12 stories that defined politics in 2013

John Geddes brings order to a bewildering year of scandal and surprise on Parliament Hill

by John Geddes

(Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)

How many women were in Stephen Harper’s cabinet after he shuffled it last July? (Hint: one more than before the shuffle.) How many members of Harper’s “inner circle” knew something, or so the NDP claimed back in October, about how the Prime Minister’s chief of staff paid off $90,000 of a certain senator’s disputed expenses? And, in a Senate whose members were chosen under a reformed selection process, how many years does Justin Trudeau propose senators should be limited to serving?

To all of these interesting questions, the answer happens to be the same as the number of zodiac signs or hours on the clock. But for our purposes here, in this fourth edition of a holiday season scan back over the year in federal politics, we are interested only in the months of the calendar. It might seem rather arbitrary to choose only one story for each month, but the discipline has a way of making a bewildering year of scandal and surprise begin to take on a semblance of order.

January: We briefly imagined that First Nations might top the year’s agenda.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

After the Idle No More movement protests of late 2012, Stephen Harper agreed to sit down with Aboriginal leaders early in 2013. Shawn Atleo, national chief of the mainstream Assembly of First Nations, attended (some other chiefs boycotted) and afterwards credited the Prime Minister with having “listened respectfully.” It looked like the start of something. Yet the next steps proposed at the meeting were vague and progress through the rest of the year proved elusive. Atleo survived a challenge to his AFN leadership. John Duncan resigned as Aboriginal affairs minister over inadvisedly contacting a tax court judge on behalf of a constituent, and Harper appointed Bernard Valcourt to replace him. Valcourt has clashed with Atleo on, among other files, native education. For First Nations, 2013 wasn’t a breakthrough year.

February: We got the feeling that the Senate scandal wasn’t going away.

Controversy over dubious housing allowance and expense claims filed by a few senators had being swirling since late 2012. But it was in February that the scandal showed serious signs of settling in as the year’s dominant federal politics story. Sen. Patrick Brazeau was charged with assault and sexual assault on Feb. 8, which didn’t have anything to do with Senate spending, but didn’t help the upper chamber’s image problem. Sen. Mike Duffy tried to put his big part of the story to rest on Feb. 22, declaring that he would “voluntarily” pay back contested living expenses. (Skip ahead to May’s chapter to see how that gambit worked out.) Talk of scrapping the Senate entirely began to seriously compete with calls for reform.March: We were reminded that federal budgets can stir up trouble.Adrian Wyld/CP

With his eighth budget, Jim Flaherty—Stephen Harper’s only finance minister (so far) and his sole cabinet minister to cling to the same portfolio since the Tories’ 2006 rise to power—aimed to send a message of restraint. Not just in spending, but as a philosophy of governing: Flaherty declared in his budget speech that government should be “a benign and silent partner” in the economy “and not an overbearing behemoth squeezing them at every turn.” Despite that tread-lightly tone, however, his plan was greeted by the provinces, at least, as startlingly heavy-handed. Their beef was with the Canada Job Grant, a new program that amounts to a unilateral federal overhaul of existing deals between Ottawa and the provinces to fund training. Premiers spent the rest of the year pushing back over the major program, which remains a serious source of federal-provincial friction.

April: We learned a lot even from front-runner’s careful campaign.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

By the time Justin Trudeau won the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership on April 14, his victory was hardly a surprise. Trudeau had waged a fairly cautious front-runner’s campaign, unveiling little in the way of precise policy ideas. Still, the race was illuminating. He showed how he would target middle-class voters, including suburbanites who have been drawn in the past three elections to Harper’s economic message, new Canadians won over by the Conservatives’ assiduous ethnic outreach, younger voters who might lean NDP or Green, or not cast ballots at all, and Quebecers who have abandoned the Liberals in droves for a nearly a decade. As well, Trudeau was sometimes pushed hard by rivals like Marc Garneau and Martha Hall Findlay—and showed real resilience. Conservative and NDP strategists who’d hoped to see a callow dilettante instead recognized a new danger.

