Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s idea of “expenses” is a little different than mine.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s internal economy committee wants to have another look at Duffy’s expense claims amid growing questions about his conduct, including new revelations that he filed claims for Senate business while campaigning for the Conservatives in the last federal election.
“Documents revealed that Duffy billed taxpayers for being on official Senate business while he was campaigning for the Conservatives during the 2011 federal election. If it is confirmed that Duffy attended eight campaign events and submitted Senate expenses, he could be in trouble for double-billing.”
Wasn’t Prime Minister Stephen Harper going to reform the Senate?
One might think “Harvard-educated Bay Street lawyer and banker” Nigel Wright would know better than to write a cheque to cover Senator Mike Duffy’s exense irregularities.
“It goes without saying that a cheque for such a large amount is far from a customary standard of hospitality, nor a normal expression of courtesy,” [MP Charlie] Angus wrote in a letter.
“The NDP MP also suggested that Duffy, Wright, or both may have breached section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act which prohibits a senator from receiving compensation for any services rendered.”
I’m always surprised when government tells us “throwing money at” education and health care are a bad idea. Properly funding social programs makes a lot more sense to me than covering up bad behaviour. I guess we just have different priorities.
[Pamela] Wallin, a former journalist who now represents Saskatchewan in the Senate, has claimed about $321,000 in travel expenses since September 2010 that are the subject of an audit by an outside firm.
Senators Duffy and Wallin both claim to have withdrawn from the Conservative caucus, but both plan to stay on as “independent” senators.
Uh huh… Does anyone actually believe they will suddenly stop supporting Conservative interests? Seriously?
Another Conservative Government appointee, Daniel Caron, the head of Library and Archives Canada has also resigned over $170,000 of dubious expenses.
Since LAC is the official government repository of Canadian heritage,this one bothers me in particular.
Coping with a $10-million federal budget cut, Caron oversaw major staff downsizing to the department, reduced funding to scores of tiny archives across Canada, halted most acquisitions of historical artifacts, closed the National Archival Development Program, and stopped a system of inter-library loans through which Canadians could access material from its vast collections.
When you consider that what Mr. Caron considers personal expenses would support as many as ten or fifteen families on social assistance for a year, it calls into question the word “conservative.”
The National Post gets this one right: Andrew Coyne: Fear of audits led Conservatives to cover for Mike Duffy
Canada badly needs meaningful electoral reform. If we had a democratic system that actually represented Canadians ~ Proportional Representation ~ our government representatives and appointees could be held accountable.
What a difference that would make.
In the National Post, Andrew Coyne asks:
“The economy is in good shape, so why is support for the Conservatives slumping?”
I’m making Mother’s Day cards right now so I don’t have time to read the article, but even having only read the blurb, I find myself disagreeing with Andrew Coyne’s conclusion.
The Tories have not gone out of their way to alienate anyone. They are simply doing the job they were elected to do.
The Harper governmenr is doing an excellent job of serving the only constituents they represent. Their party is legally empowered to govern in this way because our inequitable winner-take-all electoral system gives all of the power to the party that secures more seats than any other.
Ours is not a democratic system.
The problem with a winner-take-all system like ours is that a majority government is a dictatorship.
That is the reality built into Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system.
Only the elite whose votes elect the government secure representation in government.
The electoral reform Andrew Coyne supports is called “Alternative Vote” ~ although various spin doctors have rebranded it “Preferential Voting” (Liberal Party) or “IRV” (RaBIT). Some people like this alternate winner-take-all electoral system because they believe it will game the system so their party will get the dictatorial power currently enjoyed by the ruling party.
No matter how good the intentions, no matter how benevolent, a dictatorship is not democratic. Every time I hear people slamming Canadians for our low voter turnout it makes my blood boil. It isn’t that Canadians don’t care, it’s that each generation has learned that our elections are as meaningless as the elections in any banana republic.
When most votes don’t count, what you’re left with is really only democracy theatre.
I don’t think we can afford to pay the price demanded by anyone’s defacto dictatorship.
On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on why I write this blog: as a mother, I believe all of our kids deserve to live in a real democracy. But that will only happen with meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.
All Canadians should be represented by our government.
Although I happen to live in Ontario, I am a Canadian. I care about all of Canada, including B.C. and wonder what will happen if the people who value oil profits above the environment get their way.
What those who seek to reap profits in the short term fail to realize is that the environment is our real capital.
If we squander it now, in the long term we will be left with nothing.
Tanker Free B.C. is having a letter writing campaign in the run-up to the impending B.C. provincial election. If the citizens of B.C. elect a government that stands up for the environment, it could make an awfully big difference to the environmental outcome.
If you live in B.C. you can use this link to write to the candidates to let them know that you care.
