OTTAWA – LEADERS LEDGER – It was another eventful week in Ottawa with more misspending our tax dollars, the Prime Minister backtracking on his promise to end Canada’s military commitment in Afghanistan by 2014, and a floor crossing to boot.
Yet another example of Conservative incompetence and mismanagement came to light this week. Bev Oda, the Minister for International Cooperation (for the time being), attended a conference in London last year on international immunization. The event was taking place at a ‘5-Star’ hotel, but Ms. Oda decided to stay down the road at the famous ‘5-star-plus’ Savoy Hotel at a cost of more than $600 a night. Since she decided to stay off-site Ms. Oda also decided to keep a private limousine on stand-by in case she was unable to handle the 5 minute walk to and from the venue. As if that weren’t enough waste for one trip, she also threw a $16 glass of orange juice on the tab for good measure. Once the dirt hit the fan Ms. Oda graciously decided to pay back the difference in the cost of the two hotels and the limo charge, however we’re still waiting to hear about the orange juice.
This week also saw the backtracking of the Harper Government on their commitment to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by 2014. In the last election Mr. Harper promised to bring the troops home by then because he agreed that our share of the hard work in this conflict was finished. However, a new report out of Washington indicated that a formal request has been made for the extension of the Canadian combat mission by the U.S. government. After reading this report New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair asked the Prime Minister in Question Period if he was going to abide by his campaign promise and ensure that our troops are withdrawn from the theatre by 2014; ‘yes or no.’ Mr. Harper was asked the same question three times, and three times he declined to give a straight answer. For our part New Democrats will continue to be press the Harper Conservatives to come clean on when they plan to end this mission and bring our troops home once and for all.
The other big news this week was the decision of my electoral neighbour and colleague Bruce Hyer to leave the New Democrat caucus to sit as an Independent Member of Parliament. Bruce is his own man – always has been and always will be – but I think he has made a very unfortunate mistake. I respect Bruce, and his decision is his alone, but I will simply say that I will not be following suit. I remain fully committed to working hard, day in and day out, with Tom Mulcair and my New Democrat colleagues so that we can undo much of the damage that has been done to our human rights, environment, and the Northwestern Ontario economy by the Harper Conservative government and the Liberal governments before them. I believe that, under Tom’s leadership, Canada’s New Democrats are ready and can be trusted to govern in the public’s interest if and when you choose to give entrust us with that responsibility, and I remain a proud member of our great team.
Quite the week to say the least.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River