A prime minister sends Canadians overseas to fight terrorists

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, seen here during an interview in 2011, began Canada’s decade-long war in Afghanistan with nary a word to Parliament. (Blair Gable/REUTERS)

A Canadian prime minister determines that the activities of terrorists operating in a Muslim nation far from Canada’s shores is such a threat to Canada’s security, that he dispatches Canadian Forces on a combat mission. There is no debate or discussion in Parliament let alone a vote. There seems not to have even been a full cabinet discussion before the prime minister makes his decision. Simply a request from an American president.

That was all it took for Jean Chrétien to to begin what would become Canada’s decade-long war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Here’s some of what he said on Oct. 8, 2001 about that mission: Continue reading A prime minister sends Canadians overseas to fight terrorists

Government MP gives rare tearful apology in House of Commons for failing to answer questions

Paul Calandra, the Conservative MP who is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, gave a tearful apology today in the House of Commons for the way he failed to answer questions put to him during Question Period earlier this week from Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair.



Here’s the video of the original exchange between Mulcair and Calandra from Tuesday, Sept. 23. It was this exchange that Calandra apologize for on Friday:

Continue reading Government MP gives rare tearful apology in House of Commons for failing to answer questions

Flashback: Cressy storms the House of Commons

Joe Cressy hopes to make it into the House of Commons this year as the new MP for Trinity-Spadina, replacing Olivia Chow who resigned her seat to run for mayor in Toronto. I first met Cressy in 2009 in that very same chamber but on that day, he was part of a group of about 120 protesters who, in the middle of Question Period stood up and started hollering questions at the government from the public gallery. That’s a very big no-no House-of-Commons-procedure-wise and an army of security guards ended up dragging the protesters out. I was sitting in the House of Commons press gallery that day and Continue reading Flashback: Cressy storms the House of Commons

The attendance scorecard at Transport

Following up on this post, here’s attendance scorecard for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

For the the second session of the current Parliament — this session having begun with last October’s Speech from the Throne in October — there have been 16 meetings of the committee, during which it has considered the spending plans for both the departments of Transport and Infrastructure; reviewed Bill C-3, studies the cessation of home mail delivery by Canada Post, and reviewed the safety of Canada’s transport system, particularly with a view to the transport of oil by rail. Continue reading The attendance scorecard at Transport

(Almost) Leaderless in the House of Commons Thursday

[PMO handout photo]
You were wondering what the leaders of your political parties were up to Thursday? Well, the House of Commons is in session and Thursday they debated a very important bill on some sweeping changes to Canada’s election laws. Unfortunately, most of your leaders were not able to be present in our legislature. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for one, had a very important meeting in Quebec City. (above). Continue reading (Almost) Leaderless in the House of Commons Thursday

MP Michael Chong's plan to "strengthen democracy"


Conservative MP Michael Chong today published the following news release:

Chong Introduces Reform Act, 2013

Bill to reform Parliament would strengthen Canadian democracy.

OTTAWA – Michael Chong, M.P. for Wellington-Halton Hills, today introduced his Private Members’ Bill, Reform Act, 2013.

The Reform Act puts forward three simple reforms to strengthen Parliament by proposing to restore local control over party nominations, strengthen caucus as a decision-making body and reinforce the accountability of party leaders to caucuses. These three reforms will empower MPs and give them the tools they need to represent their constituents in Ottawa. Continue reading MP Michael Chong's plan to "strengthen democracy"

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.

Conservative MP Dan Albas on that "freedom of speech" issue

In his most recent report to his constituents, first-term Conservative MP Dan Albas writes,

…contrary to what you may have heard in the media, Parliamentary practice is clear in recognizing that Whips of arespective party have long been involved in the process of determining the speaking order during Members Statements. Much of this current debate is in questioning to what extent a whip should and by extension a party be involved in what individual Members of Parliament can or cannot say within the House of Commons. This is largely the more important subject and one that I would like to address in my report today.

Read the rest of what he had to say on this issue here (it’s interesting) MP Report –  Dan Albas MP, Okanagan- Coquihalla.

Background on Cash and his CBC cash

In our papers today, we report : “NDP MP draws fire over CBC conflict of interest”

We started working on that story after reviewing Cash’s “Disclosure Summary”, a document all MPs file with the Commissioner of Ethics and Conflict of Interest and which is published on the commissioner’s Web site. You can review right here. Among other things MPs are required to disclose are any contracts with the federal government. Cash disclosed: Continue reading Background on Cash and his CBC cash

MP Kirsty Duncan's earnings on the speaking circuit

MP Kirsty Duncan
MP Kirsty Duncan is one of three MPs — all of them Liberals — to earn speaking fees since becoming an MP (Mike Hensen/London Free Press)

As we reported last week, just three MPs have reported earning outside income through speaking fees. All three are Liberals. Leadership candidate Justin Trudeau disclosed that he has earned $277,000 in speaking fees since become an MP in 2008. His leadership rival Marc Garneau has had one speaking engagement since becoming an MP and was paid $10,000 for that engagement – an engagement, his campaign team were keen to point out, that he contracted to do before he became an MP. The other MP is Kirsty Duncan of Etobicoke North. Duncan was first elected in the general election of 2008, the same election that brought both Trudeau and Garneau to Parliament for the first time. She is currently her party’s environment critic.

MPs are not forbidden from giving speeches for a fee and, if they earn more than $10,000 a year doing it, they must inform the House of Commons ethics commissioner about the existence of this income. There is no requirement to disclose the amount of income earned or the client for their speaking engagements. In that sense, both Trudeau and Garneau exceeded the disclosure requirements in the MP’s conflict of interest code.

Duncan has reported income from speaking fees in her public disclosures with the ethics commissioner in each of 2009, 2010, 2011 which means that for each of those years, she earned at least $10,000 from her speaking engagements.

Earlier this week, we asked Duncan if she, too, would go above and beyond the disclosure requirements of the conflict of interest code and disclose the clients, dates, and income associated with her speaking engagements. Here is her reply:

Prior to seeking office I was a scientist, and the topics I speak on are related to my expertise:

  • the expedition I led to the Arctic to try and discover the cause of the 1918 Spanish Flu
  • climate change and health: I previously taught climate change, climatology, and meteorology, and have worked tirelessly on address our most pressing environmental issue, which is climate change. I served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which jointly won the 2007 Nobel prize with Albert Arnold Gore Jr.
  • the links between the environment and human health

I called the Ethics Office immediately after I was elected. I was told that no one had ever done this. MPs must always meet legal responsibility, but, I believe should go further and meet ethical responsibility, which I have. I was advised that there was no issue with my continuing to speak.

Since being elected in 2008 I’ve spoken less than ten times to events, including the Global Knowledge Millennium Summit, India; the Ontario Hospital Association;  SAGIA  Global Competitiveness, Saudi Arabia; and Soroptomist International, Montreal. In my first elected term, I had 5 1/2 days off work.

I don’t feel comfortable releasing the amounts as I haven’t spoken with the organizations to have their consent to release these amounts.