Blog Posts by Andy Radia

  • Stephen Harper takes to the airwaves to defend Senate suspension motions

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question in the House of Commons on Oct. 23, 2013You know that the Conservatives are reeling when Prime Minister Stephen Harper does a one-on-one interview.

    In the midst of what can probably be described as his most tumultuous time in his reign as prime minister, Harper actually took to the airwaves on Friday, to discuss the Senate, the EU trade deal and the economy.

    Here's a teaser from Toronto's Newstalk 1010 interview which was aired at 5pm (EST).

    In addition to his defence of the three Conservative motions to suspend Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, the prime minister reiterated that he was not forewarned about the $90,000 cheque his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, gave to Duffy.

    "Obviously I didn't know and obviously had I known about this I would have told Mr. Wright not to undertake these actions as I think, frankly, you know would be just about everybody's reaction in these circumstances," he said.

    "I think I had every right to know. I think I should have been told. I think I clearly should have been

    Read More »from Stephen Harper takes to the airwaves to defend Senate suspension motions
  • Senator Patrick Brazeau arrives at the Senate on Tuesday

    Another bombshell has been dropped from the upper chamber in the ongoing debate over three Conservative party motions to suspend Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin over allegations about inappropriate expense claims.

    On Friday afternoon, Brazeau told his colleagues that Senator Claude Carignan — the government's leader in the Senate — offered him "backroom deal" to go easy on him if he issued a public apology.

    "I hate to do this, but I haven't been in this place for a very long time. But I've always been very proud of my record talking about transparency and accountability. Which is probably the reason why I got named to this place. And I always practiced what I preach," Brazeau said on the Senate floor.

    "At approximately at 10:20 a.m. this morning, I was outside this chamber in the back and ... the leader of the government in the Senate took me aside — and I'll be very careful about my words here.

    "But I was essentially offered a backroom deal. And the backroom deal

    Read More »from Brazeau said he was offered 'backroom deal' by government leader in the Senate
  • Union groups decry new labour laws in latest omnibus budget bill

    Treasury Board President Tony ClementStop me if you've heard this one before: There are some accusing the Harper government of subverting democratic debate by quietly trying to pass a piece of legislation via an omnibus budget bill.

    Earlier this week, as explained by the Globe and Mail, the Tories introduced Bill C-4 — a 308-page budget bill which includes significant changes to Canadian labour laws.

    The legislation would give the employer the exclusive right to declare jobs as essential services where workers could not strike, removing unions from that decision. It would also limit the role of arbitration for resolving disputes. Arbitration would be allowed only in cases where bargaining units have 80 per cent or more of their positions designated as essential, or if both parties mutually consent to binding arbitration.

    In an interview with The Globe and Mail, [Treasury Board President] Clement played down concern these powers would be used arbitrarily. He said unions would be consulted, but the government will have the

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  • Senator Marjory LeBreton (CP file photo)Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton — formerly the government's leader in the the upper chamber — is poking holes in Senator Mike Duffy's story.

    On Tuesday, Duffy had the opportunity to address his colleagues ahead of a vote on a Conservative Party motion to have him suspended from the Senate, without pay, for gross negligence in relation to misuse of his Parliamentary budget.

    During his dramatic defence, the former broadcaster said that LeBreton told him it was okay to claim a Senate living allowance.

    [ Full text of Senator Mike Duffy's speech to Senate ]

    He also alleged that the PMO concocted the plan to have Nigel Wright — the prime minister's former chief of staff — give him money to repay expense claims and forced him to cooperate under threat of expulsion.

    During Sen. LeBreton's rebuttal in the Senate on Thursday, she made no secret that she's not a big fan of her former caucus colleague.

    "There is no doubt...that Senator Duffy is a good communicator. He is a professional

    Read More »from Former Conservative leader in Senate says Mike Duffy’s defence “not based in fact”
  • The Senate has become the story that just keeps on giving.

    The dramatics in the upper chamber are poised to continue on Thursday afternoon with more debate on three separate Conservative party motions to suspend Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau for gross negligence related to alleged misuse of public funds.

    And we could actually see a vote today.

    It's expected that on Thursday, senators will vote on a Liberal party amendment which would require the suspension motions to be referred to a special Senate committee that could have powers to call witnesses.

    If the Liberal motion passes, it would certainly indicate a rift in the Conservative caucus.

    In that case, it would mean that some of Stephen Harper's handpicked senators would be voting against his desire to have Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau out of sight and hopefully out of mind.

    The vote would cap an eventful week in the upper chamber that long-time Ottawa pundits are calling one of the spectacular in recent memory (the

    Read More »from Threats, vendettas, exploitation and mortgage fraud: The week that was in the Canadian Senate
  • Can the Parti Quebecois win a majority government in a December election?

