New Government leader in the Senate to be an elected one?

Earlier this month, Mulroney appointee and Harper lieutenant Marjorie LeBreton announced her retirement as Government leader in the Senate. LeBreton, who is 73, will retire from the Senate in two years.

LeBreton has held the government’s line in the Senate through its problems this year; Senator Brazeau is up on sexual assault charges, while he and three other Senators are facing RCMP investigation over allowance expense irregularities.

A government official speaking about LeBreton’s retirement said, “A fully elected cabinet is an important thing right now”. This was taken by most of Ottawa to mean a deprioritization of the Senate as an institution in the executive branch of government.

However, it could also slyly mean that the Prime Minister will appoint an elected Senator to cabinet to be the government’s voice in the Upper Chamber.

Candidates for this position in cabinet include:

  • Scott Tannas
  • Betty Unger
  • Doug Black

Cabinet shuffle pre-shuffle information

There’s been a lot of speculation in Ottawa this week about the imminent cabinet shuffle as a number of ministers have announced their retirement from federal politics. Here’s what we know.

Shuffle date:
We’re hearing that the shuffle is now scheduled for tomorrow (Monday)

Who is out:
Confirmed retirements: Toews (Public Safety), Ablonczy (DFATD, Consular affairs), Menzies (Associate minister of finance), Ashfield (Fisheries, ACOA)

Likely retirements: Kent (Environment), Ritz (Agriculture), O’Connor (Whip)

With O’Connor retiring, we’ve independently confirmed that Pierre Poilievre is getting the promotion and will sit as the other National Capital Region minister in cabinet with John Baird.

I’ve also heard that MacKay will be shuffled in a one-for-one swap where his legal skills will be of use (likely Justice). This was a shuffle certainty a while ago but this might have changed since.

With Ashfield out, Rob Moore is his likely (but unconfirmed) replacement.

Nobody expects Jim Flaherty to be shuffled out of Finance as his intention is to balance the budget by the next election.

We’re told the Prime Minister had fireside chats with members of his cabinet and from caucus to discuss their future plans. Older ministers who are retiring have been asked to step aside for new blood. Older ministers who have not indicated an intention to retire may have been asked to do the same (Kent). The only exception to this might be Flaherty and Oliver (both are in critically important political files at key junction points — Flaherty and budget balance and Oliver on the KXL decision).

One of my sources on the cabinet shuffle told me to expect a lot of new faces in cabinet.

Shelly Glover has been spotted in Ottawa today. She is a Manitoba MP who many observers speculate will be occupying a chair at Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet table.

I will update this post as I learn more.

Liberals use CBSA for translation services

Ottawa has been scandal-prone of late in its inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Here we have a story about the inappropriate use of government resources for partisan activity. Such abuse has come to light after documents were released under Access to Information. They describe a request from an official with the Vanier Liberal Electoral District Association for translation to Hélène-Louise Gauthier, the Director of HQ Accommodations for the Infrastructure and Environmental Operations Directorate for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

This request from the Liberal Party was fulfilled using a Government of Canada email address. It is unknown if this was done on government time despite government resources being used to respond to the request. The translated document was the agenda for the 2013 Liberal Ottawa-Vanier AGM.

Of course, it is inappropriate for government officials to be using government resources to do partisan work. I reached out to the Minister of Public Safety for comment. The Minister’s Office verified the documents and Julie Carmichael, the Vic Toews’s director of communications replied,

“We were shocked to learn that senior Liberal MP Mauril Belanger utilized a backroom Liberal operative to do partisan work at taxpayers expense. The CBSA is looking into this blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. We call on Justin Trudeau to immediately discipline Mauril Belanger for this inappropriate behaviour and come clean to Canadians about any other backroom operatives using taxpayer dollars.”

A media firestorm broke out after it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s Office used taxpayers resources to make a political attack against the leader of Canada’s third party in Parliament, Justin Trudeau. Revealed via the Barrie Examiner, the attack was political but wasn’t done on behalf of a political organization outside of government. However in this CBSA example, taxpayer dollars were used directly to benefit the administrative goals of a partisan organization.

Andrew Ference heads to the Edmonton Oilers

The former unrestricted free agent and former Boston Bruin Andrew Ference has signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

Ference has been a prominent celebrity voice that has spoken out against the Alberta oilsands located north of Edmonton.

On the eve of President Obama’s first foreign visit to Canada, a group of over 50 prominent Canadians have signed an open letter telling Obama that the tar sands don’t fit in the new energy economy.
 
“In your discussions with the Canadian government, we encourage you to raise concerns over the environmental and social problems associated with tar sands production and make no exemption for the tar sands in any binational agreement addressing climate change” says the open letter.
 
Actress Neve Campbell, authors Ann-Marie MacDonald and Farley Mowat, musicians Anton Kuerti and Jim Creeggan of the Barenaked Ladies, athletes Adam Kreek (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Andrew Ference (Boston Bruins defenceman), and political leaders Jack Layton of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party, are just a few of the many prominent Canadians to sign the letter.

It is unclear if Mr. Ference’s views on Alberta’s resource sector will change now that Oiler ticket holders — many who work in oil and gas — will be paying his salary.

Or will Ference insist he plays for the Edmonton Tarsanders?

HuffPo shows its cards

Here’s the latest leftwing click-bait from the Huffington Post on offer today,

Stephen Harper’s Wireless Petition Probably Just Trolling For Your Personal Data

Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants you to know he’s on your side in the epic battle of consumers against Big Telecom’s big wireless bills.
 
Or maybe it’s the Conservative Party trying to get your name and email address, so they can spam you with political ads.
 
Either way, a post appeared on Harper’s Facebook page Wednesday linking to a Conservative Party petition called “Standing Up For Wireless Consumers.”
 
The Facebook post urges people to “sign the petition if you believe Canadians will benefit from more choice and greater competition among wireless providers.”

Oh, is that so? Here’s Marc Garneau’s Liberal Party data-collection petition on Usage Based Billing. Huffington Post stories about the Liberal Party’s creepy data collection efforts? 0.

And here’s an NDP petition (data collection website) against extra fees on cellphone bills. Huffington Post cynicism about political outreach by the NDP? Non-existent.

I tried to find a Green Party petition on wireless usage, but my wifi signal gave out.

Here, Huffington Post writes about Avaaz’s data-collection website for collecting the email addresses of Sun News haters. As a cynical news story about the political process of issue identification and data collection? No! It was written as a news story about the critiques of Sun News.

There is a trend among Ottawa journalists to write about the political processes as if they were recently unearthed from some dank pit from behind Karl Rove’s creepy house (the one with the unhinged screen door that has the tear). These tried-and-true political tactics are repackaged to ignorant readers in an alarm-raising tone.

BREAKING NEWS! Did you know that Conservatives do GOTV?

BREAKING NEWS! Did you know that Conservatives keep a database of their supporters?

BREAKING NEWS! Did you know that Conservatives call people to identify their levels of support?

BREAKING NEWS! Conservatives use American-style robocalls!

BREAKING NEWS! Did you know that Conservatives use social advertising on segments to test messaging?

BREAKING NEWS! Did you know that Conservatives use petitions to do issue identification?

BREAKING NEWS! Any political party that hopes to win an election in the modern era will do all of the above.

BREAKING NEWS! Obama does it too? Well, nevermind then. He’s doing the best he can.