Once, Stephen Harper said "We believe in honest budgeting"

In the midst of my summer break, I thought I’d catch up on some of my work related e-mail and found this note from July 22:

Statement by Sonia L’Heureux, Parliamentary Budget Officer (interim)

In April 2013, I sought information necessary to undertake analysis into the 2012 federal budget. That analysis was requested by a parliamentarian pursuant to s. 79.2 of the Parliament of Canada Act. The information necessary for this purpose was requested from government departments and agencies. The first deadline for providing it came and went, and the majority of departments and agencies did not comply with the totality of my request. I informed the Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Commons. They asked me to write to the non-compliant departments and agencies again, requesting them to provide the information. That second deadline of July 19, 2013 came and went, and I have yet to be provided with all the information that I need to undertake the requested analysis. If and when I am provided with it, I look forward to performing the analysis and, thereby, discharging my legislative mandate.

I am reminded that in June I blogged the following:

Continue reading Once, Stephen Harper said "We believe in honest budgeting"

The Ministerial handout: The scorecard on who in Harper's cabinet handed out how much

Denis Lebel hands out the cash
Minister Denis Lebel (left) is one of the pros in Stephen Harper’s cabinet when it comes to handing out federal cash. Here, the mayor of Saint-Edmond-les-Plaines, QC, Rodrigue Cantin gives Lebel a hug earlier this year after taxpayers across Canada chipped in $272,000 to help fix up the community centre in Cantin’s community. See bottom of this post for more info. (PHOTO COURTOISIE/LE POINT)

One of the most important jobs for any minister is handing out tax dollars. The federal government collects more than $245 billion dollars a year in taxes and fees paid by individuals and businesses and, more often than not, spends more than it collects. Some of that spending is unavoidable — think Old Age Security benefits or transfer payments to the province for health care and social services — but a good chunk every year is quite discretionary. And when there’s a political spending choice to be made, you can bet a government minister wants his or her name associated with this decision.

As I’ve written here before, I try to track as many press releases as I can detailing spending announcements through my “OttawaSpends” project and, so far, up until Monday’s cabinet shuffle, Continue reading The Ministerial handout: The scorecard on who in Harper's cabinet handed out how much

The NDP welcomes Minister Poilievre to his new job

Pierre Poilievre in the House
Newly minted Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre fires back at the opposition during Question Period in the House of Commons on Oct. 18. Note the grins on his caucus colleagues behind him (You can make out Lynne Yelich, Gary Goodyear, and Dean Del Mastro) who love Poilievre’s pugilistic style. The NDP, Liberals, and many in the Press Gallery? Not so much … (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Continue reading The NDP welcomes Minister Poilievre to his new job

Stephen Harper's cabinet trivia: From Flaherty to MacKay to Baird and back again

Defence Minister Peter MacKay
Defence Minister Peter MacKay speaks to the media as he unveils the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. MacKay told reporters this was not going to be his final public appearance as defence minister. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

On the eve of a widely expected cabinet shuffle, some trivia on Stephen Harper and his cabinet history: Continue reading Stephen Harper's cabinet trivia: From Flaherty to MacKay to Baird and back again

A History of Harper's Cabinet Shuffles, Pt II

Harper and Johnston
Together again tomorrow for a cabinet shuffle? Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seen here at Rideau Hall after the Jan. 4, 2011 mini-shuffle, could be about to team up again to suffle the cabinet deck. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

I last tried to track Harper’s cabinet changes back during the Christmas break of 2011 when we were expecting a post-Christmas shuffle. Here is an updated version of that list on the eve of what we expect to be another shuffle.

On Nov 7, 2010, here’s what cabinet looked like: Continue reading A History of Harper's Cabinet Shuffles, Pt II

A polarizing politician, Vic Toews leaves public life

Vic Toews
Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety speaks to the media at Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 8, 2013. Toews announced his retirement from politics on Monday, July 8, 2013. ( Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

To those looking for reasons to dislike Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, Vic Toews was the likely poster boy. As Minister of Justice and as Minister of Public Safety, Toews was on the front lines of the Harper government’s mission to “get tough on crime” and to demonize political opponents who refused to get behind the Conservative agenda. He was the sharp end of the Conservative spear. Conservatives generally enjoyed his “take no prisoners” approach to both politics and, er, prisoners. Sometimes he went to far.   Still, within the party, partisans looked past any excess and it was quite clear that Toews was a popular figure. Continue reading A polarizing politician, Vic Toews leaves public life

The stink from the Duffy-Wright scandal: Readers write

Senator Mike Duffy
Senator Mike Duffy on Parliament Hill in May. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

Across our newspaper chain today, I opine:

The Duffy scandal is the stench that just keeps getting worse for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government.
Newly released court documents filed as part of an RCMP request to get more evidence into potential fraud by three sitting senators – Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Mac Harb – contain explosive new information about the deal that brought down Harper’s top aide and shook the government to the core. Continue reading The stink from the Duffy-Wright scandal: Readers write

Stephen L. Carter on the Fourth of July: America’s Most Disagreeable Holiday

Americans are celebrating their Independence Day today and in a most excellent essay, Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter sets out the case that democracies — American’s but also Canada’s — must have dissenters to thrive …

…the one symbol of patriotism that has yet to fade is our love of dissent — loud, raucous, passionate, sometimes impolite — and it is dissent that we should be celebrating on Independence Day.

It’s hard sometimes. If you’re like me, at least twice a week you encounter some opinion that makes your blood boil. Maybe it comes from a friend or colleague, maybe from a politician or pundit; whatever the source, a part of you surely wonders how any seemingly intelligent person can possibly believe that drivel, much less express it. The Fourth of July is exactly the right occasion to pause and give thanks for those disagreeable views — and for a country that was founded on our right to express them.

Dissent is central to democracy, and although I believe dissent should be civil, its centrality doesn’t fade when it isn’t. As sociologist Charles P. Flynn pointed out in his 1977 book “Insult and Society,” insults aimed at government officials “provide a check to those in power who may be tempted to think of themselves in grandiose terms, above the rest of humanity and hence not subject to insults.”

via America’s Most Disagreeable Holiday – Bloomberg.

Nikiforuk calls Canada "a rogue petrostate"

The audience for the U.S. magazine Foreign Policy (published by the same people who publish The Washington Post) is mostly American and, today, Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk is telling them that Canada has not only lost its reputation as “global Boy Scout” but we are now evil “petroleum bullies”.

Over the last decade, Canada has not so quietly become an international mining center and a rogue petrostate. It’s no longer America’s better half, but a dystopian vision of the continent’s energy-soaked future.

via Oh, Canada – By Andrew Nikiforuk | Foreign Policy.

Ontario premier accused of "cheating" to win byelections

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will call five byelections Wednesday — the byelection are in ridings that had all been held by McGuinty cabinet members (including McGuinty himself) — sending voters to the ballot box on the Thursday before the August long weekend. Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod, on Battleground earlier tonight on Sun News Network, says the choice of that date — and a campaign thru the month of July amounts to “cheating”.