Stephen Harper’s remarks about Ralph Klein

“Thank you very much.“

Lieutenant Governor Ethell, Premier Redford, Mayor Nenshi, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, so many guests who are with us today, former premiers from all across the country, friends and colleagues of Ralph Klein, ladies and gentlemen.

“And, especially, Colleen and all members of the family.“You are in the thoughts and prayers of Laureen, myself and our family, and I am sure you know, in the thoughts and prayers of so many other families not just represented here today, but right across this great province of Alberta that Premier Klein served so well.

“I think we all have a little bit of understanding of what a difficult time this has truly been for you and for the family.“May God give you peace and comfort.“It is of Ralph Klein’s public service, his political career, that I wish to speak.

“You know, his story, his accomplishments, speak obviously of the great opportunities that are offered to us as citizens of this country and of this province and of this city.

“But past all of the stories, some humorous some outrageous, what we should not forget and never look past is the truly remarkable gifts and accomplishments of Ralph Klein as a person and as a leader.

“We all know how an outspoken television reporter ran for mayor and, to everyone’s astonishment, won handsomely.“In fact, he was mayor of Calgary, when I first came here.

“He became mayor just shortly before I arrived, and I have to tell you that after living in Toronto and living in Edmonton, having Ralph at City Hall was a bit of a culture shock.“I mean that in a good way.

“Because, as Mayor Nenshi said, as mayor, Ralph Klein did great things that really launched the modern era of this city: the Light Rail Transit System that so many people now take for granted, the Saddledome which was built on his watch, so many other major works, and, of course, the 1988 Olympics, where Ralph welcomed the world without any airs but with great comfort and great affability.

“We also know how, after coming out and forcefully backing the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement during the 1988 election, he then moved into provincial politics and, in rapid succession, and again, to everyone’s astonishment, became a cabinet minister of course, and then the premier of the province.

“And, in that office, he also established a legacy that history is going to treat very kindly.

“Does everyone remember Ralph’s so-called ‘radical’ ideas?

“That the best decisions are not made in government office towers.“That taxpayers make the best choices about how to spend their own money.

“That governments and citizens should face problems head on, and his well-founded belief that, as he put it: ‘the strength of this country lies in the strength of the provinces’.

“Remember too his so-called ‘radical’ idea that Alberta could be an energy superpower?

“And that Alberta’s energy would mean prosperity for all of Canada?“Twenty years ago, those ideas were often considered radical indeed.

“But today, the wisdom of Ralph’s ideas is now widely, almost universally, accepted.“And, never forget it, Ralph Klein was especially right about that.“Alberta’s energy industry does bring prosperity to all of this great country.

“Ladies and gentlemen, once Ralph Klein’s ideas were well-planted, their fruits became his ‘miracle on the prairies’.“It amused some to call him ‘King Ralph’.“Perhaps it amused him too.

“’Welcome to Ralph’s world,’ he famously declared, the election night that he won a massive 74 out of Alberta’s 83 seats.

“But, the love that Albertans had for Ralph Klein – and I don’t think love is too strong a word – was based on something other than the extraordinarily successful management of Alberta’s finances.

“Albertans understood that this was a man, that this was a leader, who never forgot where he came from.“Neither did he forget the people he served.

“A man equally at home in the Petroleum Club, or in the St. Louis Hotel, well maybe not quite equally, Ralph had, as many have noted, many opponents, but precious few enemies.“He was affable, straightforward, and had a gift for saying what ordinary people were thinking, often in a way that made us smile.

“Asked about reducing the deficit, saving money by cutting into some very popular services and programs, he said, ‘well, you’ve got to hunt where the ducks are’.

“He knew every part of Alberta.

“He knew us.

“And Albertans knew and respected Ralph Klein for his honesty and for his principles.

“Above all, Albertans responded to his vision of Alberta as a rock of Confederation, a vision he brought to life, the vision of a mature, forward-looking Alberta, yet one that never lost sight of the rugged values on which it had been born and raised.

“That was Ralph.

“Agree or disagree, you knew where he stood.

