Here are the three things you should not have missed:
The West Block looked at the diminishing number of sitting days in provincial legislatures around the country – 19 days in BC, 39 days in Alberta, 33 days in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 78 days in Ontario – and asked Alison Loat of Samara Canada and Maclean’s Aaron Wherry about the problem. Wherry said shuttered legislatures are a problem for holding governments to account, and that there is a disconnect where MPs are being seen simply as party messengers. Wherry said that ultimately public concern and political will are needed to change things. Loat cited Samara’s new report about the perception that MPs don’t represent their constituents and their issues, which isn’t as much of a problem as people might think, but said that it does raise broader questions about how representative democracy functions in the 21st century.
CBC Radio’s The House had an interview with outgoing Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page (first 13 minutes), wherein Page said that his greatest concern about the office going forward is the misunderstanding about why it is important. Page says that parliamentarians being asked to vote on items without understanding the costs behind them, and that understanding is the “noble purpose” of his office, which has too few resources to fulfil that large mandate. Page says that Parliament’s appropriation system is broken, and MPs don’t feel the incentive to spend time scrutinizing the spending of the departments their committees oversee. Page also spoke on a personal level about how the loss of his son gave helped him find the sense of meaning in his work.
In the wake of Jim Flaherty’s disclosure of his health concerns, Tom Clark spoke with Carleton University journalism professor Chris Waddell and former NDP chief of staff Anne McGrath about how much political figures need to disclose. McGrath said that it is a personal decision and plenty of MPs haven’t disclosed their medical issues, and that even when there is disclosure, it doesn’t necessarily stop the speculation. Waddell said that when the change is noticeable – as with Flaherty – it becomes necessary to reassure people, lest rumour start to become fact. Waddell said that Flaherty handled it the right way because everything, from condition to treatment, was laid out on the table.
Due to the Super Bowl, CTV’s Question Period was pre-empted this week.