Ask me anything about Parliament Hill -

Ask me anything about Parliament Hill

I’ll answer your questions about what’s happening on the Hill


Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Let’s not mince words. If you’re reading these words, you’re addicted to politics. You’re constantly learning more about whatever’s happening on Parliament Hill, and you’re always hungry to learn more. Every day, you have lingering questions about whatever is happening in Ottawa’s corridors of power.

Good. I’m glad. We’re going to have a lot of fun together. I have a plan to answer as many of those lingering questions as possible. Every Monday, I’ll open the floor to you. And every Wednesday and Friday that follow, I’ll answer one of your questions.

What kinds of questions should you ask?

All kinds. If there’s a bill before the House of Commons that’s escaped headlines, piques your interest, confuses you, or otherwise sounds generally interesting, ask me about it. I’ll break it down. If you have questions about private members’ bills or the MPs who introduce them, fire away. Really, the sky’s the limit. You ask, I answer.

What kinds of answers will I dig up?

If you ask about a parliamentarian, I might give you a Q&A with that person. If you ask about the technical side of a bill, I might turn around a point-by-point explainer. The goal: make some sense of the messy world of federal politics.

What’s next?

Start asking questions. Go ahead.

Filed under:

Ask me anything about Parliament Hill

  1. How come when there are real issues facing this nation that need investigating the parliamentary press corps is more content to squee over the huge non-event of pandas arriving in Canada? Whatever happened to a press corps who acted in Canadian’s interests? When did they just become stenographers? Don’t canadians deserve better?

    • All I can say is: Let’s not talk about pandas. Is there anything specific you’d like to hear about this week?

      • What’s all this about pandas?

        • Enough with the panda-monium, already. I can’t bear it any longer.

          • It’s all a distraction. The government’s trying to bamboo-zle us.

          • It does seem a bit overbearing.

          • Or you just don’t like talking about pandas. Are you discriminating against people who do like pandas? Are you discriminating against PM Harper? Why are you discriminating against Harper? Why is it wrong for a PM to be married to a common housewife? Is Sophie Trudeau not a common housewife, and does Justin not love her? Yes, we know Justin loves everyone, including this country. Such a good country now that we have our pandas back.

            Here is my question: Did Justin tell his Sophie that the pandas would come back home, knowing that they lived a long and lonely year in a heavily polluted, unsafe and damaging environment? And if so, why?

  2. Are there any details about what this new workfare plan (announced in the budget) will look like?

    • That is a question I can answer. Thanks, James!

  3. I want to know what has been going on to address aboriginal rights.

    • I heard there is a bill before the Senate to criminalize distribution of tobacco. That seems to be directly targeting reserves. Was this a criminal offence before?

  4. Why are the Prime Minister and MP’s for the Conservative government allowed to lie to Canadians and the press never call them on it?

    Why does the press report the spin and lies of Stephen Harper and his party as truth?

    Does Truth even matter anymore to the press that report on Parliament Hill?

    How cozy is the relationship between the press and government?

    Why does the press protect Canadian Members of Parliament from having their personal lives reported to Canadians? Should we not have the right to see what a despicable and unethical person Vic Toews is?

    Has any other Government debased our political institutions like this Conservative Party has? – NO FALSE EQUIVALENCY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m not sure where to start with those questions. How about this: You tell me about a Conservative lie, and I’ll dig into it and report back.

      • These would actually be excellent long-term projects.

      • Fair enough, but I already know the lies and why they are such so there’s not a whole lot you can offer in that regard, but please don’t let that stop you from reporting any lies that you do hear, I will keep your offer open and do the same.

        How about this question though, when will the next election be? Is this law or are there ways out? If it is, what happens if the law is broken?

        Thank you!

    • I think Nick might have wanted to specify no rhetorical questions.

      However, even if we assume that these aren’t simply rhetorical, these questions still seem to mostly revolve around the nature of the press, not parliament hill, so not really in the scope of what Nick’s offering to take on.

      That said, if you really want an answer, I would suggest you go read some Chomsky.

      • You’re mostly right, Thwim. I’m looking to answer straight-up questions about things that are happening. But! I’m in no position to control the crowd, so I entertain the most rhetorical of snarky questions.

      • I’m not sure me reading Chomsky right now is a great idea but point taken.

  5. Actually I have one more:

    Why do political shows that report about Parliament Hill allow only political party operatives to speak. What has happened to the independent experts (say university professors) and their analysis?

  6. Has Bob Rae been cleared by the ethics commissioner to negotiate on behalf of Ontario’s first nations? And if so, will his salary be made public, and will the media no longer report on his opinion on First Nations matters as an unbiased parliamentarian?

  7. I would like to know why our Parliament is not talking more about what is going on between Japan and China. For almost a year now, a few of my work colleagues in Japan and S Korea are convinced that war between Japan and China can happen at any moment and then both Koreas would be quickly dragged into it and United States has treaty obligations with both Japan and S Korea.

    Other than professional hockey player, politics and msm journo have to be the most white, least diverse, professions in Canada. When will our MPs and journos pay attention to what is occurring outside of Canada? Canadian politicians are ever so parochial.

  8. Does the speaker have any actual, enforceable powers that can’t be overruled with a simple majority vote? Short of expulsion from the House due to unparliamentary behaviour, I can’t recall anything.

  9. What kind of personnel losses in various government departments will this budget cause, Nick?

      • Heh. Honestly, it was a joke question.. but if you have more luck than Kevin Page, my admiration knows no bounds.