“And so, to Albertans, he was ‘King Ralph’ – I love that phrase, you know people outside Alberta don’t get that – he was ‘King Ralph’ only in the sense of being a king-size character, but in personality and demeanor he was really to us ‘Citizen Ralph’.

“He said what he would do, and then he did what he said.“I admire that.“We all admire that.

“And, when he was installed last November, by the Governor General as an Officer of the Order of Canada, it was welcomed with great affection by all of his fellow Albertans.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let me just finish with this.

“Ralph Klein was faithful and true, true to himself, faithful to the people of this province, and, always, a proud Canadian.

“So, to ‘Citizen Ralph,’ we say: hail and farewell!

“Your fellow Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians will always remember you.”

Michael Sona charged by Elections Canada in Robocall case

He has been charged under Section 491.3(d) of the Canada Elections Act,

491. (3) Every person is guilty of an offence who
(a) being a deputy returning officer, contravenes any of section 212, subsections 213(1) and (4) and 214(1), section 257 and subsection 258(3) (failure to perform duties with respect to receipt of vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(b) being a special ballot officer, contravenes any of subsections 267(1) and (2), section 268 and subsections 269(1) and (2) (failure to perform duties re counting of the vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(c) being a deputy returning officer or poll clerk, contravenes subsection 276(1), being a deputy returning officer, contravenes subsection 277(1), being a poll clerk, contravenes subsection 277(2), being a deputy returning officer, contravenes subsection 277(3), being a deputy returning officer or poll clerk, contravenes subsection 278(1) or (3) or, being a deputy returning officer, contravenes section 279, (failure to perform duties re counting of the vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(d) contravenes paragraph 281(g) or (h) (prohibited acts re special voting rules); or
(e) contravenes paragraph 282(a) or (b) (intimidation or inducement re vote under special voting rules).
 
281. (g) wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election; or
(h) wilfully at the counting of the votes, attempt to obtain information or communicate information obtained at the counting as to the candidate for whom a vote is given in a particular ballot or special ballot.

Sona’s lawyer says that this will give his client the opportunity to address the charges in court rather than the media, according to HuffPo.

UPDATE: Here is a more detailed statement from Sona’s lawyer via CBC,

Neither Mr. Sona or I will be making any public statements beyond the following statement at this time.
 
Although the charge is disappointing, it represents an opportunity for Mr. Sona to finally address the allegations in a court as oppose to in the media and resolve it permanently. I cannot help but comment, that if the government was interested in the public being fully informed and the issue of robocalls being properly addressed, a Full Public Inquiry would be called, rather than a charge laid against a single individual who held a junior position on a single campaign and who clearly lacked the resources and access to the data required to make the robocalls. I am confident the public agrees.
 
Norm Boxall
Counsel for Michael Sona
Bayne Sellar Boxall
Ottawa

(The somewhat conflicting statements regarding not trying the case in the media and the lawyer’s confidence in the public’s ability to discern Sona’s innocence are interesting)

The charges from Elections Canada come as vindication for Brian Lilley of Sun News who was first to report that Sona fingered by the Conservative Party as who they suspected completed the fraudulent Robocalls in Guelph.

Sona had made news earlier this year when he announced his intentions to testify against Sun News at upcoming CRTC hearings regarding the news channel’s application for license 1 status on Canadian cable.

UPDATE: The Conservative Party has released a statement,

In 2011 we reached out to Elections Canada when we heard of wrongdoing in Guelph and did all we could to assist them.
 
We are pleased that Elections Canada’s work has progressed to this point.
 
The Conservative Party of Canada ran a clean and ethical campaign and does not tolerate such activity.
 
The Party was not involved with these calls and those that were will not play a role in any future campaign.
 
Voter suppression is extremely serious and those responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
 
We spent the entire campaign identifying supporters and we worked hard to get them out to vote.
 
Our job is to get votes out, we do not engage in voter suppression.

UPDATE: Official statement from Elections Canada,

Commissioner of Canada Elections Announces
the Laying of a Canada Elections Act Charge Following
the Investigation of Deceptive Telephone Calls
During the May 2011 General Election

 
OTTAWA, April 2, 2013
 
The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Mr. Yves Côté, has announced that pursuant to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, his office has laid a charge under the Canada Elections Act, a federal statute.
The charge was filed on April 2, 2013 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Guelph.
 
