Down on the Farm: GOP, Dems duel in Iowa over cutting the pork

Watch that ad (above). It’s from Joni Ernst as she was campaigning in the Republican primary in Iowa for the right to be on the ticket in November in Iowa’s senate election. Turns out, Ernst’s experience with castrating hogs was good enough for Iowa voters who gave her a runaway victory earlier this week.

But she’s not in the U.S. Senate yet (and in fact, Iowa has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate). First, she’s got to beat the Democrat, Bruce Braley. Braley is not a hog farmer. He’s a “populist” trial lawyer. Within hours of Ernst’s primary win, Braley’s team had an attack ad out aimed at Ernst’s claim that she knows how to cut the “Washington pork”. Here it is … Continue reading Down on the Farm: GOP, Dems duel in Iowa over cutting the pork

Independent Liberal Senators take their new freedom out for a spin

Well, at first blush, I’d say bravo to the Independent Senate Liberal Caucus — the group of Senators, many of them lifelong torchbearers for the Liberal Party of Canada, who were told a month ago they could not longer be part of the same Parliamentary caucus as party leader Justin Trudeau and the elected Liberal parliamentarians.

This group, known as the Independent Senate Liberal Caucus, today put forward their first initiatives to try out their new freedom from the elected caucus. Now, I disagreed with Trudeau’s decision and one of the reasons I did is because senators who are members of a Parliamentary caucus are at least nominally answerable to an elected member of Parliament, i.e. the party leader, and so, if Canadians wish to hold a senator or a group of senators to account for their actions, they can, in theory, do so through that elected leader.  Continue reading Independent Liberal Senators take their new freedom out for a spin

Those non-partisan Senators are not getting Trudeau's message


In the House of Commons foyer today, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, said:

“The Senate must be non-partisan, composed of merely of thoughtful individuals, representing the very values, perspectives and identities of this great country, independent from any particular political brand.”

He said this as he was announcing that the 32 senators who had been part of his national Liberal caucus were getting booted and should now consider themselves independent senators.

The first thing those newly independent senators did was confirm their old leadership, electing Senator James Cowan as leader, Senator Joan Fraser as deputy leader and Senator Jim Munson as whip. Given that a whip’s function in our democracy is, largely, to make sure party members follow the party line, why would a group of independent non-partisan senators need a whip?

Continue reading Those non-partisan Senators are not getting Trudeau's message

Mike Duffy to the PMO: I'm just telling the truth

On CTV’s national newscast on the evening of May 14, the network’s Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife had some disturbing news for federal Conservatives and gob-smacking news for the rest of us:

Anchor Lisa Laflamme set it up this way: “CTV News has learned that while auditors were going over Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s living expenses, Harper’s right-hand man, his own chief of staff, was already reaching out with a secret offer, an agreement to help pay off the money Duffy owed taxpayers and make the problem go away.”

Continue reading Mike Duffy to the PMO: I'm just telling the truth

Transcript: PM Harper on talk radio tour says Wright was fired over Duffy cheque

Maritime Morning aired an interview this morning by host Jordi Morgan of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. After the interview aired, Morgan explained that the interview took place under “certain conditions”, likely that the PM would come on if he got the chance to talk about the Throne Speech and the big Canada-Europe trade deal. The interview was taped on Friday. The brief interview started there but finished with this exchange on the Senate. (I have bolded the line that raised eyebrows in Ottawa):

MORGAN: … this unholy mess in the Senate. Senators are voting on the expulsion of Senators Wallin, Duffy, and Brazeau, all your appointments. What responsibility for all this lies with your office? Continue reading Transcript: PM Harper on talk radio tour says Wright was fired over Duffy cheque

Just what was said: Brazeau and the backroom deal

This remarkable exchange just occurred in the Senate. This is my transcription; the official Hansard may be slightly different.

Sen. Patrick Brazeau:  At approximately 10:20 a.m. this morning, I was outside the Chamber in the back. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Carignan) took me aside. I’ll be very careful about my words here but I was essentially offered a backroom deal and the backroom deal was that if I stood in this chamber, apologized to Canadians and took responsibility for my actions, that my punishment would be lesser than what has been proposed in the Leader of the Government in the Senate’s (Carignan’s) motion. I’m going to try to use Parliamentary language — but I’m very disturbed at this . . .


Sen. Claude Carignan (speaking in French and so this translation to English is via the official Senate translators who are translating in real-time):
“…I spoke to him out of friendship in saying, Senator Brazeau, please suggest something. Apologize. Perhaps a lighter sanction. Something that we can come up with to try to find the right balance. I did that in confidence and frankly I did so in an attempt to help him. I regret that he perceived that as an attack. I’m not sure how I would have reacted in that situation myself were I in his place. Perhaps I had too strong of an urge to help him.

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

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