Politics of Canada
5 min

Totally not a distraction – really!

The Conservatives, no doubt looking to change the channel yet again from the most recent Afghan detainee revelations, are bringing up the per-vote subsidy that political parties receive. Woo, we’re funding politicians – scary! Except that gee – they were awfully supportive of it when it was supposed to keep the Liberals from no longer getting corporate donations. Now they want to eliminate the subsidy to hurt all of the opposition parties.

Not surprisingly, the Greens are denouncing this, and on Power & Politics last night, Scott Brison called this out as a political game and pointed out that the Conservatives have spent more than any previous government on partisan advertising using tax dollars. But here’s why it matters, what the Conservatives will never tell you – by having a per-vote subsidy, it not only restricts corporate and union donations from entering into the political process, but it also makes your votes count that much more. Not only do you participate in the political process, but you make sure the party of your choice gets the $1.95 per year that your vote entitles them to. It has a dollar value attached to it. Not that the Conservatives want to talk about that, because they’re only interested in populism, which is not democracy.

During Members’ Statements, Rob Oliphant got up to talk about the Project Hero program that provides scholarships to the children of fallen soldiers.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the efforts of Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Reed, for his tremendous exercise in citizenship in the establishment of Project Hero.
In honouring the sacrifice of Canadian men and women killed in military service, Project Hero not only remembers the past, but looks to the future. By providing scholarships to children of fallen soldiers, Project Hero ensures their legacy will not only be captured in stone memorials and solemn commemorations, but will be a living legacy through the opportunities afforded their children by receiving higher education.
Mr. Reed, and the colleges and universities that have joined in this fitting tribute, deserve commendation from every Canadian who reaps the benefits of safety, democracy, human rights and dignity – those things the parents of these young adults fought to establish and preserve.
To the recent critics of the program, quite simply, you are wrong.  To the founders of the program, thank you, for both honouring our soldiers and recognizing the critical importance of higher education for the success of a nation.

When Question Period kicked off, Michael Ignatieff mentioned the things they heard about over the weekend and asked whether the government would consider cancelling the corporate tax cuts. (Sorry, I just had a Jack Layton flashback right there). John Baird stood up and accused them of wanting to raise taxes. Ignatieff called him on the logic of that statement, but Baird came back with more of the same. (Incidentally, a bunch of economists gave the plan a thumbs down).

Gilles Duceppe brought up the topic of tax havens, and Christian Paradis responded by talking about all the tax havens they closed – even though Duceppe was asking about new havens and loopholes opened up in the budget. Jack Layton stood up to crow about how the Liberals have come around to their position on tax cuts – and then asked about them. (Of course, he omitted the part where the Liberals were just going to pause those cuts rather than cancel them, but no matter). John Baird returned to talking points about the scary coalition.

Liberal Siobhan Coady asked after the way Diane Finley’s communications director intervened in a media request about advertising spending. Diane Finley claimed they were always open and transparent. Also, the chocolate ration has been doubled to four grams from two. Doubleplusgood! Bill Siksay later asked after this issue and got the same non-answer from Finley.

Ujjal Dosanjh asked after the Afghan detainee documents and got more accusations that he was slamming the public service as a reply. The Bloc’s Francine Lalonde asked after nuclear proliferation and our nuclear agreements with India and got a platitude about engaging India from Peter Kent. Ève-Marie Thaï Thi Lac asked about those new immigration changes, noting that women, gays and lesbians would be hardest hit by it. Jason Kenney gave some bafflegab about the Charter and said that no one would be prevented from filing a claim – but that’s not the point.

Rob Oliphant asked after the benefits that modern veterans are calling for, framing it in the mention of the recent passing of our last WWI veteran. Jean-Pierre Blackburn simply spoke about the planned memorials for the WWI veterans. He gave it a second attempt, but Blackburn spoke about the ombudsman’s looking into the matter.

Note to Peter Kent – when you’re answering a question in English, the form of address is “Mr Speaker” not “Mr President” (as it would be in French). Remember, you’re in a Westminster-style Parliament, and we don’t have a president in this system (no matter Stephen Harper’s presidential envy).

On the sartorial front, snaps go to Ève-Marie Thaï Thi Lac for her black jacket and skirt with big necklaces – she pulls it off without looking trashy. I also liked Ruby Dhalla’s black top with the red and white striped patterns. I wasn’t a fan of Tony Clement’s square-patterned shirt with the black-and white polka dot tie, which was a bit clashing in its busyness. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a black jacket with three-quarter sleeves (which I’m somewhat undecided on) but I couldn’t quite tell the rest of the outfit, so I can’t form a coherent opinion on it.

Elsewhere, it’s official – the dreaded 10 percenters sent to opposition ridings are now officially scrapped as of April 1.

The Conservatives announced their plan to reintroduce their eight-year term limits for the Senate to increase the “democratic legitimacy” of the Senate. But how exactly does that limit do that? Hint: it doesn’t. He’s also not going to refer it to the Supreme Court to determine its legitimacy, and surprise, surprise, the Liberals aren’t going to support it, because they’re still firm on a 12-year limit at minimum. Which is far more in keeping with the essential characteristics of the Senate (one of which being institutional memory) than eight-year terms would be.

And Hillary Clinton made an early departure from the Arctic conference that Canada was hosting and quite rightly criticized us for leaving out legitimate interests – including the Inuit – from the conference. The Harper government? Trying to game these meetings? Never!

Up today – the group advocating to keep the prison farms open are holding a demonstration on the Hill, which will include bringing a donkey for show – which should fit in just perfectly with all the other jackasses around there. (Sorry, it had to be said.)

PS – From the “isn’t America absurd” file, we are once again reminded: when they’re Christians, they’re “right-wing extremists,” but when they’re Muslims, they’re terrorists. Funny, huh?
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