Canada (Politics) in 2015

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Canada: Anti-terror Bill C-51
Canada: Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau 2015

Jeffrey Simpson: If the election can be bought, the Tories will win easily
The orgy of pre-election spending has been unprecedented – and ironic, too, for a party that boasts about being careful with taxpayers’ money.
The airwaves have been flooded with government advertising, paid for by taxpayers and used to buy some of the most expensive spots on television. The ads offer a thin veneer of information covering overtly partisan messaging for the Harper Conservatives. No government has ever spent so much money over such a long period of time on this sort of advertising.
Not a day has passed in recent months without 10 to 15 government spending announcements by ministers. (There were 13 such announcements last Friday.) Billions of dollars of promises have been made across Canada for future infrastructure programs. Millions more have been announced under a hastily assembled program to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in two years.
Other piggy banks, such as regional development agencies, research granting programs or science and technology funds, have been broken open to spread more money across Canada, with disproportionate sums going to Conservative-held ridings.
Imminent federal election to be costliest, longest in recent Canadian history
— Elections law requires a minimum campaign of 37 days. It does not impose a maximum length. Harper is choosing to make this the longest traditional campaign in Canadian history.
Only the first two election campaigns after Confederation were longer — 81 days in 1867 and 96 days in 1872 — but in those early days voting was staggered across the country over a period of several months, necessarily extending the length of the campaigns. Since then, the longest campaign was 74 days, way back in 1926.
Four of the last five campaigns were just five weeks long.
— Due to legislation passed last year by the Harper government, campaign spending limits for parties and candidates will increase by 1/37th for every day longer than 37 days.
Even had this campaign lasted just the minimum length, it was already on target to be the costliest in history, with spending limits of about $25 million for each party running a full slate of candidates and an average of about $100,000 for each candidate. Those limits will more than double for an 11-week campaign.
That gives a tremendous advantage to Harper’s Conservative party as its candidates have raised more money than any other party.
— Elections Canada estimates that a five-week campaign would cost about $375 million to administer. A longer campaign will mean the agency must pay untold millions more to rent office space, furniture and equipment for returning officers in each of the country’s 338 ridings and for staff in those offices.
Taxpayers will also foot the bill for much larger rebates to parties and candidates, who receive reimbursements for 50 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively, of their eligible election expenses.
— The tradition of holding two televised leaders’ debates, the pivotal point of modern election campaigns, will not apply this time. The Conservatives upended that tradition last spring by announcing that Harper would not participate in the one French and one English debate sponsored by a consortium of broadcasters.
— Under legislation passed by the Harper government last year, voters will need to produce identification that shows where they live before being allowed to cast ballots. As well, voter information cards sent to all electors by Elections Canada will no longer be considered valid pieces of ID. Electoral experts have warned these two measures could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters, particularly the elderly, young people and aboriginals who are least likely to have proof of address.

26 July
L Ian MacDonald: NDP not just the ‘party of change,’ it’s ‘throw the bums out’
(iPolitics) While Trudeau frittered away his lead since last fall, Mulcair understood that the NDP was mired and going nowhere, and he did something about it. He shook up his office, reached out to NDP strategists he had previously ignored, and brought in key advisers from Jack Layton’s 2011 campaign, notably Anne McGrath and Brad Lavigne. Mulcair has also raised his own retail game, sidelining Angry Tom and raising his profile with Canadians. Out there on the barbecue circuit, Happy Tom is making the summer rounds, even doing smiling photo ops with cows in support of supply management in dairy.
The NDP campaign has also made a tactical wager in upping the ante against the Liberals as the party representing time for a change. Their attack ad on Conservative ethics this month, ending with former MP Dean del Mastro leaving court in handcuffs and shackles, makes the point that they’re prepared to play down and dirty, no holds barred. Never mind that Mulcair has said he wouldn’t go down the road of personal attacks. With that online ad, the NDP is saying that it’s not only the party of change, but the party to throw the bums out.

Marco Mendicino trounces Eve Adams in Liberal nomination battle
(The Canadian Press) ‘Who wants to take on Joe Oliver?’ lawyer asks after winning Liberal nomination in Oliver’s Toronto riding
Jane Taber writing in the Globe & Mail: Liberals in Eglinton-Lawrence sent a message to federal leader Justin Trudeau, picking a young lawyer and family man from the riding over Conservative floor-crosser MP Eve Adams to run as their candidate in the upcoming federal election.
24 July
Beyond bizarre!
Canada Revenue Agency says ‘preventing poverty’ not allowed as goal for charity
The Canada Revenue Agency has told a well-known charity that it can no longer try to prevent poverty around the world, it can only alleviate poverty — because preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.
The bizarre bureaucratic brawl over a mission statement is yet more evidence of deteriorating relations between the Harper government and some parts of Canada’s charitable sector.
The lexical scuffle began when Oxfam Canada filed papers with Industry Canada to renew its non-profit status, as required by Oct. 17 this year under a law passed in 2011.
Mulcair and Trudeau ottawa-on-march-25-2014The making of Mulcair: How the NDP leader became a contender
He’s all tortoise and no hare: Mark Kennedy traces how NDP Leader Tom Mulcair gave the NDP a shot at winning by playing the long game.
(Ottawa Citizen) The gradual rise of Tom Mulcair now stands as one of the most important political developments of the year. For the first time in Canadian history, a leader of the New Democratic Party could win a federal election.
Much of it is the result of a strategic plan – years in the making under former leader Jack Layton – that Mulcair, 60, has carefully refined and implemented.
Dismissal of Crosbie candidate feeds Tory distaste in Newfoundland
Ches Crosbie is not revealing the reasons for his dismissal and the federal Tories aren’t talking publicly, fuelling speculation on the eve of a federal election in which polls are showing a dramatic shift in the political landscape.
The Harper Conservatives are not well-liked on the island, and this latest event is not helping. …  This latest Conservative imbroglio has further tarnished the Harper Tory brand, according to some island observers, including Mr. Crosbie’s father, John, who after decades of supporting the federal Conservatives will not in this election: “If I believe what I’m told by a huge number of people, they’ve stolen any chance they had of getting a seat here at all,” he says. “People are shocked and astounded by the effrontery of it without any reasonable reason being given. It’s been very unpopular for them here in Newfoundland but they don’t seem to care about that.”
Ches Crosbie announced his intention to run in Avalon last December. He was the only potential candidate (the Tories have yet to find another one).

