Tomer Avital in the wake of the approval of the 2023-24 budget For the sake of the journalists and presenters…
Canada: government & governance January 2023-
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Canada – China 2022/3
The difference between foreign-interference ‘hearings’ and a public inquiry
Sean Speer The Hub
Canada: government & governance
December 2021-December 30 2022
What a federal ethics report reveals about how Justin Trudeau sees his job as PM
25 December 2017
Trudeau doesn’t have business meetings. He has relationship sessions. And he sees his role ‘as ceremonial in nature’
That’s the view Justin Trudeau outlined to the ethics commissioner during her probe of Trudeau’s family vacations to the Aga Khan’s private island, which ended with Mary Dawson finding the prime minister violated four parts of the conflict of interest act.
9 December 2022
The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy
From Exploration to Recycling: Powering the Green and Digital Economy for Canada and the World
MPs expected to extend sittings to midnight until House rises for the summer
The Liberal legislative agenda
The government House leader said the Liberals want to see nine bills move through Parliament and one sent to committee before the summer break. The nine bills are:
The Budget Implementation Act, or C-47, which was tabled on March 28
Bill S-5, which updates the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
Bill C-42, which amends the Canada Business Corporations Act to make it easier to identify the beneficial owners of a company
Bill C-34, which amends the Investment Canada Act to allow ministers more time and authority to decide if foreign investments compromise national security
Bill S-8, which amends the Refugee Protection Act to ensure foreigners sanctioned under Canadian law are inadmissible to Canada
Bill C-18, which controversially seeks to make tech giants like Google compensate Canadian news organizations for content that appears on their platforms
Bill C-41, which amends anti-terrorist financing legislation to allow for the delivery of aid and immigration assistance in places controlled by terrorist groups, such as Afghanistan
Bill C-22, which establishes the Canada disability benefit for working-age Canadians
Bill C-35, which enshrines access to affordable child care in federal law and ensures the federal government provides long-term child care funding to provinces and Indigenous Peoples.
What Danielle Smith’s Alberta election win means for the rest of Canada
(Global) …all eyes will be on Alberta as Smith begins her second term, which political watchers say will have implications not just for the province but for the rest of Canada as well.
Alberta has always had a testy relationship with the federal government and even other provinces as it defends its profitable energy industry and other interests.
But the past four years under the United Conservative Party and during the COVID-19 pandemic have seen Edmonton’s relations with Ottawa grow particularly tempestuous.
It remains to be seen whether Smith continues to pursue the often-tense approach with Ottawa she demonstrated during her short premiership. Her government passed the controversial Alberta sovereignty act and openly mulled opting out of the Canada Pension Plan and replacing it with a provincial version.
Alberta’s election results are about the worst-case scenario for Edmonton
Can the UCP forge a far more respectful relationship with the two big cities that elected them in just 12 out of 46 ridings?
The fact the UCP lost at least 10 seats in Calgary — along with some of its cabinet ministers — also does not help Edmonton’s cause, because it means there are fewer voices who can properly advocate for big city problems. This is going to be a UCP cabinet and caucus largely dominated by rural MLAs.
Congruently worrying are the serious questions about how much influence the “lunatic” Take Back Alberta movement has over the new government. (Jason Kenney’s word, not mine.)
If the group was only interested in ever more ridiculous fights with Ottawa, that would be one thing. But it’s clear at least some of the members have ridiculous views on social issues as well.
Looming recounts in Calgary area leave final seat tallies in question
NDP grabs slim advantage of popular vote in Calgary
Polls before the vote consistently showed Calgary was a tightly contested battleground.
Unofficially, Calgary has once again become an NDP city after the party last dominated it in the 2015 election.
On Monday night, the NDP grabbed a majority of seats and a slim advantage in the popular vote with a 6,210-ballot margin, or a 1.1 percentage point edge.
Just outside Calgary in Banff-Kananaskis, the NDP gained another seat by a slim margin of 199 votes, with wildlife ecologist Sarah Elmeligi unseating UCP incumbent Miranda Rosin.
NDP calls on Johnston to step down as special rapporteur on foreign interference
The NDP is introducing an opposition day motion calling on David Johnston to step down as the government’s special rapporteur on foreign interference — only days after one of its MPs was told by CSIS she has been targeted by the Chinese government.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that while he has been careful not to attack the former governor general or his reputation, Johnston’s background has led to doubts about his work as the special rapporteur.
