And they're off ... - Macleans.ca
 

And they’re off …

House adjourns for the summer after bitter spring session


 

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has returned from his European trip but he won’t have to endure another grilling in the House of Commons for a while.

All parties agreed late Tuesday night to end the most bitter spring sitting of Parliament since Harper’s Conservatives came to power more than seven years ago.

They packed it in a few days early after almost a month of late-night sittings, as the House of Commons calendar had MPs remaining at work in Ottawa through the end of this week. Proceedings had devolved into acrimonious mud-slinging.

The government remains under a potentially criminal cloud over a $90,000 cheque that was provided by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff to pay off the improper housing expense claims of Senator Mike Duffy.

The Conservatives responded with a loud counter-attack that involved questioning Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s past moonlighting as a paid public speaker and the driving habits of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Harper spent the past week in Europe for a G8 summit, avoiding the scrutiny of the daily question period in the Commons, but he returned to Ottawa early Wednesday morning and will begin preparing for a Conservative party policy convention in Calgary later this month and an anticipated summer cabinet shuffle to shake up his front bench.

The Conservative majority mandate has hit the midway point to the fall 2015 federal election but the government is in a deep malaise.

Harper returns from Europe without a long-sought free trade deal with the European Union, and other promised trade agreements have yet to come to fruition.

The Conservatives’ heavy emphasis on oil and gas exports as a Canadian economic driver has also been undermined by the politics of pipeline construction, both in Canada and the United States.

But it has been the taint of scandal that has most hurt the government’s image this spring. Three Harper-appointed senators resigned from the Conservative caucus over various expense and personal failings and the fallout from Senate audits is not over yet.

The RCMP has confirmed a criminal investigation into the actions of Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff.

The government also continues to fend off accusations of election improprieties from the 2011 campaign, including an ongoing Elections Canada investigation into fraudulent robocalls in dozens of ridings across the country.

The governing party was also hurt by the departure of Brent Rathgeber, an Edmonton backbench MP whose scathing, insightful critique of the heavy-handed tactics of the Prime Minister’s Office summed up years of Conservative command and control tactics.

Rathgeber left the Conservatives to sit as an Independent after the government gutted his civil service salary disclosure bill, and his critique touched a nerve with an increasingly restless Conservative base.


 
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And they’re off …

  1. More and more I’ve come to realize that the press makes up most of what we used to call news. “A most bitter spring session…” In whose opinion? You don’t attend a G8 meeting to “avoid scrutiny”. And the three so called scandals are peanuts compared to the Ontario Liberals.

    • Yes. Of course. The Liberals managed to rack up a very impressive list of parliamentary misdeeds, but unless you’ve just returned from an extended vacation, we’re dealing with stumble bums in the Conservative party. And, given more time, I’m sure there are more waiting in the wings just waiting to be discovered.

  2. I saw the news footage of the vote to adjourn and they all cheered like 12-year-olds.

    This is the way you fool MP’s want to win back the respect of the people who pay your salaries, to cheer because you just gave yourselves THREE months off?

    Considering we get three WEEKS off a year, you should have heard the swearing at the TV in our house.

  3. Waht a wonderful time to be a Tory and have yet another session where our entire legislative agenda has been passed and even better without any serious amendmendments by the oppostion. You got to love our system – both the oppostion parties and most of the media occupy their time and energy running around in circles looking for the next scandal du jour and in the meantime Harper runs circles around them and devours their leaders – how many notches so far let me count them – Dion, Iggy, Layton even Bob rae is giving up and taking his marbles home to play with while he has any. We Tories have several more years ago and the only real obstacle to how much more will achieve is if we run out of trees to print the bills :) – I for one can’t wait for the convention and the sheer amount of legislation we will have completed by the time we go to the polls next!!!! – My boy Stevie was right all the haters and frustarted left wing loonies out there have little recourse except hanging out in web forum and posting their rants and waiting with baited breath how many others of their ilk will thumb them up! In a way it’s kind of sad really as it must really suck to be a so called progressive nowadays – in the past they could hold out hope for an ABC movement or even a backroom deal – or Merge – BUT alas that faint hope has been removed and right now as I type this both the NDP and the Liberal war rooms are plotting against each other – has anyone else noticed this year the zingers and jabs going back and forth btiween the Lib’s and the Dippers = just wait until the fall folks the fight has only begun :)