Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Non-Liberal Senator makes pitch at Liberal EDA fundraiser

Non-Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer is apparently still an active fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada, according to her appearance at the Bay of Quinte Liberal EDA's fundraiser.

The "Heritage Dinner" is scheduled to have Jaffer as "special guest speaker."

Of course, this is against what Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said: "these senators will no longer be, you know, Liberal organizers, fundraisers, activists in any form."

Hypocrisy much? I think so.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And the filibustering begins...

NDP MP David Christopherson filibustered the Fair Elections Act for over an hour at the standing committee on procedure and house affairs.  His request was that the committee travel across Canada to hear testimony on the Fair Elections Act.  Nice try.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The budget will balance itself

How is this clip not the laughing stock of every Canadian television station and newspaper?

Wynne tries to be connected and responsive - and fails miserably

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne attempted to appear connected to the younger generation and responsive to the many questions and concerns of Ontarians, but she failed miserably.

On February 11, Wynne held a Reddit “Ask me Anything” session.  AMA sessions are supposed to be about “something uncommon that plays a central role in your life” or “a truly interesting and unique event.”  They are intended to be unscripted, real responses to real questions asked by real people.  When Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi hosted a Reddit session in October 2013, his responses were thorough and to-the-point, whether about expanding light rail services or upcoming road construction projects.

Instead, the Premier’s session lasted less than an hour and she only managed to respond to 10 questions, all of which sounded like pre-drafted generic answers.  That left 1505 comments without responses.

The questions were honest, frank inquiries about the state of Ontario’s government.  They asked for legitimacy in a Premier that became Premier without ever being elected by the Ontario people.  They asked for hope in a time of reckless green energy experiments instead of investing in keeping and building jobs for Ontarians.  The questions were on a breadth of provincial responsibilities – from sex education to the economy to the LCBO to public sector compensation.

Readers were left horribly disappointed - some even called it offensive that the Premier would enter such a social media platform without doing her research that people would, you know, expect answers to their questions.

Unanswered questions included:

-  What were the consequences to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and the Chief Executive Officer of Ontario’s Public Drug Programs for their failure to produce and publish annual reports as required by law?

-  Why are residents restricted from installing their own solar panels?

-  Does Premier Wynne agree with the federal Conservatives’ decision to scrap the long-gun registry?

-  When will the alcohol monopoly be broken or why, specifically, will the Premier not allow beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores?

-  With $1 billion in surplus electricity being exported to Manitoba, Quebec, Michigan, and New York, why are hydro rates increasing for Ontario’s own residents?

-  What are the province’s short-term plans to address deficit spending and find efficiencies (i.e. not the medium-term to balance the budget in 2018)?

-  Does Premier Wynne agree with the McGuinty sexual education curriculum that was introduced in 2008?  Will she scrap it, update it, or leave it as is?

-  Why were rehabilitation services such as speech therapy for elementary students in Hamilton and Niagara cut by 80 percent in the week before Christmas?

All of these questions went unanswered.  Commenters called it “one of the worst AMAs I have ever read,” “a joke,” “a blatant PR move” that confirmed their views of a “typical politician” avoiding the tough questions, a “seriously poor engagement” that “did more damage than good” that was “not an actual attempt to communicate with Ontarians” and only “spewed the same bullshit responses we could read in any article, interview, or on the Ontario Liberal website.”  (And this is just a summary of the comments appropriate enough for publication!)

The few questions Wynne did respond to were soft-balls written strangely like planted Liberal-friendly questions.  One was about her running (because Wynne loves running) and another was about her favourite book.  This at a time when Ontario’s debt is over $263 billion and small, medium, and large businesses are closing left, right, and centre to move to more competitive jurisdictions in Manitoba, Quebec, or the United States.

Aside from the two wasted questions, other answered questions included:

-  Why was the city of Leamington given $2 million when Heinz closed its doors while Ottawa was given $190 million when Cisco closed its doors?  (Wynne responded she was disappointed in Heinz’s decision, made sure her government acted quickly, blah blah blah.)

-  Will Bill 83 pass to protect free speech in Ontario? (Wynne responded her government was being blocked by the Opposition Ontario PC and NDP.)

-  Will the province help Mississauga establish a subway? (the short answer: yes.)

-  Won’t raising minimum wage only further drive businesses from Ontario in favour of cheaper jurisdictions? (Wynne said tying minimum wage to inflation was the way to go.)

The questions that were answered were answered as if they had already been pre-typed and pre-approved for when the question just so happened to be asked.  It is unclear whether Wynne was actually even responding to the questions behind a computer, or whether she pre-approved responses that were subsequently posted by a political staffer.  Many of the important topics – the economy, jobs, rising electricity costs, and rampant corruption in Wynne’s public service – went unanswered.

