Harper government change its policies? For example, will it stop extending government’s reach and power, and disguising its assaults on privacy and civil liberties as public safety?
5 July
The Wright-Duffy affair roars back into headlines
(Maclean’s) If any Conservative in Ottawa thought the summer would offer their party a chance to start anew, reset its agenda, and march bravely into the fall with new energy, unencumbered by the scandals that so dogged the government all spring—well, they’ll be disappointed to hear that Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy are once again making headlines.
Now, in the dead of summer, the news continues. CTV News, led by Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife, reported some important things last night: the Conservatives initially planned to cover Duffy’s improperly claimed expenses, until the amount owed was simply too onerous; three people in the Prime Minister’s Office knew of Wright’s payment to Duffy, including a former legal adviser who’s denied any involvement in the payment; and a Mountie is accusing Duffy, in court documents, of breaking the law by accepting the cheque. This story was never dead, but the Prime Minister’s Office must have hoped it would have slept a while longer.
Wright’s $90K offer to Mike Duffy had conditions, RCMP say
Duffy told not to talk to media in exchange for money – but he couldn’t resist
Paul Wells: PM’s version of events contradicted in court documents on Duffy scandal
4 July
Matt Gurney: This is not the summer Stephen Harper wanted
Now it’s about replacing people who quit: Latest Tory exits change optics of PM’s shuffle
It’s not bad that old guard Tories are stepping aside, but the shuffle is no longer just about promoting young, rising Conservative stars
1 July
Warren Kinsella: Why Harper Will Quit While He’s Ahead
(Toronto Sun) It’s (finally) summertime, when the political speculation is easy.
Heretofore, the subject that no longer seems as crazy as it once did: Will Stephen Harper quit before the next federal election in October 2015?
There are plenty of reasons why he shouldn’t, or why he won’t.
But there are 10 very good reasons why he just might, too. Here they be:
1. Ten years is a long time: By the time the next election takes place, Harper will have been in power for nearly a decade. Very few last that long, and those who overstay their welcome inevitably end up regretting their decision. After that much time has gone by, voters start to get sick of your face.
Is Canada Run by a Gay Mafia?
… covering this administration has proven taxing for writers, eager to reach for that word that might mean queer, but not really. Witness the national news magazine Maclean’s, which has marveled at the number of “single white males” who populate Harper’s inner circle.
27 June
As major cabinet shuffle looms, speculation swirls about future of MacKay, Toews
With a major cabinet shuffle all but certain sometime this summer, speculation is again swirling around the futures of Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews Cannot be too soon for us!.
In addition to MacKay and Toews, it is widely expected that Jim Flaherty will be shuffled from finance against his wishes due to questions about his health and likelihood of running in the next election.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Heritage Minister James Moore are expected to also be moved as Harper attempts to put a new face on his government for 2015.
25 June
Michael Den Tandt: Political leaders have stepped up in response to Calgary crisis
Is there a greater downside, for the Conservatives, in that they’ve had to postpone their June convention, at which the PM was expected to deliver a “reboot” speech? On balance, I doubt it. If anything the flood has given the Tories an opportunity to think and talk about something concrete and constructive, for a change. Given the swamp in which they’ve been stuck for the past two months, this won’t hurt them. Due to tragic circumstances, deflecting scandal and pillorying opponents have taken a back seat to helping Canadians in need. The longer that continues, one suspects, the better off Stephen Harper will be.
19 June
Bob RaeBob Rae quits as MP in ‘very emotional’ decision
Rae says he is leaving in order to focus on his new role as chief negotiator for First Nations in talks with the province about development of the Ring of Fire mining development in northern Ontario.

In His Own Words: Bob Rae on his decision to leave the House

Bob Rae’s parting wisdom for MPs: No more scripted remarks in House

18 June
John Ivison: Parliament divided and angry as Harper returns without coveted EU trade deal
Mr. Harper’s spin doctors have been playing down the prospect of the Prime Minister returning like the conquering hero with a trade deal in his paws but, even so, they must have hoped a breakthrough was possible. Yet, no deal was done and Mr. Harper has returned empty-handed.
As noted previously, this government was elected on the twin tickets of accountability and managerial competence. The first has been swept away in a torrent of scandals and the second very much depends on reviving Canada’s trade performance. This deal is crucial to that effort. But Mr. Harper left it until the 11th hour to insert himself into negotiations and now risks seeing it all slip away.