When humans wreck the environment, it impacts on us all. So even though I can’t vote, I’ve thrown in my two cents. I’ve edited Tanker Free B.C.’s letter into something suitable for those of us who live in other parts of Canada to send. Because everything is connected, and, as Canada’s coat of arms points out, our great nation runs from sea to sea.
Dear Candidate for BC Premier,
As a Canadian who values the “Supernatural” province of BC (and the $13.4 Billion tourism economy it enables) I am gravely concerned about American pipeline giant Kinder Morgan’s plans to transform Vancouver into a Tar Sands shipping port.
History proves that all oil ports and pipelines experience spills –
no matter what safety measures are promised.
The estimated 35 long-term jobs from an expanded oil port pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent upon a clean coast. We cannot market ourselves as “The Best Place on Earth” while running one or more oil tankers every day through our harbour.
The pipeline and tankers risk harming BC’s coastal communities, marine ecosystems, and natural wealth, from the Fraser River Delta and productive farmland, to the Gulf Islands and Victoria. The pipeline would travel through the heartland of BC – through Kamloops, Merritt, Abbotsford and Surrey, over farms, forests, rivers and streams – exposing them to spills similar to the recent disasters in Arkansas and Michigan.
Such a large percentage of the world’s finite supply of fresh water lays within Canadian Borders, it is unconscionable to risk it for such short term gains. The pipeline threatens the future of Canada, as well as the planet. Allowing Kinder Morgan’s expansion means more Tar Sands development, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, driving global climate change. I worked hard raising my family; I want my descendents to live in a country they can be proud of.
The Coast Salish people understand all these risks better then anyone and have voiced their unequivocal opposition.
British Columbia deserves a leader with the vision and courage to chart a course for British Columbia based on clean technologies and a sustainable economy, a leader who can guide the transition of our society from fossil fuel dependence and resource extraction toward self-reliance, renewable energy, effective public transit, local food production, and value-added manufacturing.
B.C. deserves no less than a leader who recognizes the real value of British Columbia – a leader who will fight to keep BC “Supernatural”. Canada deserves no less. Please keep Canada clean and secure.
Laurel L. Russwurm
As always, you’re welcome to use any or all of my letter, please help yourself.
Once upon a time they thought the ocean fish in the maritimes were an inexhaustible resource. Endangering the natural beauty of our world is bad enough, but damaging the environment puts us all at risk.
Twenty percent of the world’s freshwater supply lays within Canadian borders, but only about 7% is considered renewable (available and usable). Tar sands, fracking and pipelines all endanger our water supply.
If we squander our environmental capital for the sake of short term profits we ravage the legacy we should be leaving for our children. How much is the destruction of Canada worth?
The next generations must be able to drink the water and breathe the air.
- Increased oil tanker traffic controversy spills into B.C. election campaign
- PR strategy proposed to compensate for federal cuts in climate-change spending
- Franke James: Dear Prime Minister
All photographs by Valerie Glendenning released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
To get a deeper understanding of why ratification of the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments [China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA)] is such a bad deal for Canada, I recommend Christopher Majka’s series:
- Failing grades: The Canadian resource economy — Part 1
- Raw deal: The Canadian resource economy — Part 2
- Carbon attacks: The Harper Conservatives and the Canadian resource economy — Part 3
- Resource capitulation: FIPPA, fibs, and Canadian sellouts — Part 4
- Superpower or Supermarket? The folly of foreign investment – Part 5
- and for good measure, Dutch Disease denial: Inflation, politics and tar
Open letter to Stephen Harper: Fourteen reasons the Canada-China #FIPA needs a full public review
This trade treaty is often called the “Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement” (FIPA)
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May suggested that:
All Liberal and Conservative MP’s should ask their party the following questions:
- Why does this treaty lock Canada in for 31 years, when NAFTA allows 6 month notice to exit, and even the investment treaty with Benin, tabled in the House after the China Treaty, allows exit in 16 years?
- Why does the China treaty give the State Owned Enterprises from China a six month window for diplomatic wrangling, within which Canadian governments and businesses can lose in behind-closed-doors pressure by China on the Canadian government? No other investment treaty includes a 6-month nation to nation diplomatic process.
- Why is this the first treaty in years that allows the entire arbitration process to remain secret, allowing Canada only the option of making it public?
- Why has Australia, with a 10-fold larger volume of two-way trade with China than Canada, refused to enter into investor-state agreements, including refusing to negotiate one with China. Why has Canada not conducted a study, as Australia did, to determine whether these treaties do more economic harm than good?
