Monday, September 10, 2007


I'll be away from the blog for the next two and a half weeks - hopefully to return to at least one more NDP MP, and not too many more Con horror stories.

One quick note before I go: while the NDP's Dirty Dozen theme is certainly a worthwhile way to call attention to the Cons' betrayal of Saskatchewan, doesn't it also bear mention that two of the dozen have already willingly surrendered?

On co-conspirators

The Ottawa Citizen has the full list of Con MPs caught up in Conadscam.* And there look to be plenty more interesting stories worth considering:
Elections Canada has listed 17 sitting MPs among Conservative candidates who participated in a contentious scheme to channel $1.2 million through riding campaigns to pay for blanket regional television and radio advertising during the 2006 election, court documents show.

One of the Conservative MPs, cabinet minister and Government Whip Jay Hill, sits on a committee the opposition has forced to meet today to begin probing a series of "in and out" transactions the Liberals claim may have been used by the Conservative party to skirt campaign spending limits...

According to the court documents filed by Elections Canada, the list of other MPs who participated in what the party called a "regional media buy" include Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Heritage Minister Josée Verner and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.

The other MPs are: Quebec MPs Sylvie Boucher, Daniel Petit, Steven Blaney, Jacques Gourde, Luc Harvey, and Christian Paradis; B.C. MPs Ron Cannan, Dick Harris, Jim Abbott and Colin Mayes; Ontario MP Patricia Davidson; and Saskatchewan MP David Anderson.
I'd discussed earlier the implications for the Quebec cabinet ministers on the list. But in addition to Hill and his apparent conflict of interest discussed in the Citizen's article, a few more names on the list are worth a bit more discussion.

First off, Day is obviously the biggest-name Con on the list. And it's particularly noteworthy that the minister responsible for the RCMP (among other law-and-order matters) seems to have had absolutely no regard for federal law when it came to his own campaign.

Second, Conadscam now offers yet another reason for Dick Harris' constituents to see him as thoroughly corrupted...and neither Conadscam nor the Pod People Plan figures to go away any time soon. All of which should at least put a serious dent in his margin of victory - if not sweep him out of his seat entirely.

Third, another of the Cons caught up in the scandal aside from the Quebec MPs figures to be a prime target in the next federal election. Patricia Davidson won Sarnia-Lambton by just over 4,000 votes in 2006, with the NDP also within striking distance in the riding. Which could make her particularly vulnerable to a a change in public opinion based on rightful distrust of the Cons - especially when she's caught up in the scheme personally.

This week's committee hearings figure to offer plenty more material about the scandal, particularly in assessing responsibility within the Cons' central command. But while there's more yet to be learned, it's already obvious that a number of the Cons' most prominent members were either unwilling or unable to recognize the problems with the scheme - raising all the more reason to doubt the Cons have anywhere near the judgment Canadians should expect from their federal government.

*While the "Con Air" name isn't a bad one by any means, I'll stick with Conadscam for two reasons: first, because that's the tag I've used for previous posts, and second, because the "scam" part seems to me an important part of the title.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On predetermination

It wasn't that long ago that Deceivin' Stephen was talking about needing a consensus to approve any extension of Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan. Now, the CP reports that Harper has predictably reversed course, suggesting not only that he's looking only for a bare majority vote, but also that he's completely unwilling to listen to what the House of Commons has to say unless he agrees with the outcome:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he won't be holding a vote in Parliament on Canada's Afghanistan mission unless he can get some other party to support his desire for an extension beyond 2009.

Harper, speaking after a summit of pan-Pacific leaders in Sydney, Australia, said there's no rush to have a debate or a vote on mission...

The prime minister says there will be no vote until at least some of the opposition in the minority Commons will support the government...
It remains to be seen how Harper will react if, as expected, the opposition parties aren't about to let the Cons dictate the timing of the next vote on Afghanistan.

But it's all the more clear that left to their own devices, the Cons' sole interest is in forcing their preferred outcome rather than actually governing in a way that reflects the desires of Canadians and their elected representatives. And that fact should make opposition MPs - especially the Libs who put Harper's last extension over the top - ever more wary of allowing their votes to be used for the Cons' purposes.