Liberals in support of new citizenship guide

The new guide released this week for newcomers to Canada has been generally well accepted by the mainstream of Canada. Of course, some on the left are criticizing the guide for focusing on Canada’s “militaristic” history and for not mincing words when it comes to “barbaric cultural practices” not in line with Canadian values.

Liberals are finding it difficult to oppose the guide as some of their heavy hitters are already backing up the government.

Marc Chalifoux was Michael Ignatieff’s former political assistant and he is quoted in the government’s press release (along with Margaret McMillan, Rudyard Griffiths and Jack Granatstein):

“Discover Canada should be in the hands of not only new Canadians, but every high school student in Canada,” said Marc Chalifoux, Executive Vice-President of the Historica-Dominion Institute. “All citizens, whether they were born in Canada or not, need to understand how the institutions of this country came to be. This guide tells them how.”

Former Paul Martin Director of Communications Scott Reid had this to say on CBC’s Power & Politics:

I think that the citizenship quiz actually is a good initiative. I like the updating. Vimy Ridge, Louis Riel, these are references that ought to be part and parcel of it. You know, when you take a look at the people that guided its reshaping: Canadians of unquestioned qualification.

Former Liberal Party President Stephen Ledrew also gave the guide thumbs up on his CP24 show yesterday.

You can peruse the guide here:

Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition tries to kill long-gun bill behind closed doors

Where: The subcommittee for Private Members Business
When: June 15th
What: A debate over the status of Private Members legislation, specifically on the voteability of Candice Hoepner’s bill C-391 (a bill to scrap the long-gun registry). It was debated by opposition members that it is similar to bill S-5, which is now before the Senate. However, it was ruled that the bill is voteable in the House because it is not before the government. Further, Gerry Breitkreuz’s bill (C-301) was dropped from the order paper because Mr. Breitkreuz did not show up to debate it. Therefore, the subcommittee was debating the ability of the bill to be moved before parliament.

Here’s what Scott Reid had to say:

Yeah, just the list of criteria as decided by the committee of procedure and house affairs under the standing orders the criteria made by this procedure and house affairs committee are in fact part of the standing orders, although not contained therein, and the four criteria include items 3 and 4—I’ll read them both: item 3 is the item on the basis of which opposition members opposed allowing bill C-391 to go forward while bill C-301 was on the order paper. The argument there on the criteria is, and I quote, “bills and motions must not concern questions that are substantively essentially the same as ones already voted on by the house of commons in the current session of parliament or as ones preceding them in the order of precedence. That criteria is no longer met. Item 4, which I assume that criteria number 4 is I assume what is being referred to here, and I’m quoting again is, “bills and motions must not concern questions that are currently on the order paper or notice paper as items of government business.” Now, order paper and notice paper are instruments of the house of commons, the bill S-5 is in the Senate and therefore is neither on the order paper or the notice paper and so there’s no need to fear that bill C-391 would in any way be out of order on the basis of where bill S-5 is. It would be different if bill S-5 would have been passed by the Senate and is now before the House on the notice paper/ order paper but it isn’t.

So, that’s the status of Conservative long-gun registry-scrapping bills before the upper and lower chambers of Parliament.

Reid, now having set the stage of the status of these bills, wanted a recorded vote of the opposition on the fitness of C-391 because he knew that the opposition was trying to spike the legislation before it got to the House so that opposition MPs from rural ridings wouldn’t be embarrassed by voting against the legislation. If the opposition could quietly kill the bill in committee, it would help them save face.

Unfortunately for opposition members (Ms. Jennings and Ms. Gagnon) the meeting of the committee was public and therefore bill C-391 may not face a quiet death.

I’m just curious if the intention here—I should advise members—I’m sure that everybody is going to vote based on the criteria if the intention is to vote with no actual criteria against the bill in order to stop it from going forward, I would just remind the opposition members of two things, one is that we are now meeting in a public session, so their vote is now on the record, and number 2 that it simply would be impermissible for us to allow this to go forward as a negative item and I would be in a position of having to prevent this from being reported back to the main committee, I would just make that observation, Mr. Chairman.

The opposition members, now visible to the public, move to bring this to a forum without accountability.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) Why isn’t it in camera? We were told it was in camera.

Chair: We indicated that it was a public meeting, and checking with the clerk there are no rulings indicating that the private member’s subcommittee needs to meet in camera, and on that basis we call the meetings a public meeting.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) Who decided? You, Mr. Chairman?

Chair: On advice, after discussing with the clerk whether it was procedurally possible. Correct.

Mme. Gagnon: (trans.) I’m new at this committee but generally that kind of decision is taken in a collegial way with the members sitting on the committee and decide together whether it’s in camera or public.

