Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today's History Lesson For Jennifer Ditchburn

Take a look at the latest feeble attempt by journalist Jenniffer Ditchburn to somehow imply scandalous or sinister plots by Conservatives skirting the rules for electoral gain. Ditchburn implies that because Toews mentioned $160,000 in funding for programs in his riding under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP). She rightfully points out the original announcement came three day before the government fell and the writ dropped, but then seems to think Toews bringing up the funding at a campaign stop is playing loose with the rules. Really Jennifer?

 First, allow me to quote a few paragraphs in which Ditchburn tries to  smear Toews and the Conservative Party:Toews' campaign stop during the 2011 election falls into something of a grey zone. Should announcements be made when it's clear the government is about to fall? Where is the line drawn after the writ is dropped? On March 22, 2011 — one day after a committee found the government in contempt of Parliament and the same day NDP Leader Jack Layton said he would not support the federal budget — Toews put out a press release outlining $160,000 in funding for programs in his riding under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).The government fell three days later, following a motion of non-confidence related to the contempt of Parliament finding.A few days later, in full campaign mode, Toews appeared at a seniors' centre in Whitemouth, Man., to sing the praises of the new funding

 And this is the best part:"What might have given the bureaucrats pause within Human Resources was a general understanding that government events are put on hold until following an election.A 1968 "Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada," only released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, includes a section describing cases of "restraint" on government business.That includes situations where the government is facing censure in the Commons — a motion of non-confidence, for example."In addition to defeat in Parliament or at the polls other situations may indicate that some measure of restraint might be desirable at least until the Government's position is clarified," reads the document

Now this is where Ms. Ditchburn needs to pay attention. Today's history deals with the 2006, or more importantly the lead-up to it. November 9:

Layton announced that, in order to avoid an election of the Christmas holidays and to avoid the cancellation of the First Ministers' Meeting on Aboriginal issues, he would use his opposition day motion on November 24 to propose that an election be called in early January with a vote in mid-February. Such a motion would not be binding on the government and could not guarantee the election timing contained in its language.

Bloc MP Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC) resigned from the house to run as a Parti Québécois candidate in a coming provincial by-election.

November 13 - Harper, Duceppe and Layton met after Martin says he would not honour Layton's motion calling for an election campaign beginning in January. They proposed that they move forward with the NDP motion but, unless the Prime Minister committed to honouring it, they would vote no confidence in the government, forcing an election call sometime in November.

November 14 - Finance Minister Goodale tabled his fiscal update, which included a major tax cut package. The opposition denounced it as an attempt to buy votes.

November 21 - The NDP's motion to order Martin to call an election passed with a vote of 167-129.

November 24 - Stephen Harper introduced a motion of no confidence, seconded by Jack Layton. Harper tell the House of Commons: "This government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons and needs to be removed." The vote was deferred until November 28.

November 28 - The motion of no confidence passed 171-133, defeating the government of the 38th Parliament, and forcing the 39th general election.

 So you see Jennifer? Martin's Liberals, well aware of the fact their political days in government were numbered as a non-confidence motion was coming, proceeded with a full-steam-ahead way of governing. Goodale delivered a fiscal update, complete with tax cuts and spending announcements for things like public daycare. All repeated over and over again on the campaign trail by Liberal MP's and journalists like yourself Jennifer. Oh, and by the way, pay particular attention to November 24th. That was the day Stephen Harper introduced the motion to bring down the Liberals.One day after that motion was introduced, Paul Martin announced $5 billion dollars in spending on the Kelowna Accord. Something he oft-repeated during the 2006 campaign.

 Now Jennifer, I'm sure you are all for journalistic integrity. And I'm sure the reason you either overlooked or forgot about all this was just a simple oversight. But I have to ask. Was what took place by the Liberals leading up to and during the 2006 campaign not significantly worse than what you accuse Toews of here? Did they not violate that 1968 "Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada,"? You know, the one only released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, includes a section describing cases of "restraint" on government business?

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