Pierre Poilievre is right about one thing: Special rapporteur is a fake job
Lori Turnbull, Director of the School of Public Administration and associate professor at Dalhousie University,
(Globe & Mail) The decision as to whether to hold a public inquiry on any topic, including the very important issue of foreign interference in Canada’s democracy, belongs to the prime minister. It cannot be transferred to an unelected, unaccountable appointee, regardless of that person’s credentials or experience. The ongoing noise about The Right Honourable David Johnston’s appointment to this position is an unfortunate distraction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s making.
The public inquiry ought to be run by a truly independent person with expertise on the issues of national security and intelligence. Mr. Johnston’s appointment as special rapporteur shows deeply flawed judgment, both on the part of the Prime Minister for making it, and on the part of Mr. Johnston for taking it.
Sean Speer: The unavoidable implication of the Johnston report: Canada is broken
Johnston’s conclusion—that this government is not corrupt, just plain incompetent—is little comfort for our country
(The Hub) In broad terms, there were two possible outcomes from David Johnston’s investigation into the Chinese interference scandal.
The first was evidence of political corruption. He could have found that the government’s failure to respond to the growing body of intelligence on Chinese interference in Canadian democracy was due to purposeful neglect on the part of the prime minister, his Cabinet, and their staff because those efforts aided the Liberal Party’s partisan interests.
The second was evidence of basic state failure—that is to say, the billions of dollars that we spend on intelligence gathering, analysis, and policy adoption were effectively wasted because of a lack of clarity around information sharing, the persistence of institutional siloes, and disinterest on the part of the political arm of the government.
Johnston’s report points in the second direction. He says that he found no specific evidence of gross political negligence. Instead, the main issue was that the intelligence that was collected and analyzed never seemed to make it to political actors. In the case of the intelligence on the targeting of MP Michael Chong, for instance, we’re told that while it was sent to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and his chief of staff, it was sent through a top-secret email system for which they seemingly lacked log-in details.
Matt Gurney: The Johnston report is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read
Most of the commentary over the special rapporteur’s report is going to miss the plain, simple truth he reveals: we are just totally, epically boned
(The Line) One of Justice Rouleau’s most staggering conclusions in the [Public Order Emergency Commission] POEC report is that what gave the convoyers the advantage — they held the capital for three weeks, recall — was that many of them had a professional background that involved at least some real-world experience in logistics and event planning and management. The federal government, in contrast, had none of that. As I wrote in my column then, “If your job requires you to manage a bunch of projects at the same time and coordinate different teams, especially if you mix in a bit of expertise in event planning and fleet operations, you are apparently probably capable of overthrowing the Canadian state.”
Though Johnston was fairly polite and understated in making his case, this is broadly the version of things he is sketching out for us. Trudeau isn’t compromised or corrupt, he’s just atop a government that’s so borked that the prime minister and his government couldn’t have done any better. The machine is just too broken.
Paul Wells: Leavetaking, stocktaking
What Poilievre is up to
We’re in an odd world where most of the journalistic coverage of Pierre Poilievre is critical, but he might yet become Prime Minister. The week’s big Abacus poll suggests this may simply be because more and more people are done with Justin Trudeau. But we’re still missing a theory of Pierre Poilievre.
Since Shannon Proudfoot’s profile of him last year, [Why is Pierre Poilievre so angry?] there’ve actually been fewer attempts to figure the guy out as he gets closer to an election.
Here’s one thing to chew on. In early 2022, two weeks after Poilievre announced his candidacy for the Conservative leadership, this essay appeared in The Hub, a good online journal of mostly conservative-leaning opinion. It was by Ben Woodfinden, “a doctoral candidate and political theorist at McGill University.” Woodfinden has since got hired as Poilievre’s communications director, which suggests that if there’s anyone who thought Woodfinden had Poilievre figured out, it’s Poilievre.
Tasha Kheiriddin: Woke CBC dividing Canadians on the public dime
Trudeau and Poilievre fuelling the extremes of the CBC debate, and most Canadians would be better off if they stopped
Is CBC government funded media? That’s the hottest question for the twitterverse this week — and for our politicians. According to a particularly juvenile post by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, it is — to the tune of 69 per cent. …
Labelling CBC “government-funded media” is technically correct, but contrary to the fantasies of conspiracy theorists, CBC does not get day-to-day orders from the PMO or have a hotline to Rideau cottage. How do we know this? Very simply, if the CBC had to toe the government line, it would have cheered on Stephen Harper’s when he was prime minister. But it most certainly did not.
