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The Committee Got Nowhere- No Surprise!

Yesterday the drama on the Hill unfolded as expected when the Justice Committee met on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Everyone knew opposition MPs would be demanding answers to the SNC-Lavalin mess while the Liberals would try and stonewall any investigation.

Other than a lot of phony outrage, did anyone actually expect the Liberals to allow an investigation into the actions of the PM and his senior staff?

Over my career, I spent many long days in committee meetings on both the House and Senate side as well in both Opposition and government. The result of this meeting was pretty much as I expected.

No one, especially the reporters who sounded so shocked at the outcome yesterday (as they tried to create some drama around the story) should have expected anything different.

The Justice committee has a Liberal chair and a Liberal majority. Who in their right mind thinks they will vote to investigate their own sides misdoings?

It is a sad fact of Canadian political life that this is how our committees behave. All MPs in these committees reflect the wishes of either PMO or their Leader’s Office.  To do otherwise is almost a guarantee that they would either be replaced, or a substitute member brought in to vote the wishes of the party.

I have written hundreds of talk points and speeches for committees. The Liberal speeches and talk points were either very sloppy or the MPs incapable of delivering them properly. Either way their messaging sucked. They did more damage to the PM and the Liberal brand than the opposition members at the table.

Lisa Raitt and Nathan Cullen were good. They were on message, stuck to their talk points and succeeded in positioning their respective parties for the next series of attacks which will come in Question Period and down the road as the election gets closer.

There is a lot more to come out in this story and it continues to be a fire that Liberal spinning and the smearing of Jody Wilson-Raybould cannot put out.

I would wager that it will be solid investigative reporting that will break this story open- not some committee meeting that was going nowhere before the participants even sat down at the table.


Is Tom Mulcair Right?

Back on February 4th Tom Mulcair was speculating that some NDP supporters might think the Green Party deserved a second look.

It is an interesting thought. Should it happen, it could seriously damage the election chances of the NDP, and it has the potential to damage the Liberals as well.

The NDP is in bad shape- they have come off of their worse fundraising quarter, their leader is struggling to be relevant and they keep sending mixed policy messages such as on Venezuela.

In the mean time the Greens are on a roll, at least at the provincial level. They elected three members in New Brunswick, one in Ontario and may have a chance in PEI. Plus, the federal party has just had its best fundraising quarter ever.

So called “progressives” (really who invents these terms) have the choice of backing Trudeau who has failed on almost every issue that is dear to them. From double-crossing them on proportional representation; to lots of flash, but little substance on environmental issues; to killing one pipeline only to then buy another one and the list goes on.

NDP supporters, especially those who are strong on the environment could easily go to the Green Party.

Other NDPers who worry about a Conservative win, may feel they have no choice but to hold their nose and support Trudeau. Either way the NDP pays a price.

As for the two main stream federal parties, they need to wake up and smell the coffee too. Voters are tired of the same old policies and lack of vision. They are tired of the daily antics they see from both sides. They are tired of the name calling and mudslinging.

Just look at the last election in Quebec where the voters gave both of the main stream provincial parties, the PQ and the Liberal Party, a wake-up call by electing the CAQ.

So far, the Greens have never really convinced federal voters that they have more to offer than their stance on environmental issues. But they do appeal to younger voters which is a growing demographic.

Most voters, young or old, would be surprised to know that the Green policy platform, excluding photos, only has 4 pages on the environment out of a total of 44 pages. There is lots in there on a national senior’s program, the CPP, reducing red tape for small business, supporting the manufacturing sector, pharmacare, eliminating student debt etc.

If they ever figure out how to communicate their platform better, they could become a force to be reckoned with. That is bad news for the NDP, and it should be a wake-up call for both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

Was Mulcair just causing a bit of trouble by trying to get even with the party that dumped him as leader,  or is he on to something? The next election will tell if he was right.


The Gang Returns Today And China Is On their Mind

Well the House is back today although in a new location IE West Block. It would be nice with this fresh start if this also meant there would be better decorum and less nonsense from all sides. That won’t be the case though as today will mark the unofficial opening of the 2019 election.

You can bet though that the Chinese fiasco will be on everyone’s mind. It is hard to imagine how PMO could screw things up so badly- unless they chose to ignore the advice of their senior officials and that of Global Affairs staff who have dealt with China over many years.

It has been reported that McCallum had a reputation of speaking his mind while a member of the Liberal caucus, it’s quite possible that this time he did as well. As our ambassador to China it must have been very frustrating dealing with the amateurs in PMO.

When I saw his first set of comments, it looked like this was the beginning of a solution. In other words, with an official IE the ambassador, publicly stating that China has a solid legal case, Canada satisfies China’s desire to have that acknowledged by Canada. That would then have allowed China to respond positively and a win-win for both sides could be put together. If that was the game plan it doesn’t matter now as with the firing of McCallum it has all come undone.

You have to wonder if this mess reflects some internal power struggle as to who has the final say on the China file or whose advice is being followed and who is being listened to from the department.

Question Period returns today and it should be an interesting one.


A Gong Show

Apparently, disgraced candidate Karen Wang has rescinded her withdrawal from the byelection in BC and wants Trudeau to reconsider. What nonsense.

She screwed up and should pay the price. The Liberals acted as they should have done, and she was turffed as soon as her article became public.

No one should be fooled into thinking it was Justin that got upset and wanted her out- it was his campaign team, who simply can’t let a candidate get away with promoting racism in the vote. Pitting one group against another can never be acceptable in any political party.

The fact that Wang has decided she deserves a second chance shows exactly why she should not be a candidate.

The deeper issue though is that her request to stay on reflects a lack of respect for the party leader and his decision- in this case Justin Trudeau. One doesn’t make such a request unless one thinks Trudeau may reverse himself. Clearly Trudeau is seen by some in her camp and by the ex-candidate as weak enough to give serious consideration to her request.

I expect Butts and company will move swiftly to shut this story down- especially as it is a bad news story when they need a good news one out of their meetings in Sherbrooke.

Let’s see how quickly they act.


Just a Thought- On The Cabinet Shuffle

A busy day in politics as Trudeau does a mini shuffle. Some moves were surprising, some not so much.

Kicking O’Regan out of Veterans Affairs was simply a survival move, IE save Trudeau’s buddy and put him somewhere else and hope he doesn’t screw up there as well. Personally, I think he will be just as bad in his new portfolio at Indigenous Affairs. The real question is why put a screw-up in charge of a very sensitive department?

Philpott was moved from Indigenous Affairs where she seemed to be doing quite well. One can understand the need to have a good minister at Treasury Board, but a person of her caliber could have been used elsewhere. It seems like a bit of overkill unless the PMO gang need a very capable minister in that role to handle anticipated damage and fall out from the Vice Admiral Norman court case which will be coming up right around the time of the next election. I think he should have put Philpott in the environment portfolio- one that needs a minister who can actually get things done and one of the most important portfolios if not the most important one for the Liberals in the next election.

Hard to say why he moved the Justice Minister (Wilson-Raybould) to Veterans Affairs, but at least she can’t do worse there than O’Regan and her move allows a pretty competent Parliamentary Secretary (Lametti) to move up to the Justice portfolio.

Bernadette Jordan goes to a new portfolio - Rural Economic Development. Really, this sounds like one created to impress rural ridings leading up to the next election. In the past most of these economic development portfolios were an excuse to provide representation from some provinces and an excuse to hand out cheques with lots of media fanfare- something the Liberals will need this year.

Another day on the Hill and another cabinet shuffle is over. History will judge if Butts and Trudeau got it right.

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