Michael Sona is charged with having wilfully prevented or endeavoured to prevent an elector from voting at an election, contrary to paragraph 281(g) of the Canada Elections Act and by doing so committed an offence contrary to paragraph 491(3)(d) of the Canada Elections Act.
 
The charge relates to the investigation of deceptive telephone calls made to electors in the riding of Guelph during the 41st general election of May 2, 2011.
 
On polling day for the May 2, 2011 general election, many electors in Guelph reported receiving misleading automated telephone calls falsely informing them of changes to their assigned polling station.
 
Any action taken to deliberately misdirect electors and interfere with their right to vote under the Constitution and the Canada Elections Act is a serious offence. As a result, the Commissioner of Canada Elections immediately began investigating and submitted his findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
 
The Commissioner of Canada Elections is responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner under the Canada Elections Act.
 
“The strong public reaction to the fraudulent telephone calls made to electors in Guelph during the May 2011 general election shows how deeply disturbed Canadians were by what happened,” said Mr. Côté. “I hope that the charge we filed today will send a strong message that such abuses under the Canada Elections Act will not be tolerated.”
 
For information specific to this matter:
 
Public Prosecution Service of Canada Media Relations
613-954-7803
or at www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca
 
General information:
Elections Canada Media Relations
1-877-877-9515
or at www.elections.ca

Darryl Sutter supports Keystone XL pipeline

The LA Kings are heading to the White House today to receive congratulations from President Barack Obama for being the 2012 Stanley Cup champions.

The Globe and Mail writes,

Darryl Sutter – who is also the owner of a 3,000-acre ranch near Viking, Alta. – plans to weigh in on the pipeline debate when Barack Obama plays host to the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Tuesday.
 
“I’m gonna ask him about it – damn rights I am,” said Mr. Sutter.
 

 
Mr. Sutter might just be the first to use the Stanley Cup as a means of voicing his opinion.
 
For the record, the Alberta-born Mr. Sutter is in favour of the pipeline.
 
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s 20 feet underground. How can we not want to keep North America [energy self-sufficient]? Why does the border have to separate that? It doesn’t make sense. For sure, I’m going to ask him.”

Sutter isn’t the first Stanley Cup champion to weigh in on pipeline politics. Last May, from the Globe and Mail:

His time on the ice yielded four Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and a reputation as a champion. Now Scott Niedermayer is hoping his winning ways will carry over into a different arena – environmental activism.
 
Mr. Niedermayer, who retired from the National Hockey League in June, 2010, after 18 seasons, has joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund and Coastal First Nations to oppose Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway project.

For their part, the Prime Minister’s Office is pleased by this morning’s reports of Darryl Sutter raising the issue with Obama. They wasted no time in firing off some talking points to their MPs and to journalists,

Darryl Sutter Shows Thomas Mulcair How to Represent Canada on the World Stage
 
When Stanley Cup champion Darryl Sutter takes his Los Angeles Kings to meet President Obama today, he has vowed to deliver a message to the President – approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
Darryl Sutter said he “absolutely” supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and that opposition to it “doesn’t make sense”.
 
Darryl Sutter’s decision to stand up for Canada when meeting with President Obama later today stands in sharp contrast to the actions of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair who recently attacked the pro-Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline and Canada’s national interest on a trip to Washington D.C.
 
Thomas Mulcair’s betrayal of Canada’s national interests on the world stage drew fire from Canadian leaders including Premier Wall, Premier Redford, and media from coast to coast.
 
Our Conservative Government applauds and thanks Darryl Sutter for his efforts to promote Canada’s national interests and Canadian jobs on the world stage. We can only hope that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is paying attention.
 
When it comes to the Keystone XL Pipeline, Thomas Mulcair needs to start listening to Darryl Sutter and stop listening to Daryl Hannah.

