Dave Rutherford to run for mayor of Calgary?

Will popular former radio take on Naheed Nenshi this fall in the Calgary mayoral election? Former Stephen Harper and Christy Clark advisor Ken Boessenkool has some advice for Dave if he’s seriously thinking about it,

What do you think of Ken’s advice? Do you think Rutherford should challenge Nenshi in the fall?

OPP called in to investigate deleted McGuinty office emails

From the Canadian Press,

The commissioner of the OPP confirmed Friday that his force is looking into the circumstances surrounding the deletion of emails in the premier’s office, concerning the cancellation of two gas plants just before the last provincial election.
The news came as the opposition parties clamoured for accountability over the destruction of the documents.
Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty should testify under oath before a legislative committee about the destruction of emails by his former chief of staff and other top Liberals, the New Democrats said Friday.

Here is the letter that confirmed that the OPP has referred the PC request for criminal investigation,

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.

Secret ballot Private Member’s Bill tabled in the House of Commons

CPC MP Blaine Calkins:

“Well thank you Speaker. I’m honoured to rise today to introduce my private member’s bill. As you correctly stated it, it is an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act. This bill Mr. Speaker provides necessary amendments to the certification and decertification of a bargaining agent by way of a mandatory secret ballot vote based on a majority. Mr. Speaker for far too long, the federal legislation has lagged behind that of our provincial counterparts and workers deserve the right to have a secret ballot vote to decide who represents them at the bargaining table.”

The National Citizens Coalition welcomes this legislation. It’s long overdue. Card check opens up votes to intimidation by union organizers. This legislation will protect the rights of workers to support or resist union initiatives without the risk of social alienation or physical intimidation.

Radio-Canada rebrands as “ici”

From, ahem, Canada.com,

MONTREAL — The French-language CBC has announced plans to change its name. Radio-Canada will lose the words “radio” and “Canada.”
Instead, the federally funded broadcaster will be known in French by the name “ICI” — which means “here” in French.
The name change had been rumoured for months but was made official Wednesday with an announcement by the Crown corporation.

The Quebec wing of the Canadian crown corporation… is dropping “Canada” from its name, dropping the bilingual nature of the name and rebranding as “ici”.

A bit more insular isn’t it?

In 2006, the Bloc Quebecois beat the nationalist “ici” drum with its “Heuresement, ici, c’est le Bloc” slogan. Radio Canada has been accused of being a den of separatists in the past, perhaps they were inspired by it?

Was Tyrone Benskin’s PMB about himself?

Today, the Huffington Post reports,

MONTREAL – The NDP has suspended a member from its shadow cabinet because of his chronic, long-term failure to pay taxes.
Tyrone Benskin has been stripped of his role as official-languages critic until he pays the taxes he owes.
The announcement follows a report that Quebec’s revenue agency has contacted the House of Commons to seize part of his salary because of more than $58,000 he owes the province for unpaid taxes between 2007 and 2011.

Benskin authored a private member’s bill which was put to a vote in 2012. Here is a summary of the bill from Benskin’s website,

The culture industry is one of the biggest sectors of the Canadian economy. But due to their often irregular hours and inconsistent incomes, artists are nearly always disadvantaged both by punitively high taxation during years of high earning and by being ineligible for a number of federal programs such as Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and others.
Tyrone Benskin’s Bill C-427 will begin to level the playing field by allowing Canadian artists to average their income over a period, achieving considerable tax savings over two to five years. This would follow the example of Quebec and of a number of foreign countries.
This is a deeply personal project for Mr. Benskin, who has been an artist for over 30 years. C-427 is born of an intimate understanding of the numerous and pressing challenges faced by contemporary Canadian artists.

Is it not a conflict of interest for a Member of Parliament to be legislating on an issue that affects him directly? We’re all taxpayers of course, but doesn’t this legislation affect his particular case directly?

Mr. Benskin lost his shadow cabinet position today in the NDP caucus. Should we have sitting MPs that legislate specifically to their own interest? Should Benskin be facing the Ethics Commissioner instead? This appears to be a grossly unethical conflict of interest.

UPDATE: Benskin is ‘truly sorry’ and promises to pay his taxes.

Denis Coderre announces bid for mayor of Montreal

Denis Coderre announced today that he’s running for mayor of Montreal. We wish him the best of luck.

However, Coderre told reporters that he’ll be stepping down as a federal Member of Parliament on June 2nd. That’s a bit of a peculiar date as it is neither today, nor election day, nor when the mayor-elect — whoever it will be — will be sworn in as mayor of Montreal.

So, why June 2nd?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Mr. Coderre was first elected on June 2nd 1997, marking 16 years in office.

And qualifying for another MP pension eligibility threshold on that very same date.

Let’s end partisan ten-percenters that are taxpayer-funded

The Conservatives have been making news lately for their attack ads on Justin Trudeau claiming that the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is “just in over his head”. So ends another week in politics; parties have run contrast ads on their candidates since before television was invented.

But where we should draw the line is on taxpayer-funded mailings known as ten-percenters. Parties are free to fundraise to fund their advertising, however, the abuse of taxpayer-supported MP-constituent communications repurposed as partisan attacks or plaudits should be stopped.