What CBC does toe, however, is a small-l liberal line. And that line is rooted in two things: law and culture
Canada’s Global Affairs department is in crisis — right when Canadians need it most
Ottawa was told its foreign service was broken decades ago. A revolving door of foreign ministers later, the country is still waiting for the fix as the world order fractures
Mission critical: Is Canada lagging behind in the critical minerals race?
The House takes an in-depth look at Canada’s efforts to become a leader in the development of critical minerals. Hugues Jacquemin and Kirsty Liddicoat, executives of Northern Graphite, explain their efforts to expand. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson explains how the government is responding. Mark Podlasly talks about his efforts to help First Nations secure their interests, and experts Nate Wallace, Alisha Hiyate and Ian London weigh in on what Canada should be doing to respond to what some are calling the new gold rush.
Canada is sitting on a critical minerals mother lode. But is it ready for the new gold rush?
Proponents say Canada must do more to turn aspiration into action
A mining project might not be what comes to mind when you think of the transition to a lower emissions economy. But embedded in electric vehicles, solar panels and hydrogen fuel storage are metals and minerals that come from mines like the one in Lac-des-Îles, Que.
The graphite mine, owned by the company Northern Graphite, is just one of many projects aimed at extracting what are now officially dubbed “critical minerals” — substances of significant strategic and economic importance to the future of national economies.
Perhaps the most significant challenges to the mining industry come from concerns about environmental impacts and the role of Indigenous communities.
On the environmental front, advocacy groups like Environmental Defence worry that mining projects carry with them dangers of waste and environmental damage.
… “There’s also significant environmental concerns about that project because it’s covered by peatlands, and that’s basically equivalent to Canada’s Amazon rainforest, in terms of being a massive carbon sink,”
François-Philippe Champagne is building his case to replace Justin Trudeau
François-Philippe Champagne suddenly seems everywhere all at once.
When he is not cheerleading for Canada’s participation in NASA’s Artemis II mission to the moon, as he did in Houston on Monday, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry is ordering the country’s wireless providers to cut cellphone rates or face his wrath, as he did last week in approving Quebecor’s purchase of Freedom Mobile.
When he is not wooing auto and battery producers to invest in Canada’s electric-vehicle supply chain, securing promises for multibillion-dollar plants, the diminutive Quebec MP – nicknamed the Energizer Bunny – is cracking down on Chinese ownership of this country’s critical minerals amid efforts to “decouple” the North American economy from China.
Canada’s C$80B response to U.S. clean energy push: ‘We will not be left behind’
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland sells energy transition as an economic imperative.
Freeland presents details of 2023 federal budget (video)
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland praised Canada’s ‘tradition of fiscal responsibility’ while outlining the plan for this year’s federal budget.
Paul Wells: Chrystia Freeland’s invisible hand
Unshackle the market! And other budget surprises
Look, the thing you don’t understand is that government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners.
“This approach is not about the government picking individual corporate winners in an effort to engineer a preferred vision of the economy in 2050,” it says right here on Page 19 of Chrystia Freeland’s 2023 federal budget.
Picking winners and engineering visions just did not work in the past. This is what you don’t understand. I’m sorry I even need to explain this to you. “That approach did not work in the past,” it says right here on Page 19, “and is even less likely to work in today’s environment of rapid technological change.”
This is all by way of explaining one of the biggest-ticket items in what is a very curious budget: $80 billion in tax credits over 11 years to encourage investments in low-carbon electricity, manufacturing, and other elements of a clean economy.
Ottawa hangover: After triumph of Biden visit, reality bites back at Trudeau
Come Monday, Canada’s prime minister must grapple again with a Chinese influence scandal, economic troubles and a resurgent opposition.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) recommendations
Data Dive with Nik Nanos: Canadians feel the country is on the wrong path
(Globe & Mail) Young people are dour about the future. Confidence in institutions is on the decline and a significant number believe Canada is on the wrong economic track.
On important economic metrics, Canada is getting Ds and Fs – we can do better
The sooner we recognize that we have entered an era of supply-constrained economics, the better, Carolyn Wilkins writes.
Carolyn Wilkins is a senior research scholar at Princeton University’s Griswold Centre for Economic Policy. She was senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada from May, 2014, to December, 2020.