May: We’re jolted by the resignation (firing?) of the PM’s top aide.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

It was just possible, right up until the fall of Nigel Wright, to imagine that the Senate expenses scandal wouldn’t ultimately amount to much. After all, the Senate—packed with partisan patronage appointees, unanswerable to the people—has a lousy reputation to begin with. Even if a few Senators were shown to have abused their positions, how could their actions reasonably be construed as reflecting on the fundamental qualities of the government? And then Wright, the Prime Minister’s highly regarded chief of staff, was reported to have dipped into his personal wealth to pay off Duffy’s disputed expenses. More damagingly, the scheme seemed to have been hatched in a haze of subterfuge and dissembling. Wright was soon out of a job. And the rest of the year, and beyond, would be devoured largely by the classic questions of what Harper knew and when he knew it.

June: We learned a backbencher’s name and considered the MP’s role.

Jason Franson/CP

Vanishingly few Canadians could have named the Conservative MP for Edmonton-St. Albert before his early June resignation from the governing party’s caucus. But when Brent Rathgeber quit, he briefly became the most famous backbench MP on Parliament Hill. “I barely recognize ourselves,” Rathgeber wrote on his blog, “and worse, I fear that we have morphed into what we once mocked.” He meant, essentially, Tories were turning into Liberals. His gripe was broadly over Harper’s rigid control of his caucus and the government’s lack of transparency and accountability. More specifically, he exited when his own private member’s bill, which had sought public disclosure of bureaucrats’ salaries over $188,000 a year, was amended by his fellow Tory MPs, on orders from above, so it would have only revealed the very small handful of public-service salaries over $444,661. Few understand that issue very well; many recognized Rathgeber as the embodiment of previously muted Conservative discontent over how Harper runs the show.

July: We saw premiers not just relaxing, but sending stern messages, in wine country.

Aaron Lynett/CP

It’s hard to beat a resort hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. during a sunny stretch of summer grape-ripening weather. The locale fed cynicism about whether the provincial premiers really meant to do much at their summer summit. But they did. Since Harper has declined as Prime Minister to meet regularly with his fellow “first ministers,” that old model of executive federalism has basically fallen into disuse. The the provincial political bosses, however, didn’t waste their annual confab. Ganging up to protest Flaherty’s Canada Job Grant, many of them vowed to boycott the ambitious on-the-job training plan unless he dramatically altered it. As well, they stepped up pressure for more federal infrastructure money. And this was a landmark gathering for women in politics, given the prominence of Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, B.C.’s Cristy Clark and Alberta’s Alison Redford, plus the formidable presences of Quebec’s Pauline Marois, and Newfoundland’s Kathy Dunderdale.

August: We discovered how Tories would try to undermine Trudeau.

Michelle Siu/CP

When Justin Trudeau declared in late July that he thought legalization of marijuana made sense, he was taking a mere policy risk. When he admitted in late August that he had smoke pot at a dinner party at his Montreal home—after being elected an MP in 2008—he opened himself up to personal attacks. Sure enough, Justice Minister Peter MacKay slammed the novice Liberal leader for  “flouting the laws of Canada” and setting a “poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones.” Attacking Trudeau’s for having smoked marijuana became a standard feature of Conservative Question Period lines, and a theme in Conservative ads, especially those directed at immigrant communities. Expect Trudeau to be under fire on this front right through the 2015 election, as Conservatives strive to make his judgment and maturity an issue.

September: We winced at graphic images of limits on religious garb.

(Jacques Boissinot/CP)

It was really the pictures that created the uproar. The text of what was called the Quebec Charter of Values was offensive, in the way it sought to dictate what religious symbols provincial employees would be allowed to wear (small crucifixes, for instance) and which were to be banned (Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and Muslim headscarves). But the helpful pictures provided by the Quebec government to illustrate the permitted and the forbidden were what truly sparked outrage. In Ottawa, the reactions varied subtly. Justin Trudeau was out early with his firm objections. Thomas Mulcair was a bit later but no less emphatic. Jason Kenney, speaking for the government as multiculturalism minister, was strangely terse and uncharacteristically restrained, but did say Ottawa would challenge Quebec in court if the rules seemed to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Smart observers explained (none more persuasively than Paul Wells in his Maclean’s column) how the Parti Québécois came to champion such a controversial position.

