The government needs a vacation

Tease the day: Ottawa’s Conservatives are playing defence at every turn

Jason Franson/CP

The prime minister won’t be back in the House of Commons until the other side of the summer, and what a time to skip town. Stephen Harper has spent two weeks fending off questions from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair under the bright lights of Question Period. Their skirmishes have focused entirely on the details of the Wright-Duffy affair, that scandal that just won’t fade away. The PM has spent precious little time talking about anything else in the Commons.

The thing is, there’s a lot to talk about, and the government’s stumbling badly. MP Brent Rathgeber, who thrust himself into the spotlight when he quit the Conservative caucus late Wednesday night. The government’s response to Rathgeber’s departure was laughable, to be charitable. Their line is that the Edmonton MP should resign and face a byelection. When Conservatives are asked why they’d make such a demand when they so lovingly accepted three floor-crossers in 2006 and 2007, they actually have no answer. Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence, was asked on CBC’s Power and Politics to explain why his party could appoint David Emerson to cabinet just days after he was elected as a Liberal in 2006. Alexander’s response? He wasn’t in Ottawa at the time. Okay. When Paul Wells asked former cabinet minister Stockwell Day the same question on Twitter, Day simply wouldn’t answer the question. Truly, these people are walking with their eyes closed.

There’s also the matter of a pair of Conservative MPs who Elections Canada thinks should be suspended. We can’t forget that Defence Minister Peter MacKay has mused about leaving his party, if it decides to change the rules around how to choose its leader. And, of course, the Wright-Duffy affair isn’t about to disappear into thin air.

Summer can’t come soon enough for the government.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with fallout from MP Brent Rathgeber’s resignation from the Conservative caucus. The National Post fronts an apparent lack of organ donations from non-white Canadians. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s condemnation of former Liberal staffers who deleted emails related to the cancellation of gas-fired power plants. The Ottawa Citizen leads with continued labour unrest among Canada’s diplomatic corps. iPolitics fronts a funny look at how the NDP can reinvent their leader, Tom Mulcair, during the summer barbecue season. leads with a secret fund in the Prime Minister’s Office formerly controlled by ex-chief of staff Nigel Wright. CTV News leads with Tropical Storm Andrea, which is moving up the American east coast. National Newswatch showcases CBC‘s story about the PMO’s secret fund.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Pride flag. Canadian Forces Base Edmonton will fly a rainbow flag today, a first for a Canadian military facility. The flag will fly for a week, and will overlap with Edmonton Pride festivities. 2. Assisted suicide. Quebec could become the first province to legalize assisted suicide, if a bill to be tabled in the National Assembly passes into law. Every provincial party supports the bill.
3. Budget data. The Parliamentary Budget Office, which continues to ask federal departments for details of spending announced in Budget 2012, is still being stonewalled by several departments. 4. Monarchy. Two university professors in Quebec are challenging a law passed by Parliament earlier this year that consented to British changes to royal succession. They call the law unconstitutional.

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