Inside the PMO…

    Aug. 25, 2015

 Globe and Mail – Editorial (Aug. 24, 2015)
Ottawa’s accountability problems start at the top, in the PMO

The editorial says that the Duffy affair has given a penetrating look inside the operations of the PMO whose power appears to have replaced that of MP’s and even ministers of government, reducing them to messengers for talking points.  Beyond the obvious reduction of budgets for the PMO and the editorial questions that strategy, the most powerful way to confront the dangerous power of the PMO is through the power of leadership review in the hands of the MP’s.    Related article: Globe and Mail – Adam Dodek   How the PMO ‘in-house lawyer’ sidelines the Attorney-General

 The Chronicle Journal (Thunder Bay, ON) – Peter Globensky
Indispensable rules 3. The doctrine of plausible deniability

The author is a former chief of staff to the minister of external affairs, seconded in the 80’s from the Privy Council.  Globensky explains the three principles under which chiefs of staff function.  First, control the agenda; second do what you can to make your boss look good and third, protect by having plausible deniability.  Read more…

 iPolitics – Michael Harris
Have the Mounties become Harper’s private police force?

Here’s a disturbing thought that comes from the interaction between the RCMP and the Prime Minister.  Harris draws out a number of examples where the RCMP appears to do Harper’s bidding, what Harris calls “partisan behaviour of the RCMP” in the case of Bill Casey and Helen Guergis.

 Yahoo Politics – Liz Goodwin
Criminal justice reformers await holy ally: Pope Francis 

Pope Francis has made a practice of visiting infamous prisons with a message of forgiveness and healing in Rome and in South American visits.  In September, he will visit the United States and plans to also visit the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.  He has advocated for an end to capital punishment and life in prison as well as an end to the use of solitary confinement which he calls torture.  His visit includes an address to the US Congress prior to visiting the inner city prison.  Some politicians are hoping his presence will help give wings to the currently stalled prison reform package.

 Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Duffy
Parole board says cop killer was still a threat despite terminal cancer

Peter Collins, 53, died in prison a week after the National Parole Board denied his parole application for compassionate parole.  Collins died of bladder cancer after 32 years in prison for the murder of Nepean police Constable David Utman.  Collins applied in January and had a release plan with the approval of Corrections Canada.  On Aug. 6, a week before Collins died, the two member parole board delivered its decision to Collins:  “While your health issues may limit your mobility, it does not preclude the opportunity for reoffending.”

 iPolitics – Amanda Connolly
Women’s issues debate called off after Mulcair drops out: organizers

Organizers for the debate on women’s issues have decided to call off the debate when Tom Mulcair who at first agreed to participate and then later refused to debate with Justin Trudeau, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May.  No one expected Stephen Harper to agree to participate but organizers are determined to raise the issues of concern to women at local gatherings of the parties.    Related article: Toronto Star – Ben Spurr   Women’s issues ‘invisible’ this election, warns group

 CBC News – Kathleen Harris
More than 22,000 federal inmates eligible to vote

Canada, unlike the US, does not take away voting rights for people convicted of crime so Elections Canada includes federal and provincial prisons in its polling locations.  (A 2002 SCC ruling enshrined voting rights as a fundamental and constitutional right of all Canadians.)  In spite of the SCC ruling, the ban on inmate voting is still on the books – the government has not amended the Elections Act – though the ban is not enforced.