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Tuesday
Apr132010

Not a bad days work for the Opposition

When a Prime Minister travels abroad there is ample opportunity to gain plenty of positive press coverage. There are always some photo-ops, statements released about "important" decisions agreed to by the participants and perhaps even a press conference.

An effective Opposition, will always try to disrupt this positive coverage and at the very least push the PM's positive coverage far down the newscast or off the front pages.

Now,  we have Harper taking part in a very serious conference on nuclear issues. And what dominates the news, comments about Guergis by an unidentified former chauffeur, how Guergis got a mortgage, whether the government gave the Ethics Commissioner enough information on the Guegis allegations, where her new seat is in the House chamber. A successful government news story buried again. So much for positive government messaging.

I would like to give the Opposition some credit as they have pounced on the Guergis allegations and ran with them for several days now. Not a bad days work for the Opposition courtesy of a former dethroned minister.

Monday
Apr122010

"Let Justice Gomery do his work"

Shortly after agreeing to a public inquiry in 2004 into the sponsorship scandal, Liberal ministers began suggesting the Opposition wait until the inquiry report was finished. One of the first to suggest this was the then Minister of Public Works Stephen Owen, on March 8th, 2004.  However, it is Scott Brison’s Question Period answer that I remember the best.

 “Let Justice Gomery do his work.” Do you remember that phrase? A quick search showed it was used at least as early as April 14, 2005 by Scott Brison (the Liberal Minister of Public Works) to deflect Opposition questions on the sponsorship scandal.

I can recall it being used primarily by Mr. Brison, but others as well, day after day, quite often several times in one Question Period session. It would be the Liberal QP manta up until the first report was delivered in November 2005.

That was a real scandal, one that rocked the Liberal Party and the nation. So far the Guergis affair with unknown allegations doesn’t match up to the sponsorship scandal.

If the Liberals felt it so important to let Justice Gomery do his work, why have they now changed their tune and why are they demanding immediate answers before the Ethics Commissioner and RCMP have done their work? The answer of course is cheap politics and a Leader and party desperate to try to get some positive ink.

Their manufactured outrage may be falling on deaf ears. Other than folks inside the Queensway here in the Ottawa bubble, do Canadians really care? Spring is here, Canadians are outside enjoying the weather and a bunch of angry MPs shouting at each other in Question Period is the last thing on their mind.

Given a choice of watching the antics in Question Period or firing up the BBQ, it’s a no brainer as to which one Canadians will choose.

Friday
Apr092010

The gong show is over!

Finally Guergis is gone from cabinet. The media circus will hopefully wind down over the weekend and presumably the government will begin to get other much needed messages out.

The big surprise of course is the exit from caucus. This will generate all sorts of speculation as to what story the government may be trying to pre-empt. Whether or not she left caucus on her own, it has the potential to open up the riding to a nomination meeting and an eventual replacement of the sitting member. It is most doubtful that Guergis could ever win that seat again, especially as an independent.

Hopefully all ministers and staff will take note of what has happened and remember to be nice to those you meet on your way up, as you will also meet them on your way down.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr072010

Hill Security

Lots of stories over the last couple of days about potential improvements to security on Parliament Hill.

First, we had the RCMP reintroducing H and K submachine guns to their Hill detail. About time! Did we honestly expect the RCMP officers to defend the Hill, the PM, MPs and staff with a handgun?

And today, stories of high tech upgrades, cameras, panic buttons etc. Again about time! While some moan about access for the public lets not forget there are 1000s of people who work on the Hill every day from maintenance workers to MPs, they deserve to be safe and feel safe too.

Anyone who has worked on the Hill can tell you that generally they don't take Hill security seriously. Access for "staff" is gained by waving a pass at a security guard as you dash through the basement of Centre Block. How many have done that with expired passes? How many lost passes are there in any given week on the Hill? How many use their old pass even after they no longer work on the Hill? At least in the Langevin Block (PMO) and many other departmental buildings, you have a gated entrance where you have to swipe your card.  You will not get through that barrier any other way. Lose your card and they change the code. If someone else uses it it won't work. Not so Centre Block though.

And who thought up the brilliant idea about screening visitors in the basement of Centre Block? Years ago with minimal threat from suicide bombers etc it might have made some practical sense. But in this day and age?  In the prime tourist season visitors are packed into a narrow walk way waiting to go through the screening process... if you think waiting for airport screening is bad, try Centre Block some day this summer. 

And this is not a knock against the security staff on duty there or in other Hill buildings. They are professional, courteous and do the best they can with what they have to work with. An overhaul is long overdue though when there are three security forces IE House of Commons, Senate, RCMP each with their own protocols and area to protect. Time for one force, one person in charge, the same training for everyone and one task... protect the public, our institutions, Hill staff and elected officials. But first, we have to do our part and recognize that this is not 1867. We face different threats today. Hill security staff can't do everything on their own, we have to provide the money, facilities, training and command structure as well. As Greenpeace pointed out ... we have a few problems with Hill security, lets fix them before something happens not afterwards.

Friday
Apr022010

Egos

Finally a break week from the House and the routinely poor quality questions from the Opposition.

One thing that stands out in politics is the egos of the respective MPS and ministers. To be fair in many cases MPs and many ministers recognize their limits and keep their egos under control. But with a few its a different story. Once elevated to these lofty heights it takes a strong person to keep their ego in check and this applies to all parties.

For the past week or so we have seen one minister under attack for temper tantrums, fake letter writing campaigns etc. We can all agree or disagree with the Opposition attacks, but in the end it comes down to what is best for the Party? Do you puff up your self importance and hang tough? Or, do you realize that you are hurting not only your own re-election chances, but the Party's chance for a majority? 

Tough questions. Tough decision. Is the ego under control or out of control? Only one person knows for sure, but the whole country is watching and waiting to find out.

 

 

 

 

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