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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Harper and the image consultant 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:30 p.m. April 20, 2007]

 

OTTAWA —  If Prime Minister Stephen Harper was an American politician, many people this week would have reached the conclusion that he had "gone Hollywood."  

On Tuesday, the Canadian Press first reported on the prime minister's image consultant, who has been accompanying the PM on foreign trips offering him advice on his hair and clothing and other things. 

At the time, the PMO would not say whether or not the image consultant was paid for by the party or the government, but it was later revealed to CP that, yes, the consultant was being paid by the government for her services, but not her expenses. How much that tab is remains a mystery. 
 
While some will dismiss the controversy as an "inside Ottawa," slow news week story, they would do so at their own political peril. 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a non-partisan organization that no one would accuse of being controlled by Liberals or NDPers, has called the government paying for the consultant "unacceptable."

Aside from reviving some bad photos and memories of Harper's past fashion mistakes, the controversy could prove even more embarrassing to a leader and party that openly claims to be courting Tim Horton's and Canadian Tire voters. 

Is Harper the hockey dad actually the French cuff wearing world leader who is having you pay for his fashion advice? 

And this will not only affect the PM, but will also be worn by his caucus. 
 
The party that ridiculed former Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall in TV commercial form for saying he was "entitled to his entitlements" for receiving a severance package will now have to defend this government expenditure. 

After defending the Michael Fortier and David Emerson cabinet appointments, the reversal of the income trust promise and the party's sudden recognition of Quebecois as a nation, the PM's loyal MPs are getting pretty good at supporting things that makes them want to throw up in private. 
 
However, if this latest controversy continues to drag on, it will put them to the test. 

"It all goes to a very good cause," Tory MP Dave Batters told reporters on Thursday after question period. "I think it's important that Canadians see 
the prime minister for the professional that he is and, and he represents us so well both at home and abroad that I think Canadians are, are quite 
happy to ensure that the prime minister has a strong image. 

"Sure, he has some people who do some primping and he is the Prime Minister of the country and I think  Canadians expect a certain look and respect from the prime minister."
 
It should be noted that Batters didn't seek out camera crews to make these comments, but, as they say on Family Feud, "Good answer!" 

However, what would Batters, other Tory MPs and the Conservative blogging community be saying if it were revealed that Belinda Stronach had, say, a make up artist or personal trainer travel with her when she was human resources minister? 

Would that money be for a "very good cause?" Would Tory MPs be saying it is important for Canadians to be ensured that Stronach had a strong image? Or would they call her yet another bad name? 

This news here in Canada comes at the same time a similar controversy has afflicted the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards

Edwards, unlike Harper, already had a reputation as being somewhat vain after he was captured on video during the last presidential campaign endlessly combing his hair while waiting in front of a camera before an interview. 

This week, reporters discovered Edwards' election campaign filings included $800 for two hair cuts from a Beverly Hills stylist. The fact that Edwards, a multi-millionaire, former personal injury lawyer who is campaigning as a champion of the poor and underprivileged, would use his campaign money for hair cuts was considered so embarrassing that Edwards quickly reimbursed the $800. 

Meanwhile back in Canada, the controversy over Harper's image consultant is probably more expensive yet drags on as questions about it from reporters and opposition MPs are mocked and dismissed by the government. 

"A lot of ordinary Canadians are wondering what I am doing answering questions about style and fashion," Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said in the Commons this week. 

And a lot a more ordinary Canadians are at Tim Horton's sipping their coffee, reading the paper and wondering why the government is paying for someone to tell the PM how to dress. 


The Legislative Update is posted every Friday afternoon when the House is sitting. To stay informed on all the political events read PoliticsWatch's  Morning Briefing updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday to Friday and the Daily Agenda updated at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.
  
______________


The House will deal with the following next week


Monday 

Bill C-16, fixed election dates; 
Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill;
Bill C-43, Senate consultations.

Tuesday and Thursday

Opposition Days

Wednesday

Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill;
Bill C-40, sales tax;
Bill C-33, income tax.

____________________

Committee Highlights

Monday

> Former Liberal cabinet ministers Reg Alcock and Anne McLellan will appear before the public accounts committee in their probe of the pension scandal at the RCMP. 

> Representatives of the brand-name and generic drug companies appear before the Commons industry committee to discuss the failed Canadian law designed to get cheap generic versions of drugs to developing countries. 

Tuesday

> Justice Minister Rob Nicholson appears before the Commons justice committee.

> Public Works Minister Michael Fortier appears before the Commons public accounts committee. 

> Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn appears before the Commons fisheries committee. 


Wednesday

> Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor appears before the Commons foreign affairs committee to discuss Canada's mission in Afghanistan. 

> RCMP Commissioner Beverley Busson will appear before the public accounts committee in their probe of the pension scandal at the RCMP.  

