Duffy vs. Stoffer

Regardless of the team you pick, if you follow either Duffy or Stoffer this year, it’ll cost you over $100,000.

Here are other PEI teams you could follow (Team Duffy also plays in the island league)

Senator Callbeck = $36,186
Senator Downe = $74,260
Senator Hubley = $90,166
MP Easter = $143,262

Why was Duffy singled out by the Team CP and by Team Stoffer? Stoffer’s team bus is just as plush, but Team CP shouldn’t just swing at lob balls served up by Team Stoffer, that’s just bush league.

Opposition MPs that Voted to Scrap the Gun Registry

Liberal Party of Canada – (8)
Scott Andrews (Avalon)
Larry Bagnell (Yukon)
Jean-Claude D’Amours (Madawaska—Restigouche)
Wayne Easter (Malpeque)
Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Anthony Rota (Nipissing—Timiskaming)
Todd Russell (Labrador)
Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)

New Democratic Party – (12)
Malcolm Allen (Welland)
Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay)
Niki Ashton (Churchill)
Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic)
Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt)
Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing)
Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North)
Jim Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona)
John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River)
Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore)
Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury)

Bloc Québécois – (0)

Independent – (1)
André Arthur (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier)

and from the governing Conservatives…

Conservative Party of Canada – (143)

Read my post on how the vote went last night

Historic vote to scrap the long gun registry

I was in the gallery of the House of Commons yesterday to vote on C-391. Members from
opposition parties voted to support Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s legislation to scrap the long gun registry.

Fulfilling a longterm election promise, Conservative members voted unanimously to sink the long criticized program which has been referred to by caucus members as a “billion dollar boondoggle”.

Friendly betting went on between Conservative staff and Conservative members earlier in the day on the outcome of the vote. From passing by two votes to fifteen votes, everyone bet on it to pass. However, there was still tension as the known opposition votes needed to pass the legislation still counted Heopner’s bill short by one or two votes.

In the end, the legislation passed with applause for Hoeppner and Garry Breitkreuz, who shepherded the issue through its latest legislative test. Applause also for Independent libertarian-minded Quebec MP Andre Arthur who showed up for the vote despite being ill over the past two years. It was conveyed to me that fellow Quebec libertarian Maxime Bernier encouraged him to make the vote.

Another MP Claude Guimont, afflicted with H1N1 influenza also made the vote. It was reported earlier that the Tories faced criticism for refusing to pair Guimont’s vote. Given the unwhipped vote, allowing members to vote their minds rather than that of their leader, and given the uncertainty of the outcome, nobody from any political party offered to pair their vote.

The vote sent the bill to committee 164-137, prompting one member from a coterie of gun control advocates sitting in the opposite gallery to show her white ribbon (commemorating the 1989 shootings at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal) to perhaps shame members of the opposition benches that voted with Conservative members.

Among the activists was Wendy Cuckier, often the face of gun control in the Canadian media. After the vote she scrummed with reporters in the Commons foyer. She complained of a new style of politics, an “American style” of approaching legislation. She suggested that, in the future, the government may on matters such as same-sex marriage and abortion introduce legislation as Private Members Business as they’ve done with the Gun Registry to allow MPs to vote their conscience. The danger in this, she suggested was that leaders would have less control over their parties and that the government could “pick off” opposition MPs by lobbying them heavily within their own ridings by spending dollars on persuation via advertising. She remarked that this is the style of politics that happens south of the border.

Keith Martin was among the few Liberal members that voted against the registry. He noted that while the organization of police chiefs is against the abolishment of the registry, rank and file police officers are for it. He explained that he voted for the bill because he wants to broaden the discussion by sending it committee.

Candice Hoepner noted in her scrum that today marked only one step along the path to dismantling the gun registry. She emphasized that it was important that the issue was put to a free vote. Hoeppner noted that while she is against the registry, she is still in favour of licensing for gun owners. On the registry’s supposed intent, Heoppner explained that the registry did little to stop criminals. As for the changes the legislation may face in committee, she suggested that one cannot change the intent of the bill at this stage. And as the bill faces a vote in the Senate, Heopner expressed her hope that the unelected senators be especially mindful of the wishes of Canadians.