(Globe & Mail) I sit on the advisory council of the Coalition for a Better Future, which is building a community from many walks of life across Canada. It includes youth, business leaders, Indigenous groups, social policy advocates, environmental groups and some plain-old concerned citizens.
One of the projects the coalition has done is develop a scorecard to track how Canada stacks up on a set of long-term objectives that are ultimately tied to our quality of life. The scorecard reflects what coalition members care about: growing sustainably, living better and winning globally.
The share of Canadians living in poverty has fallen to the lowest level in decades thanks to the support from the federal government during the pandemic. Indigenous people are playing a growing role in the labour market, with their participation rate last year surpassing the non-Indigenous rate. Carbon dioxide emissions are down as a share of GDP.
We’ll need to raise our GPA by building on our country’s strengths given the challenges that Canada, and all other countries, will face.
One core reason for some of the Ds and Fs is slow productivity growth. To see why, you just need to look at our lacklustre business investment in research and development, intellectual property and even machinery and equipment, which has been disappointing for years.
House of Commons votes down Bloc Québécois motion on notwithstanding clause
Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet says the Liberals want to “restrain the sovereignty of the Quebec legislature.”
Conservatives sided with the Bloc Québécois on Monday in voting for the right to provinces to pre-emptively use the notwithstanding clause.
The motion, put forward by the Bloc in an attempt to “remind the (federal) government that it is solely up to Quebec and the provinces to decide on the use of the notwithstanding clause”, was ultimately defeated by a vote of 142 yays and 174 nays.
Motions are meant to initiate a discussion on a given subject and to give a signal on the will of the House of Commons, as they are non binding even if they are adopted. They can also force different parties to take a stance on the issue at hand, as it was the case on Monday.
Aaron Wherry: The Liberals backed themselves into a corner on firearms — leaving no option but surrender
They had a bill, it had support. Then they got creative.
C-21 was designed and presented originally as legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun sales. Had it remained that, it might have passed the House of Commons by now. The bill was approved at second reading last June, with all Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois MPs voting in favour.
Aaron Wherry: There are questions to ask about government contracting — but MPs don’t seem interested in asking them
On Monday, as its second witness, the committee called on Amanda Clarke, an associate professor at Carleton University’s school of public policy and administration.
She has studied the issue of government contracting extensively — and she had some smart and interesting things to say on Monday.
“This issue of spending a lot of money on management consultants and seeing a lot of core public service work done by management consultants is not an accident,” she said.
It is the “inevitable dynamic,” she said, of a public service that has suffered from “a lack of investment in talent and recruitment and reforming HR practices to make it easier to bring people in,” coupled with “unhelpful oversight and reporting burdens” that follow from “a kind of error-free ‘gotcha’ mentality and a lot of scrutiny.”
“The demands for error-free government make it very difficult to be creative and innovative in the public service.”
Not just McKinsey: How governments learned to stop worrying and love consultants
Cal Bricker, PhD, has worked in senior positions in the Ontario public sector as well as with private-sector companies in the waste and alcoholic beverage industries
(Globe & Mail) …senior public servants no longer do the work. Their job is to manage consultants. The rationale is that you can flex costs based on demand. Don’t need the consultants any more? Send them on their way without severance, pensions and the like. Don’t worry about training, as the consultants are pitched as fully proficient. While this can sound attractive in terms of cost, the unintended consequence is that it can result in skill fade to the extent that the department or agency can no longer function operationally and must rely on consultants to perform core tasks. No need to check too far beyond the use of business consultants in government IT services to see evidence for this proposition. Absurdly enough, it is not uncommon in that space to see former department employees hired back as consultants to do their previous work at greater cost.
Parliament returns with Liberals facing pointed questions about ethics, health care
Parliament is back after a six-week break and the Liberal government is facing aggressive questions from the opposition bench about a number of ethical missteps and the sorry state of Canada’s health-care system — two issues that are poised to dominate this spring sitting.
On the ethics front, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called on the Liberal government to report the amount of money it has funnelled to McKinsey, a consulting firm that has received tens of millions of dollars in government contracts over the past seven years.
McKinsey has provided advice to the federal bureaucracy on immigration issues, among other matters. Poilievre said it’s not clear the government got good value for its money.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is grappling with a backlog of some 2.2 million cases as it works to review applications.
Amanda Clarke, an associate professor of public administration at Carleton University, said the focus on McKinsey is a distraction. … the study should focus on the public service’s reliance on consulting firms overall.
