The House

In House Panel: April 16

In House panelists Joel-Denis Bellavance and Susan Delacourt break down this week's big stories, and look ahead to the denouement of the Duffy trial next week.

In House panelists Joel-Denis Bellavance, parliamentary bureau chief for La Presse, and Susan Delacourt, political columnist at the Toronto Star and iPolitics, break down this week's big stories, and look ahead to the denouement of the Duffy trial next week.

What will be the impact of this week's Supreme Court decision recognizing the Métis people as a federal responsibility?

Susan Delacourt: The Métis were recognized in the Charlottetown Accord, and in a way, had it been passed, this would have been the result back in 1992. There were concerns back then about cost. Also, about how you can determine who is Métis and who is not. I think this is just the beginning of a long process, but probably an overdue process.

Joël-Denis Bellavance: The biggest question that people are asking is how much will this cost the government? When I was asking myself that question I had only one answer in my mind: que sera sera, whatever the cost will be, will be. That will probably be the answer that the Prime Minister will offer. It will be costly, but I think the government is ready to pay the bill.

What should be the first step for the Metis?

JB: Establish something as a consensus, because people's views, needs and objectives are somewhat divergent. They have to do work before going before the federal government so that they have a united voice.

SD: I think it is, as Joël-Denis said, determining who speaks for you. And it's catching that train which is leaving a station. Right now, the Prime Minister is giving all indications that he is serious about mending this relationship.

NDP leadership — Megan Leslie says she doesn't want it. So who does?

SD: Is it true that sons of former politicians are in vogue? We've got two now, right? Mike Layton and Avi Lewis. I hear he ruled it out, but I don't rule out Avi Lewis.The problem with a long campaign of this length is money. The NDP is having trouble raising money. It is not a good time to be a New Democrat.

JD: It's not only a bad time to be a New Democrat federally, but provincially. We just had the provincial election in Saskatchewan, and the NDP lost big time to the Saskatchewan Party. There will be a provincial election in Manitoba on Tuesday, and everyone expects them to lose. There will be one province led by the NDP, in Alberta, and the party is extremely unpopular right now because of economic difficulty.

Next week we'll get the ruling about Mike Duffy, and the saga will come to a close. What are you expecting to hear?

SD: I have been saying all along that I would not be surprised if Mike Duffy was exonerated. I think the Senate has already been changed forever. Accountability has been changed forever. That's the impact of the Duffy trial.

JD: I endorse Susan's prediction. I think the lawyer for Mr. Duffy, Don Bayne, was very clever at attacking the credibility of the case of the Crown. It is a trial before only the judge, so Mr. Bayne only has to convince one person.

The Supreme Court of Canada just upheld the unconstitutionality of mandatory minimums. What do you make of the continued erosion of Stephen Harper's legacy?

SD: The most remarkable thing is how quickly Harper himself went away. He just vanished off the face of the earth. But,we are all not surprised by the decision.  We knew this was heading for trouble with the courts.

JD: Talking about his legacy on law and order, I think it shows the Justice Department will have to be a bit more careful about the constitutional tests they apply to laws before they are adopted. All those laws were vetted by the Justice Department in Ottawa, but now they are being struck down by the Supreme Court.