Parliament Hill Ticker - Monday, June 13, 2011

For all the latest news, views and musings from the Hill, keep an eye on the ticker: 

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LIVEBLOG: Conservative Party Convention 2011 (Day Three)

Alright, #CPC11 delegates, spectators and casual onlookers -- it's all been leading up to this: the much-anticipated plenary session, a day-long debate-a-thon that will decide the fate of the 40-odd constitutional and policy resolutions that have made it to the floor for final consideration. 

For those who want to play along at home, you can peruse the full list of proposals to tweak the party constitution here. 

The policy resolutions -- which will be dealt with this afternoon -- can be found here; 

Section A FINAL English.pdf
Section B FINAL English.pdf
Section C FINAL English.pdf

 You can catch up on earlier convention coverage here

Unlike yesterday's strictly in camera closed-door workshops, today's festivities are wide open, so expect fast and furious liveblogging throughout the day. 

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here or hit the jump for the full CoveritLive experience. 

LIVEBLOG RECAP: Conservative Party Convention 2011 (Day Two)

As shamelessly yoinked from today's special #CPC11 edition of Orders of the Day: 

Delegates get down to serious party business today, with a full slate of in camera policy and constitution workshops taking place on the forbidden-to-the-media second floor; they'll also have the opportunity to meet with various National Council candidates and learn all about C-Vote, which, according to the programme, will be "replacing" CIMS. There's also an off-site VIP reception for the Leaders' Circle at the Chateau Laurier, hosted by Senators Irv Gerstein and Nicole Eaton.

This afternoon, various unnamed ministers will hold "information sessions" to discuss their respective portfolios "in a Q&A fashion." Conservative MPs will also be on hand to present the "significant projects of interest" on which they've been hard at work in their ridings and on the Hill, and the same roving band of National Council candidates will present their respective platforms to voting delegates.

Finally, tonight's keynote speaker is, of course, Stephen Harper, who will take the stage before what will undoubtedly be a standing-room only crowd at some point after 6:30, but before 9pm, when the hospitality suites -- including the much-anticipated Fabulous Blue Tent -- will open.


For a quick preview of some of the more hotly anticipated policy and party constitutional debates on the agenda for this weekend, check out these posts ...  

May 20, 2011
With a biennial policy convention just a few weeks away ... 
The draft list of proposed constitutional amendments
May 30, 2011
Attention 2011 Conventioneers -- Who's up for a rock 'em sock 'em flat tax fight? 
June 8, 2011
Clash of the Elder Party Statesmen!
Peter MacKay fires back

... and, of course, for all the latest news, views, rumours, musings and reports from the floor, follow the ticker:

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here or hit the jump for the full CoveritLive experience. 

Question of the Day

Power & Politics: The War Room podcast (June 10, 2011)

On today's Power & Politics: The War Room podcast:

Fresh off their majority win, the Conservative national party convention is underway. But delegates have to deal with the sticky issue of one member, one vote. It could have a significant impact on future leadership races for the party.

Scott Reid of Feschuk.Reid, former NDP Campaign Director Brian Topp and -- straight from the Tory convention -- former Conservative Cabinet Minister Stockwell Day are in The War Room.

Full audio after the jump...

Orders of the Day: Gone Conventioneerin'

With the House of Commons closed for the weekend, the biggest -- and, at this point, virtually only -- show in town is, of course, the Conservative Party convention, which got underway last night in classic stable, national majority-celebrating style.  

Delegates get down to serious party business today, with a full slate of in camera policy and constitution workshops taking place on the forbidden-to-the-media second floor; they'll also have the opportunity to meet with various National Council candidates and learn all about C-Vote, which, according to the programme, will be "replacing" CIMS. There's also an off-site VIP reception for the Leaders' Circle at the Chateau Laurier, hosted by Senators Irv Gerstein and Nicole Eaton. 

This afternoon, various unnamed ministers will hold "information sessions" to discuss their respective portfolios "in a Q&A fashion." Conservative MPs will also be on hand to present the "significant projects of interest" on which they've been hard at work in their ridings and on the Hill, and the same roving band of National Council candidates will present their respective platforms to voting delegates. 

Finally, tonight's keynote speaker is, of course, Stephen Harper, who will take the stage before what will undoubtedly be a standing-room only crowd at some point after 6:30, but before 9pm, when the hospitality suites -- including the much-anticipated Fabulous Blue Tent -- will open.

For all the latest news, views, rumours, musings and reports from the floor, follow the ticker:

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here or hit the jump for the full CoveritLive experience! 