Aislin Harper June 2013 Harper won’t reveal if PMO had role in spreading Trudeau charity story
Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was wrong to accept a fee to speak at a charity fundraiser – but won’t say what role his own office played in spreading the story.
Speaking in Northern Ireland after the conclusion of a G8 summit Tuesday, Mr. Harper was asked about his office’s e-mails to a Barrie, Ont., newspaper that included unsolicited information about speeches Mr. Trudeau made before becoming a Member of Parliament. [PM’s office sends financial details of Trudeau speech to newspaper]
The unraveling: The Trudeau charity cases and the PMO
(iPolitics) It’s true that charities and other organizations paid Trudeau to speak. It’s also a fact that Trudeau has offered to pay some of them back. There is no reason anymore for the Conservatives to actively fill in any of the blank space between those two points. They don’t have to have any more charities complain; the suggestion that something went awry or that Trudeau did something wrong has been made. And that’s enough. That was the point all along. [see also W. Brett Wilson: A charity that should be out of business]
Kady O’Malley– The (Not So) Purloined Letter: Who tipped off PMO to the Grace Foundation complaint?
As controversy continued to swirl around Justin Trudeau’s pre-leadership gig on the paid speakers’ circuit, one question had yet to be satisfactorily answered: Specifically, how the Conservatives — and, specifically, the Prime Minister’s Office — got their hot little hyperpartisan hands on that now infamous letter reportedly sent to Trudeau on behalf of the Grace Foundation, the New Brunswick charity at the centre of the latest round of outrage, asking him to consider refunding the $20,000 he pocketed for speaking at a fundraiser last spring that, according to the group, wound up losing money.
Harper government denounces ‘corruption’ following arrest of former Conservative staffer
The Harper government is condemning “corruption” after one of its former staffers was arrested Monday in connection with an ongoing investigation by a special police squad in Montreal.
[Saulie] Zajdel confirmed he had quit his job in Moore’s office in April 2012 in the wake of allegations he was being used by the government as a “shadow MP” to undermine an elected Montreal Liberal MP, Irwin Cotler. A “shadow” MP is the name given to someone who works in a riding as if he were the actual MP, working on constituent concerns despite the fact there is a duly elected member of Parliament for those constituents, normally from another party.
Zajdel ran as a Conservative candidate in the May 2011 election, but was defeated by Cotler.
A few days after Zajdel left the minister’s office, Moore said the former city councillor was on a contract with a fixed departure date and had done “good work,” Montreal daily newspaper Le Devoir reported.
14 June
Althia Raj: Harper’s Conservative Party Base Agitated As PM Strays Far From His RootsExcellent, lengthy summary
(HuffPost) The Senate expense scandal is just the latest grievance held by many on the Reform-side of the party, including Rathgeber, who believe the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper sacrificed their core values to become more electable and turn two minority governments into a majority.
Among a litany of complaints and concerns about the Harper government expressed by some members of his base…
13 June
Andrew Coyne: Denial and evasion have only worsened trio of scandals plaguing all levels of government
It is a trifecta of denial, a hat trick of evasion, a three-ringed abdication of responsibility that has left each of their respective governments in chaos and confusion, culminating in the police being called in. Can there be a more degrading spectacle?
11 June
By-election battle in Montreal puts Trudeau, Mulcair to the test
(Globe & Mail) .. the coming by-election is more than a local battle. It is the first direct showdown between Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, a pair of rookie party leaders who want to prove their mettle in their home province. While the Prime Minister has yet to call the vote, Liberals and New Democrats are gearing up for the fight, which is viewed in political circles as a clash of Montreal titans. … Bourassa is located on the upper edges of Montreal Island, north of Mr. Trudeau’s riding of Papineau and just slightly farther from Mr. Mulcair’s riding of Outremont.
Kevin Page: ‘The process should start over’
The process should start over. There has been political interference at the first stage.
by Aaron Wherry
(Maclean’s) Colin Horgan reports that the chief of staff to Government House leader Peter Van Loan is on the selection committee tasked with providing a short list of candidates to be the next parliamentary budget officer.The membership of the committee has been secret from the start and Thomas Mulcair raised concerns about that secrecy earlier this year.