Pre-election campaign trail: Leaders face questions on Senate, possible NDP/Grit coalition
Closing down the Senate

Stephen Harper vows not to name any senators before reforms made
(CBC) ‘We’re just not going to make the appointments,’ Harper says as 22 seats sit vacant
Aaron Wherry: After appointing 56 senators, Stephen Harper is done
The Prime Minister declares a moratorium on Senate appointments and the countdown to a constitutional crisis is on
(Maclean’s) After nine years, 59 appointments to the upper chamber, one ruling of the Supreme Court, one cheque for $90,000 and 31 charges against Mike Duffy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has now vowed to fold his arms, hold his breath and wait until the premiers are ready and able to present him with an agreement to reform or abolish the Senate.
So either the premiers, taken somehow by a desire to commit energy to addressing the form and function of the federal legislature, will band together to solve this conundrum and relieve this prime minister and all future prime ministers of ever having to nominate another unelected appointee or we will, eventually, have ourselves a constitutional crisis.
Or perhaps, before then, we will have a different prime minister.
The Senate is not merely a quirk of our history or a blight upon our democracy. It is the law. Its existence is part of the constitutional basis for this country’s existence.
Abolishing the Senate in 10 difficult steps
(CBC) Seemingly less popular than ever, the scandal-plagued Red Chamber also looks to be incredibly hard to kill off
Five things Canadian should know about the Senate as an election approaches
(Canadian Press) The Supreme Court has warned that the Senate can not be abolished indirectly by allowing the number of senators to drop to zero. And a Vancouver lawyer has gone to court in a bid to compel Harper to fill Senate vacancies within a reasonable time.
ELIZABETH RENZETTI: Santa Poilievre delivers Christmas in July for Canadian parents
Christmas in July … refers to the millions of Canadian parents who were showered with unexpected cash this week and will have to give it back at tax time.
23 July
Tom Mulcair open to coalition but Justin Trudeau opposed
NDP ready for coalition against Harper, Liberal voters ‘fed up,’ New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen says
(CBC) Trudeau has previously rejected the idea of an NDP-Liberal coalition, though earlier this year he said he might be more open to the possibility if Mulcair were not at the party’s helm.
On Thursday, Trudeau said the parties could only work together on legislative bills. … Mulcair reiterated that his party’s priority is to defeat and replace the Conservative government.
14 July
NDP Release Ad Highlighting Downfalls Of Top Conservatives
Among those highlighted are chief Conservative fundraiser Irving Gerstein, ex-adviser to the prime minister Bruce Carson, and Harper-appointed senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau.
Footage of the prime minister’s former parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro’s “perp walk” — being led into a police paddy wagon in shackles — is also used.
7 July
The Gargoyle – Tories unleash torrent of patronage appointments
The Conservative government made 98 patronage appointments over two days last month, filling up federal boards, tribunals and panels in advance of the October election.
At least two failed Conservative candidates number among those receiving government jobs.
On June 18 and 19, cabinet approved the long list of appointees to bodies such as the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Capital Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
What caught our eye? The list of recent appointments include five new members added to the National Capital Commission board shortly before a key meeting on the contentious memorial to the Victims of Communism, planned for a space near the Supreme Court of Canada.
Victims of communism memorial  Un monument à la droite canadienne
Stephen Harper veut redessiner la mémoire de la Seconde Guerre mondiale avec son «monument aux victimes du communisme»
(Le Devoir) ce projet soulève une question plus profonde que la politicaillerie cynique — celle de la mémoire collective que M. Harper veut façonner selon son idéologie. Ce projet fait partie de la transformation radicale de la société canadienne que son gouvernement mène avec une cohérence idéologique sans pareil d’année en année.
Le nom même du monument à venir est emprunté au vocabulaire de la guerre froide. Dans tous les pays socialistes, le communisme restait une vision, un objectif, un avenir à bâtir plutôt qu’une réalité déjà établie. Aucun gouvernement, ni à Moscou, ni à Pékin, ni à Budapest n’a proclamé la victoire du communisme. Néanmoins, parmi les militants occidentaux de la guerre froide, ce terme était devenu un mot d’opprobre courant. Reprendre ces termes vingt-cinq ans après la fin de la guerre froide n’est pas innocent et fait partie de la rhétorique belliqueuse et manichéenne du gouvernement Harper en matière de politique internationale.
Donations pour in for group opposing location of Memorial to Victims of Communism
Bruce Livesey: How Harper will win the election
(National Observer) Although splitting the vote helps Harper, it overshadows how the Tories exploit the weaknesses of our electoral system and have built a well-financed, well-oiled machine that’s increased their seat count every election cycle since 2004.
“When it comes to tactical execution, these guys are very effective,” concedes Scott Reid, former deputy chief of staff and spokesperson for Paul Martin Jr. during the 2004 and 2006 elections. “They parse the electorate, they rarely in my mind bother to message anyone beyond their base… Harper’s no dummy, that’s for sure. It’s not so much a strategic brilliance as it’s tactical excellence where they’ve prospered.” Part 3 of Special Report Assessing Stephen Harper
5 July
Harper urges voters to avoid ‘risk’ of NDP or Liberals in power
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is warning voters that a victory by the New Democrats or Liberals in this fall’s election would bring European-style economic calamity to this country and open the door to an increased security threat from jihadist terrorists.
2 July
Mulcair, the redeemer?mulcair_portrait_1a
(National Observer) This time last year, Mulcair’s NDP was solidly in third place, clearly overshadowed by the Liberals. Now, Tom Mulcair has “all-of-a-sudden become the Dos Equis guy,” Scott Reid writes in a recent Ottawa Citizen op-ed. The op-ed was titled: “In the midst of the NDP phenomenon, only the stupid are not terrified.”
A June 2015 poll by EKOS showed Mulcair’s job approval ratings at 60 per cent, compared to Justin Trudeau at 46 per cent and Stephen Harper at 32 per cent.
In the polls and on the streets, it seems Mulcair’s time has arrived. The lawyer and former provincial Liberal cabinet minister has broadened his appeal outside of his home province of Quebec.
Upcoming televised debates promise to boost his fortunes further, as he’ll have a chance to showcase the incisive, prosecutorial style he’s become known for in the House of Commons.
Andrew Coyne: ‘The Harper government’ used to be a brand. It is now an almost literal description
It isn’t just the half-dozen ministers who have, just months before the election, announced their retirements, in some cases (John Baird) without so much as a day’s notice, in others (James Moore) without a word of acknowledgment from the prime minister. It isn’t the two dozen other MPs who will not be running again, or the notable absence of star candidates among the new recruits.
It is the palpable sense of other ministers maintaining their distance, in rhetorical terms at least, unwilling to indulge in the harshly partisan attacks he demands of his subordinates. The undying loyalists, the ones whose careers he promoted on just this basis — the Pierre Poilievres, the Chris Alexanders — will stick with him to the end. But that is pretty much all that remains, a dwindling palace guard of zealous staffers and the callower ministers.

