Question of the Day

Rideau Hall neighbours say farewell to Jean

With just a few more hours left in the Governor General's time at Rideau Hall, children and neighbours are gathering in the rain to say goodbye.

Daniel Stanton, 11, gave Michaelle Jean flowers at her inauguration five years ago. He is making a return engagement, more flowers in hand.

This afternoon, Jean will plant a tree at Rideau Hall, as all Governor Generals do. Of course, the tree is already planted. She will add a shovel full of dirt and thank her neighbours.

Jean won't be far from the tree; she and her family are moving just down the block.   

That EI panel: who hired these guys, anyway?

In Budget 2008, the federal government created the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) -- a new Crown corporation to handle the Employment Insurance fund.

For years, the Conservatives -- among many others -- complained that the Liberal government used EI premiums to balance the books.

By putting EI contributions into General Revenues it meant any surplus in funds at the end of the year was just tacked on to the government's bottom line.

To end this "theft," as it was repeatedly called, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board was created to do three things:

  • Manage a separate EI account and make sure the funds are well invested
  • Maintain a $2-billion cash reserve, a rainy-day fund
  • Make recommendations for premiums increases/decreases
So far:
  • the bank account is in deficit, so there's no money to invest
  • there is no rainy-day fund, and..
  • after three years of a government mandated EI premium freeze, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced today what the premium increases will be for the next "few years."
Although, Flaherty insists the CEIFB will continue to exist...

The EI premium hike rollout goes to the grill

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced his new EI policies this morning at an odd venue -- a furnace store on a mall strip in suburban Ottawa.

In between salespeople sorting out their furnace-repair pickups and end-of-season barbecue sales were bewildered customers. Who are all these people, they asked?


Apparently the store was chosen because it's a small independent business. Perhaps the finance minister could use some sizzling condiments on sale this time of year.   

Liberals drop the D-bomb in census battle

From colleague Laurie Graham:

Just got back from Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett's news conference announcing her private member's bill, which, if passed, would force the Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government to make the long-form census mandatory again.
"This is about marginalized people being counted," Bennett said. "If they're not counted, they don't count."
Bennett showed great frustration with the Conservative government for refusing to reverse its decision to make the long-form census voluntary.
It's time, she said, "for this dictatorial prime minister to listen to the will of Canada."
In what was a running theme throughout the news conference, she also described Stephen Harper as "dictator of a prime minister."
Is this the theme of the day for the Liberal Opposition? Stay tuned for question period.

Teneycke's Queen-GG assertion 'false': PMO

From colleague Hannah Thibedeau:

If mom says no, is it then OK to then ask dad?  Well...Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to think so.

In Lawrence Martin's new book, Harperland, he talks about the 2008 constitutional crisis.The Conservative government was on the verge of being taken down by the opposition coalition. So the PM went to Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean and requested a prorogation of Parliament.

But if Jean wouldn't save Harper's government, he would have gone over her head, the book says.

According to the book, Lawrence Martin asked Kory Teneycke, then Harper's director of communications, what other avenues the PM was exploring in case the decision had gone against him.

Teneycke replied, "Well, among them, the Queen."

EKOS of the Week: Everybody wins! Well, except the NDP.

Sorry, Team Orange, but as far as I can tell, there's pretty much no other way to interpret this week's findings from the EKOSbots, although I'm sure that a commenter or two will be along shortly to offer suggestions. With the exception of Ontario and Alberta, the Dips are pretty much down across the board, including somewhat precipitous tumbles in provinces where it could actually matter, like British Columbia, as well as the previously prairie socialist hotbed of Saskitoba, and even out east. 

Don't believe me? Hit the jump to survey the damage. 

Parliament Hill Liveblog: Thursday, September 30, 2010

Berry-friendly/iphone-tolerant/lo-bandwidth/auto-updating/minimalistastic text feed available here

Hit Orders of the Day to whet your whistle for today's scheduled Hill hijinx, then stick around here for up-to-the-minute news and dispatches from the front, as well as links to new blog posts, CBC livestreams, and everything else you need to keep tabs on the goings on in Ottawa.

Orders of the Day - How did the ad hoc Afghan detainee document committee spend its summer vacation?

But before we get around to discussing -- but not answering -- that very good question being posed by the NDP: What, oh what does the finance minister have in store for us today? 

According to a late-issued media notice, he and Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis will make "an announcement" at a news conference later this morning; no further details were provided on the nature thereof, nor does the venue -- the Fireplace Centre and Patio Shop in the west end of Ottawa -- give any hint as to what, exactly, will be revealed, although conventional speculative wisdom suggests it may have something to do with the planned un-rollback of EI premiums that may or may not proceed as originally scheduled. 

House tackles Maclean's

The House of Commons spoke with one voice on Wednesday night, but the subject matter may have caught some off guard.

They weren't speaking on a matter of policy, but rather about the cover of a magazine, Maclean's to be specific.

Here is the motion put forward by the Bloc Québécois:

"That this House, while recognizing the importance of vigorous debate on subjects of public interest, expresses its profound sadness at the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean's magazine to denigrate Quebec nation, its history and its institutions."