October: We saw three Senators kicked out of a divided upper chamber.

Tom Hanson/CP

The unprecedented move by the Conservative government to suspend three Senators—Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, all appointed by Harper—drew attention to the red chamber as rarely before. Duffy spoke twice with vaudevillian flare, defending his own actions, while accusing the Prime Minister’s Office of deception and cover-up. Wallin addressed the Senate with wounded pride, Brazeau with embittered resignation. The senators were split. Even Sen. Don Plett, a former Conservative party president, broke ranks to argue that the three being given he boot hadn’t been allowed a fair process. Sessions filled with impassioned rhetoric ended when all three of the embattled former Tories were voted out. Harper’s team must have hoped it would be enough to stop the worst if the bleeding from the Senate scandal. It wasn’t.

November: We gave ourselves over to Ford’s lurid and ludicrous saga.

Aaron Harris/Reuters

When Rob Ford finally admitted on Nov. 5 that he had smoked crack cocaine, the story of his embarrassing, at times disgusting, run as Toronto’s mayor eclipsed for several days, and then sporadically for weeks to come, pretty much everything else in Canadians politics. The details of what Ford did and said, by turns brutally ugly and often, admittedly, highly entertaining, mattered a great deal in Toronto. But on the federal scene, it was the reactions that resonated. Ford had been a close ally of Harper’s Conservatives in the key Toronto electoral battleground, so most federal Tories dodged questions. Then Employment Minister Jason Kenney stepped up to frankly denounce Ford for bringing “dishonour to public office.” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, an old family friend of the Fords, was visibly shaken by the developments and was later reported to have been angry with Kenney in a confrontation on the floor of the House.

December: We again see top judges forcing the hand of politicians.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Among influential figures in Harper’s Conservative party, the conviction runs deep that Canadian judges have been too assertive in the Charter of Rights era. Yet labeling the Supreme Court of Canada as unduly “activist” has become more difficult in recent years. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin runs a centrist court; and, after all, five of its eight serving judges were appointed by Harper. (A sixth Harper appointee, Marc Nadon, is currently sidelined while his eligibility to fill one of three Quebec seats on the nine-member court is challenged). In December, McLachlin wrote the court’s unanimous decision on prostitution, giving the government a year to write new laws to allow prostitutes to work more safely. The case is freighted questions of sexual morality and goes to the heart of the Harper government’s key law-and-order messaging. Many Conservatives are clearly unwilling to preside over the rise of a regulated sex trade. So the ruling might, quite unintentionally, open the door for this government to get tough—perhaps, following Sweden and France, by cracking down, not on sellers of sex, but on buyers.

(And for the inveterate political obsessive, now musing about how ’13 stacked up against previous years, here are the links to politics-in-12-chapters reviews from 2010, 2011 and 2012.)

12 stories that defined politics in 2013

  1. “Justice Minister Peter MacKay slammed the novice Liberal leader for … setting a “poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones.””

    I imagine this tack will be something like, “Do you want your children to be running the country?”

    • Ya, that’s the message parents are going to get from a so-called candidate for PM who’s advocating more marijuana use.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • He knows it is not true. That is why he wrote it.

          • Care to attempt to point out what wasn’t true about what I said?

          • Care to cite a single time Trudeau said he wants to encourage people to smoke more pot?

          • He wants to legalize it, and that will obviously result in more marijuana use among the public.

            He’s also personally endorsed marijuana use by promoting his own use of the illegal drug, while he was a sitting MP. He didn’t apologize for such an incredible lapse in judgement.

            He went to a high school and told kids he believed marijuana should be legalized. Is that something that someone would do if they weren’t encouraging people to smoke pot?

          • Actually, that is not obvious at all. It is a conclusion you have drawn, and even if that conclusion ends up being correct, that is a far cry from Trudeau “advocating” drug use. Look up the word “advocate” if you don’t believe me.

            Unless you also believe Harper advocates alcohol use, since he has consumed it publicly and has not criminalized it yet. That stance will make a lot of families with alcoholics rather unhappy…

            So, in short, you cannot cite a single example of why your statement is true. Because it is not.