Stephen Harper is losing incumbent lawmakers at one of the highest rates in decades, and history suggests that weighs heavily on the Canadian Prime Minister’s chances of winning another term in power later this year. Of 166 Conservatives elected to the House of Commons during Harper’s first majority in 2011, at least 46 are not running for the party this fall. It’s the third-highest dropout rate since the Second World War and the highest since 1993, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

30 June
Mulcair’s Skeletons Hauled Out Of The Closet As Fortunes Rise
Now, as was the case three years ago, the story of Mulcair’s flirtation with the Conservatives seems to come up just as he’s beginning to pose a political threat.
In 2012, Mulcair was running for the leadership of the NDP when a batch of articles came out. At the same time, a group of “progressive” New Democrats created a website called “Know Mulcair.”
Fast forward to 2015, and Mulcair is the leader of a party that is rising in the polls. For the first time, there is active discussion about the potential for the party to form government.
For the Conservatives, and more importantly for the Liberals, hauling any and all of Mulcair’s skeletons out of the closet could be a priority — especially the kind of skeletons that call his level of conviction into question.
29 June
Pierre Poilievre growing into one of the Conservatives’ new stars
Two news stories this spring illustrate why he’s a political success who drives some people bonkers: In March, when a government contract that employed 50 developmentally disabled people shredding paper was cancelled, he overrode bureaucracy to get it reinstated. This week, when the National Capital Commission was to vote on an unpopular memorial to victims of communism, he packed its board with Tories.
26 June
Statue for Nova Scotia shoreline‘Offensively tasteless’ Mother Canada statue plan sparks outrage against PM
(The Guardian) Media and local residents lambaste Stephen Harper for offering financial support to erect a 10-storey statue overlooking the shore of a national park on one of Canada’s most scenic shorelines. [It] has prompted outrage and sparked a growing political row as the country heads towards a general election this fall.
The statue of Mother Canada – a cloaked female figure with her arms outstretched towards the Atlantic Ocean – is intended to honour the country’s soldiers who died overseas.
The proposed monument is an awkwardly remodelled, vastly upscaled version of an earlier statue, known as Canada Bereft, which adorns the memorial to the country’s first world war dead near Vimy, France.
The initiative gained early and enthusiastic support from the Harper government, which has donated the necessary public land and $100,000 from its parks budget to help erect the colossus on a rocky spit along the Cabot Trail, eastern Canada’s most popular scenic drive.
Trigiani’s Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation and the government hope to have the colossus up by 2017, the sesquicentennial of Canadian Confederation and also the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
(Globe & Mail editorial) Mother Canada statue is hubristic, ugly and just plain wrong
21 June
The Sunday Talk on The National– The Politics of Departure
Five cabinet ministers have backed out of politics this year, our Sunday panel discusses what these departures mean.
19 June
Stephen Harper’s season of discontent: Hébert
With the NDP on the rise nationally, Quebec is no longer an isolated pocket of anti-Conservative opposition.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives went into the last parliamentary stretch of their majority mandate last January with a breeze in their backs in public opinion and amidst long-awaited signs that Justin Trudeau’s honeymoon with voters was finally at an end.
With a budget replete with tax cuts and a popular piece of anti-terrorism legislation in the making, all seemed to be in place for a timely pre-election realignment of the stars in their favor.
Six months later, the budget has fallen flat. Support for the government’s anti-terrorism legislation has steadily declined. Some of the more able members of the caucus have bowed out — including, as of Friday, Industry Minister James Moore. And while the Liberals have consistently bled support over the first half of the year, their decline has not benefited the Conservatives.
Karl Nerenberg: House rises and the campaign is on. Beware new voting rules!
( Nobody in politics is even trying to pretend otherwise. Parliament is going on a long break and the election campaign is on, full blast. Some who don’t watch politics daily are surprised to learn that the House of Commons will not sit again before the election on October 19th, four months away. Depending on the election result, in fact, Parliament may not meet again until 2016. If the Conservatives get the largest number of seats, but not a majority, they may be tempted to rag the puck for a while, in the hope of discouraging any move by the other parties to unite and form an alternative government.
Fair Elections Act’s new ID rules — tough for those who lack driver’s licenses
June 19th is also the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Elections Act.
17 June
Paul Wells: Trudeau’s reforms, three ‘ifs’ and a set of Ginsu steak knives
Justin Trudeau has proposed a giant list of reforms. Will voters care as much as they say they do?
(Maclean’s) There is a Lucy’s-football element to democratic reform, forever pulled away at the crucial moment, that makes each generation’s promises harder to believe. Brian Mulroney ran as a reformer, too, after all, and Chrétien, and Harper. Maybe Trudeau’s reforms will seem so sweeping, they’ll be more persuasive. He is essentially running on 20 years of Andrew Coyne columns. It’s so earnest, you could cry.
I keep seeing polls that suggest people believe the health of our democratic system is a pressing national concern. If those polls are right, and if people believe Trudeau’s proposals would make a difference, and if they believe giving him a chance to fix our institutions outweighs any misgivings they have about him, then he can only gain. That sentence has three “ifs” in it.
16 June
Trudeau Unveils Plan For ‘Restoring Democracy’ With 32-Point Plan
(HuffPost) Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced a series of sweeping changes Tuesday to improve government services, involve more Canadians in the government decision-making and increase government transparency if the Liberals win October’s election.
11 June
Pope Francis, Stephen Harper meet at Vatican
(CBC) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pope Francis discussed the situation in Ukraine and environmental issues, as well as a recommendation in a report on the treatment of Canadian children at residential schools, when the two met at the Vatican today.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement following the 10-minute meeting, saying Harper and Francis discussed global security challenges. All that in 10-minutes that included a photo-op?
9 June
Gilles Duceppe set to make comeback as Bloc Quebecois leader
(CTV) The deal is that Mario Beaulieu is going to become president of the Bloc, which is a paying job, and Gilles Duceppe will come back as leader of the Bloc and run in the next campaign.” An official announcement explaining how this will be done will take place in a news conference Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. The regulations for the party normally require a leadership race.
8 June
Poilievre popularity problem bad sign for party
Pierre Poilievre, the federal employment minister and chief spokesman for the Conservative party in the House of Commons, has “a very significant likeability issue in his riding,” [and we would add everywhere else] according to pollster Frank Graves, whose company recently polled Poilievre’s suburban Ottawa constituency of Nepean-Carleton. “My guess is that people are looking at him and saying the more I see of him, the less I like him,” said Graves.
5 June
Canada’s left-leaning NDP takes lead heading into October election
(Reuters) – Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) has taken a slim lead in popular support ahead of a general election scheduled for October, while support for the Conservative government is flat, a public opinion poll said on Friday.