We at the National Citizens Coalition support Conservative backbenchers who have spoken out against the practice and are calling on other MPs to support their colleagues.

This tweet was retweeted by Liberals including Justin’s brain, Gerald Butts. However, they may only support pushback against the Conservatives instead of being truly against the issue itself.

In response to inquiries about whether or not the Conservative caucus would send out the highly partisan “just in over his head” ten-percenters, the Prime Minister shrugged suggesting all other parties do it.

So, it seems we’re not going anywhere on the issue. Here, the Prime Minister isn’t showing leadership against the practice and the Liberals are only trying to get an earned media bump from disparaging their opponent.

Here are some other examples of partisan ten-percenters sent out at the taxpayer’s expense,

CBC is hiring!

Casting call!

If you’re here to find instructions regarding a self tape audition submission for the male Kids’ CBC Host, you’re in the right place! Below, you will find a PDF with the audition material and all of the instructions.
Please only submit if you match the following criteria:
· Male between the ages of 23-35yrs
· Any race except Caucasian

· Non-union
· Must be able to carry a tune (ability to dance or move well is a bonus but not necessary)
· Comfortable being in front of a camera and not afraid to show a silly side
· Great with kids; the type of guy that pre-schoolers would love to be around
· Loves physical comedy, would enjoy hanging out with puppets all day and can be funny on the fly

So does this also mean “no Irish” need apply?

Here is the Government of Canada’s position on discriminatory hiring in the public service. According to one of Stephen Harper’s former Presidents of the Treasury Board, Stockwell Day,

“While we support diversity in the public service, we want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity,” Day said in a statement.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who was also involved in the decision to review the government’s hiring practices, which give priority to qualified applicants from minority groups, said everyone should be considered for federal jobs.
“We are in favour of appropriate diversity in the public service and reasonable efforts to achieve it, but we don’t think any Canadians should be excluded from applying within their government,” he told CBC News. “It’s OK to encourage people from different backgrounds to apply but in our judgment it goes too far to tell people that if they are not of a particular race or ethnicity they cannot apply [for a job] that is actually funded by their tax dollars.”

UPDATE: The casting agency has removed the “Any race except Caucasian” line. This obviously will affect the application process. But will it affect the final selection?

Here is a screenshot of the CBC Kids casting call as it originally appeared:

UPDATE: @alexguibord and @jldmorris spotted the agency’s posting this morning and contacted the company. At the time, the agency defended the posting. Now, the agency tells HuffPo and Canada.com that the posting was a mistake.

Here is the email the agency representative sent @jldmorris (click to enlarge),

Why Justin Trudeau’s new ad falls flat

The Liberal Party of Canada released a new ad last night featuring Justin Trudeau “turning the channel” and emphasizing positive politics.

The Conservative Party of Canada have been the masters of political advertising since the days of Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff with their “Not a Leader” and “Just Visiting” ads, respectively. Now, we see the “Just In Over His Head” series which is more light than it is dark and more mocking than it is vicious. The ad leaves the viewer with a pitied view of Trudeau; the ad doesn’t make Trudeau unlikable, it renders him dismissible.

Trudeau’s ad recognizes the attacks against him tapping into a Liberal belief that Canadians are generally aware of these attacks (they aren’t). The Liberals and the NDP have had a problem of living within the Parliamentary bubble thinking that insider-baseball conversations in Ottawa echo with profound impact in the rest of Canada (they don’t). The NDP reads National Newswatch and bases its Question Period strategy off of the headlines there and now the Liberals are accepting the narrative on Trudeau that the Tories have lain before them.

The second failure of the ad is that it perpetuates the faulty suggestion that Justin Trudeau’s profession was that of a school teacher. Instead, the son of Pierre Trudeau landed to teach at an elite private school in British Columbia where the Kindergarten tuition is $14,500. During two years at this posh school where his official job was to be a drama teacher on occasion, his unofficial job was to raise money for the school and to lend the Trudeau name to build its prestige. Again, the Liberals accept the Tory characterization of Trudeau as a teacher and run with it: “Alright then, he’s a teacher and we push back from that frame.”

The next problem with the proof points in this ad is that Trudeau has fought hard. His Papineau riding has been strongly Liberal since the 50s with a brief interlude by the Bloc between 2006-2008 (2 years out of 54). The Bloc Quebecois has since been decimated province-wide and that had more to do with Jack Layton, than Justin Trudeau. Another suggestion is that Trudeau fought hard to represent Liberals when he easily skated through a weak field winning 80% of Liberal votes during that leadership race. Trudeau doesn’t do himself any favours on the hard-work point when he references that fact that he is his father’s son.

Finally, the overall message is that we’ll build a better country together. That sounds all good and good, but there is no real why or how beyond that superficial statement; we all like Canada and we all want a better country but the ad is weak on any Liberal idea or plan beyond this guy named Trudeau. People vote for a plan, or against failure and corruption. The Liberals are sticking to the playing positive tactic but offer no plan. For now, they are resisting going negative thinking that accessible voters for the Liberals mirror the focus and attitudes of the chattering class in Ottawa that reads an inside-the-bubble news aggregator every morning.