          • It’s a conclusion I’ve drawn from over a century of evidence to back up my conclusion. You make something easier to access, consumption will increase. It’s simple economics. Do you think alcohol consumption went DOWN after prohibition ended? Hint: it didn’t.

            When Trudeau’s running around the country telling people he smokes pot and he wants to legalize it, he’s advocating for others to use it. It’s not rocket science.

            What exactly are supposed to be the benefits of legalization, other than making Trudeau’s 1%er buddies richer?

            It’s nothing but a stupid policy by a stupid trust fund baby.

          • “When Trudeau’s running around the country telling people he smokes pot
            and he wants to legalize it, he’s advocating for others to use it.”

            No. Making stuff up does not make your point any stronger.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • “Following the imposition of Prohibition, reformers “were dismayed to find that child neglect and violence against children actually increased during the Prohibition era.”[4]

            During Prohibition, people continued to produce and drink alcohol, and bootlegging helped foster a massive industry under the control of organized crime. Drinking in speakeasies became increasingly fashionable, and many mothers worried about the allure that alcohol and other illegal activities associated with bootlegging would have over their children.[5]

            Prohibitionists argued that Prohibition would be more effective if enforcement were increased. However, increased efforts to enforce Prohibition simply resulted in the government spending more money, rather than less.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeal_of_Prohibition

          • 1) Are you suggesting that marijuana prohibition is causing pot heads to beat to neglect and beat their children? How would that change if people started smoking legal weed, as opposed to illegal weed, in their homes? Are you suggesting that more marijuana use will result in less child neglect when Mommy’s in a weed coma more often than previously? Or are you suggesting that having legal weed-cafe’s will somehow result in Mommy staying at home more often?

            Also, child neglect and violence against children continued to increase after the repeal of prohibition, suggesting that the increase during prohibition in fact had nothing to do with prohibition itself. Correlation does not equal causation.

            2) You’re pointing out the biggest difference between alcohol prohibition and marijuana prohibition. Prohibition drove alcohol consumption under ground. Marijuana consumption is already done underground.

            3) If keeping the proceeds of crime is our only concern, then why isn’t Justin Trudeau proposing we legalize all drug use, heroin, cocaine, and other crimes like prostitution? Or is that the part of his platform that comes next? We don’t make things illegal for economic reasons, it’s for health and social reasons. The government could save a lot of money if it stopped prosecuting murders too.

          • When it’s decriminalized the same people who imbibe will continue to smoke. People have already made up their minds. Who cares if more try it because it’s no longer illegal.Do your research, it’s not as bad as alcohol and it even helps with pain relief and cancer. Can you say that about alcohol? There’s so many more people who die from alcohol than marijuana.

          • Well which one is it, “People have already made up their minds.” or “Who cares if more try it because it’s no longer illegal”?

            If it’s the second one, I think lots of Canadians will have a problem with this policy. People don’t generally want their kids to grow up to be pot-heads.

            It’s negative health effects greatly outweigh it’s benefits, which is why it’s currently only available with a prescription from a doctor. There are lots of other drugs that help with pain relief and cancer, should we legalize all of those too, like heroin as an example?

          • I don’t like feeding trolls like you. You are a one trick pony whose speciality is “Look, a squirrel!”

            But since you brought it up — I live in the Netherlands. The use of pot here in the 16-24 age group is about half of what it is in Canada. The same is true for Portugal and a few more of those decriminalized “basket case” European socialist states.

            But you are OK handing out subway subsidies to unaccountable criminals?

            OK then. Look, another squirrel!

        • Yep, we voters have no real good choices other than who gets more of our money while they do less and less for it.

          None of the parties represent the mainstream middle class that make this country work. All they do is argue about how to spend more of our money on waste, bailouts, inflated contracts and more waste and corruption.

          Mulcair too, NDP do support Air Canada bailouts on people paying taxes and slaves to 67 for less and no personal pensions…. Mulcair even has 11 mortgage extensions on his 6 digit salary.

          Often they work together to screw us, like Airbus-Mulroney, Liberals bought them anyways with NDP union AC support. Liberals even paid ly’in Brian $2.1M for whatever.

