Dynamite Duffy: The speech that stunned the Senate

Mike Duffy
Senator Mike Duffy arrives outside the Centre Block on Oct. 22, 2013 (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Senate Hansard will have the official version tomorrow but, in the meantime, worth reading from start to finish: Here are the draft remarks Senator Mike Duffy took with him into the Senate earlier this evening (the remarks were distributed to reporters by Duffy’s office):

Honourable Senators;

I rise today against the orders of my doctors who fear my heart condition has worsened after months of unrelenting stress.
But given the unprecedented nature of today’s proceedings, I feel I have no other choice than to come here to defend my good name.
Like you, I took a solemn oath to put the interests of Canadians ahead of all else.
However the sad truth is, I allowed myself to be intimidated into doing what I knew in my heart was wrong, out of a fear of losing my job, and a misguided sense of loyalty.
Much has been made of the $90 thousand dollar cheque from Nigel Wright.
I hope I’ll be able to give an explanation of the chain of events, and the circumstances surrounding that gift, without impinging on the rights of others to a fair trial should criminal proceedings follow. Continue reading Dynamite Duffy: The speech that stunned the Senate

Your Nova Scotia Cabinet: Bigger must be better

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil leads a cabinet of 16; sworn in today in Annapolis.

The cabinet is:

Stephen McNeil President of the Executive Council; Policy and Priorities; Intergovenrmental Affairs; Aboriginal Affairs; Military Relations
Diana Whalen Deputy President of the Executive Council; Finance
Keith Colwell Agriculture; Fisheries and Acquaculture
Michel Samson Economic and Rural Development and Tourism; Acadian Affairs
Leo Glavine Health and Wellness; Seniors
Karen Casey Education and Early Childhood Development; Youth
Kelly Regan Labour and Advanced Education
Andrew Younger Energy; Communications Nova Scotia
Geoff MacLellan Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
Zach Churchill Natural Resources
Randy Delorey Environment; Gaelic Affairs
Tony Ince Communities, Culture and Heritage; African Nova Scotian Affairs
Joanne Bernard Community Services
Lena Diab Attorney General and Justice; Provincial Secretary; Immigration
Labi Kousoulis Publi Service Commission; Information Management; Voluntary Sector
Mark Furey Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations

Continue reading Your Nova Scotia Cabinet: Bigger must be better

Game on in Toronto Centre: McQuaig challenges Freeland

It’s game on in Toronto Centre where Liberal Chrystia Freeland (a former Globe and Mail editor) is trying to hold the seat for the Liberals while Linda McQuaig (whose last port of call was The Toronto Star) is trying to steal it for the NDP.

Take the poll…

Continue reading Game on in Toronto Centre: McQuaig challenges Freeland

Byelections are a go for Nov. 25

The race is on in the federal ridings of Toronto-Centre, Provencher, Brandon-Souris and Bourassa.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper just announced that byelections to fill those four vacant seats will be held Nov 25.

Opening betting lines: Liberals are heavy favourites to hold Toronto-Centre and Bourassa. The Conservatives are heavy favourites to hold Provencher and Brandon-Souris.

We’ll have full coverage from now until e-day Monday-to-Friday at 6 PM ET on my program, Battleground on  Sun News Network.

Air passengers' bill of rights anyone?

In the House of Commons a few minutes ago, the NDP asked Transport Minister Lisa Raitt why there was no mention of an airline passenger’s bill of rights in the Speech from the Throne. Raitt chided the NDP for “speculation” about what would be in that speech.

That source of that speculation? None other than Minister of Industry, James Moore, on CTV’s Question Period four days ago:

Question Period host Robert Fife: What about the airlines? Are we going to be looking, we’re hearing some talk about perhaps an airline bill of rights to deal with some of the very frustrations that travelers have in dealing with airlines, being bumped, for example.

Minister Moore: Yeah. You know, when we put together a list of things that frustrate consumers on which the government can take action, the list gets long very quickly. Some of these things, of course, are taken care of in the free market. I’m a free marketer, free enterprise guy. But in other circumstances they can’t be and responsible government action is needed. With regard to air passengers, you know, I think people find it incredibly frustrating when they go to board a flight, a plane that has 165 seats, and an airline chooses to sell 175 seats in order to cover their margins in case people don’t show up. And people who have paid for their ticket show up at the gate, go through security, arrive on time, and they find that their ticket has been sold twice and that somebody else is occupying their chair and they have to get rebooked, sometimes missing a wedding, missing a funeral, and having their business life interrupted. That’s not fair to consumers, it’s not fair to travelers and we are looking to take action on that front as well.

For Media Elites Only: Are we sure we're right to laugh at that Throne Speech?

This ad — which the Conservative Party of Canada aired on TV during the 2006 election in a successful attempt to unseat Liberal prime minister Paul Martin — still makes me laugh. Beep Beep! See? You’re smiling, aren’t you?

