It has been an extremely busy weekend politically for all involved. For starters, there were a number of leadership contests for provincial parties across the nation. As a result, Manitoba has a new premier, Greg Selinger, a former community activist and number cruncher who promises little change from his party’s centrist approach. In Quebec, the ADQ has a new leader, Gilles Taillon, who once headed up a pro-business lobby group. And in Alberta, the new upstart Wildrose Alliance party – which is further to the right than the ruling Progressive Conservatives – elected former journalist and business leader Danielle Smith as its first leader. She’s moderately socially progressive (pro-choice within limits and not anti-gay) and her opponent was a regressive Bible-thumper, so that’s a good thing. Her victory is a genuine threat to thirty-seven years of Tory rule – and while the party’s platform is still vague, and they have no real organisation to speak of, they also have as much as two years to get ready for the next election, so things are going to get very interesting in Alberta.
On the federal side, there seems to be a litany of spending scandals that have all emerged over the weekend:
- Lisa Raitt is now under two separate investigations for fundraisers held for her by the Toronto Port Authority – the Crown Corporation she used to head.
- Economic Action Plan™ website has a link to a YouTube clip of Harper playing the piano. Why exactly? That’s what the Liberals want to find out:
- There are plans to roll out billboards about the Economic Action Plan™ all over the country. When it was pointed out that most of the money is spent in Conservative ridings, Harper pointed to Friday’s announcement for the Toronto Reference Library – but that’s not even the bare minimum of equality of fund distribution, not to mention that he turned down the proposal for the needed streetcar upgrades which would have gone a long way to creating jobs.
- Still on the Action Plan™, an event for Harper to unveil his second “report card” in Cambridge, Ontario rather than in the House cost in excess of $108K – which is a shocking amount of money for something that should have happened in the House.
- Questions about reports that Mafia and organised crime are getting as much as 80 percent of infrastructure fund contracts – especially in Montreal – has been greeted by silence from all parties.
- A Harper-appointed Senator was on the board of a company that got some of the infrastructure money, when they got the funds.
I have a feeling that today’s Question Period is going to have plenty to talk about.
Meanwhile, plans to expand prisons are underway, including using the existing land for prison farms to build new wings on penitentiaries. But this is also being considered interim until they can get plans underway for super regional facilities – because going the American route is always a winner. We’ve also apparently been asking Americans to weaken laws that would be against ships on the Great Lakes using dirty “bunker fuel” – because this government is all about helping the environment. And they’ve slightly loosened the muzzle on Richard Colvin’s ability to testify on Afghan detainees after his affidavit embarrassed them. Harper joined MacKay and O’Connor in saying they haven’t read his reports. Um, really? Huh. Just like nobody also knew anything about Suaad Hagi Mohamud’s ordeal either, right?
Incidentally – the Press Gallery Dinner was fantastic. Harper wasn’t there – of course. He was too busy helping to unveil a set of commemorative stamps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens. But regardless, it was a lot of fun. Michael Ignatieff confirmed that his ads were shot in Naria – and his poll numbers are great there, Elizabeth May had a fantastic speech, and Maxime Bernier and Lisa Raitt can both laugh at themselves over their respective political scandals – which is a good thing.