Chair: He is the master of its own fate and unless this committee chooses to meet in camera that’s certainly…

Mme. Jennings: I propose that the meeting move in camera, in conformity with the practices of subcommittees when discussing this kind of issue. My understanding is that this subcommittee has sat in camera every single time it’s met and this is my understanding and you can correct me if I’m wrong, the very first time that this committee is not in camera. As you can see from the reaction from some of the members, they assume including myself that the meeting was in camera, so I move that the meeting go in camera.

to which Scott Reid protests,

Mr. Reid: I believe that there was a motion on the floor to the effect that we would be voting on bill C-391, up or down, that you can’t go back after having had a vote, we had a show of hands, and then we were moving to an actual recorded vote, we can’t stop in the middle of the vote and have a discussion of whether we are going to go on camera. The fact was that as I saw it the three opposite members were all indicating that they wanted bill C-391 killed, voting it down, and I was voting in favour and I realized what had happened and I said that I would like to make this vote on division, you can’t stop in the middle of a vote and go in camera or do any other procedural item, so in fact we are in the stage now of debating, I gather that we are moving in to a vote period, and the vote is on whether bill c-391 is voteable under the four criteria before us—there’s not been any other subject and it’s certainly not something to be stopped whenever Mme. Jennings feels like throwing the rules aside in order to…

and then the meeting wraps up…

Mr. Reid: … What is going on is a reference to a rule that does not exist in terms of a requirement that we be meeting in camera, an effort to ensure that bill c-391 can be killed quietly by the parties, by the other opposition parties, in order to ensure that they don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of revealing that they in fact…

Chair: I’m going to call the motion, we’re going beyond the point of order, so we’re going to call the, uh, someone has to make a motion that we move in camera. Ms. Jennings?

Mme. Jennings: I move that this subcommittee move in camera.

Chair: Okay, that’s a non-debateable non-amendable, all agreed that we move in camera? Recorded vote? Okay?

Clerk: Mme. Jennings?

Mme. Jennings : Yea.

Clerk: Mme. Gagnon?

Mme. Gagnon : Oui.

Clerk: Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid : No.

Chair: Okay, that motion is carried, we move into camera.

Reid summarizes the opposition politics in a member’s statement before QP later that day.

Many members of the opposition oppose the gun registry and if this bill were to make it to the House to be voted upon, it is unclear if the members would be whipped which would result in lost support in their ridings.

Members such as John Rafferty (NDP), Scott Simms (Liberal), Martha Hall Finley (Liberal), Charlie Angus (NDP) and Larry Bagnell (Liberal) have all expressed that the long-gun registry has failed Canadians.

Ontario PC Party leadership race fundraising numbers

Christine Elliott is the money leader so far in this leadership race rounding out the pack of four leadership contenders. Membership sales closed days ago and the campaign enters its persuasion phase.

Candidate Christine Elliott Frank Klees Tim Hudak Randy Hillier
Total raised $315,100 $62,517 $153,940 $91,809
Average donation $2046.10 $2604.88 $1241.45 $1311.56
Median donation $500 $740 $500 $142.50
Donations 154 24 124 70

A few observations are noteworthy. The Hudak campaign had claimed at membership cut off time that donations would surpass $200,000. Since we are about 5 days past the close of membership sales and noting that donations must be declared within 10 days, the campaign may have indeed raised $200k by the membership cutoff date. Despite this, the Elliott campaign more than doubles the Hudak campaign in fundraising contributions. Frank Klees, who is the perceived front-runner in membership sales checks in with a disappointing $62,517. He’ll need to raise a lot more in order to effectively convert the thousands of memberships that he’s reportedly sold come (leadership) election day. Randy Hillier makes a respectful showing with $91,809, a sum that includes two donations from federal MP Scott Reid ($30,000) and himself ($25,000).

Cumulatively, the four PC leadership contenders have so far taken in 16 donations of $10,000 or over. Here they are:

Scott Reid $30,000.00 HILLIER
CIC Developments Inc. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Cougs Investments Ltd. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steven Pietrobon $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Phillip Sutherland $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Shiplake Management Company $25,000.00 HUDAK
Randy Hillier $25,000.00 HILLIER
Pace Credit Union $20,000.00 KLEES
David Cynamon $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Howard Holdings Corp $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Joanne Love $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Peter Westaway $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Ross Whalen $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Robert Wilson $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steane Consulting Ltd. $10,000.00 HUDAK
Mass Insurance Brokers Ltd. $10,000.00 KLEES

All data accurate from Elections Canada as of 9:15pm EST May 19th, 2009

Scott Reid on riding weighting

Scott Reid is the Conservative MP from Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington. Reid is the proponent of the following Conservative constitutional amendment at the policy convention in Winnipeg, MB.