8 June
Jeffrey Simpson: Don’t forget the Base – you can bet Harper won’t
The Base is hard to precisely define. But among its elements are: a high degree of religiosity, a moralistic view of foreign policy, a populist dislike of government, a loathing of the media (except Sun News Network, Sun newspapers and a few very right-wing columnists), a distaste of anything that smacks of high culture, a reverence for the military, an abhorrence of abortion, a suspicion of “intellectuals” and their reasoning, a belief (against all evidence) that crime is out of control, a generalized sense that honest, God-fearing people like themselves have been marginalized and patronized by secular “elites,” a sense that produces bursts of resentment and anger about the state of the country.
The Base, of course, is critical to the modern Conservative Party. It supplies votes, fervour, commitment and money.
7 June
Chantal Hébert is the canniest of all the pundits – I wouldn’t dismiss this thesis lightly.
Resignation of Stephen Harper no longer a far-fetched notion: Hébert
Harper may still be in full control of his PMO but  on the other hand is less and less in control of the government and the political agenda. Unless that changes quickly, the prime minister will not remain the sole master of his political destiny for much longer.
6 June
At Issue debates A Defining Moment for the Conservative Government? and
Rex Murphy on the State of the Senate
5 June
Keith Beardsley: Why the Senate expenses scandal is hurting Harper more than he knows
Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in an unofficial focus group. I say unofficial as it wasn’t organized by any of the research or polling companies. Instead, it consisted of a wide mixture of individuals, all of whom like me were held captive in an automobile dealer’s room waiting for our vehicles to be repaired. … If our little unofficial focus group accurately reflects the broader Canadian public, then the Conservatives are in deep on this one.
James Moore Harms Rumoured Leadership Ambitions By Doing Harper’s Bidding?
(HuffPost) But with a Cabinet shuffle expected this summer, it is believed Moore is in line for a promotion that could cement his position as contender for Harper’s job some day.
National Post columnist John Ivison suggested Moore should be in line for the Natural Resources portfolio, “where the position of his native province, British Columbia, will dictate the future of the Northern Gateway pipeline.”
4 June
Apparently Lawrence Martin did not read Professor Jeffrey’s book, nor as Steve Saideman points out, does he seem to read the Globe & Mail on line.
Brooke Jeffrey: Blame Mulroney, not Trudeau, for unity drama
In his latest book, Ottawa author Bob Plamondon claims to reveal “The Truth about Trudeau.” Judging from the excerpt printed in the Citizen (Constitution wars: the sequels, May 27), his analysis is a long way from achieving that objective. His case appear to be nothing less than a concerted attempt to destroy the reputations of both the man and his major accomplishment.
Brooke Jeffrey is a political science professor at Concordia University, author of Divided Loyalties: the Liberal Party of Canada 1984-2006, and a former Liberal adviser.
Steve Saideman: One of those fiddlers…
In The Globe and Mail, Lawrence Martin argues that Canada’s political scientists are not interested in Canada’s politics or institutions.  … engagement takes place these days in many formats, including blogs, twitter, facebook, and other social media.  Some young political scientists have thousands of followers on twitter. … Indeed, if one is on twitter and follows Canadian politics and Canadian journalists, it is almost hard to avoid the regular conversations between academics and journalists about parliament, its role in the political system, the Crown, and all that.
Lawrence Martin: Canada’s political scholars fiddle while Rome burns
There was a time when Canada’s scholars played a more prominent role in national political debates. Queen’s University, for example, had such names as John Meisel, George Perlin, Hugh Thorburn and Richard Simeon. They were voices of influence.
Today, [as]  Donald Savoie, … points out … academics have become less and less interested in our politics and our institutions, leaving journalists to hold governments to account.
2 June
Michael Den Tandt: The speech Harper should have given after he found out about the $90,000 cheque
Well, it has been a rough week. In fact, during the time we’ve been in government, I cannot remember a more difficult one. You want to understand how this situation could have arisen. … Before I get to that I want to say something again: I am sorry.
Rex Murphy: How a $90K cheque became a death warrant for Harper’s brand
The Conservatives’ vision of themselves as the party of the “little guy” and the Tim Hortons’ crowd takes quite a blistering when they are seen as both casual givers and receivers of 90-thousand dollar hush-hush bailout cheques.
