It’s cabinet shuffle day! Who is going where? Which new MPs will make it in? Will any old ones find themselves relegated to the backbenches? (This is unlikely, as Harper is never wrong, but you never know.) Will Harper need to draw from the Senate to boost his Quebec representation in caucus? What will the gender balance look like? Stay tuned – the action gets underway at 11:15am.
The NDP called a press conference yesterday morning to show off its new “arts caucus” and to call for income averaging for artists. During questioning, things went a bit wrong. When pressed for details, one of the new MPs asked the media to “give them a break” as it was their first day. While the MPs present weren't able to say what the current funding levels for the Canada Council for the Arts are (some $180 million), they did call for an immediate increase of $60 million (moving up to $90 million over time). They were vague on the details of pretty much everything that they were trying to propose. (And incidentally, the Liberals proposed doubling the Canada Council funding in their platform, for those of you keeping score.)
This ill-prepared press conference does raise another flag for those who question whether the NDP is ready for prime time as the official Opposition. The MPs should have been properly briefed for a press conference that their party called (as opposed to one they were responding to), but they weren’t. And if they expected softball questions from the media because the party was used to reporters showing up as a courtesy rather than because it was being taken seriously, as it suddenly is, then they should be reminded about what the media's role is. As well, it continues to look amateurish when veteran MPs like Charlie Angus talk about how they’re “not going to bring the government down” over this or that issue. Given that we’re in a majority situation and there is nothing the NDP could ever do to bring the government down, they should know that and stop pretending otherwise.
Meanwhile, experts are putting up warning signs about some of the NDP's positions on Quebec. They say that the NDP is playing with fire and asking for trouble with its continual talk of asymmetrical federalism while it advocates a stronger central government for the rest of Canada.
After all those reports of dirty tricks on the campaign trail (harassing phone calls, for example), Ontario is looking to amend its own election laws to avoid any repeats during the provincial election this fall.
Here’s a really interesting piece (caution: possible paywall) reflecting on the campaign coverage. It looks at different kinds of coverage, ranging from the bubble of reporters on the planes to the “virtual bubble” of everyone on the Twitter Machine who hashed out the narrative of each event and then stuck to that script. It does give one pause as to where we, the media, should focus our efforts during a campaign to provide meaningful coverage.
Apparently, euthanasia is one of those areas where the disconnect between Canadians and politicians is more pronounced. Now that the Bloc MP who championed it in the House has retired (she didn’t run again as opposed to having been defeated), it looks like it may be up to groups like the BC Civil Liberties Association to fight those laws in the courts.
Here is a look at the process by which Harper will nominate the next two Supreme Court justices. First, recommendations will be made by the Ontario legal community (both of the retiring justices are from Ontario) and then narrowed down by a panel of five MPs. The panel will give six names to the PM, who will choose two nominees. Finally, the nominees will be questioned before an ad hoc parliamentary committee.
And apparently, we’ve expelled five Libyan diplomats for doing things that they shouldn’t. The plot thickens.