          Happening all over again as Air Canada just bought $6.5B in new planes and no money to pay for them. Media isn’t reporting it as Con/Lib/NDP approve this new taxpayer screwing. Cash flow money losing negative cash flow, junk credit rating and no cash, media doesn’t report who is paying for it.

          Yep, we need better choices than the statism corrupt placatory parties of Canada.

      • Actually, lets say Trudeau went all the way and 100% legalized growing, possession and smoking…what would happen?

        - cops would have to look for real criminals, as so much of policing is marijuana tax and management. Lots of cops so we have a police state to protect government from people protesting government.

        - biggest proponent of keeping it illegal is organized crime, they love high prices to feed a 5% PR cut to cops to look good.

        - judges and lawyers love weed as a crime as it congests courts, make judges feel important and employed lots of lawyers on the public dime so they can also tax us more. Just another way of subjegating people to big government for the slaves that dare defy government imposed order….

        I am not even a user of weed. Just see the sheer idiocracy and Orwellian state mentality of trying to regulate what so many want to do. Our real problems in society, economic or not almost always trace back to too much government and their PR, deceit, lies to lift our money for the back room boys that screw this country.

        Time to make it 100% legal. Police, prosecutors, judges, union guards don’t need the bloat that we tax-slaves pay for. And the fastest way to kill organized crime profits so they don’t kill people is $20/bushel of legal weed.

        • I don’t entirely disagree with completely legalizing weed, it’s just a plant after all. But that’s not at all what Trudeau’s proposing. It will still be illegal, just not if you buy it from the government and contribute to fund bigger government. It’s a way for the Liberals to increase spending, as they always want to do. You think they’ll stop funding police just because weed’s legal? They’ll just put more resources into other drugs.

          Which leads to my next point. If you legalize weed, what’s stopping the government from legalizing every other drug? We all know how addicted governments are to gambling and alcohol revenues, why wouldn’t they want the same thing by selling the population crack or heroin? They’ll tell us it’s not bad for us because it’s “regulated” by the government.

          • “But that’s not at all what Trudeau’s proposing. It will still be
            illegal, just not if you buy it from the government and contribute to
            fund bigger government.”

            Citation please.

            Hah hah hah! Relax. Just kidding!
            I know your comments are entirely the work of your imagination and you reading disability.

          • “I don’t entirely disagree with completely legalizing weed.”

            Really? ‘Cause that’s not what you say above. It’s all potheads, health effects and Trudeau wants your kids on drugs. Or is it just a bad idea because Trudeau is floating it?

          • Rick… you really have to relax. Why don’t you try smoking a joint? I can see your blood pressure peaking when I read your posts.

  2. The CPC will “try to undermine Trudeau”
    Yes, because his record of achievement so stellar (stint at teaching, then in and out of university programs until into his 40′s), his grasp of the issues so sound and his intellect so sharp (let the “experts” decide on Canada’s northern border, and admiring China’s dictatorship), his backbone of integrity so great (charging non-profits ten grand a pop to speak to them by trading on his family name) it will be the dastardly CPC undermining him.
    Here’s how the CPC will undermine Trudeau: They will simply and clearly recite the actual facts about him. Facts the media stalwartly refuse to cover. Facts that put a lie to the media’s near glorification of him, and prove him to be one of the most shallow, unqualified PM’s “in waiting” in the history of this great land.
    Yes the media will characterize the simple recitation of these very true facts as “an attack”, but they will be true nonetheless, and because they are easily verifiable and true, they will resonate.

    • What do you think about the latest Nanos numbers, Charles?

      • I think the same thing as with the mid term polls when Dion was anointed, and as when Iggy was anointed. Both showed Harper “in trouble”.
        Mid term polls taken when there’s no actual decision for the voter, and when voters are not focused are virtually meaningless. New entrants get initially high numbers because they are given the benefit of the doubt and voters hopes are cast onto them. They are like the “perfect” new boyfriend/girlfriend who can do no wrong.
        Then as the election nears an actual stark concrete choice is required, voters engage, and most importantly, for the first real time scrutinize the new entrant.
        Trudeau is, objectively speaking, the weakest candidate, with the least credentials, and the lowest intellectual gravitas we’ve seen in a generation. When the real scrutiny of Justin starts come election time his numbers will plummet. Much worse than Iggy’s or Dion’s numbers did (because they were actually far more attractive candidates than Justin).
        In the meantime, enjoy those poll numbers.