The Ekos survey showed, however, that the NDP, which has never held power federally, does not have enough backing to form a stable government by itself and would likely have to work with another party.
The poll is not good news for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose right-of-center Conservatives took power in early 2006 and who is seeking a rare fourth-consecutive election victory.
3 June
Here’s how the Prime Minister could erase our election-day choices
Could the Tories ‘out-election’ our other political choices into the poorhouse, perhaps forever? On the implications of a pro-rated spending limit?
(Maclean’s) If we want a truly fair election, with a level playing field that doesn’t completely bankrupt our other political parties, I maintain we either need to go back to fixed spending limits, or go to a maximum length for an election period, or do both.
And the Prime Minister should not call the Oct. 19 election until Sept. 12.
Alice Funke is the publisher of—the Pundits’ Guide to Canadian Elections, where she first discussed the implications of a pro-rated spending limit, in far wonkier terms, for complete political junkies.
2 June
Contrast with the favorable comments about John Baird
Lawrence Martin: The secret deal that undercut MacKay, and the old Tories
On May 31, 2003, Mr. MacKay won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. It was done with a vow not to merge with the Canadian Alliance party. And he had every intention of leading the PCs into the next election, then expected within a year’s time. … Instead of leaving the convention in full stride, the party and Mr. MacKay went out limping. Mr. Harper was handed a gift as big as the Liberal sponsorship scandal. The old Tories were now ripe for the picking. Deal making is hardly a new thing at political conventions. Backroom bargaining is common. But the way it is handled is critical.
30 May
Andrew Coyne: Peter MacKay was a politician of many titles, but little achievement
That MacKay remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things — the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, Harper’s cynicism
McKay’s career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement.
Peter MacKay: Nearly 20 years in the political spotlight
Peter MacKay has held big portfolios and much attention since he was first elected in 1997
With Peter MacKay gone, the Conservatives are truly Harper’s party
There’s no doubt that the Conservatives long ago became Mr. Harper’s party, and the merger is long past. But he has to appeal beyond the party’s core base to a broader group of soft potential supporters, and they tend be more like the PCs and to dislike Mr. Harper’s harder edges, and the idea that it’s just Mr. Harper’s party.
The Prime Minister spoke extensively about Mr. MacKay’s role in the party merger, about how there were two signatures on the agreement, “my own and Peter’s.” It changed the course of Canadian politics, he noted, at a time when a Paul Martin landslide was a foregone conclusion. “It took a spirit of humility, and it took a willingness to compromise,” he said. [And his role in the merger is what many PCs  aka Red Tories will not forget.]
Peter MacKay rescued from ParliamentMacKay cites ‘love for my family’ as he bows out of federal politics
After nearly 20 years in federal politics, Justice Minister Peter MacKay will step down this fall to focus on his “young and growing family.”
(CBC) With Prime Minister Stephen Harper at his side in Stellarton, N.S., MacKay announced Friday he will not seek re-election, but will stay on as justice minister and MP for Nova Scotia’s Central Nova riding until October. MacKay said he does not have another job lined up, nor has he been approached with an offer.
29 May
Martin Patriquin: The amazingly malleable MacKay
(Maclean’s) Peter MacKay has been everything he wasn’t at the outset of his career. A ruthless pragmatist, he went along with, and often led, the rightward shift of his own party if only because it kept him in power. In this light, the timing of his resignation is telling. Elmer MacKay knew when to get out, having resigned in the months before the 1993 election that saw the Progressive Conservatives reduced to two seats. You have to wonder whether MacKay the younger is reading from the same tea leaves.
Harper’s enforcer: Meet Jenni Byrne, the most powerful woman in Ottawa
By Adam Radwanski
Of the roughly 30 sources who were interviewed – among them, friends and rivals, current and former colleagues, cabinet ministers and senior campaign officials – most were willing to speak only on a not-for-attribution basis, reflecting the culture she has helped to create. And depending on their personal experience with her, and whether they are on her good side or bad, they often contradicted each other about everything from her temperament to her skill set to her relationship with the Prime Minister.
Still, there are a few accepted truths. She is willing to do what Mr. Harper asks of her. She is especially good at “issues management,” which means making messes go away. She is valued for her ability to make quick decisions and stick with them, rare for a political operative. She is rarer still for not having blown herself up with one of those. She does not mind playing the bad cop, and might even enjoy it. She is not terribly interested in policy, but presents herself as deeply in touch with the Conservative base, and speaks on its behalf in the corridors of power.
25 May
VICE: Stephen Harper’s New Attack Ad Is Out, and It’s Hilariously Bad ; HuffPost: Tories’ New Anti-Trudeau Ad Says Liberal Leader Is Not Ready… ‘Now’
22 May
Harper rejects participating in national English TV debate
The networks have announced a partnership with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube.
“The position of the party has been clear on this question for some time,” Harper responded. “The Conservative party is ready to participate in a maximum of five debates in total, which is a record for federal campaigns in our country.”
Conservative party spokesman Kory Teneycke has said the party firmly rejected the consortium’s proposal two weeks ago and selected alternative debates.
21 May
Broadcasters to go ahead with traditional TV debates with or without Harper
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives say they will be a no-show at two federal political leaders’ debates announced by major Canadian broadcasters Thursday.
CTV News, CBC News, Global News and Radio-Canada announced that they’ve reached agreement in principle with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Thomas Mulcair’s NDP, Elizabeth May’s Greens and the Bloc Québécois.
19 May
The Interview: Brian Mulroney on politics and philanthropy the Horatio Alger Association, the current political climate, and one very busy life
(Maclean;s) … I don’t know Mulcair well, but as I said, he is the best Opposition leader in my judgment since Diefenbaker, and I think I’ve known them all pretty well. He’s building credibility both in the House of Commons and across the country, slowly. I’m surprised at how well some of his support is holding here. Most of all—I’m a believer in this because it happened to me—when I hear the experts say, “These television debates, they don’t count.” They don’t, eh? You’re looking at a guy who made it to 24 Sussex because of them. Mrs. Notley made it to the premier’s position because of television debates. So I think that the television debates in the next election may turn out to be the most important since 1984, and it is hard to see how anyone is going to best Mr. Mulcair in these debates. And if he is in the process of playing for it all, he is going to be lethal.
Thomas Mulcair emerging as the real agent of change: Tim Harper
A three-way electoral race will only help Stephen Harper if neither Tom Mulcair nor Justin Trudeau break from the pack.
Regardless of your pollster or method of choice, or whether you pay them no heed, they will all tell you that as many as seven in 10 Canadians are — right now — not going to vote for the incumbent Stephen Harper government. … Conventional wisdom will tell you Harper can still win with two-thirds of Canadians splitting their vote between New Democrats, Liberals and Greens.
