4 min

Setting up the narrative for the summer

I was looking over the remains of the legislative schedule with a friend of mine, and we noticed that the bill to deny pardons to certain offenders was being read for the first time yesterday. With but four days left in the sitting.

“Why did they wait this long?” my friend asked. “It’s just a few weeks until Karla Homolka will be eligible to apply for a pardon.”

“That’s the point,” I said. “They delayed it so that they can spend the summer saying that the evil opposition let Karla Homolka get her pardon because they tied up the bill.”

“But they’re not likely to face opposition on the bill,” my friend protested.

“That’s not the point,” I said. “The point is that this is a cudgel for their ‘soft on crime’ propaganda.”

And that’s exactly what it is. They delayed it, and now because it’s unlikely to make it through the House before it rises for the summer (remember they still have estimates to pass or the public service won’t have any money over the summer), they’ll go on the barbecue circuit blaming the opposition that Karla Homolka got her pardon, even though they’re not the ones who brought the bill forward for debate. It’s called politics.

During Question Period, Michael Ignatieff went after the government over the fact that there still wasn’t an agreement around the Afghan detainee documents. Justice minister Rob Nicholson brought up his straw man of national security.  Mark Holland raised the fact that Toronto got a mere fifteen minutes’ warning before the announcement that the G20 was being relocated there. Lawrence Cannon assured him the majority of the costs were for security. (No, seriously). When Holland followed up by pointing out that 85 percent of the contracting for the G20 was done sole-source, John Baird assured him the process was managed by the public service.

Gilles Duceppe asked about climate change on the G20 agenda (it might be there, but the priority is the economy!) and Johanne Deschamps asked about the abortion question, pointing out a protest held in Quebec where women marched with coat hangers. Because that’s a graphic image that needs pointing out. Jack Layton returned to the topic of the detainee documents, and declared that he was “done with the foot-dragging.” This was his ultimatum. Until the meeting happened, and they made “progress,” but would need until tomorrow to iron out the last few details. But that’s going to be the real deadline. Really! He means it!

After another question on G20 costs, Siobhan Coady asked why ten other world leaders were now attending the G8, when supposedly Deerhurst couldn’t accommodate the G20 (but apparently the “G18” was okay). Coady then raised the spectre of Stockwell Day’s new “inform on your department” – err, “cash incentive” programme where civil servants are encouraged to report government waste, and be rewarded with up to $10,000. Why not eliminate the fake lake, and spend that $2 million – plus the $10,000 prize – and direct it to women’s programmes? Day said he’d ask the Auditor General if Coady would be eligible to claim the reward.

From there it was questions on the proposed national securities regulator, copyright reform, the tendering process for replacement fighter jets, liability for oil spills, seniors in poverty, agro-stability, the law apparently not applying to Dimitri Soudas, and the fact that the new delegates coming to the G8 were apparently all conservative brethren (to which one Liberal heckled that it was “for more photo ops!”). At the end, Alexandra Mendes inquired into those festivals not granted funds under the Marquee Tourism program (like Toronto Pride) and that those were better investments in tourism spending than the G20 “pavilion.” Tony Clement touted the expanded reach of the Marquee Tourism funding this year.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Justin Trudeau who was pushing the line of what is allowable in the House, with his rather causal looking white jacket, and his collar unbuttoned beneath his ties knot. But boy, can he wear the look. And I have total respect for the Bloc’s Nicole Demers, who once again shaved her head this year to support cancer research. Style citations go out to Lynne Yelich for a rather bland beige top and jacket. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports the unfortunate combination of pleated, cropped grey trousers (So. Very. Wrong!), a shiny hot pink top, a black jacket, and those emerald kitten heels. Or rather, here’s the tragic photographic proof.

The Colombia Free Trade Agreement has passed the House of Commons with Liberal support thanks to Scott Brison’s amendment. The NDP declare that “dirty tricks” got it passed.

The CBC takes a look at the supposed backroom madness the Liberals are in around issues like the refugee reform bill and the budget omnibus bill. The funny thing is, though, I’m not sure that all of the critics the journalist cites are entirely on the level – especially when Lowell Murray mocks the Liberals for being afraid Harper would call an election if they voted down C-9. It’s a budget implementation bill, and he would absolutely call an election if it were defeated. That’s why they’ve been forced to walk such a tightrope.

The government unveiled plans for a new, tougher RCMP watchdog agency. Which will be all well and good until they criticise the government, and the organisation suddenly finds itself in need of a new head.

There are concerns that the government has no long-range planning when it comes to the supply of medical isotopes. Really? After they ignored their own expert panel’s recommendations on building a new research reactor, or completing work on the MAPLE project, or any of that? You don’t say!

From this week’s Maclean’s, Paul Wells takes a fantasy look at the “return” of Jean Chrétien, but while the premise may be fantasy, there are some home truths about the media’s complicity in democracy going to hell in a handbag in this country.

With a little bit of digging, The Canadian Press digs up some interesting backroom dish on what looks to be happening with the plans for Quebecor’s “Fox News North.” And it all looks like this government is uncomfortably close to the whole deal. Because we all really need a media that is even more complicit with the downfall of democracy.
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