“Unless every Member of Parliament can get satisfactory responses to these questions, any vote in support of this treaty will be an abdication of our responsibility as Canadians to ensure we are not giving the Peoples’ Republic of China the right to challenge our laws – whether municipal, provincial or federal, or court judgments – claiming billions even for measures taken with no intent or evidence of trade discrimination,” said Ms. May.
Gerry James adds:
5. Why can we as a nation leave nation to nation dispute settlement mechanism to a three person arbitration board for final judgments of such magnitude and gravity. While I understand arbitrators can effectively resolve many international commercial differences, to leave the fate of nation to nation trade conflicts under this pact to a panel of 3 arbitrators with binding decisions is willful recklessness.
Stopping a Federal Government with a majority from doing exactly as it wants is problematic. Absent the real democracy Canada might have with a proportional electoral system, public opinion is one of the few checks we have on our government. Sometimes the most powerful dictator can be swayed from pursuing an ill advised path if faced with unified public opinion.
The various opposition parties have been fighting FIPA in their various ways all along, but at the end of the day, the Liberal Party chose not to stand with the NDP in voting against FIPA ratification. Instead, the Liberal Party chose to support FIPA.
The volume of partisan blaming online is deafening. NDP blame Liberals for not supporting their scrap FIPA motion, while Liberals argue that the NDP behaved just as badly as Liberals by refusing to support the Liberal motion to amend FIPA. Are the two motions equal? The NDP answers that its motion could have stood a chance had all opposition united behind it, but that the LPC motion merely repeated an NDP motion previously quashed by the government.
I sumbit that there is merit to the NDP side. If the LPC had voted with the NDP, there was a chance some CPC backbenchers would have voted for the NDP motion because it was so clearly in the public good. Had that happend, a majority vote against ratification would have killed the treaty. But there is no reason to expect any CPC MP will commit pointless party suicide by voting against party dictates without a real chance of accomplishing something — in this case protection of the public good.
Whether you buy into either partisan tale or none, the fact remains that partisan special interests trumped the public good. The inability of the opposition parties to work together is not good for Canada.
Trade deals can be good or bad, but it seems pretty clear that this incarnation of FIPA will be very good for China, and very bad for Canada – for am unprecedented 31 years.
The only thing now standing between Canada and the FIPA steamroller is that the Hupacasath First Nation Filed Notice of Application Against Canada – China FIPPA
Since our government has let us down, the only thing the rest of Canada can do is support the Hupacasath First Nation in standing up for Canada’s future. Leadnow is raising donations to help with the legal bills. If you can, please Donate to the First Nations legal challenge that could stop FIPA in its tracks
If the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (FIPPA) is ratified, Canada will be stuck with it for more than three decades. That is an awfully long time for an entire nation to suffer the consequences of an ill advised path that was negotiated in secret.
It may be too late for us to do anything that will work, but at this point, it is too important to let go. Anything is worth a try if there is any chance at all we can salvage our children’s future. The government has not yet ratified the Canada-Chinese Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (FIPPA).
Canadians must keep on letting them know we are not willing to accept this travesty.
Other things we can do:
Leadnow’s call-your MP form Although the vote has already transpired, you can continue to call your MP, and use the talking points on this Leadnow page. When speaking directly to your MP, an excellent strategy is to remain calm and firm, and repreat what you want to say until you get verbal acknowledgement that the person on the phone has heard you. They are most likely to respond with party “talking points” that don’t actually answer your questions or concerns. Stay focussed on your points… have notes written down in front of you if it will help. Under our antiquated and inequitable system, most MPs have very little more power than we do. But if they continue to receive calls telling them that their constituents are not willing accept this, it may encourage thekm to do the right thing.
Note: The Green Party digital petition is no longer online, but we can still download and sign – and get our community to sign – paper petitions we can then mail (postage free) to Ms. May and/or our own MPs, of whatever flavour.
Finally, you may want to read or re-read Elizabeth May’s article:
Trade with China should not mean handing over the keys to Canada.
I just tabled and tried to pass a motion in the House of Commons comdemning the attacks in Boston. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass.
Here’s the text of my motion: “That this House condemn the attacks perpetrated during the 2013 Boston Marathon and express its deepest sympathies to the victims of this senseless violence and their families.”
Je viens de soumettre une motion dans la Chambre des Communes qui condamne les attaques en Boston et exprime les condoléances des canadiens. Malheureusement, elle a été rejetée.
Voici la texte de mon motion : « Que cette Chambre condamne les attaques perpétrées durant le Marathon 2013 de Boston et exprime sa profonde sympathie envers les victimes de cette violence insensée ainsi que leur famille. »
— Nathan Cullen, April 15, 2013
Because the Conservative Party holds a majority of seats in the House of Commons, it has absolute control of what motions or legislation can be passed.
The Harper Government chose not to pass this motion.