True to a point, but there is another possibility. What happens if either Tom Mulcair or Justin Trudeau break from the pack? … Now, as Canadians begin focusing on the next vote, it is the NDP that offers the clean break from a tired government in its 10th year.
12 May
Federal Conservatives won’t take part in traditional debates
The federal Conservative Party says it won’t participate in the traditional leaders’ debates run by a consortium of broadcasters including CBC, CTV and Global and will instead accept up to five independently staged debates in the run-up to the fall federal election.
Conservative campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke (formerly of Quebecor and the late and unlamented Sun TV News) said the Tories have already accepted proposals for two new rival debates – one organized by Maclean’s magazine and its owner Rogers, and the other by French-language broadcaster TVA (which of course belongs to PKP’s Quebecor empire).
The Conservative decision now puts pressure on other federal political parties to follow suit.
It is hard to ascribe the following two items to any other category than politics.
11 May
Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters
(CBC) The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel. Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions
Omar Khadr, a Scapegoat and All-Purpose Enemy
Harsh treatment echoes Dreyfus persecution more than a century ago.
(The Tyee) Omar Khadr seems not to resemble Alfred Dreyfus, but the parallels are there. Since 9/11, anti-Islamic views have been an acceptable substitute for anti-Semitism, casting suspicion on a whole religion. In both cases, democratic institutions were stressed into perverting themselves: Dreyfus’s court-martial was a kangaroo court, and so was Khadr’s trial in Guantanamo. (The Guantanamo detention camp was set up precisely because prisoners sent there would lack the constitutional protections of being on American soil and the treaty protections of being prisoners of war.)
“Terrorists” have become the new all-purpose enemies, justifying any and all breaches of constitutional and treaty rights — and his rights were well and truly breached by torture, a sham military trial, and a coerced confession.
Eventually the Americans calmed down and found Guantanamo an embarrassment; they began to ship the prisoners (many of them innocent) back home. But the Harper government refused to accept Omar Khadr until it absolutely had to. Then it dumped him in a maximum-security prison and fought in court against any effort to restore his rights as a Canadian citizen.
8 May
Chantal Hébert AND Andrew Coyne on the attack:
Conservatives thank God it’s the weekend: Hébert
(Toronto Star) The magnitude of the Alberta political earthquake diverted attention from a string of smaller but potentially more significant tremors that suggest that all is not well in Harperland.
All week, partisan overkill made the government look both ugly and inept. It is hard to think of a more self-defeating combination for a party that is about to solicit a fourth mandate.
Andrew Coyne: A telling 24 hours in Stephen Harper’s world
The point is, this was all in the space of 24 hours. If one were to draw up an indictment of this government’s approach to politics and the public purpose, one might mention its wholesale contempt for Parliament, its disdain for the Charter of Rights and the courts’ role in upholding it, its penchant for secrecy, its chronic deceitfulness, its deepening ethical problems, its insistence on taking, at all times, the lowest, crudest path to its ends, its relentless politicization of everything.
But you’d think you would need to look back over its record over several years to find examples. You wouldn’t think to see them all spread before you in the course of a single day.
7 May
Fair Elections Act Changes Open Byelection Spending Tap
Federal parties and their candidates will be eligible to spend millions of taxpayer-subsidized dollars to contest three federal byelections, thanks to rule changes enacted last year in the government’s controversial Fair Elections Act.
The rule change allows individual candidates — and national parties — to inflate their spending cap by a pro-rated amount whenever a campaign extends beyond the 37-day minimum. … byelections have begun in three vacant Ontario ridings — but voting day for the three isn’t until Oct. 19, the likely date of a full general election.
A cautionary note sounded by Gerald Caplan: Rachel Notley will have to watch out for a very Albertan coup
(Globe & Mail) She’s … surrounded by many powerful people who wish her and her government a rapid demise and who, we can be pretty certain, are already plotting to make it happen. Call it A Very British Coup syndrome. The name comes a book and film of that name showing how the many enemies of the political left conspire to destroy a Labour Prime Minister in the U.K.
1 May
Federal health minister decries ‘risky experiment’ of electing NDP in Alberta
The Alberta economy is too important to the rest of the country to have Albertans conduct a “risky experiment” of electing an NDP government, federal health minister Rona Ambrose said Friday.
“We’re the economic engine of this country and what happens here under a NDP government will affect every single province in the entire country,” Ambrose told reporters.
27 April
Robert Libman Wins Conservative Nomination In Mount-Royal
Many believed opponent and former TVA journalist Pascale Déry was the candidate the Conservative party actually wanted to win. The Suburban editor Beryl Wajsman, who had also been competing for the title, dropped out of the race shortly before the deadline.
6 April
Michael Adams: Three ways Liberals and NDP can win over conservative voters
As this year’s federal election approaches, the Conservative government is increasingly crystallizing its offer to voters around a single promise: security.
One drawback of the Conservatives’ laser-like focus on terror and security, however, is that it cedes so much other territory to challengers. It gives an opening for the Liberals and the NDP to make noise not only about their own traditional issues (social programs, the environment, and so on) but also about some issues that the Conservatives usually claim as their own. How about advocating for veterans?

As Duffy trial starts, Wright remains firmly in the spotlightMike Duffy
(Globe & Mail) Embattled senator’s defence team will attack Wright’s positive public image and present former chief of staff as a desperate political operative
A picture has emerged of what will be a long and complex trial, unfolding in four acts. There will be questions over expenses of all types, from big living allowances to details like a business trip during which Mr. Duffy visited his Mountie son in British Columbia; details on large contracts and subcontracts to a former newsroom colleague and a personal trainer; and an “unprecedented glimpse” into the Conservative government’s damage-control machine.
In addition, sources said, the defence could try to focus on the fact that some Conservative officials have provided “shifting” versions of events to the RCMP over the course of the investigation, which could make for negative headlines and hurt their credibility. (CP via CBC) Timeline|Mike Duffy trial: Chronology of the Senate expense scandal saga
Mike Duffy’s trial to examine his secrets — and the Conservatives’the fun begins
2 April
Andrew Coyne: Senators loudly and anonymously defend their right to endless expenses, no questions asked
If it is shown that large numbers of them were essentially guilty of the same thing, well, we’ll have to invent a new word to describe that level of hypocrisy.
30 March
Stakes are high as ISIS mission creates political winners & losers
(CBC The Current)… there’s also much at stake politically for each of the parties and their leaders, as they stake out their positions on the mission…
Heather Scoffield is Ottawa bureau chief for The Canadian Press; Stephen Saideman is a professor of International Relations and the Patterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University. Kyle Matthews is Senior Deputy Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
(Global news) Are the Conservatives politicking with Responsibility to Protect?