          • Because a substantive answer cannot be given on the question asked. No one can know in advance how many workers will take voluntary retirement, or who will want to switch to part-time jobs etc. The unknowns are too many to put an exact number on it. Not even Page is that clairvoyant.

  10. I have a question. What ever happened to Michael Chong’s list of parliamentary reforms? Is this done and dead? Is Mr. Chong still carrying on this cause? Have any other parliamentarians taken up the issue since?

      • See, that is what I don’t like to hear from a reporter: telling first and foremost what their likes and dislikes are. That taints your stand on objectivity right there and you didn’t even take notice of that.

        • We could have a whole discussion about this. For now, I’ll leave it at this: It’d be foolish for me to pretend that I don’t get excited about certain questions and topics. In that sense, I don’t claim to be objective. If you don’t like that, I can appreciate that. People look for different things in reporters.

          • Thanks for the reply.

          • Me too! :)

        • I’m a bit suspicious of the author’s seemingly constant takes of how the CPC are always apparently super successful at everything, but even if he has a bias generally, expressing interest in what would make a meaty topic couldn’t be considered a true bias. Unless it’s bias if in favour of doing a good job.

  11. Excellent idea, Nick. So here is my most serious question:

    Evan Solomon did an interview with Reg Borges for The House, in which the so-called overspending of Penashue’s campaign were being discussed. Within the interview it came to light, as one thing out of many, that Penashue’s wife must automatically be considered a campaign worker (and therefore her flight expenses must be included in the campaign’s expense account) when she travels on the same plane as her husband when commuting to one of her husband’s speaking events. It was clear to both Evan and Reg that there were no other means of transportation available in Labrador that time of year other than flying. So, would Penashue’s wife not have been considered a campaign worker if she had taken a flight separate from her husband Peter when going to the event?

  12. Why have Federal parties been allowed to accumulate vast quantities of data on individuals under the guise of ‘voter identification’? Wouldn’t it be best designated as a, ‘supporter/opponent definition system’?

    What about the centres who do the data collection work for the federal parties? Why are their employees hired to work for a company but when they call people, they name the centre as something else? And when the T4’s come in the mail, they’re for a differently named business out of city across the continent? And since leaving said company (and since its parent has come under investigation) why has it changed its name again? Could it be part of the shifting sands that is the call centre culture?

    What about “Special Ballot Polling’ initiatives? If a party calls people in their homes and tells them to apply for a ballot which they can send by mail to Elections Canada and heavily pitches their candidate, is that right? Should it be wrong? Doesn’t it violate the spirit of non-influence regulations associated with voting?

    What about the people who try and bring this forward to Elections Canada? Why are they told it’s not voter suppression and ignored? What about other prohibitions in the Elections Canada Act – voter suppression is only the sexiest-sounding one, but why are other violations being ignored?

    What if I were to tell you s.281(b) of the Elections Canada Act states, “No person shall, inside or outside Canada, (b) wilfully interfere with, or attempt to interfere with, an
    elector when marking a ballot or special ballot, or otherwise attempt to
    obtain any information as to the candidate for whom any elector is about to
    vote or has voted;”

    Would you then look at me and tell me that voter databases are legal? How can recording everything about voters and their intentions not be contradictory to that prohibition? How many times do whistleblowers like myself need to lay this information out like a buffet only to see it get passed over by blind, noseless journalists?

    How can we be so blind when Tom Flanagan, the man who invented the CIMS database (one of the databases we’re discussing) even admits to the fact that supporters get ranked in the system( What about the fact that he admits it has been used to mobilize the most ardent supporters on short notice?

    What if we also recall how in the 2011 Election certain parties were under the scary presumption that a few massive, official audits would be released before the elections campaign was over? What if they thought it would be best to hedge their bets and ‘lock-in’ support as fast as possible before the audits came out? How many centres, hiring so many telemarketers, can call how many citizens in how much time? How many of them are ardent supporters? is it enough to tip a ballot box in your favour? How many ballot boxes ‘tipping in your favour’ does it take to win an election?

    Who needs to suppress voters when mass-contacting your supporters to vote for you days into the writ is just ignored? Why is the concept of voter suppression actually getting more attention than the laws some parties have actually violated? Why have privacy commissioners been unable to do anything, shouldn’t this be right up their alley?

    Is there any other civil way to ask these questions before I just grab a megaphone and self-immolate?

    Can you convince your bosses at MacLeans to fund you a trip to Newfoundland? Or convince them to fund a Newfoundlander to get into Toronto? or will you decide it’s impossible for an individual to work for a shady call centre company, take the documents with him when he left, take some university-level poli-sci courses, contact the RCMP, get sent to Elections Canada, have Elections Canada unilaterally decide what I have described is *not* voter suppression and therefore not worthy of their attention, then be told by the RCMP that they cannot do anything – they rely on the judgement of EC?

    Apparently, there’s no room left in the political spin cycle for questions like those. And I have the evidence and can get hooked up to polygraphs to prove every word of it.

  13. What is happening with the voter suppression investigation?

    How does Jim Flaherty respond to the assertion by Stephen Gordon that “the Conservative trade legacy consists of higher tariffs and more obstacles to foreign investment”?

  14. Is it true that Cnada is proposing a Cypress-style bail in plan for Canadian banks?

    this website — admittedly rather over-the-top –
    cites this text from the budget bill:

    The Government proposes to implement a “bail-in” regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada. Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants.