Entrench Property Rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Tasha Kheiriddin writes in Full Comment on the National Post website,

On February 24, federal MP Scott Reid and Ontario MPP Randy Hillier held a joint press conference to promote the protection of a basic human right: the right to property. The two politicians will be introducing resolutions in their respective legislatures which would entrench constitutional protection to property rights in Ontario – and hopefully spark a move to enact similar protection in the rest of Canada as well.

Here is the press conference,

Here is the CCF’s video announcing the Jaworski’s legal win in their fight to hold the Liberty Summer Seminar on their property,

Michael Ignatieff to meet Liberal elites on his Working Families Tour

Michael Ignatieff is currently on tour! He’s on the road going to the east coast of Canada and to parts of Quebec and Ontario. They’re calling it the Working Families Tour but most events occur between the hours of 8:30am and 3:30pm when families are working! I asked the Liberal Party about this and they replied that they are “going to where people work”. Fair enough, but let’s take a look at a stop in St. John’s Newfoundland:

And when he’s done at the high school meeting “working families”, he’s got another event that evening for Laurier Club members!

What is the Laurier Club you might ask? Let’s check the Liberal website for the answer:

With an annual donation of $1,100 ($550 for those 35 and under), made monthly or as a one-time gift, donors achieve Laurier Club status.

Working families by day, Liberal elites by night! All in a day for Michael Ignatieff on the Working Families Tour.

The Bev Oda “not” scandal

Another government scandal is brewing, cooked up by entitlement seekers and the opposition. KAIROS, an aid organization with a penchant for getting involved in the politics of the Israel/Palestinian conflict understandably are upset that their $7 million dollar funding from the government of Canada was cut. Of course, it is the government’s prerogative to fund and defund what it likes with respect to aid agencies via CIDA, however, someone didn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s in the appropriate manner. Or, is this much ado about nothing?

When the opposition isn’t complaining about the government following the letter of the law, constitution or otherwise to exert its agenda or “play politics”, they complain that the government doesn’t follow the “spirit” of the same (cf prorogation). Or they disagree with the fundamentals of the decision and mire everyone in the details and cry “technical foul” (cf the long-form census decision and recently KAIROS).

The opposition argues that the government can’t make these changes explicitly and “hides” behind bureaucrats to provide cover for their decisions. The Liberals sought to illustrate this with Munir Sheikh’s advice regarding the long-form census and now with CIDA’s advice to Bev Oda. It is within the government’s right to accept or deny the advice of bureaucrats and act as they wish, however, Sheikh’s resignation exposed a rift in what was being said about advice from bureaucrats and what advice was actually given.

The Liberals would like to build a narrative that such practice is the norm by this government, however, with the defunding of KAIROS, they are reaching; no deception exists. Clearly, penning in “NOT” to modify a document set in computer typeface, is not going to fool anyone if one’s intention was to mislead as to what the advice of bureaucrats had been to Bev Oda.

So, what is the context here and what have we learned in recent days?

Minister Oda received the memo regarding the President of CIDA’s advice regarding the funding of KAIROS. The government explains that Oda receives hundreds of pieces of paper to manage and sign every day and that she was traveling that day. An autopen signature was used at her authorization on the memo however given the urgency of a decision that waited on the KAIROS funding file, her input could not easily be integrated. She insists and maintains that she does not know who affixed the “NOT” to the document because it was one of her staff and she wasn’t in the office, however, her staff knew the position of the minister and the memo did not reflect it. Since the memo was autopenned, it follows that a ministerial staffer may have also included the “NOT” at the same time.

So is this indeed a technical foul, or a technical limitation of the process by which the Minister reviews documents? Did Minister Oda misrepresent the position of her bureaucrats as the Liberals are trying to portray? Watch the following CBC report to understand the swirling narrative in Ottawa in the past week but keep watching to understand the omitted/neglected context of this story.

Did Milewski not realize that Biggs’ testimony was relevant? Or was the audio file from committee cut and emailed to Milewski by those that have wrapped a nice bow around this story for journalist consumption?

Clearly, Margaret Biggs sees nothing untowards regarding what happened. In fact, here is her testimony from that same committee:

Ms. Margaret Biggs (President of CIDA): Yes, I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department’s advice.

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that’s quite normal.

I think we have changed the format for these memos so the minister has a much clearer place to put where she doesn’t want to accept the advice, which is her prerogative.

Cabinet is allowed to disregard the advice of bureaucrats but Liberals contend this is part of a standoffish attitude of this government that doesn’t reflect the “values” that Canadians wish to see in their governments. However, why do Liberals now ignore the same bureaucrat and her testimony that she was not mislead, her position not misrepresented, and that this rather represents a limitation — now addressed — of a Minister’s ability to provide input on memos?

Here’s an interesting account from a former Liberal ministerial aide (do read the whole thing):

Minister Oda is asked an oral question by Mr. Francis Valeriote (L-Guelph). The question is here. This question is about, again, the difference between CIDA priorities and government priorities, and what constitutes a final decision. Just to be clear – every recommendation or “decision” a public service department makes is NOT FINAL, nor can it be called a Department Decision until the Minister signs off on it. Mr. Valeriote’s assertion that funding KAIROS was aligned with CIDA’s bureaucrats’ country program objectives is true, but also is it true that funding KAIROS does not meet the government’s objectives (where government is Cabinet in the person of Minister Oda). There is no contradiction. Mr. Valeriote is just upset that the Minister gets to win, because she’s the Minister.