27 March
Barrick Gold hires John Baird, Newt Gingrich
Mr. Baird and Mr. Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, will join other political heavyweights including former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the miner’s international advisory board. … No compensation details for Mr. Baird and Mr. Gingrich were disclosed in the filings. However, Mr. Mulroney, who stepped down as a Barrick director last year, received more than $1-million (Canadian) for his work as an adviser and board member, the filings said.
The EKOS poll: Liberals slipping as NDP surges
(iPolitics) The Liberals’ decline continues in our newest poll: Justin Trudeau’s party is now below 29 points in voter intentions for the first time in a long time — and the long-term trend for the LPC is not positive. The Conservatives, while down from a high of 35 points, now enjoy a small but statistically significant lead based on the Liberal decline.
Younger Canadians more left-wing, could shift political landscape: study
The study, set to be released Friday, found evidence of an emerging generational divide in Canadian politics. Younger Canadians are consistently more favourable to the idea of government intervention in the economy, ensuring a decent standard of living for all, increasing health-care spending and protecting the environment, the study says. And the difference between those over and under 35 on many policy questions was often in the range of 10 percentage points.
25 March
John Barber: Mike Duffy trial a sorry excuse for a political scandal
Are we really expected to believe that partisan activity by senators, who are selected from party ranks and vote on party lines, is somehow improper?
(TorStar Opinion) Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming trial of former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy, the wanly flickering star of Ottawa’s hottest scandal since Old Mother Hubbard flashed a bluestocking ankle on Sparks Street (and just as compelling): a) The rules regarding Senate expenses are too vague to prove anybody actually broke them; and b) You can hardly expect to convict someone of accepting a bribe if you’ve already declared the person who offered it to be innocent of any wrongdoing.
13 March
Muslim women in Canada explain why they wear a niqab
Women say they wear niqab for religious obligation and identity, not because of family or outside pressure: Canadian Council of Muslim Women report
A majority of the women included in a Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) report agreed that in certain instances it would be necessary to lift their face coverings, including when going through airport security, accessing health services, or driving.
12 March
At Issue: The Politics of the Niqab
The At Issue panel looks at the politics of the niqab and what the government hopes to gain by making it an issue
A pigeon in hawk’s feathers: Harper on security
Chris Westdal, former Canadian diplomat, was ambassador to Russia (2003-06)
The prime minister is quite right – the highest purpose of government is to protect its citizens. Why, then, does he try to scare the bejesus out of them every day?
I thought leaders in times of crisis were expected to keep calm and carry on, maintaining stiff upper lips and carrying sticks bigger than their tongues. Not our guy. He mongers fear across the land – fear of criminals, fear of terrorists, fear of Iran, fear of Russia – fear in every case gussied up with purple prose, proud to be certain, proud to be loud.
It’s commonly assumed that all this fear will help Mr. Harper win the coming election by posing him – against a lurid background of crime and terror – as a tougher SOB than his rivals, at home and abroad.
I’m not so sure. I think folks might well tire of all this fantasy, see through the hypocrisy – the collision of tough talk with tepid action. All hat, no cattle.
10 March
Interview: Jason Kenney responds to Justin Trudeau’s speech
(Maclean’s) Liberal leader shows ‘a grotesque lack of judgment,’ Defence Minister says
6 March
Gerald Caplan: Harper’s niqab ban plays dangerous politics
(Globe & Mail) Never mind the law. We’re talking about politics here. The government has decided to appeal the ruling against them, as just one of their battery of pre-election attacks against Muslims here and abroad. For what I believe are crassly political motives, they are deliberately inflaming Canadians against each others. Now we know what Conservatives mean by “Canadian values.”
Ms. Ishaq has been personally singled out for the national spotlight by no less than Stephen Harper himself. In fact the entire government of Canada seems obsessed by this one woman, while the Conservative Party of Canada actually rushed out a fund-raising appeal based on Ms. Ishaq’s apparently mortal threat to the Canadian Way of Life.
4-6 March
The EKOS poll: Canadians divided on security/rights tradeoffHarper politics of fear
(iPolitics) the profound change in the polling landscape since late summer is due largely to one major shift in the demographic constituency for the Conservatives. In short, if you’re older and less educated, you’re really troubled by the messages on terror and security emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ottawa, judiciary set to clash over life without parole legislation
(Globe & Mail) The question that will inevitably come before the courts is whether leaving prisoners without hope of release, at least by a neutral decision-making body, meets Canadian standards of humane treatment. Defence lawyers and constitutional scholars interviewed say a legal challenge to life without parole is almost certain soon after it becomes law. But while the challenge will be cast in legal terms – alleging cruel and unusual punishment, arbitrariness and disproportionality – what will really be decided is whether ending hope for classes of prisoners is in keeping with the basic tenets of the Canadian legal system.
(CBC At Issue) The Politics of Fear
Andrew Coyne: No need for Tories’ ‘Throw Away the Key Act’
There would be one, grudging exception. After 35 years, prisoners could apply, not for parole, but for “exceptional release,” and not to some do-gooding parole board, but directly to the Minister of Public Safety. This is intended to allay, as the background paper puts it, “legitimate constitutional concerns,” what might be called the Keeping The Supreme Court Off Our Backs provision. So life would not quite mean life. It would mean life or the readiness of an elected politician to personally authorize the release of one of Canada’s “most heinous criminals.”
18 February
Éric Grenier: Road to majority: What the federal parties need to reach the magic number
Each party has its own pathway to form a majority government
(CBC) The most important number in the 2015 federal election will be 170, the minimum number of seats required for any one party to form a majority government.
On current polling trends, no party is anywhere close to reaching that mark. But what will it take for any of the three major parties to reach that magic number?
15 February
Canadian flagJean Chrétien recalls Canadian flag flying for the first time (CBC video)
Former PM speaks about the history and legacy of Canada’s flag
13 February
Ottawa’s tribute to the Canadian Flag is embarrassing
With Sunday being the 50th anniversary of the raising of the Canadian Flag over Parliament, one would think there might be something special under way in Ottawa, the country’s capital.
It was with some satisfaction, then, that an announcement came that the renamed Canadian Museum of History directly across the Ottawa River from the Peace Tower would be mounting a special exhibition. … It takes about five minutes to go through the entire exhibit and, sadly, you’d be reluctant to pay a nickle for the experience. … The federal government has allocated a mere $50,000 to celebrate the flag’s birthday – a banner first raised by a Liberal government, after all – compared to nearly $4-million to mark 200 years since the birth of Conservative prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald.