31 May
Senate spending scandal: In midst of Mike Duffy storm, Conservatives brace for Hurricane Wallin: Tim Harper
Their colleagues are eagerly taking down Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin before they are completely dragged down with them
(Toronto Star) There is every reason to believe that a pending audit of Saskatchewan Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses promises to be an epic chapter in an unfolding scandal …. In anticipation of more grim news, Wallin’s former colleagues in both the House of Commons and the Senate are hardening their position on the former broadcaster and Order of Canada recipient, promoting a narrative they want in the public discourse. At the same time, they have come together to blunt any move by Duffy to try to take others down with him on his way out the door.
30 May
Mike Duffy reportedly sought a cabinet posting, other perks after Harper appointed him to the Senate
Senator Mike Duffy was reportedly in consultations with the Conservatives about an expanded role in the party and additional compensation
29 May
Andrew Coyne: Conservative government’s culture of expediency behind its multiplying scandals
(Postmedia)The government’s multiplying, metastasizing scandals — from Duffy’s improper expense claims to the efforts, apparently coordinated between the Prime Minister’s Office and senior Tory senators, to cover these up, to the robocalls affair, to the arrest on charges of fraud and money laundering of Arthur Porter, the prime minister’s choice for chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee — are not, in my view, wholly unrelated. Rather, they stem from a culture that has taken root among the Conservative hierarchy — a culture of expediency. …
This isn’t about a few senators padding their expense accounts, or criminal acts on the part of one or two individuals, or even what the prime minister knew when. It’s the whole moral code of this government that’s in question. This isn’t just a problem, something to be fixed — it’s existential. Whatever the various official investigations may or may not turn up, questions about the government’s character are now deeply planted in the public mind, in a way it shows no sign of being able to deal with, or even comprehending.
Jeffrey Simpson: Conservatives have been sailing close to the wind
Canada has moved over time from a friendly dictatorship (to borrow a phrase) to elements of a thugocracy.
The reaction to the Senate affair is typical of the way Mr. Harper’s government does politics – indeed, government. Hunker down, deny, blame the media, give out as little information as possible, try to ride out the storm. But under no circumstances provide a full and fair accounting of what happened.
Canadians can see this attitude on display every day in the way the government spends money for partisan purposes through television advertisements at the public’s expense, the vicious attack ads levelled at leaders of other political parties, the use of MPs’ household mails for similar attacks, the constant spin-doctoring, the roundhouse swings at opponents in civic society, the attacks on “lickspittle” media.
27 May
Glen Pearson: A Senateless Canada Might Not Be As Effective As We Think
(HuffPost) At present, Canadians are of the belief that the political class has sunk so far beyond redemption that little of importance remains in the Senate. That’s an illusion, and deserves some further thought and reflection. While there are non-trivial problems within the Canadian senate, it still serves a purpose.
David E. Smith: It shouldn’t matter where a Senator lives – that wasn’t the design
(Globe & Mail) It is ironic that the Senate, the national institution so consistently out-of-favour with the Canadian public, should also be the only national institution purposely designed by the Fathers of Confederation to serve the needs of the new federation. … The Senate is a national institution whose members are appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the prime minister. For the purpose of reimbursing senators who travel to and live temporarily in Ottawa, the concept of residency is important and must necessarily be audited and enforced. Otherwise, the significance of the concept is debatable when talking about the Senate. Geography may be important in Canadian life but arguably it is less important in the upper chamber than other parts of the political system. Senators do not have a constituency; therefore they are not selected by voters nor are they required to return for re-selection. In other words, they are not representatives in any true sense of that term. Although it spikes the blood pressure of the critics, the fact is that senators are politically responsible to no one but themselves.
Warren Kinsella: Wright was protecting Harper, not Duffy
24 May
Five things to love about Canada’s Senate
By Tyler Dawson, Postmedia News
1. For every bad apple, there’s a good one.
Sen. Roméo Dallaire, a retired lieutenant-general and a hero to many Canadians for his endurance in horrific conditions during the Rwanda genocide of 1994, has used his position as a senator to raise awareness of child soldiers internationally. Jim Munson, an Ottawa Liberal senator, has worked with many colleagues advocating on behalf of the disabled and the Special Olympics. Political historians remember larger-than-life senator Eugene Forsey, a formidable constitutional expert. There are dozens of senators crusading for causes across party lines.
