• Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question in the House of Commons on Oct. 29, 2013.It appears that the Tories have a new strategy in their defence in the ongoing Senate expense scandal: relentlessly vilify Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright.

    Last spring, Wright admitted to gifting Senator Mike Duffy $90,000 to repay taxpayers for alleged inappropriate expense claims. In the House of Commons on Tuesday, Harper led the most scathing attack we've seen since spring against his former right-hand man.

    "From our side there is one person responsible for this deception. That person is Mr. Wright by his own admission," the Prime Minister said.

    "For that reason...Mr. Wright no longer works for us, Mr. Duffy shouldn't either."

    [ Related: The Senate scandal and three really damaging narratives for Stephen Harper ]

    The tone of the comments about Wright today are a stark difference from what we heard earlier this year.

    Here's a bit of a recap of what the Harper government had previously said about Wright. As you'll see, it appears that the narrative has

    Read More »from Is Stephen Harper throwing Nigel Wright under the bus?
  • Stephen Harper responds to a question in the House of Commons on October 24There are three narratives emerging from the Senate expense scandal that Conservative strategists will be watching very closely over the coming weeks and months.

    If the Tories can't counter those narratives, there's a very good chance that they'll continue to slip in the polls heading into the 2015 election campaign.

    [ Related: Canadians showing little sympathy for Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau ]

    We gave former Reform/Conservative MP Paul Forseth the opportunity to defend the Tories.

    Here are the three potential damaging narratives and Forseth's counters:

    Narrative 1: Stephen Harper is losing control of his caucus:

    Harper had clearly stated in the House and during radio interviews that he would like to see a Senate motion to suspend Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau without pay, pass. Three Conservative Senators and two MPs -- Peter Goldring and Peter Kent -- however have spoken out against the motions. And now the Conservative leadership in the Senate are

    Read More »from The Senate scandal and three really damaging narratives for Stephen Harper
  • Sen. Mike Duffy smiles as he takes an elevator on Parliament Hill on MondayThey've all given impassioned speeches in their defence, but it looks like the three senators at the centre of the expense scandal haven't won the battle of public opinion.

    Last week, Sen. Mike Duffy told the Senate 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.

    Sen. Pamela Wallin said that the Conservative Party leadership in the Senate had a vendetta against her and Sen. Patrick Brazeau claimed he played by the rules.

    But, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll released late Monday, the majority of Canadians still believe that the trio should be suspended without pay, immediately.

    Amid allegations of “gross negligence” on the part of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau relating to improperly filed expense claims, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted exclusively for CTV News has revealed that three quarters (73%) of Canadians believe that these three Senators should be

    Read More »from Canadians showing little sympathy for Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau
  • The ongoing Senate expense scandal has been a boon to political journalists right across the country. The stories just keep on coming.

    It's also been good time for Canada's satirists and comics.

    Here is a catchy preview of Tuesday night's episode of CBC's "This Hour has 22 minutes" (inspired by Lorde's song, "Royals").

    The video captures not only the Senate scandal but touches on the Bev Oda affair, Dean Del Mastro's Elections Canada problems and those pesky Economic Action Plan ads.

    Check your  local listings for air times in your region.

    [ Related: Mike Duffy says PMO wrote second cheque to cover his legal fees ]

    Interestingly on Twitter, journalists and pundits are trying their hand at comedy -- with varying degrees of success.

    Read More »from CBC comedians mock Harper, Senate scandal with ‘Tories’ parody
  • Sen. Mike Duffy surrounded by media as he leaves Parliament Hill on Oct. 22Last week, Senator Mike Duffy took the Senate floor to defend himself against a motion to suspend him, without pay — along with Senators Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin.

    He said that Senate leadership told him it was okay to claim a Senate living allowance. 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.

    Duffy's speech on Monday, was potentially even more explosive and probably more damaging to the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

    [ Related: Former Conservative leader in Senate says Mike Duffy’s defence “not based in fact” ]

    Duffy said that, in addition to a $90,000 cheque used to repay his Senate expenses, Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton paid his legal fees.

    Here's an excerpt from his speech:

    "When I insisted on written guarantees that repaying money I didn't owe would not be seen by the Senate as a guilty plea,

    Read More »from Mike Duffy says PMO wrote second cheque to cover his legal fees
  • Celine DionIt appears that Quebec's 'Queen of Pop', Celine Dion, has endorsed — at least tacitly — the Parti Quebecois' controversial values charter.

    Here's what Dion said to Maclean's Magazine, when asked about the proposed legislation that would essentially ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.

    Q: Lucien Bouchard once called you Quebec’s greatest ambassador. With that in mind, Amnesty International just declared Quebec’s controversial charter of values as a limit on fundamental rights that further stigmatizes vulnerable women. Do you agree with Amnesty?

    A: It’s a very delicate question to answer because I’ll hurt some people and please others but you have to have an opinion. For me, it’s not about the veil—it’s beyond that. I’m not against what people wear but if you go to the hospital, and you are in Quebec and we have embraced you and opened our country for you to live in a better world, you have to adapt to our rules. If the doctor is a boy or a girl,

    Read More »from Is Celine Dion endorsing the PQ values charter?
  • Former Prime Minister Jean ChretienFriday marked the 20th anniversary of the day Jean Chrétien became prime minister of Canada for the first time.

    On October 25, 1993, Chrétien's Liberals swept into office, winning 177 seats and decimating the Kim Campbell Progressive Conservatives who were left with only two seats.

    "The little guy from Shawinigan" went on to win two more majority governments (in 1997 and 2000) and stepped (or maybe got pushed) aside in 2003 to make room for Paul Martin.

    Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay marked the occasion in the House of Commons on Friday morning:

    Mr. Speaker, today marks a momentous anniversary.

    Twenty years ago today was the 1993 election that elected many of my colleagues, but which also elected the government of my great friend, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

    I send my congratulations to Mr. Chrétien this day, but also to the person he always called his most trusted advisor, his wife Aline.

    I appreciate the confidence the former prime minister showed in me and was honoured to serve in

    Read More »from Happy 20th anniversary to Jean Chrétien’s first majority
  • 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
  • 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

    Read More »from Union groups decry new labour laws in latest omnibus budget bill

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