The special exhibition of the Canadian flag does not even merit its own room. Instead, it is nothing but a glass case along an outside wall that stretches for 10 paces or so and holds a few grainy photographs of then-prime minister Lester B. Pearson, some light historical reference and various designs studied by a parliamentary committee prior to the actual choice of the flag that first flew on Feb. 15, 1965. Thank you Global for Canadian Flag Facts
Jason MacDonald, Harper’s Top Spokesperson, To Quit
MacDonald, Harper’s eighth communications director since the Tories came to office in 2006, leaves eight months before the scheduled federal election on Oct. 19.
Scott Reid: For Dimitri Soudas, it seems, love conquers loyalty. It shouldn’t
(Ottawa Citizen) Maybe you don’t like Stephen Harper. Maybe you want him to lose the next election. But to those advisors to whom he has shown loyalty, he still has the right to expect loyalty in return. Let’s hope this particular instance is an aberration and not yet another dismal example of lowered standards in our system of politics.
12 February
Michael Den Tandt: Stephen Harper focused on coming election; Justin Trudeau trips up with Eve Adams defection
( the same morning Trudeau sat smiling beside turncoat Tory MP Adams, blithely unaware of the incredulous skepticism that was about to engulf them both, Mr. Harper without fanfare shifted Rob Nicholson to Foreign, Jason Kenney to Defence, and put James Moore atop his cabinet committee on the economy. All this was calculated to strengthen the Tories’ position ahead of the coming election. And it will likely have that effect.
One can only presume that this item belongs under the heading of ‘politics’
Resignations highlight turmoil at foundation to promote Canada in the UK
(Canadian Press) Historian Margaret MacMillan and think-tank adviser Diana Carney are among four people who have quit the board of a charitable foundation that promotes Canada in Britain amid allegations of meddling by the Canadian High Commission.
John Ivison: Harper’s ‘offence’ at niqab ruling part of larger strategy to steal Quebec from the NDP
Stephen Harper got a strong round of applause Thursday when he made it clear his government will appeal a court decision overturning requirements that a woman remove her niqab while being sworn in as Canadian citizens.
Mr. Harper said the practice is unacceptable: “Most Canadians will find it offensive for a person to hide their identity at the very time when they are joining the Canadian family. It’s not how we do it here,” he said.
It was no coincidence that the Prime Minister took a particularly tough line while campaigning in Victoriaville, Que.
The Conservatives have experienced a bump in the polls of late in a province that yielded just five seats in 2011. Current projections have them at around 21% support in the province — a level that could give them 15 or more seats at the election in October.
10 February
New Tory employment minister brings American-style right-wing agenda to the job
(Vancouver Observer) Maclean’s magazine once described the controversial and fiercely partisan 35-year-old MP as “the baby face of Canadian conservatism.” For the past few years, he has pushed right-wing policies that echo those advocated by the American Koch brothers and the Tea Party movement they fund.
Minister Poilievre expressed his desire to implement anti-union “right to work” legislation in 2012, at the same time that U.S. states such as Wisconsin and Michigan passed legislation that undermined unions. … Poilievre’s proposed reforms didn’t go as far as Republican voter ID laws, but the Minister advocated removing vouching as a means for voters to prove their identity. Critics said the changes would discourage students and lower-income voters, who were more likely to vote for the NDP or Liberal parties.
9 February
Paul Wells: All about Eve—and suddenly Steve
An update on the kind of day Justin Trudeau, Eve Adams and Stephen Harper are having
Liberal embrace of Eve Adams doesn’t add up: Hébert
If the Liberals were looking for someone to lead voters out of the Conservative fold, Eve Adams would be a counterintuitive choice.
Be it provincially or federally the Liberals do not frown on poaching but their gain is usually another party’s loss.
On the eve of the 2000 election Jean Chrétien recruited a handful of Quebec Tories the better to diminish Joe Clark’s prospects.
Paul Martin famously rolled out the red carpet for Belinda Stronach in 2005 to undercut a Conservative bid to bring down his minority government and after Jack Layton’s death Bob Rae took in Quebec NDP defector Lise St-Denis to send the signal that the Liberals planned to win back the province.
But by comparison the political calculus behind Trudeau’s decision to offer Adams political asylum does not easily add up.
If one had to select a pied piper to lead voters (and MPs?) out of the Conservative fold, Adams, whose main claim to political fame was borne out of partisan brawl rife with alleged dirty tricks and involving one of the leading architects of Harper’s take-no-prisoners approach to politics, would be a counterintuitive choice.
In the circumstances it is unclear whether the timing of Trudeau’s announcement on Monday was meant to praise the addition of Adams to his ranks or to bury it.
The Tories must be laughing all the way to the polling stations.
Eve Adams Aims To Run Against Joe Oliver In Toronto Riding
(HuffPost) Adams, the MP for Mississauga–Brampton South who shocked political Ottawa on Monday by crossing the floor, could face a challenge from Toronto lawyer Marco Mendicino who has already signalled his intention to contest the Liberal nomination in that riding.
Sources tell HuffPost that the former Tory MP hopes to be a “giant killer” and beat Oliver the same way Liberal MP Hedy Fry beat former prime minister Kim Campbell in Vancouver Centre in 1993. …
While the Tories are publicly trying to tarnish Adams’ reputation and decrying her as an opportunist who had been barred by the party from running in any other riding. In confidence, Conservatives are expressing deep concern that Soudas knows much of their game plan and their secrets and saying that the split reflects one of the biggest personal betrayal in Canadian politics.
Late Monday evening, during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Harper said Adams’ move to the Liberal party was the simple result of the Conservatives’ barring her from running anywhere else.
eve-adams-justin-trudeauUnkindest comment: “Barbie joins Ken.”
Eve Adams, former Conservative MP, joins Liberal Party
(CBC) ‘She wanted to be her community’s voice in Ottawa, not the prime minister’s voice in her community’: Trudeau
… She also declined to address her well-publicized difficulties in securing a Conservative nomination in two separate ridings, which ultimately led her to announce that she would not be running for re-election.
Both Adams and Soudas came under fire last year during her ill-fated campaign to win the Conservative nomination in Oakville Burlington-North.
Last March, Soudas — who at the time was engaged to Adams — was forced out of his job as executive director of the Conservative Party over allegations that he had attempted to interfere in the race.
5 February
Canada’s Big City Mayors To Leverage Election Year, Press Feds For Money
Canada’s big city mayors met on Thursday hoping to leverage a looming federal election into billions of dollars worth of commitments from Ottawa for transit, affordable housing and other big-money projects.
Big cities account for about two-thirds of the country’s population, they noted, but more importantly, perhaps, nearly one half of the country’s federal ridings — 142 seats — are in large urban centres.
4 February
Stephen Harper seemed blindsided by John Baird’s exit: Hébert
Jim Flaherty and Jim Prentice both gave Stephen Harper enough notice to figure out the succession. By comparison Harper seemed blindsided by John Baird’s exit.