2. The Senate does its homework.
The Senate has produced “good research and put the spotlight on some good issues,” says Luc Turgeon, a political scientist at the University of Ottawa. For example, the Kirby Committee, chaired by then-Sen. Michael Kirby, produced an exhaustive 2002 report warning that Canada’s public health care was no longer sustainable, and proposed major changes, such as a joint system of public and private funding. …
Greg Weston: Senate scandal may be Harper’s worst hour
Prime minister’s credibility at stake in growing political crisis
… with his apparent mismanagement of the growing political crisis having already provoked rare public criticism from members of his own cabinet, caucus and Conservative party core.
23 May
At Issue: Senate Scandal
22 May
Conservative Senate leader says party not getting credit for expense transparency
The Leader of the Government in the Senate says the only reason the Red Chamber is in crisis is because her Conservative government changed the rules to open the door to scrutiny of its spending.
21 May
The anger is becoming palpable John Ivison: Harper’s speech was a chance to be accountable. He blew it
He refused to take questions from a furious press corps. A good number of his own caucus were equally upset that he didn’t level with them about what he knew and when he knew it. Lawrence Martin: The integrity issue is reaching critical mass — Matters such as the Duffy scandal can be looked at in isolation and you can say, well, it’s only about spending excesses by a senator, so let’s keep it in perspective. But the problem is, in fact, the perspective – a perspective that sees abuse of power so widespread you can no longer keep track.  Andrew] Coyne: Harper government had to know $90,000 repayment to senator crossed all sorts of ethical lines
20 May
2015 Federal Election: For Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair, The Campaign Is Underway
By Eric Grenier
The byelection in Labrador, over-shadowed by the results of the provincial election in British Columbia, was the first salvo of this new era of Canadian politics. Though primarily decided by local factors, it was nevertheless the first time Tories under Harper lost a byelection in which they were the incumbent party. In the grand scheme of things, it was a minor set back. But it breaks the Tories’ image as an invincible electoral machine, and it gives the third-place Liberals a reason to strut.
Can The Senate Fire A Senator?
An expert on parliamentary rules says the Senate has the power to turf a senator from the chamber, as long as a majority approves the expulsion. …
However, although the Senate can strip a senator of salary and benefits for unacceptable behavior, it’s not clear if it can actually declare someone a non-senator unless there’s a criminal conviction or the senator has missed two consecutive sessions of the Senate.
The Mike Duffy bomb sends more political shrapnel through Conservatives: Tim Harper
Mike Duffy, the one-time Conservative cheerleader, has now taken down one of Ottawa’s most powerful men and shaken the Harper government to its core.
19 May
Paul Wells: Wright resigns. Stephen Harper, and questions, remain
this government’s ability to make a decision, tell its story, satisfy the Conservative back bench or convey any sense that Stephen Harper knows why he ever wanted a majority in the first place has flickered weakly like a guttering candle. That’s part of Wright’s legacy too. It will be part of Harper’s, if he doesn’t reverse the trend he’s on.
18 May
Who is Nigel Wright, the man who bailed out Mike Duffy?long, comprehensive and even-handed profile from the Globe & Mail that still doesn’t explain why he bailed out Mike Duffy. Margaret Wente: If only Senator Duffy had sipped his Scotch quietly
Andrew Coyne: Fear of audits led Conservatives to cover for Mike Duffy
(National Post))The defenestration of Mike Duffy followed all of the rituals prescribed for such events.
Senator Mike Duffy’s far and sudden fall
During his time as a political journalist at CTV, Mr. Duffy earned more than $200,000 a year, plus a clothing allowance, sources said. He was also known for butting heads with bosses over high expense claims. As a senator, Mr. Duffy receives an annual salary of $135,200. He will not qualify for any Senate pension unless he stays in the position until Jan. 2, 2015, his six-year anniversary.
17 May
Sen. Pamela Wallin leaving Conservative caucus, as Harper signals he’s losing patience … Both senators said they resigned, but it has become clear the developments are the result of Harper losing patience with Tories whose questionable expenses could be seen as bringing his Conservative government into disrepute.
Mike Duffy 90K bank noteMike Duffy is blameless. Also, he is eight feet tall and covered in fur
“The PM was not aware of the specifics,” Andrew MacDougall, Mr. Harper’s director of communications, has said of this transaction when asked – a statement that at least doesn’t further strain the nation’s already overtaxed credulity: It could mean only that Mr. Harper didn’t know whether the cheque used was one of those scenic ones with pastel pine trees on it or the plain kind.