Reaction to the 2013 federal budget

National Citizens Coalition:

Last year, the government took on entitlement spending reform in addressing Old Age Security,” says Stephen Taylor, Director of the National Citizens Coalition. “This budget misses similar opportunities to restructure entitlement disbursement. For example, the government has largely backed off Employment Insurance reform and has reversed itself on many reform initiatives since last year. The current trend on entitlement spending remains unsustainable

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

[CTF] applauds the government’s plans to overhaul job training and keep a lid on spending … It’s good to see Ottawa getting training money directly in the hands of young workers so they can land a good-paying job.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business

“Overall, this is a good budget for small business. Minister Flaherty has done a solid job by remaining on course to eliminate the deficit while announcing some important measures for Canada’s entrepreneurs. We’re particularly pleased the government publicly acknowledged taking some of these measures – such as the expansion of the EI Hiring Credit – at the recommendation of CFIB’s 109,000 members.”

Merit Canada:

“We welcome the government’s emphasis on the promotion of skilled trades, and their commitment to addressing the troubling gap in our economy’s labour force needs” said Terrance Oakey, President of Merit Canada. “As the centrepiece of today’s budget, initiatives like the Canada Job Grant respond to the needs of both employers and employees alike and will help Canada’s economy grow by ensuring Canadians have the appropriate skills to fill a growing number of trade positions,” continued Oakey.

Funeral Service Association of Canada

Today the Funeral Service Association of Canada (FSAC) congratulates the Federal Government on their decision to increase support for the Last Post Fund. The new budget proposes $65 million over two years to enhance the Funeral and Burial Program and by more than doubling the current funeral services compensation rate from $3,600 to $7,376.

The Forest Products Association of Canada

The “Jobs, Growth and Prosperity” budget from the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, includes an additional $92 million over two years to support innovation and expanding markets. “We applaud the government for its continuing support for the forest products sector even at a time when tough measures are needed to reduce the deficit.” says the President and CEO of FPAC, David Lindsay. “This is a strategic future-oriented decision that demonstrates ongoing commitment to the transformation of the industry.”

Canadian Home Builders Association

“This is a fiscally prudent, forward-looking budget,” said CHBA President Deep Shergill of Calgary. “We congratulate Minister Flaherty for setting the right priorities.” The federal government’s leadership in providing additional long-term infrastructure financing to municipalities is very welcome. “It’s an opportunity to restore fiscal integrity at the municipal level and fairness for younger generations. At present, many municipalities are financing community infrastructure by transferring the costs into the mortgages of new home buyers, amounting to more than $5 billion a year. “

Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Budget 2013 addresses the tax burden, labour shortages and red tape, which are three key concerns of restaurant operators. The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) congratulates the government for appropriately focusing fiscal evasion measures on the “underground” economy instead of the “above-ground” economy. Following Quebec’s lead to implement sales recording modules or “black boxes” on cash registers would have created a significant cost and administrative burden for restaurants and retailers. … However, CRFA is concerned about measures that will make the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program more costly, cumbersome and difficult to access.

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

“The federal budget sends an important signal. It positions manufacturing and exporting at the heart of Canada’s Economic Action Plan by focusing on practical steps that will enhance competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and business growth … This is very good news for companies creating jobs in Canada, investing in our communities, and developing and selling world-class products and services around the world.”

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

“The measures announced in today’s budget are a significant step forward in the federal government’s attack on Canada’s skills challenge.”

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

“Today’s budget delivers significant gains for Canada’s cities and communities. We applaud the government for choosing to continue moving our communities forward even as it meets its immediate fiscal challenges. This is … a budget that delivers real gains for Canadians … it will spur growth and job creation while laying the foundation for a more competitive economy.”

Public Service Alliance of Canada

Folding CIDA into DFAIT commercializes international development and threatens further cuts to public service workforce.

Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

“The government delivered a responsible budget for uncertain times … We welcome this skills training initiative. In creating the Job Grant fund, the federal government has shown leadership in addressing the growing skills gap. We encourage provinces to support it. All should benefit – employers, workers and governments.”

Joyce Murray copies Marc Garneau’s #eap13 talking points

Liberal leadership candidate Joyce Murray might be lacking original thinking on the 2013 budget. She copied former leadership candidate Marc Garneau’s tweet.