(Toronto Star) Baird’s resignation comes at a time when the Conservatives are trying to capitalize on some recently earned momentum to convince Canadians that they have the stamina for a fourth mandate. Losing a proven talent at this juncture could break that momentum.
It comes too early for Harper to dispense with a permanent replacement for the foreign affairs portfolio until after the election but too late for the prime minister to rebuild his cabinet from top to bottom and expect it to perform at maximum efficiency between now and the campaign. An in-between fix of some sort will have to be found.
3 February
Exit John Baird, stage right
Paul Wells on the departure of John Baird from the world stage
… Baird travelled constantly, met everyone who’d talk to him, kept his eyes open, and radically expanded the breadth and complexity of the Harper government’s foreign policy. When the Conservatives were elected in 2006, they acted as if Canada’s relations with the world could be reduced to the anglosphere (friendly governments in the U.S. and Australia, the palatable Tony Blair in London) plus Israel. When those governments changed, usually for the worse from Harper’s perspective, Ottawa’s instinct was usually to turtle and blame the stupid world.
But Baird was comfortable with the notion of a world in which more than six countries matter, and he built functional relationships with globally middleweight but regionally influential powers like Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria. He watched, learned, and amended his opinions: he walked into the gig with the Euroskeptic positions one usually picks up by reading The Spectator, but in Warsaw he amazed me by calling the European Union “a force for good.” He told Harper not to bother going back to China before Harper ratified the trade and investment “FIPPA” that had sat on Harper’s desk, collecting dust, for a year. Eventually Harper relented. And when Harper inaugurated his involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with a crybabyish insistence that New Democrats and Liberals didn’t deserve to soil a government expedition to Kyiv, Baird ostentatiously brought opposition critics with him on foreign trips for months after.
John Baird resigns: So, what does a former foreign affairs minister do next?
Post-cabinet ‘cooling off’ period puts two-year hold on certain jobs
16 January
Coyne: Corrupting effects of power underlie pointless election speculation
What’s interesting about all this election speculation, pointless as it is, is the underlying premise: that the date of the next election is in fact open to question. By law, that is not supposed to be the case. By law — An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2007, c. 10 — the next election date is set in stone: Oct. 19, 2015. So the real, unspoken premise is this: that the prime minister does not feel bound to follow the law — his own law, as it happens.
11 January
Den Tandt: John A. Macdonald’s strengths, flaws, reflected in modern Canada
… a new collection of Macdonald’s speeches, Canada Transformed, edited by Sarah Gibson and Arthur Milnes, offers hints that the influence of the spare, energetic, indefatigable and gin-loving Scot extends well beyond Canada’s constitutional arrangements, to the national sensibility itself – for good and for ill. His strengths are ours. So are his flaws.
… Parochial anti-Americanism is as deeply embedded in the Canadian psyche as hockey and doughnuts. And it turns out we come by this honestly. Macdonald’s speeches make clear that the fear of America was his go-to political lever.
… The narrative takes a darker turn when we examine the first prime minister’s egregiously racist views, including about Aboriginal People. In 1885, in an address to the House of Commons about the Northwest Rebellion, he articulated in one long passage the 150-year catastrophe that Canada’s relationship with First Nations would become.
… a guiding Macdonald trait that is notably absent in modern political Canada: For all his flaws, he was stunningly ambitious and bold. Can anyone imagine him, if he were alive today, settling for the status quo of a 150-year-old arrangement that has evident, serious flaws? There are good reasons for our modern Constitution-debating-aversion, of course. But there is no denying the reproach implicit in a reading of these speeches, which de facto established Canada.
Old Macdonald — Sir John A. was a racist, a colonialist, and a drunk. Why are we celebrating him?
(The Walrus) Under the shadow of Sir John A. Macdonald’s glorious accomplishments, we remain connected to a defunct empire; we possess no national vision that connects French-speaking and English-speaking populations; and we have not dealt, nor are we dealing, with the underlying crime of taking land by force from the people whose rebellions against English dominion we crushed while he was prime minister. The memory of Macdonald is the nightmare of history; it is the memory we should forget but cannot.
The Canada that we want to have is open, tolerant, and, above all, itself. Sir John A. Macdonald would have hated every word in that sentence. He was the father of the country, sure. But he was the father of the country we don’t want to be.
8 January
PMO staffer quits to head up Tories’ federal election campaign
The departure fuels persistent speculation that Mr. Harper might call an early election – to take place before suspended senator Mike Duffy’s trial on charges of fraud and bribery, for instance – but Conservatives insist that is not in the cards.
Julian Fantino’s hometown newspaper calls for MP’s resignation
(Press Progress) The constituents of controversy-magnet Julian Fantino – the recently demoted Minister of Veterans Affairs and Conservative MP to the “good people of Vaughan” – were presented with a scathing editorial in the Vaughan Citizen this week calling for Fantino’s resignation.
6 January
L. Ian MacDonald: Memo to the PM: This year, try being human
(iPolitics) There’s the Harper who understands a prime minister’s unifying role. Then there’s the other Harper — the one who picks stupid fights with the chief justice of the Supreme Court — and he isn’t going to win hearts and minds in an election year. Let’s see which Harper shows up to campaign.
2 January
Adam Radwanski: As the federal election year begins, how are the Tories, NDP and Liberals preparing for the campaign?
With voters’ attention harder to capture than ever, the run-up to a campaign is an arms race between parties looking for new ways to break through. Adam Radwanski has begun a new assignment looking at how the Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals are preparing on the ground across the country, and how they stack up. At the start of the federal election year, he previews some of the key story lines he will be following.
Conservatives: Have they kept their edge?
New Democrats: Will the professionalization pay off?
Liberals: How successfully have they leveraged Justin Trudeau?
Harper, the message and Canadian democracy
In his new book, Kill The Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know, Ottawa author and longtime Press Gallery member Mark Bourrie takes a hard look at the Conservative government’s control over information and, among many other examples, gagging of the bureaucracy. Bourrie spoke to CHRIS COBB about what he sees as a major threat to Canada’s democracy.
I think Stephen Harper has a good chance of winning the election, at least with a minority. He is a very effective campaigner. I write about their propaganda machine with some respect because it has always served them very well during election campaigns.
Parliament’s lack of diversity goes beyond race, gender: study
A study exploring the demographics of Parliament suggests a mismatch with the Canadian population that goes beyond race and gender to issues such as religion and education
The ruling Conservatives and federal cabinet don’t look remotely close to the new Canada they represent, says a new study, which suggests there are real consequences to the lack of diversity.
“The socio-demographic biases are not without consequence as Parliament is the policy-making and political governing body of the country,” Kai L. Chan writes in “Canada’s Governing Class: Who rules the country?”

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