The Senate shall return

The House of Commons wrapped up last week to allow Members of Parliament to return to their ridings for the holidays to meet with constituents and spend time with family. Members will return to work in Ottawa in late January around the time of the Olympics.

Friday morning, most people were under the mistaken impression that Parliament had closed for the holidays. However, the Senate still sits.

The Senate sat all day Friday and went through until midnight Thursday night. Senators debated C-51, the HST and special benefits for self-employed workers. Despite the House of Commons shutting down on Thursday, the Senate still has half of one day’s business remaining including committee hearings and votes. Senator Gerald Comeau, the Deputy leader of the government in the Senate, proposed that the Senate sit through Saturday to finish the legislative agenda. However, his Liberal counterpart refused and the Senate will return to complete one half day’s work before senators go home for the holiday break.

What does this mean?

By delaying the completion of one half day’s work, over 100 senators went home for the weekend, many of them flying business class to reach their destinations only to return on Monday. A conservative estimate of travel costs for 100 pampered senators jetting to all corners of the country for the weekend to come back for a short wrap up would cost over $200,000 including associated taxi, per diem and hotel costs.

And the significance to the larger discussion? While we nickel and dime the expense claims of cabinet ministers in the spirit of accountability (as we should), the Senate flies below the radar of many Ottawa watchers. The Conservatives have been making the case against Liberal entitlement and for them the Senate has been an easy target. The return of more than 100 Senators to the Upper Chamber today may make the few hours of wrap up among some of the costliest in its history.

“We created the country you live in. Never forget it”

In this collection of clips,

1) Ignatieff seems to forget he’s in Canada.
2) An example of Ignatieff’s I, I, I problem
3) A declaration that the election is, to Ignatieff, about the Liberal Party reclaiming its place in Canada.
4) Not a hint of arrogance (because he says so)
5) A tired old attack line.

Never get between a Liberal and his pork

We get letters! From a Conservative staffer on the Hill today…

Pork chop sandwiches!

(headline inspired by Murray the Hun in the comments)

UPDATE: Another witness on the scene writes to inform that when staffers were grumbling that Ignatieff was cutting the line to go up front he remarked “Don’t worry, I won’t eat any pork”. Of course, the event was to support pork producers and demonstrate that Canadian pork is safe. A staffer quickly corrected Ignatieff and the Liberal leader proceeded to grab a sandwich.

UPDATE: A former Liberal staffer (and current pork lobbyist) who is a friend writes to say that MPs from other parties were also allowed to cut the line for photo-op purposes and insists that some in fact did.