International Trade Minister Mary Ng was also in the hot seat Monday. The ethics commissioner concluded she breached Canada’s conflict of interest rules when her office signed a contract with Ng’s friend, Liberal lobbyist and CBC’s Power & Politics pundit Amanda Alvaro.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was focused on health-care issues on his first day back on Parliament Hill. He accused the Liberal government of allowing conservative premiers to undermine Canada’s public health-care system.
Peter McKnight: Trudeau has good reason to limit use of the notwithstanding clause
Governments are too willing to invoke the notwithstanding clause pre-emptively when our rights are an inconvenience
Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now expressed concerns about the clause, telling La Presse that he’s investigating the possibility of regulating its use: “[W]e are experiencing a certain trivialization of this suspension of rights,” said Trudeau, “And when you combine that with the rise of populism around the world, you can see that there are concerns about what might be done.”
Indeed, the whole point of entrenching rights is to insulate them from government — specifically, the tyranny of the majority. On that point, former senator and constitutional scholar Eugene Forsey remarked that with the notwithstanding clause intact, “the Charter would not have protected Japanese-Canadians who were forcibly interned during World War II. Nor will it protect anyone advocating an unpopular cause today.”
Nonetheless, supporters of the clause, including many who predicted it would be rarely used, argue that it acts as a “safety valve,” a constitutional way for Parliament to override court decisions.
Beryl Wajsman: Trudeau should heed Garneau warning on English rights
Prime Minister Trudeau’s proposed Bill C13 has changed deafening silence into dangerous threat that would further diminish those rights and encourage Quebec discrimination against minorities.
It was therefore heartening to hear the eloquent and courageous call by NDG-Westmount MP the Hon. Marc Garneau — a former Trudeau Minister — taking the government to task and warning that, “It would be an error to give Quebec free rein on language. It is discriminatory to the anglophone minority.” His attack on the Trudeau Bill should be a clarion call to all elected officials of character and conscience. …
The opportunism and cowardice of the Trudeau government is nothing less than a shameful abandonment of federal responsibility. If Pierre Trudeau led the fight to keep Canada together combatting the nationalist excesses of Quebec and giving no consideration to electoral profit, his son has reversed course and manifests total submission to whatever François Legault demands. It puts into question whether there is a new de facto legal status of the Canadian Confederation. Ottawa is giving Quebec sovereignty-association without the Quebec Premier even having to utter the phrase.
By incorporating recognition of Bill 96 which invokes the notwithstanding clause as a preemptive measure,Bill C13 sends the message that Ottawa will not entertain any argument or claim that calls into question the Quebec Charter of the French language. …
We can only hope that the opposition parties find their moral compasses and kill Bill C13. They should act before history writes that sad two-word epitaph — “Too late” — as this nation dissolves.
We would encourage them to act on these other words of Mr. Garneau’s as to what the responsibility of federally elected officials are.
“It would be a serious mistake for us, as federal members of Parliament on a federal committee examining a federal law, to leave the field open to Quebec to do whatever it wants in terms of language in Quebec.It is not appropriate to refer to Quebec’s Charter of the French language in Bill C‑13, which falls under federal jurisdiction and deals with official languages in Canada. By making this reference, we are de facto incorporating the Charter of the French language of Quebec in a federal statute.As federal MPs, we have a duty towards linguistic minorities in Canada, including Quebec’s anglophones.”
Former Bank of Canada senior deputy governor to brief Trudeau cabinet
Mr. Trudeau and his ministers gathered in Hamilton, Ont. on Monday for a three-day cabinet retreat ahead of Parliament’s return next week. On Tuesday, the cabinet’s first full day of meetings, experts will brief the group on inflation, recession threats and increases to Canadians’ costs of living, according to a source who was not permitted to discuss the private meetings publicly. The goal is to prepare the government’s responses to the biggest issues Canadians are facing, the source said.
Small Ottawa firm subcontracted ArriveCan app to multinationals, documents reveal
In addition to its study of ArriveCan spending, the government operations committee is also investigating the growth of federal spending on outsourcing and the increasing use of the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Trudeau says decision to contract out ArriveCAN app development was ‘illogical’
PM says he’s asked Clerk of the Privy Council to investigate procurement practices related to ArriveCAN app
Singh says Liberals must approve national pharmacare plan in 2023
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will withdraw its support for the Liberal government if it does not unveil a national pharmacare framework by the end of the year.
