Canada John Ivison: What's the difference between a Liberal and a New Democrat these days? Accountability
The residual program of the 3rd league
The third-league season is on the target straight, on May 14 ends the playing time 2021/22. These tasks are the clubs remaining according to the Turk Certificate withdrawal 19. © Picture Alliance / Eibner-PressFoto Who gets the Master Cup of the 3rd League and thus a rise place? After the Turk Certificate withdrawal, some clubs play free 1. FC Magdeburg (63 points / goal difference +32) 4.4. Viktoria Berlin (A), 9.4. Viktoria Cologne (H), 17.4. Verl (a), 23.4. Zwickau (H), 30.4.
Question Period in the House of Commons is the longest running farce in Canadian history but the slapstick hit new highs this week when NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh questioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the contents of the impending budget.
Will the government commit to the housing and dental-care policies the NDP has been championing, Singh asked, wide-eyed.
In characteristic fashion, Trudeau didn’t answer, beyond the usual blather about “having Canadians’ backs.”
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But he didn’t need to. Singh knew the answers because, as he revealed at his press conference earlier in the day, he’d already been briefed about much of the budget’s contents.
It seems that if you want to know what’s really going on in Ottawa these days, talk to an NDP MP. Not only was Singh privy to the budget but at Wednesday’s caucus meeting, he shared the news with his MPs.
We are now in the bizarre situation where the NDP caucus is more informed, if not more enlightened, than Liberal MPs, who will receive their own budget briefing on Thursday morning, just hours before the budget is released.
One Liberal backbencher professed himself deeply unhappy. “How can that be right. That’s bullshit,” he said.
The Liberal-NDP deal signed last month is in some ways heartening, even if neither party campaigned on its conditions in the last election. In the Westminster tradition, confidence and supply deals have a long history.
Kelly McParland: Liberals’ vote-pandering pact with the NDP is a presage of politics to come
Liberal party members seem well pleased with the deal struck with the New Democrats, as well they might. The agreement solves several problems, in particular their ongoing difficulty attracting popular support in the usual manner. Federal Liberals have won just one majority in the past 20 years. They enjoyed a strong period over the previous decade, but mainly due to a split in opposition ranks that left them largely unchallenged. And before that they sat on opposition benches for two Tory majorities. Justin Trudeau appeared to end the slide in 2015 with a convincing victory, but has lost ground ever since.
But this particular agreement has some unusual quirks. Both parties agree on the guiding principle of “no surprises” and so it commits the government to providing briefings by public servants and ministers on policy matters related to the agreement, including the budget and legislation. “Briefings should be done in a timely fashion,” it states, “to allow for constructive feedback and discussion.”
Hence, Singh was briefed before the budget went to the printers — unlike Liberal MPs, who will have no recourse beyond resignation when they see the text.
Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the Privy Council, said the NDP is enjoying a major perk of being in government, apparently without signing up for the accountability conditions by which ministers, parliamentary secretaries, political staffers and public servants are obliged to abide.
The information conveyed to Singh is secret and requires clearance for all other groups. As former ministers will attest, before their appointment they are vetted in every fashion short of a cavity search to ensure they are not open to blackmail or other pressures. They also have to swear the oath of a privy councillor to maintain secrecy of cabinet deliberations.
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None of that has applied to the NDP so far, though its officials say they would happily comply if asked.
The NDP makes the case that the information passed on was not the budget in its entirety and that during the pandemic all opposition leaders were given briefings that included confidential material. The budget measures will be made public soon and so the briefing does not constitute privileged information, the party maintains.
But that does not hold water.
For one thing, the leaders of the Conservative party, Bloc Québécois and Green party would be within their rights to appeal to the Speaker of the House, claiming that their privilege to information has been infringed by this cozy, bilateral deal.
For another, there is a reason there is a budget lock-up for journalists and others to read the document before it is released — namely that the information is market sensitive and could be used to engage in insider trading.
Most Canadians support Liberal-NDP deal but feel it betrayed voters: poll
By striking the agreement, the NDP traded their support in Parliament over the next three years for progress on issues they care about — like dental care and pharmacare.Despite that, a majority of Canadians still support the deal, according to a new Ipsos poll.
The Liberals say that Trudeau and Singh had a “conversation” and that such consultations are normal between party leaders ahead of a budget, particularly in a minority parliament.
“There is nothing offensive about a deal that reinforces the idea that it is the confidence of the House that matters, but this feature (the briefings) does break new ground. It raises a lot of questions,” said Wernick.
Singh has twisted himself into a pretzel claiming the deal with the Liberals is not a coalition. He used his advanced knowledge of what is in the budget to attack the Liberals for the imminent introduction of a tax credit for energy companies to subsidize carbon capture efforts.
But it is too late to highlight the narcissism of small differences. The fates of the two parties are conjoined.
The deal claims that both parties believe in Parliament’s role to hold the government to account and that nothing in the agreement undermines that critical function.
That is as farcical as Singh’s mock question in the House.
When you look from NDP to Liberal and from Liberal to NDP, it is already impossible to say which is which.
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Pierre Poilievre will not find much support for his Conservative leadership campaign, or for anything else, among Canada’s Gen-X and Millennial urban progressives. But judging by the reaction on social media, some in that demographic are surprised to find themselves nodding along with Poilievre’s new housing-policy video, in which he bemoans the insane price of real estate in certain Canadian cities and blames municipal governments (along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) for artificially inflating prices.