Why wouldn’t the Harper Government “condemn the attacks perpetrated during the 2013 Boston Marathon?”
How could the Harper Government refuse to “express its deepest sympathies to the victims of this senseless violence and their families?”
Does the Harper government approve of these attacks?
Expressing concern for our friends, allies, and neighbors in time of tragedy is a human thing to do. It apalls me that the Harper Conservatives would be so petty as to block this merely human motion, a purely non-partisan statement of compassion and support, simply because it was tabled by a member of the Official Opposition.
Such shameful partisan posturing has no place in the House of Commons.
Canada is supposed to be a Representative Democracy. When I was in High school, I wrote a couple letters to my MP, Perrin Beatty. And he actually called me and answered my questions. I felt heard, and I wasn’t even a voter.
Since then, I’ve been voting for over 30 years, and yet I’ve never elected an MP.
I’ve spent the last several days blogging, denting, pinning, tweeting and talking about Proportional Representation with people online. I was actively supporting Joyce Murray’s campaign for leadership of the Liberal Party. Joyce Murray was the only candidate to support Proportional Representation. Joyce did amazingly well, but not enough to be able to counter the power that the name “Trudeau” can still engender in the Liberal Party.
I’d like to congratulate Joyce on a candidacy race well run. I voted for her as a supporter, and if she had won, I probably would have voted Liberal for the first time in my life in the next election.
I want to tell her, “Thank you for trying.”
If all Canadians had a voice in government, if we actually had a representative democracy, think of the wonders that this once great nation could achieve.
Canada is being governed by the Harper Government “Majority,” in a manner I find deeply disturbing. Yet since this government I did not vote for and do not like was elected, for the first time in my life I know what it is like to have representation in government.
Because even though I didn’t vote for her, even though I couldn’t vote for her, Elizabeth May speaks for me.
This is why I know Proportional Representation could work. Working out Canada’s riding size difficulties is a mere detail; having a voice is all.
I’m writing this today as a thank you to Ms. Elizabeth May, who is doing an incredible job against all odds. I want to tell her how much that it means to me.
“I am frequently asked how I maintain a positive attitude when confronted by Stephen Harper’s destructive agenda—dismembering our environmental laws and policies. Honestly, I can respond that most days I am encouraged by the ability of one MP to make a difference. That was not the case last week as, sitting late in the House for votes, news came over my Blackberry that the Cabinet had decided to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Drought and Desertification (UNCCD). It had the effect of a swift kick in the gut. I had to fight back tears for a day or so … just like when I read Bill C-38. I felt devastated.”
— Elizabeth May Canada Goes Rogue
Some Canadians support the political party they’ve chosen with the fervour of a hockey fan supporting their favorite team ~ no matter what. Others try to support the party that seems to best reflect the voter’s own ideology. Others, like me, don’t support any one party, but vote for the individual candidate that we hope will best represent our interests on an election by election basis.
As a small Ontario school child I was taught Canada is a democracy. It seemed the only fair way to govern a free country, so I was pretty pleased to be a Canadian. As I grew up and learned more about how our political system actually works, I discovered that what we here in Canada call democracy isn’t what I thought it was. Representation in government is a privilege only enjoyed by a few, denying most citizens an equal say in the decisions that affect our lives.
The disproportionate outcome of our Winner-Take-All electoral system infects our entire political system with inequity. Here in Canada 30% of the vote can deliver a majority, because all our votes are not created equal. Some votes count more than others, but most votes don’t count at all. Besides polarizing Canadians into “winners” and “losers”, this deprives us of democracy, a sad situation that can only be corrected through Proportional Representation.
Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) platform has supported Proportional Representation for a long time. But how strong is the NDP’s commitment to PR?
Julien Lamarche, President of the NCR chapter of Fair Vote Canada writes:
As parties approach power, they have a natural tendency to drop the commitment to Proportional Represemtation.
It is important that we show to NDP leadership that the membership still cares about this issue.
If you are an NDP member, please:
0. Call Craig Scott at 613-992-9381 or 416-405-8914, tell them you’re an NDP member and you support resolution 5-40-13, 5-42-13, and 5-37-13 for proportional representation.
AND / OR
1. phone someone on your EDA (local riding) executive,
EDA info can be found here:
2. find out who is going to the convention from your electoral district (riding),
3. call the delegates, see if one of them is willing to go to Panel 5 (Governing in an Inclusive and Fair Canada) on Friday morning,
4. ask that delegate to support the three resolutions making PR a fundamental plank of the next NDP election platform.
When I originally posted this I misquoted Julien as saying:
“tell your NDP member you support resolution”
when it should have said:
… “tell them you’re an NDP member and you support resolution” …
My error has now been corrected in the above text. ~ Laurel L. Russwurm