        • And what were THE KING’s credentials when he was “elected”?

    • Easily countered by citing the facts about Harper & Co. Yes, I know the Party Faithful will rally ’round and put the CPC ahead of Canadians, but a lot of the swing votes won’t need much nudging at this point to swing centre or left. As long as the splits don’t mess things up it’s bye-bye Harper come 2015 – because it’s not the opposition that wins so much as the incumbent who loses.

    • There’s still one profound difference between him and Steve: JT hasn’t immersed his office, his party, and the entire Senate in scandal.

      That may turn out to be the only difference that counts.

      • Politicos, and particularly leftist politicos focus on the scandal du jour. They gin it up, marinade in it, hypothesize about the deep ramifications (“it goes deeper than you think”). But try having a discussion with an average person and they frankly just don’t get it. At its roots is the act of repayment, not stealing. Most actually think Harper did nothing wrong whatsoever. Because he didn’t. Come election the voters will consider issues that affect their lives – bread and butter issues (for that reason even Ford may win again).
        Barring an economic catastrophe Harper will win the next election and, as with the previous two “scandal plagued” elections, he will yet again increase his vote share with a greater majority. Leftists here and their friends in the media will again express shock and dismay that the repayment of expenses issue didn’t move votes (just like the “crime against democracy” didn’t the last round).
        The rest of us will simply move on with our lives comforted that the steady administrative hand of Harper will still be at the helm.

        • Nice rationalization of events. Now, all you have to do is sell it to the RCMP and, eventually, the courts.

          • Not much selling required. No charges have been laid, let alone anyone being convicted of anything.
            Most importantly, I have yet to see a single verifiable piece of evidence that Harper did anything wrong whatsoever.

          • It doesn’t much matter what “verifiable” evidence you see or don’t. It’s the informed opinion of the RCMP, the Crown prosecutor’s office, and eventually, a court that counts.

            Stay tuned. It’s early days.

          • Um, you know that the RCMP, Crown and court’s need “verifiable evidence” do make an “informed opinion”, don’t you?

            Court’s and the RCMP don’t make their decisions based on the number of Liberal trolls who make comments on the internet who convict Conservatives simply because they’re not members of the Liberal Party of Canada. I know you think the Liberals should control the court’s to persecute their political enemies, but thankfully that’s not the way Canada works. We have a legal system that’s independent of the elected branch of government.

          • Exactly my point. It’s their opinion regarding the quality of the evidence that counts. And they don’t give a rat’s ass about Charles’ opinion on the evidence.

            Like I said, it’s early days. This mess isn’t going away any time soon.

          • We have a legal system that’s independent of the elected branch of government.

            Correction – Had.

        • “Politicos, and particularly leftist politicos focus on the scandal du jour. ”

          Unlike the CPC, which prefers to focus on the scandals of 2004.

      • LOL Trudeau hasn’t scandalized his office? He’s admitted to being a pot head while being a sitting MP. He’s complimented China’s brutal form of dictatorship. His office was involved in the coverup allegations of a Liberal Senator’s sexual harassment habits. He supports the Senate in it’s current form. He thinks Quebecers are better than the rest of Canadians.

        How much more scandal could Trudeau generate? Would you finally criticize him if he was caught slaughtering kittens in his office, or would you find a way to defend that too?

        • You’re apparently demanding a degree of accountability on the part of the leader of the third party that the Prime Minister, himself, routinely flouts.

          Double standard much?

          • I’m merely pointing out that Trudeau’s been involved in more scandal’s than Harper’s office has been. As far as accountability, Harper demanded the Senator’s who had illegitimate expenses repay the illegitimate expenses. When they refused, he saw to it that they were removed from the Senate and he fired his Chief of Staff for trying to help them repay the expenses. What more accountability do you want?

