Why the Conservatives will have a very bad week

Tease the day: the auditor general’s report and the latest budget bill will have the government playing defence
Nick Taylor-Vaisey
Auditor General of Canada Michael Ferguson speaks to reporters at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 regarding the 2013 Spring Report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Michael Ferguson made sure the Conservative gang in the House of Commons has a very bad week. The auditor general released his spring report yesterday, eleven chapters of government scrutiny, just in time for Question Period. The opposition had a field day. Ferguson found, in chapter eight, that $3.1 billion that was supposed to be dedicated to anti-terrorism programs was, well, who knows where it went? He expressed concern, in chapter seven, about the sustainability of Canada’s search-and-rescue capability. In chapter six, Ferguson worried that the government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission weren’t cooperating, and that the government’s goal of creating a historical record of residential schools was in jeopardy.

The list goes on, but those three chapters alone shine a light on security, defence and aboriginal affairs. Just a week after the government touted anti-terror legislation that would give authorities more power to thwart terrorists, Ferguson rains on that parade. The government’s looking increasingly fragile on defence issues; even in Question Period, the opposition is scoring points against Defence Minister Peter MacKay. And then there’s aboriginal affairs, where the government hopes new minister Bernard Valcourt can make headway on a file that caused migraines earlier this year. This won’t help.

If all that weren’t enough, the government now stands accused—on the front page of The Globe and Mail—of meddling in collective bargaining at Canada Post, Via Rail and the CBC. Those proposals lie within the Conservatives’ budget bill.

So now we witness how many fronts the government can defend, all at the same time, as the opposition salivates.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the government’s plan to play a central role in collective bargaining with a number of arms-length agencies, including the CBC. The National Post fronts the Conservatives playing defence after Auditor General Michael Ferguson released his spring report yesterday. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the lack of cooperation between the government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with respect to which documents should be included in an historical record of residential schools in Canada. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the re-tendering of a $2.5-billion contract to facilitate the relocation of RCMP and military personnel. iPolitics fronts a profile of beloved Ottawa politico Charles King, who died recently. leads with apparent infighting between Rona Ambrose and Peter MacKay related to the purchase of new search-and-rescue aircraft. National Newswatch showcases the same story.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Bangladesh. The Retail Council of Canada will introduce improved industry guidelines for best practices and also join an international group hoping to create safety standards in Bangladesh.2. Charbonneau. A Liberal organizer in Quebec, Gilles Cloutier, testified to a long career of shady fundraising and electioneering, including during the 1995 secession referendum.
3. Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission is recommending that a new structure be built in the St. Clair River to help raise water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.4. Diabetes. The government’s lack of a cohesive approach to diabetes research caught the attention of Auditor General Michael Ferguson, who said a better plan is required.