#eap13: Download Jim Flaherty’s 2013 Budget

UPDATE: Lockup is over, check below for the files

Asking yourself “where can I download the budget”? You’ll be able to do that here at 4pm today after budget lockup when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty starts giving his 2013 Budget Speech from the floor of the house of Commons.

They’re giving us a USB key of all of the budget documents in lockup and I will post them here for you to download as soon as they give us back our mobile internet devices.

The #eap13 budget speech will be given from the House of Commons and will be broadcast along with SpeechPLUS which is supposedly a pop-up video style of presentation with charts and bullet points live while the Finance Minister outlines the budget.

The 2013 Budget:

Choice in Childcare hops across the pond

Email from David Cameron today:

The Guardian publishes what is of course proposed on the other side of the debate,

Beverley Hughes, children’s minister under Labour and now in the Lords, has issued an admirable “mea culpa”. She says that Labour got it wrong when it focused on putting money into the hands of parents via, for instance, tax credits rather than investing in the supply side and ensuring the stability and sustainability of providers while working to improve the qualifications of the childcare workforce. She advocates a universal free childcare offer for every child aged one to five. The [Guardian’s] Observer supports her view.

The UK announcement is reminiscent of the political history of the childcare debate in Canada. A national childcare program was proposed by the Liberals in 1993 but was not implemented. When the topic came up again in the first half of the last decade as a renewed Liberal promise to create a new entitlement program, the Tories offered up their “Choice in Childcare” program in their platform instead, allowing a $100 payment to parents per month for each child under age 6.

Peter Penashue quits the cabinet and resigns his seat

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue announced today that he will be quitting the Harper cabinet and resigning his Labrador seat in order to run in a by-election.

The move comes as Penashue is under a scandalous cloud regarding his campaign during the 2011 election as he may have breached the limit and taken a corporate donation. Penashue’s defenders in the party state that he wasn’t aware of what had happened. Penashue is likely running to clear the air and take responsibility. He has also paid back $30,000 to the Receiver General for “ineligible” donations to his last campaign.

Penashue won Labrador for the Conservative Party beating incumbent Todd Russell with a margin of less than 1% of the popular vote. Liberals are now inevitably making the claim the seat was stolen now that Penashue has acknowledged the scandal.

Minister Denis Lebel will take over Penashue’s cabinet responsibilities as the interim intergovernmental affairs minister.

Here are the poll-by-poll breakdowns of Labrador in 2011. You can explore these results here.

Here is Penashue’s full statement:

“Due to mistakes that were made by an inexperienced volunteer in filing the Elections Canada return from the last campaign, I appointed a new Official Agent to work with Elections Canada to make any needed amendments to my campaign return.
 
During the examination we became aware that there were ineligible donations accepted by the former Official Agent.
 
Although I was unaware of the inaccuracies in the return, I believe I must be accountable to the people who elected me and therefore I am stepping down as the Member of Parliament for Labrador and will seek re-election through a by-election. I will also be stepping down as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
 
My record as Member of Parliament for Labrador and Minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government over the past two years is one that I am very proud of.
 
I have worked to secure federal support for the development of Muskrat Falls, which will lead to $1.9 billion for our economy and thousands of jobs for Labrador. I have also worked with government and private industry to increase internet speed in Labrador, and delivered federal funding to pave the Trans-Labrador Highway.
 
There is much more to do for the people of Labrador, including protecting our way of life. We have scrapped the long-gun registry despite the efforts of the NDP and Liberals to keep it, and now we must continue to fight to defend the seal hunt against the NDP and Liberal parliamentarians who want to ban it. I will also continue to lead the defence of the polar bear hunt, something that is very important to Labradorians.

And the statement from the Prime Minister,

“The Honourable Minister Denis Lebel, currently the Minister responsible for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, will assume responsibility for Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
 
“Minister Lebel is now also responsible for the overall management and coherence of relations with provincial and territorial governments and for strengthening Canadian unity.”
 
“I would like to thank Mr. Penashue for his service as Minister and to the people of Labrador.”