Brent Rathgeber has left the Conservative caucus

Brent Rathgeber has left the Conservative caucus and its a shame that it came to this.

Bill C-461 is its unamended form would have been a much needed piece of legislation that would have provided disclosure of public servant salaries at or above deputy minister 1 (DM1) level ($188,000+).

I spoke on this legislation before committee and I informed them that I was told that the legislation would not pass without amendment, but that amending the legislation would be a scandal for the governing caucus because it speaks to the heart of what it means to be conservative.

The Conservative government was originally elected in 2006 on a promise to bring accountability and transparency to Ottawa. This legislation was pitch perfect for the original Conservative hymn of opening up government for broader public scrutiny.

If the rationale for amending this legislation was to proactively protect from news stories and headlines of the compensation rates of scores of senior staffers, perhaps the government should realize that such government largesse is itself indefensible. In trying to protect themselves from bad headlines, other bad headlines are now being written.

The Conservatives need to get themselves sorted. This is not why they originally came to Ottawa. For Rathgeber, I was pleased to see his work on bill C-461 but was disappointed in his lack of support for bill C-377.

Last night’s gutting of bill C-461 is not why conservatives send Conservative MPs to Ottawa. Bill C-461 sought to bring transparency and accountability to the public service and now this government seems intent on shielding such accountability from the public view.

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.

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.”

George W Strawman II

The Tories released their Clean Air Act yesterday. Like 99.9% of Canadians, I haven’t read through the details yet but it seems that the media is particularly hostile to it, along with environmental groups. Luckily, they’ll use the old standby for criticizing Canadian conservative policy: George W Bush, of course!

George W Bush is unpopular in Canada because of the Iraq war and has low approval numbers in the US too. Like virtually all Canadians, I haven’t read the Clean Air Act, but thankfully the media, NGOs and Jack Layton will use Canadian dislike for George Bush to bring us up to speed on how we’re supposed to feel about the proposed Conservative legislation on clean air.

“The proposed federal regulations presented today by the Harper government line up with the outdated and weak standards of the Bush Administration, not the stringent standards of the state of California” — The Sierra Club

The government strategy also misses the point that in today’s world, the battle against global warming is an iconic cause on par with the war on international terrorism. To witness the passionate crusade led by former American vice-president Al Gore for more action on climate change.

But then it could be that it is much easier for Harper to borrow a page from George W. Bush on fighting terrorism than one from a Democrat such as Al Gore on fighting climate change. — Chantel Hebert, Toronto Star, Oct 20th, 2006

The Conservatives’ plan is similar to one announced three years ago by U.S. President George W. Bush, who called for an 18 per cent reduction in emission intensity by 2012.

Bush argues any attempt to cut emissions would harm the U.S. economy, particularly because two major competitors, China and India, aren’t bound by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce theirs. — Peter Gorrie, Toronto Star, Oct 12th, 2006

Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Accord is being ignored, and Harper is following George Bush‘s lead in working on smaller green issues while climate change isn’t directly addressed. — Midland Free Press, October 18th 2006

Some environmentalists saw the minister’s insistence on legislation as little more than a stalling move reminiscent of tactics used by U.S. President George W. Bush. The Conservatives insist their approach amounts to an effort to inject some accountability into pollution-fighting efforts. — Red Deer Advocate, October 11th, 2006

The Harper government has closely aligned itself with the American philosophy, which in environmental terms is not really the type of neighbourhood in which you would want to raise your children. Under George Bush, the Americans firmly believe global warming is largely a media creation, national parks should be harvested for their natural resources and the Alaskan wilderness is only there so it can be tapped for oil. — Chatham Daily News, October 20th, 2006

But environmentalists noted the intensity-based approach, also adopted in the U.S. by President George W. Bush and by the provincial government in Alberta, make it easy for large industries to increase emissions and still meet their reduction targets when the economy is growing. — Ian Bailey and Mike De Souza, Canwest, October 11th, 2006

Its targets have been consigned to the recycling bin by Ambrose, although she insists her government still subscribes to the international climate accord. She also (echoing an argument from the Bush administration) says technological advances, including storing carbon emissions underground, may accelerate progress on greenhouse gases. — Susan Riley, Ottawa Citizen, October 20, 2006

For example, at the first hint that Ontario carmakers might be forced to further restrict tailpipe admissions last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty — an alleged green champion — was warning Ambrose to back off.

He was supported by another nominal “progressive,” union leader Buzz Hargrove. The autoworkers boss claimed that if the Big Three are dragged, protesting all the way, into the future, and an era of more energy-efficient vehicles, they will be driven out of business — taking thousands of jobs and the Ontario economy down with them. George W. Bush couldn’t have said it better. — Susan Riley, Ottawa Citizen, October 9, 2006

(Brad) LAVIGNE: There are no timelines, Geoff, no timelines and no targets. So, yes, do we want a clean air act? Well if it’s in the look of Jack Layton’s with targets and timelines, we love it. But if it’s a Stephen Harper-Rona Ambrose-George Bush special…

(Geoff) NORQUAY: There’s that George Bush again.

LAVIGNE: I got it in there.

— From Mike Duffy Live, October 11th, 2006

“No targets means no accountability, … This announcement is nothing more than a recipe for delay. Adopting the Bush administrations standards will not lower emissions from vehicles.” — John Bennett of the Sierra Club.

The intensity targets to which legislation refers are even more troublesome. These are used heavily in the George Bush environmental platform. — Brantford Expositor, October 20, 2006

This is basically the Bush approach to greenhouse gases … Bush has adopted an intensity target for the U.S. which translates into a considerable increase in actual emissions.” — Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute

It’s essentially a Xerox copy of policies right out of the Bush administration. It shouldn’t be called a Clean Air Act because the air is going to get dirtier and dirtier over the next few years. — Jack Layton

Intensity targets, which have been favoured by the Bush administration in the U.S., would reduce emissions relative to a measure of output; for example, every barrel produced. — Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun

‘Intensity-based’ are words beloved by the Republican Bush government which will allow for an actual increase in greenhouse gas emissions as the economy grows — John Godfrey

Contrast that with Harper’s tentative approach to cleaner air and smog reductions. Nowhere in Mr. Harper’s speech is there mention of global warming. Only once did he allude to a connection between air pollutants and climate change. Clearly, he speaks from the same environmental textbook as George W. Bush. — W.E. Bill Belliveau, Times & Transcript, October 14, 2006

In fact, George W. Bush, like Harper, also introduced legislation to improve air quality. — Keith Boag, CBC, October 10, 2006

Harper’s announcement in Vancouver today was very much like one made by U-S President George W. Bush three years ago — John Bennett, director of the Climate Action Network of Canada

Well it’s really clear, I’ve said it before, but Stephen Harper is a carbon copy of George Bush, and not just on this file, but on this one the pun is intentional. We are following George Bush‘s approach on intensity targets. Bush invented that. And we’re calling something a clean air act reminds me very much of George Bush?s clear skies program that resulted in more air pollution. — Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader, October 10, 2006

That George Bush ought to resign if for no other reason than to stop being used as a strawman for the Canadian media, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May. But seriously, using Bush this way comes at the expense of much needed debate in the MSM on the legislation.

And now, I’m off to read the Clean Air Act.