Michael Den Tandt: This scandal will linger even after Duffy’s departure from the Conservative caucus
“There’s blood in the water,” as a former editor of mine used to say, cheerfully, whenever a story like this came along. All that’s left now is to watch how many get eaten and in what order. This is Ottawa at its most brutal. The Harper Conservatives know the phenomenon well, having delighted in it when they were in opposition. They expect no quarter, and will be given none.
Tories exhibit same sense of entitlement they denounced in Liberals: Hébert
The latest developments in the Mike Duffy affair have exposed a systemic malaise that pervades the current government from bottom to top [and] that starts with the misplaced sense of caucus solidarity that saw Conservative MPs close ranks around Duffy for so long.
16 May
Aislin Mike DuffyMike Duffy: Now what? Mike Duffy has always been a larger-than-life character in political Ottawa, a chortling bundle of affable good cheer, prodigious appetites, nudge-wink insider gossip, political acumen, relentless name-dropping and unvarnished ambition. He’s also been an unapologetic bridge-burner.
Andrew Coyne: The only right thing left for Mike Duffy to do now is resign
The bailout of Mike Duffy by the prime minister’s chief of staff is so astonishingly ill-judged it is difficult to know where to begin.
15 May
BC Election Results: Polls Spectacularly Wrong As Clark Crushes Dix
After trailing in the polls for more than a year, often with a deficit of more than 15 points, the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark managed to win re-election last night.
Christy Clark wins B.C. election but must fight for a seat
Saanich North and the Islands headed for a recount after last night’s B.C. election
(CBC) Incoming premier Christy Clark may have won another mandate for the Liberal Party to govern B.C., but she still has to go for a seat in the legislature. … marking the first time since 1924 that a B.C. politician has become premier without winning a seat.
13 May
Prime Minister expected to conduct ‘major’ Cabinet shuffle this summer
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be making more strategic decisions on where he wants to take the party and what he wants to showcase.
(Hill Times) Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority-governing Conservatives have been on the defensive over the last few weeks with $3.1-billion of public funds unaccounted for, a possible split in the party’s caucus and sagging public opinion poll numbers, so a summer Cabinet shuffle and fall Throne Speech are likely in the cards in order to “reinvigorate” the government, say Conservative insiders.
10 May
Andrew Coyne: Conservatives’ reputation as the ‘Nasty Party’ is well-deserved
(O Canada) When they are not refusing to disclose what they are doing, they are giving out false information; when they allow dissenting opinions to be voiced, they smear them as unpatriotic or worse; when they open their own mouths to speak, it is to read the same moronic talking points over and over, however these may conflict with the facts, common courtesy, or their own most solemn promises.
Secretive, controlling, manipulative, crude, autocratic, vicious, unprincipled, untrustworthy, paranoid … Even by the standards of Canadian politics, it’s quite the performance. We’ve had some thuggish or dishonest governments in the past, even some corrupt ones, but never one quite so determined to arouse the public’s hostility, to so little apparent purpose. Their policy legacy may prove short-lived, but it will be hard to erase the stamp of the Nasty Party.
Perhaps, in their self-delusion, the Tories imagine this is all the fault of the Ottawa media, or the unavoidable cost of governing as Conservatives in a Liberal country. I can assure them it is not. The odium in which they are now held is well-earned, and entirely self-inflicted.
Jeffrey Simpson: We all pay for the government’s hockey ads
There is no rational link any more between the original plan and today’s policies, since the short-term measures in the plan have largely expired. Its continued use in messaging, and the use of taxpayers’ dollars to extol its virtues, is to convey the government’s central political objective: that it is focused on the economy in a series of co-ordinated ways.
At Issue: Trouble for Conservatives?
Polls suggest the Conservatives are losing support. Should they be worried?
8 May
Joyce Murray at QPHarper Government Spends Millions Monitoring Press Of Own MPs
The Harper government has spent more than $23 million over the last two years on media monitoring — including more than $2.4 million tracking some of its own backbench MPs in television interviews, radio and print, according to documents tabled in the House of Commons earlier this week.

27 April
‘Little-known war’ of 1812 a big deal for Ottawa
(Globe & Mail) The Harper government looked to Sylvester Stallone for inspiration when it tried to overcome Canadians’ apathy and ignorance about the War of 1812, and the movie-trailer-style commercial it funded to celebrate the bicentennial was heavily micromanaged by senior players in Ottawa, documents show.
