Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Wajid again

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Hmm, looks like Tory MP Wajid Kahn is in a bit of trouble, but not for the reasons I would have thought.

A few weeks back I complained that Mr. Kahn was still doing ads for his Toronto car dealership while he was a sitting MP. Well the Ethics Commissioner set me straight on that point. However, pencil throwing NDP MP Pat Martin has discovered something even worse about the floor-crossing Member for Mississauga-Streetsville.

According to CBC.ca:

Wajid KahnOntario Conservative MP Wajid Khan has been charged with violating the Elections Canada Act.

Khan, who crossed the floor from the Liberals to the Conservatives in January of this year, is charged with exceeding his campaign expense limit by $30,000 and paying for some campaign expenses he wasn’t allowed to personally cover.

The charges stem from the 2004 election campaign, when Khan ran as a Liberal.

His former riding president and his car dealership, Dufferin Mazda, are also charged with paying for campaign expenses they weren’t supposed to cover.

“Some people treat the election financing rules [as] voluntary guidelines,” said NDP MP Pat Martin, who filed a complaint last January when he heard there were questions about how Khan financed his election campaign. “They’re not. They’re hard fast laws and there should be consequences. If not, it’s not fair to any of us.”

This revelation probably won’t do any real damage to the Harper Conservatives, since the incident occurred while Mr. Kahn was running for the Liberals 2 elections ago. It makes me wonder though why it has taken so long for this to come to light. Mr. Martin apparently learned of the questions about Mr. Kahn’s campaign financing in January ’07, right around the time that Mr. Kahn made his jump to the Tories.

Could it be that the Liberals knew about this situation all along and were keeping it quiet, only letting it out when Mr. Kahn stepped (way) out of line. Political backstabbing? Maybe. But a serious problem nonetheless. My guess is that while Harper will take a bit of a hit for not doing some due diligence on his new MP, the Liberals will take the bigger hit for not doing something about the situation before allowing Mr. Kahn to run in a second election for them.

The big winner… the NDP who now have a second scandal which, like the Shreiber/Mulroney affair, has the potential to do damage to both of their main political rivals in the House.

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Whatever happened to free votes anyway?

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Although I rarely agree with anything written by Werner Patel, I do enjoy reading his blog. One of his latest posts caught my eye.

Has control over MPs and caucuses gone too far? While a certain degree of party discipline is certainly appreciated, the fact that each MP has a mind of his or her own should not be ignored.

Voters elect MPs to represent them and their ridings. No political party is a uniform block of just one line of thought, ideology or policy. The reason for having MPs is to have a diversity of opinion — including within the same party. The alternative would be to have only the four party leaders meet for regular coffee klatsches where the policies and laws for the country at large are hammered out.

Agreed. We, the voters, entrust 308 men and women with the responsibility of representing our interests in the House of Commons. Each MP has the duty to represent ALL of his/her constituents, not just the minority (usually) that elected them. While the party needs to have a focused strategy, that’s what caucus meetings are for. MPs should not be punished, à la Bill Casey, for voting in accordance with the best interests of their constituents.

Strangely, I seem to remember one party stating that they were all for making more votes free of the whip. Oh, yes, that would be these guys:

A Conservative government will:

  • Make all votes in Parliament, except the budget and main estimates, “free votes” for ordinary Members of Parliament.

from Stand up for Canada: p.23

I guess Mr. Harper forgot about that one too.

(BTW I am aware that Mr. Casey voted against a budget bill, however he may have been relying on the word of his colleague Peter MacKay who said prior to the vote: “We will not throw a member out of caucus for voting his conscience. There will be no whipping, flipping, hiring or firing on budget votes as we saw with the Liberal government.” Ooops.)

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The Honourable Member from York-Simcoe… Barney Rubble?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

OK, I admit it, I love CPAC. Much to the chagrin of my wife and 3 kids, I spend a couple of hours a day (at least!) watching Canada’s Public Affairs Channel when parliament is in session. I think Peter Van Dusen is Canada’s best news anchor (sorry Lloyd.) and I especially enjoy question period.

I watch QP for the same reason that race fans watch NASCAR… for the crashes. Unfortunately these days QP has become a bit of a one man show with government house leader Peter Van Loan taking most of the opposition’s questions. Aparrantly the PM figures that it is much easier to keep on message when there is only one person delivering it. (I suppose that’s one way to avoid the problems caused by having both Gordon O’Connor and Peter MacKay giving different answers to questions on the treatment of Afghan detainees.)

Peter VanRubbleVan Loan is a perfect choice for this role. In fact both his demeanor and his responses give the clearest indication of exactly what the Conservatives think of both parliament and the people they are there to serve. Van Loan’s constant smirk and uncontrollable eyebrow raises give off the look of bemused indifference that can only come from someone who not only thinks, but knows, that he is better than you. And don’t mistake his seeming inability to actually answer a question for a lack of knowledge, he knows the answer, it’s just that no one else has enough security clearance to hear it.

The Canadian Press has also noticed Mr. Van Loan. In a recent article they liken him to Barney Rubble. I couldn’t resist.

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