RESOLUTION C-107 (Delegates based on number of EDA members)

Delete the words that are struck through and add the words that are underlined in
Article 7.5 as follows:

7.5 The following shall be entitled to vote as delegates to a national convention:

7.5.1 one delegate elected from each electoral district association for every ten (10)
members of that association (always rounding the number of delegates upward),
to a maximum of ten delegates per association
, an equal number not exceeding
10 from each electoral district association
each of whom shall reside in the
electoral district or who shall have been elected as a director of the electoral
district association at the most recent annual general meeting
, in such number
and
, elected in such manner as determined by National Council which shall
include a requirement that where ten (10) delegates are to be elected at least one
such delegate reflect youth participation, and as an additional delegate the
president of the electoral district association as of a date set by National
Council;

Liberal leadership race heats up

In my last post, I speculated that New Brunswick Liberal MP (and son of a former Governor General) Dominic LeBlanc would throw his hat into the ring for leadership of the Liberal Party. Today, LeBlanc became the first MP to announce his intentions to seek the leadership running between Ignatieff on the relative right and Rae on the left of the party.

I’ve learned some other details about who might back a LeBlanc bid for leadership. I suggested yesterday that a Martin adviser such as Steve MacKinnon would back LeBlanc. With McKenna expected to remain outside of the race, I mused that MacKinnon may go LeBlanc. However, I’ve learned today that the former national director of the Liberal Party will likely back Ignatieff while communications gurus from Paul Martin’s PMO such as Scott Reid and Tim Murphy will be more likely to back the New Brunswick MP while a Liberal insider I spoke to expects John Duffy to go with Rae.

If Ujjal Dosanjh enters the race (if he survives a putative court challenge for a recount), he is expected to do so for the purpose of gathering BC delegates for Bob Rae.

Conservatives and New Democrats I have spoken with have previously feared a bid by Bob Rae. Conservatives believe that Rae will unite and polarize the left while the NDP fears massive hemorrhaging of their membership for Rae. Recently, however, Conservatives are more bullish on their future against a Rae-led Liberal Party as the Global Economic Crisis has severely diminished Rae’s futures on the leadership market. Conservatives would easily remind Canadians of Bob Rae’s tenure during Ontario’s last economic recession and would make the case that Rae days would soon return.

As for second tier candidates, Ruby Dhalla is considering a bid. Sources of mine in Brampton–Springdale have told me that even during the election (before the knives were in Dion’s back), Dhalla told Punjabi language radio that she would be running for the Liberal leadership. Dhalla is seen to be on the right-flank of the Liberal Party and backed Ignatieff’s bid during the 2006 leadership race so unless her candidacy caches fire, she may be building proxy support for the other Liberal professor.

Woe for my love of a great comedy, Justin Trudeau is not expected to jump into the leadership race. Indeed, the son of the former Liberal Prime Minister has not yet got his feet wet in the House of Commons. Trudeau is expected to back LeBlanc as the current standard-bearer of the next generation of Liberal leaders. Trudeau backed former Ontario-cabinet minister Gerard Kennedy for leadership in 2006. Kennedy is testing the waters for entry into this contest, however, many believe that as Dion’s kingmaker, Kennedy may sit this one out to put some time between this aberration and his ambition.

Yesterday, former Chretien finance minister John Manley tested the waters in a most self-deprecating way but found none to dive into as he metaphorically suggested. The author of the Harper-initiated Manley Report was seen by many Liberals as betrayal to a weakened, embarrassed and voiceless party on the opposition benches. Manley may find redemption in his party by organizing for a front-running candidate and this would have the benefit of keeping his name in the minds of Liberal partisans.

Ironically, Dion’s election as Liberal leader may see more longshots enter this race. Ambitious Liberals with at least an ounce of name recognition may see a divided field and plan a run up the middle. LeBlanc’s entry into the race gains credibility because he is first to announce. Others may see that LeBlanc is planning a Dion-like charge up the middle as Dion had done and work to position themselves as a more palatable consensus candidate. Ottawa politicos are guessing that the field of candidates will be necessarily narrow due to a shallow and parched pool of donors. Since leadership contenders can carry previous debts into the next Liberal race, the Liberal base will again be tapped for sparse cash from not only the next crop making the case to be the Liberal Party’s next PM, but from those that are resume building and those paying down old debts during an economic crisis.

UPDATE: Ruby Dhalla’s office contacted me and they would like you to know that Ruby Dhalla did not state that she was running for leader on Punjabi radio. So, for now it’s a matter of she said vs. they said. (UPDATE: I’m now concluding that these Brampton–Springdale sources are likely inaccurate. My sincere apologies to Ruby Dhalla on this point.) Also, Dhalla’s office wants everyone to know that the image above is doctored and that Dr. Dhalla did not pose for the photo. They asked that I remove it. However, I will not comply as the image is obviously satire.