Author Archive

Blast from the past: Harper on Senate reform 2006

- November 6th, 2013

I came across this speech today – an address by then rookie Prime Minister Stephen Harper before a Senate committee discussing his plans to reform the upper chamber. Some seven years later, the federal government is readying to argue Parliament has the power to move ahead alone with reforms including implementing term limits before the Supreme Court of Canada next week.

There’s video here

Harper on the importance of Senate reform:

As everyone in this room knows, it has become a right of passage for aspiring leaders and prime ministers to promise Senate reform – on their way to the top. The promises are usually made in Western Canada. And these statements of intent are usually warmly received by party activists, editorial writers and ordinary people. But once they are elected, Senate reform quickly falls to the bottom of the Government’s agenda. Nothing ever gets done. And the status quo goes on. Honourable Senators, this has got to stop. For the Senate must change. And we will be the ones to make it happen. The Government is not looking for a report. We are seeking action.

On “modest” Senate reforms like term limits:

“We must act.  The Government believes that S-4 is achievable through the action of Parliament itself….The key point is this. We are seeking limited, fixed terms of office, not decades based on the antiquated criteria of age. I have carefully reviewed your deliberations on this Bill. Some Senators have said the Bill goes too far.  Others have said it does not go far enough. But we can all agree on one thing:  it does go somewhere.   Somewhere reasonable, and somewhere achievable.
And in conclusion:
I would like to read a quote from a book I reviewed recently. On page 206, the author writes, and I quote: “Probably on no other public question in Canada has there been such unanimity of opinion as on that of the necessity for Senate reform.” The author is Robert MacKay. The book is The Unreformed Senate of Canada.  The year is 1926.

Pirate Party leader resigns to focus on battling depression

- October 12th, 2013

Pirate Party of Canada’s  leader, Travis McCrea, announced Friday he was leaving politics – at least for now – to focus on his battle with depression.

The fringe political party is mostly known for its focus on so-called “digital rights” – improving Internet access, creating a system of free public WIFI, and lobbying against online legislation they view as “hamstringing” digital business and hampering people’s rights online.

A number of high-profile politicians – current Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, former MP Bob Rae, for example – have spoken publicly in recent years  about their personal struggles with mental health issues.

In a statement posted on Facebook, McCrea wrote:

“I would like to announce that effective immediately I am resigning my role as leader of the Pirate Party of Canada and will be passing that title to James Wilson until a replacement can be elected. I am also withdrawing from the Toronto Centre (byelection).

I frequently write about dealing with depression, and know that it’s common within our community. Frequently the teacher is far less able to listen to their own teachings, and this is the case here. Last month I asked for a month to deal with this, but I never did… I thought maybe some time away from work would make it feel better.

Depression isn’t something that just goes away it’s not a blue mood once in a while — it’s more like a weight that holds me down, it makes me not want to get out of bed and it impacts my every action. It’s practically the same thing as a broken leg and just wishing it better is almost as silly. I can’t tell other people to get help if I am not getting the proper help myself.”

Read more…

Who steps in if the PM can’t perform his duties?

- July 28th, 2013

Here’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s list of who can step if he’s unable to to perform the functions of his office, updated July 15 by an Order in Council and published here



The Honourable James Michael Flaherty,

Vice-Chair, Priorities and Planning Committee

The Honourable Jason Kenney,

Chair, Operations Committee

The Honourable Tony Clement,

Chair, Treasury Board

The Honourable Diane Finley,

Chair, Economic Prosperity Committee

The Honourable Rona Ambrose,

Chair, Social Affairs Committee

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay

Chair, Foreign Affairs and Security Committee

The Honourable Bernard Valcourt

The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson

The Honourable John Baird

The Honourable Peter Van Loan

The Honourable Gerry Ritz

The Honourable Christian Paradis

The Honourable James Moore

The Honourable Denis Lebel

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq

The Honourable Lisa Raitt

The Honourable Gail Shea

The Honourable Julian Fantino

The Honourable Steven Blaney

The Honourable Edward Fast

The Honourable Joe Oliver

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay

The Honourable Shelly Glover

The Honourable Chris Alexander

The Honourable Kellie Leitch



Donors helped bury 12 destitute modern day vets, says Last Post Fund in federal plea

- March 19th, 2013

The Last Post Fund has been keeping  low key but persistent pressure on the Conservative government and Veterans Affairs Minister Stephen Blaney to ramp up and expand funding for the agency.

On Tuesday, in the run up to the release of the federal budget later this week, they made another plea, releasing a letter sent to Blaney to the media along with an op-ed penned by the chairman of Last Post Fund fundraising committee.

That committee seeks to raise the cash necessary to help bury destitute modern day veterans  not covered under the LPF’s guidelines.

Blaney has long said the file is a priority – but little has changed in the years the Last Post Fund has been lobbying for help. The letter (copied below) hints the minister has nonetheless been following the file.

Read more…

Don’t expect many supporters to vote: Grit national membership secretary

- March 15th, 2013

There’s an interesting nugget in Liberal National Membership Secretary Matt Certosimo’s decision to extend registration by a week. Certosimo warns the Liberals they should expect to be disappointed at just how many Liberal members and supporters actually cast a ballot in early April.

Last week, the party celebrated recruiting some 294,000 supporters to vote for the new Liberal chief.

“Before the March 3, 2013 “cut-off”, almost 60,000 eligible voters had registered, using the emailed link to a partially pre-filled form or, for those without email addresses in Liberalist, the hard copy registration form sent by regular mail to their home address. As of this morning, I am advised that more than 95,000 eligible voters have taken the second step in the process, by registering for the vote. …It is understood that fewer people will take the second step required to vote, no matter how convenient registration is made, so it is unreasonable to expect that registration numbers will ultimately equate to even close to the 294,002 that originally signed-up before the March 3rd “cut-off”.”

*Emphasis mine.