          • How many Con senators and PMO staffers who colluded in the payment of an inducement to a sitting parliamentarian, then tried to cover it up, and also attempted to influence an “independent” audit are still in office (i.e., working for Harper)?

            ‘Nuff said.

          • He only acted when he was caught!

    • Hi Biff

      I see you are at it again. As usual your posts are more wishful thinking than factual, but then that is your point, isn’t it.

      Cheers!

      • And what per se was the point of your comment? You think you come off as more “factual” by launching personal attacks at others? How about you try to actually rebut some of his points instead of simply insulting others.

        • His only purpose here is to derail the comments. Once he is proven wrong, as he always is, he will not return to actually discuss the points. He will just move on to the next thread and spread his nonsense. I will not take him seriously, but I will call him out.

          • By “derail” the discussion, do you mean he presents an alternative point of view or offers counteracting points to the discussion?

            It seems to be you’re simply trying to do exactly what you accuse him of with such meaningless drivel as “As usual your posts are more wishful thinking than factual, but then that is your point, isn’t it.”

            Do you really expect him to respond to such empty rhetoric? Or is it simply a stupid way for you derail the discussion?

          • No, I mean he deliberately comes here and posts off the topic, and posts things that are clearly untrue.

            It is not that hard.

    • They will simply and clearly recite the actual facts about him.

      When was the last time the Cons state simple and clear facts? Have they EVER done that?

  3. This comment was deleted.

    • Conservative charm on display.

    • I’d like to recommend you for employment in CPC public & media relations. I’d be happy to provide a reference.

      The opposition (and a majority of the electorate) will thank me.

    • Thanks for that Dimitri.

  4. This comment was deleted.

    • Most credible polls over the last several months suggest MacLean’s is merely reflecting and reporting on the prevailing sentiments of the electorate.

      Hurts, don’t it?

  5. John – nowhere do you mention the steady domination of Harper by Tom Mulcair in Question Period – a daily skewering that made evident Harper’s distant relationship to the truth.
    Contradictions and cover-ups has been the Harper order of the day – but Tom’s ability to illuminate these canards has been impressive – and in sharp contrast to Justin – who despite being scripted continues to make both policy and verbal gaffes.

    • Once again you are living in a dream world. The fact is Canadians are not looking for a chief prosecutor asking the same questions day after day. They are looking for a future PM. Mulcair is a socialist who favours a utopian state using other peoples money. The other guy is a pretty boy who has no idea about how to manage a car wash let alone a country. Who do you think Canadians are going to vote for? It won’t be Mulcair or Trudeau.

      • Tom has to repeat some questions because Harper changes his answers – either contradicting or covering-up what he has said before!

        You apparently think Cdns will choose a PM who is a stranger to the truth , who actively weakens environmental measures, and watches as economic inequality grows – and youth unemployment is chronically stuck at 15%.

        • Yes they will choose a competent leader versus one who wants to tax the middle class to death and a pretty boy who knows nothing. Harper is not changing his story. If he did not know about the deal how can he answer the questions. As new information comes out he answers differently. However, since when is it a crime to give money back to the taxpayer from which it was taken. Why have no charges been laid yet. I know you and the rest of the leftie crowd are waiting with baited breath.

      • Mervin, nice to see you around these parts again, still arrogantly deigning to speak on behalf of “Canadians”, and still betraying your ignorance of “the facts” concerning what we’re actually looking for.

        • Talk to me in October 2015, You lefties have been preaching the demise of Harper since 2006. Wishful thinking is all you got.

          • Wishful thinking is healthier than a fixed delusional system.

  6. The title of the article should have been “12 stories that defined federal politics in 2013 For Left-Wingers”. Of course all of the “stories” John thinks are important are either fake scandals involving the government, or Liberal puff-pieces.

    • What would your 12 stories have been?