It’s further evidence of of how serious a political imperative the remembrance of the 200-year-old conflict is for the Harper Conservatives, who have sought to give military exploits a greater role in Canada’s identity.
18 April
Allan Gregg: The democratic danger of political attack ads
If negative advertising is so effective, maybe the media and politicians should ask themselves why other big advertisers (who are far more experienced and savvy) do not employ these same tactics.
5 April
A sympathetic and reasonable argument
Kelly McParland: The anti-abortion case against Mark Warawa and his rebellious MPs
… The micromanagement of caucus has unquestionably been taken to greater lengths by this party leader than by any previous Conservative. Initially, I’d suggest, because he had no choice. …
Has Harper gone too far? Probably. But not necessarily because he’s an intolerant autocrat, as the opposition chorus would suggest. … As they are discovering, …  there is a very high price to be paid for allowing your party to be identified with its most outspoken elements. The price is, you lose. Stephen Harper doesn’t like to lose.
31 March
Andrew Coyne: Mob rule versus Mark Warawa
Tory ‘rogues’ being silenced by a frightened, mindless mob
What we have been watching these past few days is an exercise in raw power politics, designed as much to humiliate the individual in question as anything else. …
This is what has become of MPs, then — the people we elect to represent us, the ones who are supposed to give voice to our beliefs and stand up for our interests. They may not vote, in the vast majority of cases, except as the leader tells them. They may no longer, as of this week, bring private member’s bills or motions, except those the leader accepts. They may not even speak in the House, unless the leader allows.
19 February
Conservative Support Has Taken Huge Tumble Since 2011 Election, EKOS Poll Finds
(HuffPost) When EKOS asked Canadians which party they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow, Conservatives garnered just 29.3 per cent support — nearly a 10-point decrease since the party won 39.6 per cent of the vote in the 2011 federal election.
EKOS President Frank Graves told iPolitics the numbers indicate “the government now is in a much more tenuous position with the electorate than it was at the time it gained its majority.”
However, Liberals shouldn’t get too excited. When considering only ‘likely’ voters, meaning those who voted in the 2011 federal election, Liberals earned only 21.2 per cent, with the Conservatives at 33.7 per cent support and the NDP at 30.1 per cent. … the poll indicates the Tories face other challenges besides a Trudeau-led Liberal Party. Slightly more than 51 per cent of those polled believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with 35.4 per cent who think it’s headed in the right direction. “Levels of economic optimism also continue to decline to historical nadirs,” according to EKOS.
11 February
Kai Nagata: Brazeau Just Latest Thrown Under Bus by Harper
PM shows, again, his talent for discarding people once deemed vital to his aims.
(The Tyee) Harper has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of scandal. He will defend his wayward minions for days or weeks in the face of public outrage, so long as they are being judged in the context of his leadership. All that time, he is waiting for his moment, because he knows their weaknesses better than they do. After all, he hired them.
7 February
Patrick Brazeau Kicked Out Of Tory Caucus; Senator Reportedly In Police Custody
(HuffPost) Brazeau will continue to sit as a senator and draw his $132,300 salary. He won’t be allowed to sit as a Conservative Party member or attend caucus meetings.

2 Comments on "Canada 2013-14: Politics"

  1. Diana November 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm ·

    Fire Canadian Mint chairman Jim Love ‘immediately,’ NDP Leader Mulcair says
    Opposition says Tories need to answer questions about what they knew of tax lawyer’s offshore dealings
    On Tuesday night, CBC reported that the mint chairman, Toronto tax lawyer Jim Love, had helped some descendants of former Tory prime minister Arthur Meighen transfer $8 million through offshore companies and entities in the Caribbean. Love said in court documents that the complicated transactions “resulted in significant savings of Canadian tax”— an amount he estimated at $1 million.

  2. Diana November 28, 2013 at 12:54 am ·

    Jim Flaherty ‘not aware’ of Mint chair’s tax-haven dealings
    Finance minister and wife Christine Elliott have close ties to Jim Love
    A spokesperson for Jim Flaherty says the finance minister was unaware that his good friend and law school classmate Jim Love, who was picked by the government to chair the Canadian Mint and who Flaherty himself appointed to two advisory panels, had helped some wealthy clients move money through offshore havens to avoid taxes.

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