> Full Schedule


____________________

Bills the Tories have tabled in this Parliament 

C-2 An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability

Status: Royal Assent December 12

This is better known the Federal Accountability Act, which a number of new measures and a massive list of amendments to current laws aimed at cleaning up government. The bill is the government's No. 1 priority.

C-3 An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Royal Assent February 1, 2007

C-4 An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-5 An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts

Status: Royal Assent December 12

C-6 An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Referred to transport committee November 7

C-7 An Act to amend the National Defence Act

Status: Introduced April 27

C-8 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2007

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-9 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)

Status: Passed in the House November 3

C-10 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Returned from justice committee February 21, 2007

C-11 An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Passed in the House February 28, 2007

C-12 An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts

Status: Passed in the House December 11

C-13 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006

Status: Royal Assent June 22

This is the budget implementation bill. The bill was accidentally given unanimous consent in the House on third reading when none of the opposition parties objected after confusion over who would speak to the bill.

C-14 An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)

Status: Referred to citizenship and immigration committee June 13

This bill makes it easier for parents to obtain citizenship for children they adopt from overseas.

C-15 An Act to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act

Status: Royal Assent June 22

C-16 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act

Status: Passed in the House Passed in the Senate March 28, 2007

C-17 An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill sets salaries for federally-appointed judges at a lower rate than that recommended by an independent panel. The panel wanted 10.8 per cent increase plus cost of living. The government is offering 7.25 per cent in the bill plus cost of living.

C-18 An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification

Status: Passed in the House March 28, 2007

C-19 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens punitive measures against convicted street racers. 

C-20 An Act respecting airports, airport authorities and other airport operators and amending the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act

Status: Introduced June 15

C-21 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)

Status: Introduced June 19

This bill we effectively kill the long-arm registry.

C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act

Status: Referred to justice committee October 30

C-23 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments)

Status: Referred to the Justice committee October 16

C-24 An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This is the implementation legislation for the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. 

C-25 An Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Income Tax Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens money laundering and terror financing laws and would give the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada the power to monitor money wiring and travellers cheques services. 

C-26 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate)

Status:
Passed in the House February 6, 2007


C-27 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace)

Status:
Second reading, February 14, 2007

This bill places the onus on three time sexual and violent offenders to prove to the Crown they are not deserving of dangerous offender status.

C-28 A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006 

Status:
Royal Assent February 21, 2007


C-29 An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act 

Status:
Introduced October 18


C-30 An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act) 

Status:
Returned from the special legislative committee with amendments on March 30, 2007.


C-31 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act

Status:
Passed in the House February 20, 2007

This bill will require voters to present photo ID at polling stations. 

C-32 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status:
Referred to the justice committee February 6, 2007

This bill will impose penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of drugs 

C-33 An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act 

Status:
Second Reading March 29, 2007


C-34 An Act to provide for jurisdiction over education on First Nation lands in British Columbia

Status:
Royal Assent December 12


C-35 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences) 

Status:
Referred to special legislative committee, March 27, 2007

This bill requires those charged with gun crimes prove why they should be granted bail before trial.

C-36 An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act 

Status:
Passed in the House March 19, 2007


C-37 An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters

Status:
Royal Assent March 29, 2007

This bill, among other things, lowers the legal minimum mortgage downpayment consumers have to make on a home.

C-38 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 2, 2006-2007) 

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Main estimates

C-39 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 3, 2006-2007)

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Supplementary estimates

C-40 An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make related amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Returned from finance committee March 19, 2007

C-41 An Act to amend the Competition Act 

Status:
Second Reading February 27

C-42 An Act to amend the Quarantine Act 

Status:
Referred to the Health committee March 29

C-43 An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate

Status:
Second reading April 20, 2007

This bill will allow for Elections Canada to hold votes to select candidates to fill Senate vacancies in province-wide races.

C-44 An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

Status:
Sent to aboriginal affairs committee February 21, 2007

This law will remove a controversial section of the act that provides an exemption for aboriginal Canadians. 

C-45 An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries

Status:
Second Reading February 23, 2007

C-46 — The Minister of Labour — An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations 

Status:
Royal Assent April 18, 2007

This bill was designed to end the labour dispute at CN Rail. 

C-47 The Minister of Industry — An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act 

Status:
Introduced March 2, 2007

C-48 — The Minister of Justice — An Act to amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption 

Introduced March 22, 2007 

C-49 — The President of the Treasury Board — An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 4, 2006-2007) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-50 — The President of the Treasury Board — An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2008 (Appropriation Act No. 1, 2007-2008) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-51 — The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development — An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act 

Introduced March 22, 2007 

C-52 — The Minister of Finance — An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 

Second Reading March 30, 2007 

This is the budget implementation bill. 

C-53 — The Minister of Foreign Affairs — An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention) 

Introduced March 30, 2007 

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