He’s been in Canadian politics for a very long time. Tony Clement, known for his cabinet positions in Federal and Ontario political spheres. Known for his ambition to lead conservative parties both federally and provincially. Known for his influence in political affairs going back beyond two decades. Now the man at the centre of a humiliatingly tawdry sexting scandal, seeing his world and legacy collapse before him. Oh well, it’s been a fun ride.
Climate researchers press Trudeau to renew Canadian Arctic research program
The Canadian government should renew funding for a soon-to-end Arctic climate and atmospheric research program, a group of more than 250 international climate scientists is arguing in an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“There is a crisis looming for Canadian climate and atmospheric research that will be felt far beyond Canada’s borders,” the letter states. Extending funding for the 6-year-old Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program, which is set to end this year, would help maintain the country’s scientific and political leadership in the field, the authors say.
CCAR, launched in 2012, provides CA$7 million per year for seven research networks studying the physical processes underlying climate and atmospheric behavior. Among other activities, the networks monitor and model tiny particles known as aerosols, biogeochemical trace elements in the Arctic Ocean, and atmospheric temperatures in the high Arctic.
So far, the Trudeau government has been mostly silent on CCAR’s future, frustrating scientists concerned about the program’s fate. It has given one part of the program a temporary reprieve; In November 2017, the government announced CA$1.6 million in funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, located on the remote Ellesmere Island in Canada, to keep it running until 2019. (Source: ScienceMag)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 30, 2017
Andrew Scheer Elected Federal Conservative Leader
It’s hard to know who was more disappointed with the upset result in last weekend’s Conservative Party of Canada leadership vote: Maxime Bernier, the front-runner going into the weekend who stumbled at the finish line, or the Liberal government in Ottawa.
Bernier raised the most money of any candidate and seemed unstoppable going into the leadership convention last Saturday. He held the lead over the first 12 ballots.
However, once an overly complicated and elongated vote-counting process was completed, Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer triumphed on the baker’s dozen ballot. Bernier was gracious in defeat, but the crushing disappointment of the final result was plain to see.
That disappointment might have been matched by the mood in the Liberal party. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his team had to be crossing all their fingers and toes that Bernier would capture the Conservative helm.
Bernier’s Libertarian rhetoric, robustly embraced by some of the more absurd and dangerous elements on the far right of the political spectrum, made him the perfect foil for Trudeau and the Liberals.
Throughout the leadership campaign, Bernier offered Conservative party members an odd mix of free-market economics and awkward social and environmental policies. He was committed to slowing immigration and severely curtailing the flow of government-sponsored refugees. He also expressed alarming concerns about the accuracy of climate change science, urging scientists to stop “politicizing” environmental policy.
That is the kind of raw political material the Liberals could have exploited in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
However, Bernier did not win. Instead, the Conservatives elected Scheer, a leader who will not be as easily assailed or typecast by the Grits.
Scheer is a modestly bilingual MP from Saskatchewan who is, remarkably, only 38 years old, seven years younger than Trudeau. After spending so much time in the 2015 election assailing Trudeau for being too young and “not ready” to govern, electing an even-younger leader must be some sort of political karma.
In terms of policy, Scheer is often referred to as Stephen Harper-lite — a fiscal conservative who would rather focus on balancing the budget, lowering taxes and reducing the overall footprint of government than on debating abortion or same-sex marriage. In fact, Scheer has said he will not revisit either of these, the two most compelling issues for social conservatives. (Source: Winnipeg Free Press)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 14, 2017
Tiresome omnibus bills
The Trudeau government has introduced a massive piece of legislation that looks very much like the type of omnibus bill it decried when the Conservatives brought in the same thing. And it’s doing it at the same time it’s pushing another law that would do away with such parliamentary maneuvers.
The opposition calls the whole thing “hypocritical.” The government replies that it’s just business as usual. Both appear to be right.
The two major parties have been on both sides of this issue over the years. When the Liberals were in power, they found it convenient to package a lot of measures together in one big bill and force it through Parliament – to the consternation of the Tories. When the Harper Conservatives got into office, they did the same thing while the Liberals cried foul.
The difference this time is that the Trudeau Liberals campaigned on a promise to end this tiresome game, which makes it a lot harder for the opposition to properly examine proposed legislation.
“We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny,” the Liberals vowed in their “Real Change” 2015 campaign platform. Further, they said: “Stephen Harper has … used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”
Now, though, the government has tabled an extensive budget-implementation bill that tips the scales at 307 pages. It includes a host of measures to put into effect its latest budget, as well as making changes that appear to undermine the independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The opposition calls it an omnibus bill, the very thing the government promised to do away in 2015. And to muddy the waters further, the government has actually floated a series of changes to parliamentary rules that would end omnibus-style legislation. (Continued: Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay – The Hamilton Spectator, Friday October 28, 2016
Liberals taking a gamble by reversing election promises
What’s a government to do when promises start to unravel? We’re about to find out.
The Trudeau Liberals’ 2015 platform took quite a knocking this month. Electoral reform? Not if Canadians don’t want it, says Justin Trudeau, while continuing to resist the obvious mechanism — a referendum — for finding out whether they do. More generosity on health care? Actually, Stephen Harper’s plan for modest growth to transfers is fine, thanks. “Targeted federal funding” for provinces to implement “their own” carbon pricing policies? Trudeau announced a very different plan in Ottawa while federal and provincial environment ministers were meeting in Montreal.
Well, new times demand new plans. And just in time, here comes the Liberals’ 2016 platform: Higher immigration, more foreign direct investment in Canada, and a bigger stake for outside investors in Canadian infrastructure.
It’s not what Canadians voted for in an election only a year ago. But the author of the new plan — Dominic Barton, the influential head of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth — hopes to make the shock more palatable by dangling the prospect of a $15,000 raise for the average Canadian family by 2030.
This oughta be fun. (Continued: Toronto Star)