Liberals use CBSA for translation services

Ottawa has been scandal-prone of late in its inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Here we have a story about the inappropriate use of government resources for partisan activity. Such abuse has come to light after documents were released under Access to Information. They describe a request from an official with the Vanier Liberal Electoral District Association for translation to Hélène-Louise Gauthier, the Director of HQ Accommodations for the Infrastructure and Environmental Operations Directorate for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

This request from the Liberal Party was fulfilled using a Government of Canada email address. It is unknown if this was done on government time despite government resources being used to respond to the request. The translated document was the agenda for the 2013 Liberal Ottawa-Vanier AGM.

Of course, it is inappropriate for government officials to be using government resources to do partisan work. I reached out to the Minister of Public Safety for comment. The Minister’s Office verified the documents and Julie Carmichael, the Vic Toews’s director of communications replied,

“We were shocked to learn that senior Liberal MP Mauril Belanger utilized a backroom Liberal operative to do partisan work at taxpayers expense. The CBSA is looking into this blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. We call on Justin Trudeau to immediately discipline Mauril Belanger for this inappropriate behaviour and come clean to Canadians about any other backroom operatives using taxpayer dollars.”

A media firestorm broke out after it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s Office used taxpayers resources to make a political attack against the leader of Canada’s third party in Parliament, Justin Trudeau. Revealed via the Barrie Examiner, the attack was political but wasn’t done on behalf of a political organization outside of government. However in this CBSA example, taxpayer dollars were used directly to benefit the administrative goals of a partisan organization.

Government introduces legislation to scrap long-gun registry

I’ve just learned that the government will be tabling legislation in the Senate to scrap the long-gun registry.  Current legislation is already on the order paper in the House of Commons, introduced by Conservative MP Gerry Breitkreuz as a private members bill (C-301) whereas the legislation in the Senate is a government bill.

Private members bills usually have a tougher time reaching the stage of Royal Assent and thus government legislation will be given a higher priority and indicates that the government is interested in moving to eliminate the long-gun registry as soon as possible.

The bill is being introduced in the Senate and was initiated by Public Safety minister Peter van Loan.  It is being introduced in the Senate due to parliamentary procedure which limits redundant legislation from being concurrently considered by the same Parliamentary body.  I’ve learned that the government is moving to fast-track the scrapping of the long-gun registry putting the legislation on the government’s agenda.

The scrapping of the long-gun registry would fulfill an election promise for the Conservative Party of Canada that goes back to 2004 when Stephen Harper ran for leadership of the party promising accomplish this.

The bill is expected to receive majority support in the House of Commons when it is moved from the upper chamber to the House of Commons for its consideration.

UPDATE: The Senate bill is S-5. (no link yet available)

UPDATE: Public Safety is calling it the “long-gun registry repeal act”

UPDATE: A link to the legislation is now available.

UPDATE: In a fundraiser speech last night, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff indicated that he would whip his Liberal senators (sober second thought, indeed) to vote against the legislation so that it wouldn’t even make it to the House for Canada’s elected representatives to consider. Expect the PM to make his case against the appointed Senate and for Ignatieff to lose any perceived ‘gains’ out west. Ladies and gentlemen, the Liberal Party of Toronto.

George Galloway won’t be coming to Canada

Infamous British MP George Galloway will not be coming to Canada this month as the bureaucrats at Citizenship and Immigration Canada have decided that Galloway is inadmissible to Canada. It is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration’s prerogative to grant an exception, but Minister Kenney has chosen not to do so.

Galloway has a history of being a supporter of organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and has spoken warmly about Saddam Hussein.

The department of Public Safety lists Hezbollah and Hamas as banned terrorist groups in Canada.

Here is a video of Galloway speaking in support of Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah at a protest in London in 2006,

Galloway tells the crowd,

“I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah. I am here to glorify the leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.” — George Galloway

Regarding Hamas, Galloway told IslamOnline.net about why he was visiting Gaza,

“My visit has more than one reason. The first one is to walk a step toward lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

The second is to tell the whole free world that they can do anything real to you.

The third and the main one is to stand beside the legal Palestinian prime minister, [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniya. The entire world knows that he was elected, apparently, democratically. I have offered him corporeal and financial support.” — George Galloway

Galloway has also offered friendship and comfort to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein,

The NDP, showing that its still not ready for prime time, published a news release on this via their immigration critic Olivia Chow,

OTTAWA – Canadians interested in hearing international experts deliver anti-war messages will now have to leave the country to do so. British MP George Galloway, who was schedule to talk on resisting the war in Afghanistan, was banned by Harper’s government from entering Canada.

“Harper’s Conservatives are wrong to bar MP George Galloway,” said New Democrat Immigration Critic Olivia Chow. “The Minister of Immigration is becoming the ‘Minister of Censorship’. This bunker mentality indicates a government afraid of hearing contradictory points of view.”

The last time I remember Chow defending the indefensible was when US domestic terrorist Bill Ayers was denied entry into Canada.