Under a confidence-and-supply agreement reached last year, Mr. Singh and his MPs agreed to keep the minority Liberal government in office until June, 2025, in exchange for policy action on a list of NDP priorities.
These priorities include a new dental care program for low-income Canadians, and specific measures on housing affordability and climate change. The Liberals also promised to make “progress towards” universal national pharmacare by passing a pharmacare act before the end of 2023 and then working on a national formulary of essential medicines and bulk purchasing plan by the end of the agreement.
“We want to see national framework for pharmacare presented in Parliament and passed in Parliament by the end of the year,” Mr. Singh told reporters Thursday during a three-day caucus retreat in Ottawa before the Jan. 30 return of Parliament
MPs launch study into federal McKinsey contracts, seeking documents and minister testimony
(CTV) A House of Commons committee has agreed to study the federal government’s contracts with the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, and will be seeking considerable documentation from both the firm and federal officials.
The House of Commons Government Operations and Estimates Committee met Wednesday and agreed to dig into the matter, after a surge in McKinsey’s federal contract earnings under the Liberals came to light.
The federal government confirmed this week that since 2015, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has awarded McKinsey 23 contracts for a total of $101.4 million, up from the $2.2 million spent under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Tom Mulcair: Signs another federal election is coming
Bill C-13, the ill-considered rewriting of the Official Languages Act, could move anglo votes away from the Liberals.
A lengthy visit to Quebec from Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently reaching an entente on health care with Premier François Legault; bits and pieces of bureaucratic and legislative debris being swept off the runway. As the year gets underway, it really does appear 2023 could bring us our third federal election in four years.
Trudeau’s polling numbers remain steady and he’s a superior campaigner. But messy situations like the $100 million in contracts to U.S. consulting firm McKinsey could quickly spin out of control as the Liberals’ tendency to hide information makes the saga drag on. Trudeau saying he’d look into it was laughable. He’d had occasion to look at it as the contracts crossed desks in his own department, the Privy Council Office.
… he’s going to have to do something to convince Canadians he actually knows how to run the government. Watch for a cabinet shuffle, starting with Transportation, with Citizenship and Immigration not far behind.
Bill 96 remains a sore spot for many Quebec anglo voters and Trudeau’s justice minister, David Lametti, could get his hide tanned for his failure to defend the constitutional rights of a good chunk of his voters.
But it’s Trudeau’s Bill C-13, the ill-considered rewriting of the Official Languages Act, that could move anglo votes away from the Liberals. It is also opposed, as drafted, by Legault. Liberal election planning likely includes making sure this clunker never leaves the garage.
If organized wisely, the English-speaking community could play a prominent role in the campaign we seem to be headed for.
Don Martin: How bad was the committee hearing over holiday travel woes? Let me count the ways
(CTV) The airlines and airports that threw so many Christmas plans into hard reverse thrust have a simple explanation for the memory-destroying misery they inflicted on so many family holidays: Terribly sorry, but it’s not our fault.
The Standing Committee on Transport gathered Thursday with MPs demanding an explanation for how that highly unusual Canadian winter combination of heavy snow and cold temperatures which delayed or cancelled thousands of post-pandemic reunions. What they got was a gold-medal finger-pointing performance.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who didn’t personally connect with airports or airlines until January 5, insisted the system has improved under his watch and that the mayhem was mostly due to the lousy flight plan by Sunwing, which stranded hundreds of Canadians in Mexico. …
When MPs at the committee finally stopped with their partisan questions and focused on why so many Canadians were stuck on planes waiting for a parking spot or trapped in airport departure lounges for days with little to no explanation from airline staff, the blame game began in earnest. …
But, of course, the overarching excuse was how a metre of snow, some high winds and chilly temperatures conspired to create a weather bomb that shut down on-time air travel by shredding connection schedules at major airports, this in a land where harsh winters are not exactly radical climate change.
Keep in mind this aviation holiday hell was unleashed after Toronto and Vancouver airports topped the charts as the worst airports on the planet last summer for delayed or cancelled flights, a feat which motivated the feds to host an industry summit last November to fix the problem ahead of the holidays.