Bonne fete, EMay! (Now with video)

UPDATED with video of her question, and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's, um, impish response... after the jump.

----

My colleague Chris Rands, who's on the Hill at the moment, tells us:

Elizabeth May turns 57 today, and her House of Commons seat neighbours, the four Bloc Québécois MPs, have given her a birthday present of sorts by sharing a slot for today's Question Period.

How will she use it? I guess we'll see at around three o'clock today.

 

Let's abolish the senate

Let's not reform the senate, let's just get rid of it.

Many would agree (the NDP for instance), but, get this: even an actual senator is toying with abolishing his own job.

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal has twice introduced a motion in the Senate to hold a referendum on its future and he's going to try again. His referendum would ask voters to choose between three options: abolish, reform, or keep the status quo. 
 
And why a referendum? According to Segal, the Senate is "democratically completely illegitimate." A referendum would embrace "the rather democratic notion that governments work for the people... as opposed to the other way round."
 
Intriguingly, Segal says that if he does finesse a referendum on the Senate's future, he'll immediately campaign against abolition. He believes senators should be elected, so he'll pitch that the "reform" box be checked off on the ballot.  

Of course, the brick wall in front of him is that it's all but impossible to abolish the Senate, no matter the voters say about it. The constitution mandates that every province would have to agree to an amendment on fundamentally changing the Senate. Quebec for sure would refuse, and likely other provinces as well.
 
But Segal thinks that if the referendum tally was 50 plus 1 nationally in favour of, let's say, abolition, and if the same 50 plus 1 held true in every province, then it would be a bit gauche for a province to blatantly ignore the will of the people and run to the courts. Discussions about the Senate, he says, have always been an "elite game" played by premiers, senate reformers and judges. Why not have the Senate introduce a referendum on its future? After all, he says, "we work for a group called the taxpayers."
 
Senator Segal says he'll re-introduce his motion on a referendum "soon," just to have it on the books. He won't push the motion any further though, until Stephen Harper follows through with his senate reform proposals, which might be introduced first in the Senate itself and which Segal can't imagine why he wouldn't support.
 
Harper campaigned on senate reform, but he's said in the past that if reform fails, he'd be for abolition. And so, if a province launches a court challenge to attempt to block reform, Segal's plan is to have his referendum proposal in his back pocket. "It's a belts and suspenders approach so that democracy has a role."
 
The notion of an elected Senate doesn't sit well with Ned Franks, a constitutional expert at Queen's University.

He worries about the almost unbridled power the Senate possesses: the only curb is that the Senate can't kill money bills. An elected, feeling-its-oats Senate might want to flex its muscle.
 
For Franks "the whole discussion is a waste of time." He believes the Senate is the most talked about political institution, but all that chatter is like "medieval discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin."
 
Franks does like senators. They're "smarter and meaner" on committees he sometimes appears before, and, he says, they're generally better educated and more experienced in just about everything than MPs. And "they're incomparably less partisan." Still, he'd vote for abolition over reform.

"What constituencies are not represented?" Franks asks, meaning none. Provinces, he  points out, rely on provincial-federal negotiations to deal with the federal government, and no provincial government would allow a senator to fulfill that role now.

There's one more thing on Senator Segal's to-do list this session. He has to once again sign an affidavit proving that he owns property worth at least $4,000. It's a quaint and funny tradition dating back to the 19th century, but that amount adjusted to today's dollars would mean only millionaires could sit in the Senate, which was the original intention. This wouldn't change much if senators had to run for election, especially for terms lasting 8 to even 12 years. One senator says she couldn't afford to run for the Senate.

Question of the Day

LIVEBLOG: Conservative Party Convention 2011 (Day One)

Party policy wonks, start your engines. 

More than 2,000 card-carrying party members are expected to converge on the capital later today to kick off a three-day policy confab. 

For a quick preview of some of the more hotly anticipated policy and party constitutional debates on the agenda for this weekend, check out these posts: 

May 20, 2011
With a biennial policy convention just a few weeks away ... 
The draft list of proposed constitutional amendments
May 30, 2011
Attention 2011 Conventioneers -- Who's up for a rock 'em sock 'em flat tax fight? 
June 8, 2011
Clash of the Elder Party Statesmen!
Peter MacKay fires back

Once you've caught up on the all the intrigue, park your browser right here for all the latest news, views, rumours and musings from the floor. 

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here or hit the jump for the full CoveritLive experience.