After all, I’m a sophisticated Media Elite and the production values alone on this ad are enough to make one roll one’s eyes, followed by a condescending chuckle. And don’t get me started on the candidate’s hair! Why it looks like it was done in a hair salon in Wadena! (Media Elites will all get that joke; I’m so sorry you won’t).

And, I must say, as a Media Elite, I laughed at a lot of things  Paul Wells had to say about today’s throne speech. Not only, in my estimation, was he right in his assessment of today’s Speech from the Throne, he was witty and right. That’s not easy to do, folks.  And since I’ve got over feeling jealous that I didn’t write what he did, I’m now happy to quote from this piece: “In April, 2006, after the Harper Conservatives first formed a government, they made a great show of delivering one of the shortest Throne Speeches in modern times: 2,445 words, the equivalent of a mere three Jeffrey Simpson columns.”  (Again: Apologies for including a joke intended largely only for Media Elites who still read Simpson.)  That’s just the second sentence of Paul’s piece but I’m sure a sly grin had already spread across Paul’s face at that point as he warmed up to his topic. And, of course, I realize I shouldn’t giggle. Simpson and I once got paycheques from the same paymaster. The Media Elite world is a small one. But still. Continue reading For Media Elites Only: Are we sure we're right to laugh at that Throne Speech?

Conservatives raise money on fight they picked with the Press Gallery

Sun Media and Sun News Network did not boycott the PM’s speech. While I, along with other reporters, was denied entry to the caucus room where Harper spoke, TV camera operators and one pool reporter were permitted by the PMO to attend and film his speech. Some news organizations found those conditions unacceptable and decided that if all reporters could not attend (as has been the usual practice) then no camera operators from CBC, CTV, Global and other networks would attend, neither would a pool reporter, and  they would simply not cover his morning speech.

I firmly believe that every news organization should always do what it believes is best for its viewers and readers  but, as we  decided our viewers and readers were best served by trying to cover the PM’s speech, our camera operator recorded the speech (and we broadcast it) even though I could not be in the room to watch it.  And so, in the end, one camera — ours — and no reporter, not even a pool reporter, saw the speech.

One other reason I preferred to avoid  participating in a boycott was  because I believed the PMO was looking to pick a fight with the Parliamentary Press Gallery to help with fundraising and to rally the Conservative base. In my view, it’s probably not a helpful thing for a group of journalists to be any party’s fundraising foil.  Make no mistake: The PMO picked this fight. But I, for one, would rather find other ways to fight for more access and transparency than provide a politician with an excuse to mobilize a political party’s base.

And sure enough, this evening, the Conservative Party of Canada is out raising money for re-election thanks to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’m certain you can expect more letters like this: Continue reading Conservatives raise money on fight they picked with the Press Gallery

The quiet election: Where are the thunder sticks in the Nova Scotia election?

Campaign Thunder Sticks
In the 2012 provincial election, the Wild Rose Party deployed noisy thunder sticks at every rally for its leader Danielle Smith, as it looked to stage a high-energy television-friendly event every day. Wild Rose would lose this election but top political strategists like Brian Topp and Brad Lavigne say this kind of political theatre is a vital part of a modern campaign — except, apparently, in Nova Scotia. (David Akin/QMI Agency)

I and our Sun News Network reporters have been on campaign buses in federal elections and in elections in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and others. For the last four weeks, we’ve been following the New Democrat, Liberal, and Progressive Conservative leaders tours through the Nova Scotia election. (The campaign is nearing an end and the votes will be counted Tuesday).

One thing our reporters in Nova Scotia have noticed is how quiet — relatively speaking — the Nova Scotia campaign events are compared to others we have covered. Now, a lot of people might be happy to see a campaign free of those annoying thunder sticks, but I think you will find broad agreement among political operatives of all stripes, that putting together a tub-thumping, heart-pumping political rally can give a campaign some energy and help with voter turnout. Continue reading The quiet election: Where are the thunder sticks in the Nova Scotia election?

Can Nova's Scotia's Liberals blow a big lead too?

The numbers for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and its leader Stephen McNeil look fabulous with less than a week to go until the votes are counted.

Two pollsters, including one commissioned by Sun News Network, have found support for the Liberals among committed and likely voters to be miles ahead of the incumbent NDP government and Premier Darrell Dexter. (in the video above, pollster David Coletto and I go through the numbers.)

But we’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Days before the vote last spring in B.C., opposition leader Adrian Dix and the NDP were miles ahead of the incumbent Liberal government and Premier Christy Clark. A year earlier in Alberta, polls published on the weekend before the vote showed Danielle Smith and the Wild Rose Party miles head of the incumbent Progressive Conservative Alison Redford. Continue reading Can Nova's Scotia's Liberals blow a big lead too?