I have a bright shiny loonie in my pocket that I promise to give to whoever can point me to an example of any government anywhere in Canada that wins a showdown with their auditor general. I start from the assumption that, if you are a prime minister or a premier and the auditor general says your government is screwing up, it’s likely best to quietly agree, say you’ll fix the problem and move on, even if you don’t agree, rather than pick a fight with your auditor general. The reasoning here is that voters tend to believe auditors general and they tend not to believe politicians. I fully recognized that there is a great variety in abilities of auditors general across the country and a great variety in politicians but, when these two worlds collide, it matters not and so, I give you this First General Rule of Politics: Auditors General Are Always Right.
Text of speech given this morning by NDP Government House Leader Nathan Cullen (above) on an MPs right to use a Members Statement on any topic the the MP chooses:
Thank you Mr. Speaker, for allowing me today to offer a few additional comments on what I believe is a particularly relevant matter.
On March 26, the Member for Langley rose to say that his rights as a Member of Parliament had been infringed upon when he was prevented by the Whip of his own party to deliver a statement in this House, a statement that, in parliamentary terms, we call an “S.O. 31”. Much like the terms ‘omnibus’, ‘prorogation’, and ‘closure’ the Conservative Party continues to offer Cdns an unintentional lesson in how are parliamentary system works and how it is being abused. Continue reading Cullen speech on an MPs freedom of speech
The Ottawa Citizen‘s Glen McGregor and Postmedia’s Stephen Maher have spent a great deal of time digging away at what in Ottawa is called the “robocall” story, a story that reports on incidents of the use of automated telephone calls during the 2011 election. McGregor and Maher’s reporting has won them acclaim from their peers in the form of many awards mostly (I believe anyway) for the creativity and doggedness in which they’ve tried to sort out what is a complicated story about what will turn out to be either a marginal event in the 2011 election or an epic event in the 2011 election.
Elections Canada is investigating many of the allegations of potential skulduggery that McGregor and Maher report on and, nearly two years after the election, Elections Canada appears set to recommend the laying of some sort of charge. (We know that because McGregor and Maher reported it.)
And, today, partly as a result of their work, Elections Canada is recommending Parliament introduce some new laws that Elections Canada says will help prevent any future problems. The Harper government says it will review the recommendations but might — or might not — have its own ideas about this issue.
Now, I mentioned up top that the Robocall affair will either be marginal or epic — largely depending on what investigators come up with and can prove in court. The Council of Canadians believe this to be epic, arguing in court that there was a massive conspiracy organized by the Conservative Party of Canada to use robocalls to suppress the votes of non-Conservatives and, in doing so, win ridings it otherwise would not.
After his caucus colleague Ralph Goodale, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (you’ll want to read what Baird said about Rae), and NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said some nice things about Bob Rae — it was last day in the House of Commons Wednesday as his party’s interim leaders — Green Party Leader Elizabeth May had this tribute:
The House of Commons on Thursday takes a two-week Easter break. And when it resumes on April 15, there will be new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. On Wednesday, the fellow who has been the interim Liberal Leader had his last day in Question Period in that position. That fellow, of course, is Bob Rae, the member for Toronto Centre and a politician who, I think it is safe to say, has the respect of just about everyone — journalists, partisans, NGOs, you name it — on Parliament Hill. He certainly had mine.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in Question Period, praised Rae’s “tenacity, patriotism and intellect” as he answered a question from the interim leader.
In the 1996 provincial election in British Columbia, the BC Liberals won the popular vote, with 41.82% of all votes cast going to the party that was then led by Gordon Campbell. The BC NDP, under incumbent Premier Glen Clark, finished on election night with 39.45% of the popular vote, a drop of about about one percentage point from the previous general election.
And yet, though Clark lost the popular vote to Campbell, Clark won a majority of seats in the BC legislature. Clark’s caucus had 39 MLAs, Campbell’s had 33. There were three in the “other” category.
The federal budget of last week included a commitment to a 10-year $53-billion infrastructure spending program, “a new infrastructure plan focused on projects that create jobs and economic growth,” the budget documents said.