Wayne Easter also scrummed in the foyer. Easter was Solicitor General under Chretien and held the office while his portfolio responsibilities included oversight of the long gun registry program. Easter was one of the only front bench Liberal MPs that voted for Hoepner’s PMB. Easter explained that the system isn’t working as it was intended and that there is strong opposition to the long gun registry in rural committees, perhaps including the one that Easter represents on Prince Edward Island. He suggested that it is the Prime Minister that is to blame for the weakening of gun control. In fact, many Liberals had suggested that the Prime Minister dodged a long held campaign promise of scrapping the registry and that he should have directed legislation on this issue to introduced as a government bill.

While Easter was among the Liberal caucus that got the registry up and running, he suggested that there is always room for improvement to the system. It is unknown if he meant improvement via dismantling. Easter stated that he voted to represent the interests of his constituents, many of which include farmers and hunters — two constituent groups firmly against the program. Easter stated when asked that he was, and still is, very upset about the advocacy Conservatives members conducted in his riding. At one point this week he even suggested that it may change his vote.

Hedy Fry remarked that the vote is essentially meaningless as her leader voted to continue the registry. Therefore, she suggested, when the Liberals retake power, they’d reverse any action on the registry taken by the Conservatives.

NDP staffers suggested to me that the legislation may never see royal assent because of delays at committees, in the Senate and a future election that will drop it off of the order paper. They noted that the legislation split along an urban and rural divide in both the NDP and Liberal parties. An NDP strategist also added that gun control lobby groups largely sat on their hands as Conservatives organized on this issue.

The bill now faces discussion and study in committee where it is likely to face testimony by lobby groups both for and against the scrapping of the gun registry. Opposition members are likely to express an intent to “study” the legislation by calling a number of witnesses. Ironically, delay may increase likelihood of the bill passing through the Senate as 2010 will see appointment of additional senators to the Upper Chamber. Conservatives are effectively sailing through votes in the now and 2010 the Senate will tip further to the right. For the time being, however, delayed passage of a bill to dismantle the gun registry by the Upper Chamber will only act to bolster Conservative fundraising on two hated issues: the gun registry and the unelected Senate.

A response to Alf Apps’ politicization of H1N1

Alf Apps made the news for emailing this disgraceful letter to a wide distribution list within the Liberal Party. He has been roundly criticized for suggesting that H1N1 may be Prime Minister Harper’s “Hurricane Katrina” and that “Canadians are entitled to wonder if they are being victimized by some clinical cost-benefit analysis premised on the theory that expense could be avoided if demand for the vaccine were suppressed and access to immunization for most was made well nigh impossible.”

I’ve put together the following video as a critique on Apps’ disgusting words. H1N1 is not a game and all parties ought to be working together to ensure supply and manage fears. It is wholly irresponsible to cause panic thus jamming lines with low priority Canadians at the expense of those who need the rationed vaccine first. This is not an issue upon which Apps’ and a handful of Liberals should be scoring cheap political points. When faced with great situations, we ought to have government accountability yes, but we must be wary of those that would unnecessarily stoke fear to drive a partisan agenda.

Let’s get back to work shall we? This video is a admonition of the politicization of H1N1 and only an admonition of the politicization of H1N1. I believe that most Liberals want to help steer Canada through this potential crisis with minimized turbulence. I agree with Brian Lilley’s take on the recent dialogue on H1N1 on Parliament Hill; Ignatieff has been rational and responsible on this issue while members of his caucus and party have not.

UPDATE: Here’s part of a CTV report by Graham Richardson that aired last night that should interest Mr. Apps.

Again, let’s move forward shall we?

Michael Ignatieff on the Monarchy

Michael Ignatieff, after the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales, wrote an article published in the Montreal Gazette on December 12th, 1992:

LONDON – We are being told to sympathize with the private grief of the tragic couple. We are being asked to believe that the horrid tabloids are to blame. Buckingham Palace and No. 10 Downing Street smoothly assure us that the couple’s private misery need have no constitutional implications.

Enough of this nonsense. The Royal Family is not doing its job. And what pray is that? It is to represent and to guarantee the institutional continuity of the British state.

The separation announcement effectively declared that the monarchy had placed its dynastic succession on hold until the unhappy couple sort themselves out. The monarchy has suspended normal service and has no idea when it will be resumed.