      • 1) Justin Trudeau covering up a Liberal Senator’s sexual harassment.
        2) Justin Trudeau complimenting China’s brutal form of dictatorship.
        3) Justin Trudeau pushing pot on the Canadian population for no particular reason.
        4) The Conservative government signing the largest free trade agreement in over 20 years.
        5) Justin Trudeau smoking pot while he’s a sitting MP.
        6) Thomas Mulcair dominating Justin Trudeau in Question Period.
        7) Northern Gateway pipeline receives environmental approval
        8) Justin Trudeau is personal friends with Marc Emery, who’s serving time in a US prison for drug trafficking.
        9) Liberals choose part-time high school drama teacher over actual rocket scientist.
        10) Justin Trudeau charging charities and public organizations $20,000 for speeches, while he’s a sitting MP.
        11) Justin Trudeau’s complete lack of respect for parliament by never actually attending and campaigning on the taxpayer dime instead.
        12) Kathleen Wynne’s (and close friend of Justin Trudeau) gross incompetence of the province of Ontario having negative effects on the entire countries economy.

        • So “12 stories that have little relevance, or may be totally untrue, but they help the CPC so lets hear them!”

          Other than the free trade agreement, which was important and did not get much coverage because the Senators Harper appointed were exposed and the PMO was implicated in a coverup to deceive Canadians.

          • So you’re claiming that the fact that Trudeau, who wants to PM, smokes pot, hangs out with drug traffickers, and praises a totally un-democratic Communist regime, has “little relevance”? Would it be fair for me to then say that everything Justin Trudeau has accomplished in the last year has had little relevance?

            I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from the leader of the 3rd place party who only got elected on his daddy’s name and the trust fund money left for him by his dad. The same father who just happened to be one of the worst PMs in the countries history. I guess we’ll just have to expect more of the above.

          • If what you said was actually true, you may have a point. But it isn’t, so you don’t.

          • “So you’re claiming that…” is the lead in to Stupie’s version of the knock-knock joke, and he’s got no end of them. The punch line comes when he tells you what you’re “claiming”.
            Hilarious.

        • So, you’d replace Geddes’ perceived lack of journalistic balance with your own equally biased list of mostly picayune items.

          • Yes. Except they’re not “picayune”. They’re quite relevant when the man who wants to be PM is covering up sexual harassment. Rob Ford makes the list for using drugs, but somehow Trudeau’s drug use isn’t important? The largest trade agreement in 20 years is just a minor thing for a government to accomplish, yet Trudeau’s government-dope policy is the most important thing they can campaign on?

            But I’m glad you cold at least acknowledge that Geddes’ list is biased.

          • You know that simply saying things does not make them magically come true, right?

        • I think I’ll go with John Geddes’ list instead.

        • Not so impressive that you could only find two accomplishments of the current government to list. And the free trade agreement didn’t even rank #1.

          We know you’re a partisan Rick, but you do realize that Maclean’s isn’t a branch office of the party, right?

        • Look everyone, a squirrel. Isn’t he cute? Don’t be fooled. If your FAT CAT gets in a fight with that squirrel, the vet bills could get be very expensive.

          Oh look. A FAT CAT. This is going to be interesting.

    • The title of your comment should have been, “I take a wild guess at what the stories are after trying to read and understand this article, but failing due to a cognitive disability that leaves me unable to understand a word of it.”

  7. Maclean’s definitely needs a careful proofreader. This article feels like a ‘filler’ and is riddled with errors.

    • Enlighten us.

  8. Stephen’s imploding fast. He’ll soon be reaching for the cyanide capsules tucked in his left-breast pocket .

    • If only!!!

  9. Yep, from the land of Ozawa, 12 x deception and deceit.

    Harper has no courage (will not fire the corrupt)
    Trudeau has no heart (charity pays well)
    Mulcair has no brain (6 digit fat benefit salary and up the mortgage 11 times?)

    Meanwhile MP and Senate munchkins cheat on expenses, taxes and get inflated contracts and bailouts on the backs of Canadians and even Rizzuto never spend time in jail for his Canadian crimes.

    And let us not forget the man behind the curtain pulling all the strings. After all, they arrange the ballot so that the only real result of the placatory parties of deceit are who gets more of your money to do less.

    In the land of Ozawa….we strive to be as inefficient, as ineffective and as bureaucratic as possible. It serves to tax the tax-slave critters more.

  10. After all of the people that this guy literally managed to throw under the bus I would like nothing better than to see him thrown under the bus..for real.

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