To attempt to make up for her disappointment, Wynne promised she would answer one additional question per day for the rest of the week.  But the damage has been done, with many Reddit members calling for whoever handles Wynne’s public relations and social media accounts to be fired for such a fundamentally poor understanding of what she was signing up for.

Like so many other stories of this Ontario Liberal government, they tried to connect with Ontarians and do something good, and failed miserably.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A balanced budget with a $3 billion contingency

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald and Huffington Post Canada

Economic Action Plan 2014 wasn’t even tabled in the House of Commons before NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau complained about it. 

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 10th federal budget, officially titled The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities focuses on delivering real results for Canadians and their families.  It supports jobs and growth; supports families and communities; and highlights the road to a balanced budget in 2015.  The 2014-2015 budget is technically balanced, but for a $3 billion contingency for unforeseen circumstances.

Just a few measures include:

-          Projects a $6.4 billion surplus in 2015-2016
-          Continuing to improve upon the Conservative government’s impressive 1+ million jobs created since July 2009
-          Saving small businesses over $2.2 billion by keeping the small business tax rate at 11 percent
-          Continuing to save the average family of four $3400 in fewer taxes they pay, only adding to the lowest federal tax burden in the last 50 years
-          $500 million for the Automotive Innovation Fund
-          $10 million for social innovation research projects at colleges
-          Implementing the Victims’ Bill of Rights
-          $25 million over five years to combat violence against aboriginal women and children, including awareness and safety programs.
-          Amending public service policies to better align with the current job market realities
-          $15 million annually for 1000 full-time internships for post-secondary graduates working at small- and medium-sized enterprises
-          $40 million for up to 3000 internships in high-demand fields
-          Review the $330 million Youth Employment Strategy budget to better align with the labour market
-          Over $438 million for aboriginal schools and education
-          Student-owned vehicles will no longer be considered in student loan assessments
-          Online casinos will be subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
-          Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations will be implemented for virtual currencies such as Bitcoin
-          Shifts contributions to the Public Service Health Care Plan to 50:50 employee-employer contributions.
-          $305 million to extend and enhance internet access in remote communities
-          Creates a $1.5 billion Research Excellence Fund for post-secondary institutions
-          Addresses cross-border price differences

These are just a few of the measures implemented in Canada’s 2014 budget as we get ready to return to balanced budgets in 2015 without reducing transfers to individuals or the provinces.
Although the media clung to the typical Opposition complaints, their answers and framing of simple questions were the most revealing.  It started with Peggy Nash complaining Toronto had a 10 percent unemployment rate (it’s actually 7.7 percent).  It turned to Tom Mulcair grading the budget as a D-, highlighting his incredible ability to apparently read, comprehend, and grade over 430 pages of budget documents within an hour of them being made public.

Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, was unable to answer the question, and instead launched into some weird tirade about what was wrong with the Conservative budget.  When pressed what his Liberal government budget would look like, Trudeau again dodged the question and launched into another tantrum.

One of the most striking parts of the budget release was the Opposition’s mixed messages. Peggy Nash called the budget “thin,” which, I assume mean they will be able to quickly read and pass the budget into law.  However, I’m sure this budget will be filibustered just like the NDP have favoured doing in the past.

In reality, Economic Action Plan is what Canada needs.  It’s why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave the budget a “bronze medal.”

Canada’s 2014 Economic Action Plan keeps Canada on the right track back to a balanced budget in 2015.  We’re already there, but for a $3 billion reserve for any unexpected expenses.  Canada’s Road to Balance continues to support jobs and growth; supports families and communities; and highlights the road to a balanced budget in 2015 without cutting transfers to individuals or the provinces.

Read the full budget at and follow the discussion on

Facebook and Twitter at #EAP14 and #Bdgt14

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trudeau’s Eviction of Liberal Senators Erases Proactive Disclosure Data from Liberal Website

In June 2013 Justin Trudeau announced his party was making history by posting his MP’s and Senator’s expense statements online.  That started in October (even though it’s already been available on the Parliament website for years).

Effective immediately, Trudeau said, if the government wasn’t going to legislate parliamentarians to publicly post their office expenses, his party was going to lead the way by doing it voluntarily.

All that changed on January 29 when Trudeau arbitrarily announced that his Liberal Party of Canada Senators were being booted from caucus and would sit as independents.  (Or, would they sit as Senate Liberals?)

