Vote-athons, broken promises and Raffi: Politics on TV, Dec. 4 edition

Talking about the votes on the omnibus budget implementation bill, the First Nations chiefs on the Hill, and a visit from Raffi

Message of the day

“Harper has broken the promise he made at the Crown-First Nations Gathering.”

Hot Topics

  1. The vote on the omnibus budget implementation bill
  2. First Nations Chiefs on the Hill
  3. An interview with Justice Richard Wagner

Questions not answered

  • Why did the government make changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Protection without consulting First Nations?

The Omnibudget vote:

As the vote on C-45 was going on in the Commons, Power & Politics ran a pre-taped MP panel of Mark Adler, Guy Caron and Scott Brison to put it all into perspective, and to explain what happened during committee beforehand. Caron said the amendments would have been grouped together in any case, that they wanted substantive debate (which didn’t happen), and in the end they were allowed to vote on all amendments in committee. Brison noted that the NDP voted to support time allocation in the committee and to overturn the chair’s decision about allowing remaining votes to head to the Commons, while saying that committees were set up to stand up to governments. Adler said that everything was debated thoroughly in 12 separate committees and in the House (never mind that some of those committees got a mere couple of hours of debate).

P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts, where Martin Patriquin said that it suits the government to put the Navigational Waters Protection Act changes into a budget bill because they have no public credibility on the environment. Robin MacLachlan noted that parts of this bill fix mistakes from the previous omnibus bill. Alise Mills said that former BC Premier Gordon Campbell was in favour of these kinds of changes because of the impact on the regulations on municipalities. Amanda Alvaro said that the government has shown visible annoyance that they have to ram through these kinds of bills.

On P&P’s On The Money segment, CAW economist Jim Stanford said that he would prefer to see the government ramp up capital spending on the long term rather than the anaemic measures in the bill. Professor Ian Lee said that there won’t be much economic impact from the bill because there are no real fiscal measures in it, but the clarity of regulations will help with market confidence.

First Nations:

Power Play led off with Pam Palmater, chair of indigenous studies at Ryerson University, who said that the First Nations are concerned with the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and unilateral amendments to the Indian Act that are in the omnibus budget bill. Palmater said that the grassroots have been organizing rallies for weeks to oppose the bill, and the AFN having their special chief’s assembly today was an opportunity to march on the Hill. Palmater says that Harper has broken the promise he made at the Crown-First Nations Gathering about not unilaterally changing the Indian Act.

After a recap of an incident where a number of First Nations chiefs tried to push their way into the House of Commons, Power & Politics spoke with Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba First Nations, who said that they wanted to speak directly to the government rather than just get rhetoric about consultation from a single minister. He added that they were there in a respectful way as the guests of Charlie Angus, and that part of their treaty relationships means accepting the law, but there is a youthful passion in the communities that is coming to the fore.

When P&P’s Power Panel weighed in, Patriquin said this is just a small demonstration of the perpetual frustrations that First Nations feel. MacLachlan said that there has been no movement since the Residential Schools apology and the Crown-First Nations Gathering. Mills said that protests tend not to achieve anything other than getting a headline, and there needs to be better negotiations to deal with these complex issues. Alvaro said that these kinds of tactics are indicative of what happens when disadvantaged groups try to vent their frustrations.

Justice Richard Wagner:

Don Martin interviewed the newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Richard Wagner, and they spoke about the influence of his father, who was a Liberal cabinet minister and Conservative leadership contender, who took Wagner up to the court house during his law career. Wagner said that he doesn’t see judicial independence eroding, but that they need to remain vigilant. Wagner agreed with the Chief Justice that the Charter is a “mature” document, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be future debates or cases to be tried.

Worth Noting:

  • CBC’s Lee Pitts said that documents show there was a tug-of-war at the Maritime Rescue Centre where marine medical calls ended up going to a back-up option of a free global call centre in Rome after a Halifax hospital wouldn’t take the calls.
  • Janice Stein from the Munk School of Global Affairs said that the move to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey is a significant signal to Syria that NATO will defend that country, and that there is no civilian oversight for the military in the proposed Egyptian constitution.
  • Cliff May of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies said that there is a real concern that Assad has chemical weapons in Syria, and that the demonstrators in Egypt are making it clear they will not exchange autocracy for theocracy.
  • Dan Kelly from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that federal civil servants take more sick days than anyone else, and that it seems to be a case of “entitled to their entitlements.”
  • Chris Aylward of PSAC said that the additional sick days are a reflection of the “drastic and unnecessary” cuts being made to the public sector, and that a lot of it is stress leave and disability claims.
  • Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said that there is a “friends clause” in the conflict of interest legislation that should apply to Alison Redford and her ex-husband, and that Wildrose is not questioning the lawsuit, despite Smith’s history of lobbying for the tobacco industry.
  • Duane Bratt from Mount Royal University gave a recap of the entire Alison Redford conflict-of-interest situation in the Alberta legislature.
  • Martha Hall Findlay said that Justin Trudeau’s comments on Alberta don’t reflect all Liberals, and that the long-gun registry was established with laudable goals but was implemented badly, which Liberals need the courage to say so.
  • Joel-Denis Bellavance said that Justin Trudeau’s long-gun registry comments may affect his appeal with Quebeckers and female voters.
  • Stephanie Levitz said that the funding review of aid to the Palestinians will be seen in a political lens, even if the timing of the review is a coincidence.


Children’s singer-songwriter Raffi stopped by Power Play to talk about his support for Marc Garneau’s private member’s bill to create a Child and Youth Commissioner. Raffi spoke about “child honouring” and how that works as part of the political process, which this proposed commissioner would facilitate.

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