It’s the final sitting week of the year, and true to form, the Conservatives are bringing out the tired old straw man that the Opposition is holding up crime bills. Which is, of course, not true (it’s the government that controls the agenda), and if Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is going to whine and cry (with a smile on his face) that the Opposition wants to put forward amendments and actually study the bills, well, he’d better get used to living in a parliamentary democracy (and a minority government at that). But seriously? Can people stop falling for this “soft on crime” nonsense? Please?
During Friday’s question period, Libby Davies led off the NDP’s questions, asking about the Cancun conference. Scott Brison finished off for the Liberals, asking about the workers of a shuttered meat plant, who won’t be getting the enhanced benefits of other workers because the plant closed a few weeks past the expiry of this EI program.
There is a “mystery” unfolding on the Hill regarding the de-funding of the NGO KAIROS. The deputy minister of CIDA testified before committee that she signed the recommendation for funding, but Bev Oda, the minister, insists that when it was signed it had the word “not” inserted – if she even signed it, and it wasn’t done by electronic pen, but she still thinks KAIROS should have lost its funding. So is this just a case that she doesn’t want to take responsibility? That’s what it’s starting to look like, until the truth comes out anyway.
It looks like the Conservatives’ election financing practices are once again being challenged by Elections Canada, this time over a couple of “regional” campaign offices in Quebec. (Background from punditsguide.ca here and here).
First Nations groups are taking the government to court over the census, just as Carolyn Bennett’s bill to restore the long-form census heads over to committee. Part of the issue appears to be wording about Aboriginals in the census forms that are going out: these groups claim it's been done in such a way as to subtly decrease their official numbers, especially with regards to off-reserve Aboriginals.
Here is a great three-part series on the way the Conservative government has handled the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, from breaking the rules to allow an untendered process, using deliberate misinformation to sell the uncompetitive process, and the “charm offensive” of the promise of industrial benefits to Canada – only to have the government inflate the estimate from $3.9 billion to $12 billion over 20 years, without explanation. I think this may just come up in question period today.
And finally, on the subject of this government’s obsession with “tough on crime” bills, here is a very worthwhile video of Bob Rae in the House speaking about these bills and this government’s undemocratic behaviour when it comes to trying to pass crime bills – and it’s well worth watching.