Canadians seeking “anti war” messages could visit the following countries,

England:

Sweden:

The United States (Ft. Lauderdale, FL):

France:

Iran:

Canada:

Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle

9:52AM: Rob Nicholson, Gail Shea, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent and Peter van Loan, Chuck Strahl show up to Rideau Hall

9:52AM: And Christian Paradis, Jim Prentice. CTV has speculated Prentice to environment.

9:54AM: John Baird has arrived.

9:55AM: Some MPs showing up in Blue Line cabs, some in airport cabs, some in their own cars.

9:55AM: Rona Ambrose shows up. Rumour is she’ll move to HRSDC.

10:00AM: Lynne Yelich is at Rideau Hall and Stockwell Day

10:01AM: James Moore arrives

10:03AM: Rahim Jaffer has shown up. Probably to support his newlywed wife Helena Guergis.

10:06AM: Jim Flaherty arrives with wife Christine Elliot.

10:08AM: The Prime Minister’s motorcade makes its way up to Rideau Hall.

10:16AM: Rumour is that Jason Kenney is moving to Citizenship and Immigration. You heard it here first.

10:25AM: Cabinet embargo about to end. Should have the list up soon.

10:31AM: Other MPs at Rideau Hall: Bev Oda, Peter MacKay, Keith Ashfield, Gary Lunn, Chuck Strahl, Gordon O’Conner, Tony Clement, Gerry Ritz, Stephen Fletcher, and Lawrence Cannon.

10:40AM: Here we go. Here comes cabinet into the hall.

10:44AM: Nicholson stays in Justice, no surprise there.

10:45AM: Greg Thompson at Veterans Affairs, Chuck Strahl at INAC, Vic Toews at Treasury Board

10:48AM: Bev Oda at CIDA, Flaherty at Finance, Gerry Ritz at Agriculture

10:50AM: Jean-Pierre Blackburn to Revenue. Aglukkaq to Health. Finley to HRSRC.

10:55AM: Raitt to NRCan, Day to International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway.

10:55AM: Ambrose to Labour.

10:58AM: Prentice to environment. The could be to negotiate new regs with the provinces when it comes to GHG emissions. Alberta will need to sit down with the federal government soon to finalize the new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

11:00AM: Baird goes to Transport/Infrastructure.

11:01AM: Cannon goes to Foreign Affairs.

11:02AM: Tony Clement goes to Industry.

11:05AM: Josee Verner to intergovernmental affairs.

11:05AM: Jay Hill to House Leader.

11:05AM: PVL to Public Safety.

11:07AM: Jason Kenney to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

11:08AM: Christian Paradis to Public Works.

11:09AM: James Moore to Heritage and Official Languages.

11:14AM: Gail Shea to Fisheries.

11:16AM: Gary Lunn to Sport.

11:17AM: Gordon O’Connor to Government Whip.

11:18AM: Helena Guergis to Status of Women.

11:19AM: Diane Ablonczy stays at Small Business.

11:20AM: Rob Merrifield to Minister of State (Transport).

11:22AM: Lynne Yelich to Western Economic Diversification.

11:24AM: Steven Fletcher to Democratic Reform.

11:27AM: Gary Goodyear to Minister of State for Science and Technology. Goodyear will work closely with Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

11:29AM: Denis Lebel to economic development for Quebec. Lebel will be the cash man for Quebec and this will help him electorally.

11:31AM: Keith Ashfield to ACOA.

11:32AM: Peter Kent to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).

Cabinet Speculation*

Ottawa is abuzz with cabinet speculation this week as the summer starts to wind down and there’s no election in sight. Between elections, I’m told, the parliamentary press gallery’s second favourite fix is speculating how the front bench of the government will change. Since the days are hot, and while filing stories about the arctic might cool some off it is still viewed as playing into the man’s hands, and since there are only so many grumble pieces that can be written, cabinet speculation will have to do.

I’ve been chatting with a few friends and sources about the topic and here’s what I’ve deciphered with a high level of confidence.

Ottawa staffers can breathe a bit of relief (just a bit though) because while Carol Skelton is retiring from politics, no other cabinet minister will be shuffled out of cabinet. There will be promotions and demotions within the cabinet structure, but no current cabinet minister will find themselves without a chauffeured car next week. Thus, contrary to some reports, Oda will remain in cabinet.

On the flipside, no back-bencher is to be promoted to cabinet this time around.

Therefore, besides Skelton, the cabinet will neither grow nor shrink.

The shuffle within cabinet itself will be substantial enough that it’ll make a few headlines. I previously speculated (but didn’t write) that a shuffle could be quite surgical and we’d see a trading of two or three portfolios without making other waves, but now I’m hearing that there will be more than a few ministers with new titles. The government might say that such a switch affords new experience to already very capable ministers. Most of us might acknowledge this while recognizing that some fine tuning is due.

Specifically, Maxime Bernier may be shuffled out of Industry (not entirely sure about this) but I can say with certainty that he will not be shuffled into defence or finance.

Security minister Stockwell Day will stay in his current portfolio as most Hill people (including press) have found him to be very capable in his current role.

John Baird is also staying in environment.

I can also say with a certain degree of confidence that there will be a throne speech this fall and that the government is not likely to be shocking the country’s system with a brand new set of priorities as there is a lot of the current agenda that still needs attention.