Engaging with the Facebook Generation™, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff held an “online town hall meeting” yesterday, answering (moderated) questions from Canadians on a wide range of topics. While there was nothing terribly explosive, I did find a couple of his answers a little interesting, such as how he plans to engage the West in an election (not treating them as a homogenous voting bloc for starters), or about restoring the funds cut from research granting bodies.
Ignatieff also confirmed that he will be at the anti-prorogation rally in Ottawa tomorrow. I’m torn about the preponderance of opposition MPs showing up at these rallies to speak – on the one hand, it’s an opportunity to connect with some of these (potential) voters that are turning out, proving that they are engaged in politics in some manner. On the other hand, it starts to give these rallies a more partisan atmosphere when they were intended not to be (and I believe I have read that their organisers have rebuffed parties’ help in organising). I mean, the last thing these rallies really need to hear is that while it’s terrible that Stephen Harper has shut down Parliament, they can rest assured that they have Liberals/New Democrats/Greens standing up to Harper on their behalf (or that the Greens would be standing up if they could only get enough votes to get into the House). I don’t think that would ultimately be helpful – especially when part of the goal is to get disaffected Conservative supporters to these rallies to express their own displeasure at the way that Harper has acted. It seems to me that there would be a better time or place for those particular speeches.
(Incidentally, here is the rough outline of the Liberal roundtable discussions being set up for their return to Ottawa next week).
The good folks at Maclean’s have been looking into Jack Layton’s proposal to legislate prorogation, and the response from the University of Toronto’s Peter Russell is that it might work if it was drafted in such a way as to not limit the Governor General’s powers, but rather that all party support for it could be more like a political principle in exercising her discretion to prorogue. But that’s the key – all party support, which is never going to happen. Plus – it has all the makings of another toothless law like the (flawed) fixed election date law, which seeks to just impose another technical “fix” of the system when the real problem is that it’s being abused by those who don’t respect the established rules. In all, I’m still calling this out as a cynical attempt to cash in on the anti-prorogation sentiment out there, and little else.
While in Nova Scotia yesterday, staging more photo ops to prove how busy he’s keeping during prorogation, Harper took time during his announcement to talk about the sentencing of a would-be terrorist and slamming the opposition and the Senate for delaying his so-called “truth in sentencing” bill, known more colloquially as the “remand bill” or the “2 for 1 credit for time served” bill, which would eliminate said credit. Well, it didn’t take much digging to show that gee – it turns out it made rather speedy passage through the Senate, and that it’s sat at the Cabinet table awaiting implementation for longer than it was in either the House of the Senate. Once again, Harper peddles in falsehoods to promote his flawed law-and-order agenda. But then again, this is a day that ends in y, so that should be no surprise.
The CBC takes a look into the costs of prorogation, including the 222 Parliamentary employees who have been temporarily laid off for the duration, to the detriment of some of their benefits and pensions. Wasn’t prorogation about “recalibrating” to help the economy and creating jobs? I suppose they can tell that to these 222 employees.
And finally, the new rules governing Canada Periodical Fund are released, and it’s not good news for a lot of smaller magazines. GLBT magazines got similar exemptions to aboriginal, ethno-cultural and official language minority publications, but I need to look into these rule changes and exemptions a bit more.