Ottawa somehow ignores Rob Ford -

Ottawa somehow ignores Rob Ford

Five notes from the nation’s capital

CP/Adrian Wyld

“If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait. This is going to be outright war in the next election.” —Rob Ford

The mayor of Toronto declared war on city council, and compared them all to Saddam Hussein, and complained of a coup d’état, and then found himself with very few powers as mayor. Earlier, Rob Ford had inadvertently bowled over a bewildered councillor as he sprinted across the council chamber to help his brother, councillor Doug, who’d been caught up in an apparent altercation of some sort. The Prince of Chaos, so crowned by our Charlie Gillis, lived another day. Who knows what’s next.

Toronto’s circus has proven one thing, if nothing else: decorum in Ottawa’s oft-juvenile House of Commons, normally no example for the children, can be made to look civil. Serious things can happen in the nation’s capital. At least five are worth mentioning.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer is curious about why the government’s not spending billions in budgeted funding. Jean-Denis Frechette, the budget watchdog, releases reports with the driest names in Ottawa. Witness the latest, Supplementary Estimates (B) 2013-14, which somehow caught the attention of a reporter. Frechette says the government’s requesting another $5.4 billion in spending money this year, even though $10 billion has gone unspent over the past three years. His advice to parliamentarians: They “may wish to seek clarification regarding why this level of unspent money remains so high, what measures will be undertaken by departments and agencies to ensure that spending directed by Parliament occurs and whether all of the $5.4 billion sought in these Supplementary Estimates is actually required.” The Canadian Press muses that underspending budgeted funding is a clever way of reducing deficits ahead of schedule—say, in time for the next federal election in 2015.

Lisa Raitt asked the House transportation committee to investigate rail safety. The Transport Minister’s request comes on the heels of the Lac-Megantic disaster, and in a world where hazardous goods are transported on railways with increased frequency. “The Committee can count on Transport Canada’s full support in this important undertaking,” said Raitt. The Globe and Mail reports that Raitt also told the committee that she’s working with municipalities to “determine what kind of information they need to help municipal first responders prepare for an accident.” More on that in coming days, says Raitt.

Denis Lebel doled out $2 million for a new aluminum processing plant in a Tory minister’s riding. The good people of Princeville, Que., will soon have a new aluminum rod manufacturing plant in their backyards. The feds are providing the “repayable financial contribution” to Sural Quebec Inc., which plans to create 50 jobs. Every gainfully employed voter counts in that riding, a rare Conservative seat in the province that’s currently held by International Development Minister Christian Paradis.

Elizabeth May is heading to an international climate change conference as part of Afghanistan’s delegation. The government didn’t invite any opposition parliamentarians to the United Nations Convention Conference on Climate Change, but that didn’t stop the Green Party leader. She’s huddled with the Afghans as a policy adviser, and claims her presence is “expected to significantly increase the negotiating capacity of this war-ravaged developing nation.” Megan Leslie, the NDP’s deputy leader, won’t be attending the conference. “I didn’t think about going under another country because I’m a Canadian legislator,” she told reporters. “I did think about going under, for example, a civil society banner, maybe with a community organization.”

John Baird congratulated the Maldives for a successful election. This actually happened on Sunday, but we’ll mention it, anyway. Earlier this fall, the Foreign Affairs Minister spent some days rather concerned about democracy in the Maldives. The fledgling democracy recently concluded a successful election, and Baird registered his approval. “Canada congratulates the people of the Maldives for once again exercising their fundamental democratic right to vote in a peaceful manner, under the capable stewardship of the Elections Commission,” he said. “After such a close result, it is now incumbent upon President Abdulla Yameen to begin the process of reconciliation and govern for the whole country.”


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail Toronto city council stripped Rob Ford of most mayoral powers yesterday.
National Post Canadian mixed martial artist George St-Pierre talked about retirement.
Toronto Star Ford compared council to Iraq invading Kuwait during 1990’s Gulf War.
Ottawa Citizen The Prime Minister’s Office says Ford’s crisis is “troubling.”
CBC News Ford claims to have stopped drinking alcohol.
CTV News Suicide bombings outside Beirut’s Iranian embassy killed 23.
National Newswatch Ford knocked down councillor Pam McConnell during a chaotic session.

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