    Quebec Premier Pauline Marois (CP file photo)Believe it or not, it seems that the stars are aligning for the Parti Quebecois to force an election before the end of the year.

    Over the past couple of months, rumours abounded that Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was contemplating pulling the plug on her minority government.

    Granted, the polls don't indicate that Marois can win a majority: the latest Crop poll — released on Tuesday — had the Liberals at 38 per cent and the PQ at 34 per cent.

    Here's the Montreal Gazette's Don Macpherson's overview and analysis of the poll:

    In the CROP poll, conducted Thursday through Monday, the PQ led the Liberals in popularity among the French-speaking voters who decide Quebec elections, and in the regions outside of Montreal where they’re usually decided.

    And for “best premier,” Marois was about as popular as Liberal leader Philippe Couillard among all voters, meaning she was more popular among French-speaking ones.

    The problem for Marois and the PQ, however, is that they weren’t popular enough to overcome

    Read More »from Can the Parti Quebecois win a majority government in a December election?
  • Do we, the Canadian public, owe Sen. Mike Duffy an apology?

    Senator Mike Duffy is the victim — at least that's what he'd like us to believe.

    On Monday, Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne publicly claimed that his client did nothing wrong — that the Prime Minister's office and Senate leadership told him it was okay to designate his PEI home as his primary residence even though he lived in Ottawa most of the time.

    He alleged that it was staff at the PMO who concocted a plan to have Nigel Wright give him money to repay Senate expenses and forced him to cooperate under threat of expulsion.

    On Tuesday, it was Duffy's turn to defend himself. Duffy defended himself in the Senate telling his colleagues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper told him: "Do what we want — or else."


    Audio Credit: iPolitics

    [ Read the text: Full transcript of Duffy's speech to the Senate ]

    Perhaps we, the Canadian public, got it all wrong.

    Maybe the vitriol directed at Duffy over the past several months was uncalled for or at least premature?

    At Yahoo Canada News, comment sections on stories

    Read More »from Do we, the Canadian public, owe Sen. Mike Duffy an apology?
  • Twittersphere reacts to hilarious video of John Baird screaming

    This is one of the stories that's probably going to get lost in all the Senate scandal news this week.

    But boy oh boy — any other week, this would be pure link bait.

    Kudos to Postmedia News' Glen McGregor for finding and posting this video of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird screaming at an off-camera loud noise during a press conference on Monday.

    Baird, of course, is the animated gentleman on the far right.

    Here is McGregor's description of the video:

    The spectacular wipe-out heard was a Radio-Canada reporter crashing into a glass display case full of metal statues. You can’t make folly like that. Fortunately, no injuries, no property damage. Baird’s “Dean Scream” has been the source of much amusement in his office and, apparently, to him, too.

    Baird took to Twitter on Tuesday to laugh off the...ahem..controversy.

    Read More »from Twittersphere reacts to hilarious video of John Baird screaming
  • Sen. Mike Duffy is questioned by media as he arrives on Parliament Hill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau were all in attendance in the upper chamber on Tuesday as debate began on Conservative party motions to suspend the trio without pay for "gross negligence" of their Parliamentary budgets.

    It was pre-dubbed an epic political show-down, and the Senators didn't disappoint.

    After lengthy preambles by Conservative Senate leader Claude Carignan and Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan, Mike Duffy stood up to defend himself suggesting as his lawyer did at a press conference on Monday that he did nothing wrong.

    Earlier this year, Duffy was forced to repay $90,000 in what has been characterized as an improperly claimed living allowance the $90,000 he used to repay the Senate came from Prime Minister Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright. Duffy claims that scheme was concocted by the Prime Minister's Office by threat of expulsion.

    [ Related: Mike Duffy’s lawyer launches explosive allegations against PMO, Senate leadership ]

    Here's some

    Read More »from Mike Duffy says he was strong-armed over spending by Harper, PMO in explosive speech
  • Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin in Senate as debate on their suspensions begins

    Cartoon by Fleg

    Independent Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau were all in attendance in the upper chamber on Tuesday, as debate began on Conservative party motions to suspend them without pay for "gross negligence" of their Parliamentary budgets.

    [ Related: Pamela Wallin's lawyer threatens legal action against possible Senate suspension ]

    As of 4:30 pm (EST), none of the three maligned politicians had yet had the opportunity to address their colleagues.

    Last week, Wallin's lawyer Terrence O'Sullivan indicated that they would indeed fight the motion.

    "It is backroom politics at its transparent worst and it's designed to create the impression of a clean slate for the Tory convention in Calgary next week," he told the Canadian Press.

    "It's a fundamental affront to Canadian democracy."

    And, on Monday, Duffy's lawyer told reporters that they too would consider legal action if the senator from PEI was suspended.

    "At my insistence, Senator Duffy and his wife Heather have maintained silence in

    Read More »from Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin in Senate as debate on their suspensions begins

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