As of February 4, the Liberal Party website only mentions Liberal Senators like Romeo Dallaire or James Cowan or Joseph Day or Mobina Jaffer in archived press releases.  They are no longer listed as caucus members:

Here’s an archive of the Liberal Party of Canada website on January 27, 2014 that clearly shows the Liberal Senators as “caucus members:”

Two days later, Trudeau’s Liberal Senators became Senate Liberals.

By firing his Senators, Trudeau conveniently erased his promise of posting his Senators’ expense statements online.  The Liberal Party website no longer contains any of the expense reports Trudeau promised of his party’s Senators.

What was Trudeau trying to hide by expelling his Senators from caucus and removing their expense reports from the Liberal Party website?  This conveniently before the Auditor General was ready to “name names” in his review of improper financial reporting in MP’s and Senator’s offices.

As of February 4, the Parliament of Canada website still lists all 32 “Liberal Party ofCanada” Senators.  It only lists a total of seven independent Senators, among them Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.

So much for that promise.  Not only has Trudeau completely botched his announcement of independent Senate Liberals who are not Liberal Senators, but he’s conveniently removed the expense reports for Liberal Senators he promised only months ago.

If you’re actually interested in reviewing Senators’ expense reports, they are available through the Parliamentary website at

Update February 13, 2014: the Liberal Party confirms those expense statements "might not" be published after all.

Conservative government introduces Fair Elections Act

On Tuesday the Conservative government introduced the Fair Elections Act, a comprehensive list of reforms aimed at modernizing Elections Canada and Canada's whole electoral system.

Bill C-23 was introduced by Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre and proposes to implement a number of recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).  These include:

·         Tough new rules  requiring a public registry for mass automated calls and prison time for individuals found to be impersonating elections officials.
·         Cracking down on potential voter fraud by prohibiting the use of vouching and voter information cards in lieu of acceptable identification.
·         Clarifying elections rules that have been broken due to “honest mistakes.”  The bill notes that every political party has found certain rules to be unclear, resulting in inadvertent breaches without ever realizing it.
·         Raising the political donation limit to $1500 per person per calendar year, and maintains the ban on donations from unions and businesses.  It also raises the maximum spending limit by five percent.
·         Currently, the CEO can remove an MP’s ability from sitting or voting in the House of Commons because the CEO disagrees with the MP’s elections expense return.  The Fair Elections Act would put the dispute before a judge to quickly rule on the matter, allowing the MP to keep his or her seat as a democratically elected member.
·    Lifting the ban on the “premature transmission of election results.” An earlier law said that voters in British Columbia might be discouraged from voting if they already know the election results in Nova Scotia — this has become ineffective with the creation of social media.
·         Provides better customer service to voters by focusing Elections Canada’s advertising on the basics of voting.  C-23 would also give an extra advance polling day.

C-23 also responds to the concerns of “robocalls” in the last election.  Incumbent Guelph Liberal MP Frank Valeriote was fined for engaging in illegal robocalls during the 2011 election that failed to identify who was calling; failed to give a call back number; and failed to include a way for the person receiving the call to contact whoever was sending the call.  To crack down on this, the Fair Elections Act would give Elections Canada “sharper teeth and a longer reach.”  This includes tougher penalties for existing elections-related offences, and creates more than a dozen new elections-related offences.  These new offences would include making a false statement, making indirect political loans, registering as a voter when not qualified to do so, and making it an offence to impersonate a candidate, a candidate’s representative, a representative of a political party or association, the Chief Electoral Officer, or any of his staff.

But most critically, C-23 would reorganize Elections Canada.  As I noted several times throughout 2013, Elections Canada botched the investigation into any possible robocalls by sole-sourcing their investigative powers to private contractors with political connections.  Those contractors were given raises and contract extensions without any paperwork to back it up.  The Fair Elections Act would solve this problem by establishing the Commissioner of Canada Elections as a deputy head reporting to the Director of Public Prosecutions.  This leaves the CEO free to administer elections and the Commissioner to investigate and prosecute elections offences.

The Free Elections Act is the bill Canadians have been waiting for since the media hysteria surrounding robocalls in the wake of the 2011 election.  With stricter laws, better customer service, an independent Commissioner focused on upholding elections laws, and the continued promise to keep big union and business money out of Canadian politics, Bill C-23 is the change Canadians have been waiting for.

Mac Harb charged with fraud, breach of trust

Today, the RCMP charged former Liberal Senator Mac Harb with fraud and breach of trust related to his Senate expenses.

Harb is the only Senator whose expenses are being reviewed to outright resign from the Senate. On his way out he repaid Canadian taxpayers a staggering $231,000, hoping his resignation and repayment would earn him favour with the ongoing RCMP investigation.

But that didn't stop Liberal leader Justin Trudeau from saying he would welcome Harb back into the caucus, dismissing the issue as an honest mistake.