…[this is] simply the opposition being the opposition and likely purposefully not picking up on the nuances of the two statements that appear contradictory but that are both true.

The Minister SIGNED OFF on disagreeing with the bureaucrats’ recommendation as shown by the insertion of the “NOT”. The Minister, while on the phone with a group of her staffers, directed the NOT to be inserted, but did not physically do it herself, and does not know which one of the staffers did it. She did not lie. She answered very precisely and correctly.

Summary:
1. CIDA bureaucrats have “country program objectives”. These do not necessarily jive with the government’s objectives for foreign aid. Check.
2. CIDA bureaucrats recommended KAIROS to the Minister through a signed document that left no room for the Minister to disagree. The latter has been a problem for a few years and the bureaucrats should’ve stopped pre-supposing agreement and left space for the Minister to disagree a long time ago. The bureaucrats finally get the message and change the way they send decision documents to the Minister. Check.
3. The Minister disagreed after 2 months of weighing her options as is her prerogative. Check.
4. The Minister, while away from her office and needing to make a decision, directed her staff to indicate such disagreement and auto-pen it, thus ending funding for KAIROS. Check.
5. LIKELY: KAIROS freaks out and goes to their MPs to ask WTF. Check.
6. Liberal members who are in opposition start asking questions that are meant to meet their own political objectives in a greater narrative of transparency and accountability. Check.
PROBLEM: There is no issue with transparency and accountability in this particular instance.
7. Minister Oda answers questions in QP and before a committee based on the “government” being cabinet in her person, and “CIDA decisions” are only real when she signs off and is very precise as a seasoned politician should be. Check.

WHERE IS THE PROBLEM?? There is simply no contempt here. I’d LOVE to find it. But I cannot. The reasons for de-funding KAIROS are the government’s prerogative, and so what if the Prime Minister directed the Minister to disagree? He’s allowed to do that too – he sets the agenda.

Also, if this is the stuff the Liberals are counting on to win an election, we’re toast.

Some other questions to consider:

– should government be providing funding to agencies to outsource its efforts and activities?
– if so, should these agencies be counter to the objectives of the government?
– is this another effort of the Liberals to build a narrative of scandal “a culture of deceit”? Remember wafergate? H1N1?
– do we need a clearer understanding of the roles of bureaucrats and of the roles and mandates of elected officials in the decision making process?
– when stories are packaged nicely for journalists, is it not dangerous to report on a unbalanced production?
– the Conservatives took days to respond with an accounting of what they understood to have occurred, but is simply the response rate of the accused?
– a news report is not always a “report of the facts”, unfortunately this happens too often as tipsters always have an agenda. This was certainly an agenda driven story, not one dug up by the CBC. In the current climate of breaking political news, how can we convey a better understand that news stories are always developing and not a final report of an event?

Carolyn Bennett sings Liberal version of O Canada

or… as she calls it, “the gender neutral, secular, bilingual” version of O Canada.

Here are the lyrics from her website in case you were wondering,

O Canada!

Our home and native land!

Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

Ton histoire est une épopée

Des plus brillants exploits.

O Canada

glorious and free!

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Liberals now in favour of arming border guards?

On December 3rd, 2008 Liberal MP Mark Holland wrote in Embassy Magazine:

Canada doesn’t have a billion dollars to waste on border security measures that don’t work.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the current government has offered Canadians with its decision to arm Canada’s border guards.

May 14th, 2009, from the Montreal Gazette:

Arming Canada’s border guards will cost taxpayers about $1 billion and is likely to endanger the lives of innocent people, Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland says.

In an interview yesterday, he called the Conservatives’ firearms plan a ploy to pander to fears about border security.

“When you take a look at the fact that there hasn’t been any instance that has been documented where a gun would have been helpful to a border agent, it seems that throwing guns into the mix could create some serious problems,” Holland said.

He added that the government is also responding to what he called “overheated rhetoric” in the United States about the U.S.-Canada border. “Frankly, us taking this kind of move just adds to the problems of perception in the United States that somehow this is a dangerous border.”

A letter that landed in my inbox today dated September 23, 2010:

I spoke to Steve Pellerin-Fowlie, the 3rd VP of the Customs and Immigration Union, and he told me that he asked for the Liberal Party position in writing. Clearly, despite Holland’s explicit language on the issue, an update was sought by the union whose members work to secure the Canadian border.

The Conservative position on the issue has always been clear. According to the Conservative election platform of 2006, the Conservatives promised that they would,

“Provide our border officers with sidearms and the training required for their use, and ensure, for the safety of these officers, that there are no “work alone” posts.”

The government announced the policy in 2006. The Canadian Border Services Agency explains:

In 2006, the Government of Canada announced its decision to provide funding for training and equipping Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers with firearms. In total 4,800 CBSA officers at all land and marine ports of entry, as well as officers who perform enforcement functions within Canada, will carry a firearm in the line of duty. There are currently 1,386 armed officers that have been trained and deployed throughout the country.

Providing CBSA officers with duty firearms enhances border security and helps protect our communities. It improves their effectiveness at the border by enabling them to have a broader range of options when responding to dangerous situations and to pursue enforcement activities to a greater extent.

Pellerin-Fowlie also explained that in meetings with the union, Mark Holland, Sen Mitchell and Peter Donolo have stressed that the arming initiative is Liberal Party policy and that Holland expressed that the Liberals want to move faster than the Conservative plan.

According to a spokesman at the office of the Minister of Public Safety, the Liberals have not made any public statement regarding this change in position.