Andrew Coyne: Canada’s F-35 jet procurement was a debacle – and it’s not even our most embarrassing one
More than 12 years have passed since the day in 2010 when the Conservative government announced it would buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, a replacement for the air force’s fleet of CF-18s that even then were universally described as “aging.” … Through two elections the Liberals promised they would cancel the deal – or as their 2015 platform put it, “we will not buy the F-35.” Even after the election, that remained the government’s position, even as it promised an “open competition” to replace it. So here we are, all these years later, and the Liberals have at last confirmed what has long been obvious: We will buy the F-35, after all. Eighty-eight of them, in fact, at a cost of $19-billion – $70-billion, including maintenance and operations. All those billions of extra dollars, all those years in delay – the last of the jets are now scheduled for delivery in 2032 – and for what? To buy the same jet we were always going to buy.
Launched in that same fateful year of 2010, the NSS [National Shipbuilding Strategy] had less to do with military procurement and more to do with the ambitions of the Harper government, those famous free marketers, to kickstart a domestic shipbuilding industry. It had two large components: combat and non-combat. The former was awarded to Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, and the latter to Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyard. Each was further divided into several projects, more than half a dozen in all. Virtually every one of them is now billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
Canadian airline execs apologize after being grilled for chaos
Canadian airline execs are being grilled by the government about the dismal customer service provided during the holidays, causing flight delays and cancellations, and leaving many travellers stranded in other countries.
On Thursday, top Sunwing, WestJet, and Air Canada executives were questioned by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN).
The airlines apologized to customers for the damper their service put on Canadians’ holiday plans but maintained that the weather was out of their control and that the government should have helped improve aviation infrastructure.
The panel included several members of parliament, who complained that the people in the constituencies were impacted severely by the mismanagement, and provided specific examples of travellers calling for help on social media to illustrate their point.
Conservatives, NDP call for urgent committee meeting on holiday travel mess
(CBC) The chair of the committee, Liberal member of Parliament Peter Schiefke, tweeted Tuesday that he planned to call a meeting to address travel woes with the CEOs of Sunwing Airlines and VIA Rail.
Ottawa Playbook: Hurry Up and Wait
“Given his role in overseeing Canada’s transportation system, it is important that these hearings include a two-hour appearance by Minister of Transport OMAR ALGHABRA.”
— A reminder: Alghabra hosted a November summit meant to prevent chaos in the holiday season (Transport Minister Omar Alghabra holding summit to address holiday travel). Oops?
The value of one consulting firm’s federal contracts has skyrocketed under the Trudeau government
The consulting firm McKinsey & Company has seen the amount of money it earns from federal contracts explode since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power — to the point where some suggest it may have a central role in shaping Canada’s immigration policies.
A Radio-Canada investigation also learned the private consulting firm’s influence is raising concerns within the federal public service.
Paul Wells: Shine a brighter light on contract government
Ottawa’s becoming addicted to consulting firms. Other countries have rung the alarm. It’s time for the same to happen here.
This is only the latest evidence of a massive trend in Canada’s federal government, in many provinces, and abroad: the contracting-out of complex problems to private firms that charge a premium; are never around when problems arise later; often produce work of questionable quality; and are too often exempt from even the minimal transparency and accountability that’s expected of work done in-house by the regular public service.
Canada is picking up the political radicalization bug from the U.S., new report warns
Political issues are being weaponized at the expense of national unity, says Eurasia Group’s ‘Top Risk’ report
A U.S.-based research group that specializes in gauging geopolitical risk says Canada is showing signs of the same political contagion and polarization that has afflicted American politics.
The warning is contained in Eurasia Group’s annual “Top Risk” report for the new year, released Tuesday.
While Canada does not make the consultancy’s “Top 10” in terms of geopolitical or instability risks, the group produced three standalone sub-reports on countries affected by worldwide political turbulence: Canada, Japan and Brazil.
In its analysis, the group sees most of the risk to Canada coming from the political convulsions in the United States.
He said the toxic political culture in Washington and throughout the U.S. is spilling across the border and it is likely to get worse in the coming year.
“The media environment in Canada, and the social media environment in Canada is increasingly resembling the media and social media environment in the United States,” Bremmer said Tuesday.
“It is dysfunctional. It is rife with disinformation. It is deeply polarized. [The online discourse] is a bunch of people that do not reflect the average Canadian, do not reflect the average American in both countries.”
Policy issues, especially energy and climate change, are being weaponized in Canada for political gain at the expense of national unity, he added.
Canada has long seemed impervious to the political divisions and dysfunction apparent across the border in the United States. But the trucker convoy that occupied the capital of Ottawa last year—ostensibly protesting Covid-19 vaccination mandates—was a big indication that something had changed. In 2023, deepening polarization and regional antagonism in Canada will add to growing political instability on the continent.