Here are the three things you should not have missed:
- MPs on EI “house calls”
- Is it against the law to “muzzle” scientists?
- Andrew Cash defends himself on questions of ethical violations
Power Play looked at the new practice of HRSDC employees making “house calls” to EI recipients in order to invite them to interviews at the local Service Canada office, getting MPs Kellie Leitch, Rodger Cuzner and Peggy Nash to weigh in. Cuzner considered it an intimidation tactic, and that the level of fraud is less than one per cent, meaning this was a heavy-handed tactic. Nash said that it was poor public administration to put seasonal workers on provincial welfare rolls. Leitch disputed the characterization, calling the visits random audits of 1200 recipients around the entire country regarding one specific program, ensuring that EI gets to those who need and deserve it.
After the Information Commissioner was asked to rule as to whether or not the practice of “muzzling” scientists is against the law, Power & Politics had an MP panel of Kellie Leitch, Megan Leslie and John McCallum to discuss the issue. Leitch insisted that these scientists are publishing and they are giving interviews, but the primary spokesperson for every department is the minister. At one point, Evan Solomon called her out for answering questions that he wasn’t asking. Leslie said the media needs access to scientists who can talk about their work rather than just a comms person summarizing it, while McCallum called the move “Orwellian,” and said that one can’t ask a minister to answer scientific questions they’re not qualified to. Solomon also spoke to Andrew Weaver from the University of Victoria (and deputy BC Green Party leader), who said that Environment Canada media responses went down 80 per cent under the new communications strategy, and that information is suppressed so that scientific evidence can’t undermine policy decisions.
Solomon spoke with NDP MP Andrew Cash about the allegations that he has broken conflict of interest rules because he gets royalty cheques for music on Dragon’s Den, while he raises questions about the CBC’s funding in Parliament. Cash said that he has been in constant contact with the Ethics Commissioner about his debates and votes, and likened himself as an artist talking about cultural policy to a doctor talking about healthcare or a lawyer talking about justice. Cash asserted that it’s only a conflict if he’s asking about Dragon’s Den.