We swear allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors. As of Thursday’s announcement we no longer know who they actually will be. Will it be Charles? Or Prince William? Will Diana be Queen?

In constitutional theory, prime ministers and politicians come and go but the Queen and her heirs go on forever.

On Thursday, the proper constitutional order was stood on its head. The prime minister was on his feet in the Commons acting as the source of constitutional continuity, struggling to make it appear in his usual unconvincing way, that nothing was really amiss.

Both the prime minister and the palace must dwell in a realm of deep unreality not to have anticipated the gasp of disbelief in the Commons chamber at their blithe contention that Britain will accept the prospect of being ruled by a miserably separated couple.

In reality, as both MPs and the public appear to have realized, we are heading into constitutional No Man’s Land. The problem is not that the monarchy is failing to live up to some rosy family ideal. The British royal family never has and in any case that is not its job. Along with the dutiful diligent and much-loved Queen, we have had madmen, philanderers and incompetents on the throne.

Listening to the separation announcement, I found myself wondering exactly why this shambles was so magically preferable to an elected presidency. Dignity, authority and respect – all the qualities peeling away from the monarchy by the hour – are there to behold in the distinguished figure of Richard von Weizsacker, Germany’s president. He has even used his office to speak for the German liberal conscience. Could someone tell me why the current Speaker of the British House of Commons could not do just as well? At least she has no family we would have to endure.

I will be told that republicanism is alien to British traditions. This is monarchist cant. Britain is the home of the doctrine of popular sovereignty. From the English revolution of 1640 to the Reform Act of 1832, the British people taught continental Europe how to bend a monarchy to the popular will.

The rights of free-born Englishmen, the sovereignty of Parliament and the independence of the judiciary were all won in essentially republican struggles against monarchical power.

The result is a unique form of government in which “We, the people” consent to be ruled by a hereditary monarch. We think of ourselves as subjects rather than citizens, but the reality is that the monarchy is a creature, even a prisoner, of public opinion.

It is this unstable combination of republican sovereignty, clothed in the trappings of monarchy, which is slowly coming apart. The British now have to decide whether to admit how republican their history actually is or whether to continue with the fantasy that they are ruled by kings and queens.

The tabloid press faithfully reflects the rabid and schizophrenic attitude of the public. One minute the tabloid hounds are licking the royal hand, the next they are biting it off. One day they bay for the Queen to pay taxes “like the rest of us.” The next they are weeping tears over the end of the royal fairy tale.

What is depressing is not the cynical opportunism but the corruption of an authentically British republican tradition into a rabid kind of porno-populism. The royal family is now being torn apart by a uniquely British combination of raging envy and fawning deference. This schizophrenia perfectly expresses the conflict between republican and monarchical principles at the heart of the constitution.

What happens now depends not on what the palace wishes, but on what the public comes to believe is right. My fervent wish is that it will regretfully but firmly decide enough is enough.

The future looks decidedly bleak for the institution. The tabloids will ferret out the royal mistresses and consorts soon enough. Separation will be followed by divorce. What then? We seem to be headed, slowly but surely, towards a humble Scandinavian monarchy, which bicycles to work, busies itself in inoffensive good works and tries desperately to make itself so boring that the tabloids will give up the chase.

But a Scandinavian-style monarchy is acceptable only if the British public finally admits that Britain’s days as a great power are over. For greatness is what monarchy once implied, and the greatness is irrevocably gone.

If so, why retreat further? Why not turn retreat into an opportunity for reform? Now is the time for the republican tradition in Britain to find its voice again.

Such respect for the monarchy as I have makes me believe they deserve a more honorable opponent than rabid porno-populism.

For the choice the British face is between clinging to an institution which has had its day or affirming what their history has always taught, which is that “We, the people” and not the crown are the source of all power and authority in this island.

Motion on Adscam to be moved

I’ve learned that Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro will move the following motion at committee on Tuesday:

November 1st 2009 represents the fourth anniversary of the first report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, presided over by Justice Gomery. Despite the time that has passed, we are no closer to knowing which Federal Liberal riding associations benefited from the stolen taxpayer funds or where the missing $43 million dollars highlighted by Justice Gomery ultimately wound up.

The Standing committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics calls on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the sponsorship program to determine which federal Liberal riding associations received stolen funds and to clarify for Canadians who received the missing $43 million dollars.