Jeers: to campaign overspending. Labrador MP Peter Penashue is up to his neck in allegations of exceeding spending limits during the last election. His former agent apologized this summer for accidently exceeding his boss’s 2011 election allotment by $4,000. Now, evidence has surfaced that Penashue also saved thousands of dollars in discounted Provincial Airlines flights. Penashue chalks it up to innocent mistakes, but what’s most questionable is Stephen Harper’s lame defence of his intergovernmental affairs minister. The prime minister said the blame should be laid squarely with Penashue’s staff. Excuses aside, the point is that the Labrador MP had a massive leg up during the campaign. Nothing less than a byelection can make things right.
Cheers: to a rare moment of co-operation. The Harper government exhibited a rare moment of conciliation last week when it agreed to separate its MP pension reforms from its second omnibus budget bill. The separate pension measures received all party support on Friday and have now moved on to the Senate. The remainder of Bill C-45 will continue through the House of Commons. The Liberal Party claimed credit for the decision, but the Conservatives certainly deserve applause — even if it’s only a small variation from the omnibus path they’ve been taking.
Jeers: to a persistent misnomer. Once again, the George Street Association has confused Lent with All Saints Day. Its annual Mardi Gras party takes place this coming Saturday, exactly 249 days after the actual date of this year’s Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday to us western anglos). Costume parties may seem all the same, but religious holidays are supposed to mean something. If it’s a Halloween party, call it Halloween. Or, more generically, Masquerade. If you don’t know what a word means, don’t use it.
Cheers: to a long-awaited shakeup. Premier Kathy Dunderdale announced a major cabinet shuffle Friday. Among the more interesting moves was the demotion of embattled Justice Minister Felix Collins to minister responsible for intergovernmental/aboriginal affairs. Collins is replaced by Darin King, who hands his fishery portfolio over to Derrick Dalley. King will also take over as House leader from Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy. That’s interesting because it may add an extra voice to the Muskrat Falls debate, along with Kennedy and Dunderdale. King is well at home in the heat of battle on the floor of the legislature. Missing from Friday’s equation were fresh-faced foot soldiers such as Steve Kent and Paul Lane. Both have taken a lead role as policy promoters on social media.