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David Cameron to Teach Politics at Abu Dhabi University: FT

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(Bloomberg) —

David Cameron, Britain’s former prime minister, has a new teaching job at a university in Abu Dhabi where he will lecture on “practicing politics and government in the age of disruption,” the Financial Times reported.

The three-week program in January at the New York University Abu Dhabi will involve topics such as the war in Ukraine and the migration crisis in Europe, but it’s not clear if Brexit will be discussed, the report said. The university offers limited-time courses in many places around the world, the FT said.

Cameron was the UK prime minister from 2010 until 2016 when he oversaw the referendum on Britain leaving the European Union. His campaign for the country to remain in the EU failed by 48% to 52%, leading to his resignation.

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Since quitting, Cameron has been involved in various initiatives, the FT reported. He signed up for a China-UK investment fund which aimed to raise $1 billion. But cooled relations between the two nations meant the idea never got off the ground, the report said. He also worked at Greensill Capital, the supply-chain finance firm which collapsed in 2021.

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Biden Classified Documents Discovery Has Flummoxed the Political Press – Esquire

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You have to hand it to our elite political press corps, as long as “it” is a scorpion or a nice ball of buffalo dung. When they get together to prove that they’re above partisan politics and the petty concerns of democracy, they do a great job of it, while simultaneously making a dog’s breakfast of the really important stuff. From NBC News:

An equal number of Americans — 67% — say they are as concerned about classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s residence and former office as they are about those found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, despite clear differences in how the two men responded to these discoveries[…]The poll finds an American public that’s equally concerned about the discovery of classified documents found at Biden’s and Trump’s homes, even though the current president and ex-president handled their situations in different ways. (Biden and his lawyers have argued that they turned over these classified documents — from his time as Barack Obama’s vice president — as soon as they were discovered and have cooperated with investigators, while Trump failed turn over all requested documents and has lashed out at investigators.)

The gates to Wonderland open wide about halfway through that passage, which taken as a whole is a perfect roadmap for a profession that seems completely adrift. For example, the dependent clause “even though the current president and ex-president handled their situations in different ways” is a kind of crossroads. The story can go two ways: The correct one is to explore why this important difference has come to naught in the public mind; the one that leads over a cliff—the one taken by NBC—is to cite the data and then throw up its hands, as though this statistical result is the enigmatic pronouncement of some ancient oracle. This leads us down the hellbound trail to…

…Biden and his lawyers have argued that they turned over these classified documents — from his time as Barack Obama’s vice president — as soon as they were discovered and have cooperated with investigators, while Trump failed turn over all requested documents and has lashed out at investigators….

It seems almost quaint to point this out, but the circumstances under review do not have their basis in anything Biden’s lawyers “have argued.” They derive from the fact that they are the circumstances that actually happened. Nothing recently has demonstrated the complete inadequacy of journalistic norms and customs to deal with the global threat of the former president* as clearly as the alchemical formula that turns undisputed facts into something that lawyers “have argued.” Democracy dies in nuance, as this NBC poll clearly indicates but dares not say outright.

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And how did we get here? Luckily, Peter Baker of The New York Times inadvertently provided a precise diagnosis the other day:

The cases are markedly different in their particulars, as has been noted repeatedly. Mr. Biden has cooperated with the authorities, inviting them to search his home, while Mr. Trump defied efforts to recover documents even after being subpoenaed, prompting a judge to issue a search warrant. But they are similar enough that as a practical matter Democrats can no longer use the issue against Mr. Trump politically, and investigators may have a harder time prosecuting him criminally.

Baker’s assertion about prosecutions is beneath idiotic. Trump would be prosecuted—assuming he ever is—because he actively conspired to keep from doing everything that the Biden people did, as Baker explains prior to running his argument over his own feet.

Then along comes David Axelrod at 10,000 feet to finish the job.

“I feel it’s likely that when the probe is done, the Biden case will wind up being one of unintended mistakes — carelessness but not willful defiance of the rules or law,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “The Trump case is much different and more serious. But in the court of public opinion, those lines may now be blurred.”

Lines are blurred. Clouds are gathering. Doubts are raised. And American democracy blunders blindly further off down the road to dangerous irrelevance.

Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976. He lives near Boston and has three children. 

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Parliament returns — with a lot of ‘unfinished business’ on its plate

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When I spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in December, he said “there’s a lot of unfinished business.” He was speaking about his decision to stay on as leader of the Liberal Party. But that statement also describes the parliamentary year that begins on Monday when MPs convene for the first time in 2023.

Last year was a reasonably productive one for Parliament. But those 12 months also left behind a sizeable pile of work that remains to be completed. And while the Liberal government has much left to do if it hopes to be re-elected, the major opposition parties can’t quite claim yet that they’ve done all they can to make their own pitches to voters.

For those reasons, an election in 2023 seems unlikely. But it should still be a consequential year — and it will start with the legislation that was still in progress when MPs and senators broke for the holidays.

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What’s old is new again

Before the break, the government’s newest firearms legislation (C-21) was stuck at the public safety committee as critics accused it of overreach. In the face of that criticism, Liberals said they were willing to consider feedback; it remains to be seen what kind of changes will be necessary to move the bill forward.

Bill C-11, the government’s contested attempt to bring major Internet platforms under Canadian broadcast regulations, was still in the Senate in December. The upper chamber seems poised to send it back to the House with amendments — the Senate committee that studied the bill recommended a dozen changes.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez prepares to appear before the Senate committee on transport and communications to discuss Bill C-11 on Nov. 22, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

If senators agree to some or all of those amendments, C-11 would become the 24th government bill the Senate has amended since Justin Trudeau began appointing independent members to the chamber in 2016.

Legislation to create a new disability benefit, meanwhile, is nearly through the House and there are three other pieces of government legislation before House committees — bills that would enact new environmental protections, reform the Official Languages Act and create a new public complaints and review commission to oversee the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Senate, meanwhile, is in possession of bills to create a new national council on reconciliation (which would report to Parliament on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples) and establish the Online News Act, which would facilitate payments from major Internet platforms for the use of content from Canadian media outlets.

What’s new is significant

Another dozen government bills are at second reading in the House — but perhaps the most interesting of those items was only just tabled in December.

Bill C-35 sets out how and under what conditions the federal government would fund child care and early learning programs at the provincial level. In effect, it would put into law what the Liberal government started when it negotiated a series of bilateral child-care funding agreements with each province. If C-35 passes Parliament, it will make it much harder for some future government to abandon the program.

But if C-35 isn’t the most closely watched legislation of the spring, it will be because of what Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is expected to table in the next several weeks: the government’s “just transition” (or “sustainable jobs”) legislation.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks behind a lectern bearing the provincial logo.
The phrase ‘just transition’ signals that the Trudeau government intends to phase out oil and gas jobs, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith claimed in a Jan. 10 news conference. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Nothing the Trudeau government does on the question of energy and the future of the oil and gas industry in Canada is ever allowed to pass quietly. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has tried to start a fight with the federal government already over the mere name of the bill. But beyond the partisan politics, Wilkinson’s bill should serve as a jumping-off point for a very real discussion about where the Canadian and global economies are headed and how Canada will get there.

The opposition agenda

With each of these bills, the Liberals will be putting some pressure on Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to either support the government’s agenda or explain what he would do differently. But the Conservatives will have their own moves to make, particularly at various House committees.

The government operations committee was already investigating the creation of the government’s ArriveCan app and it will begin hearings Monday on the federal government’s use of private contractors and consultants like McKinsey. Conservative members of the ethics committee are also pushing for hearings into Trade Minister Mary Ng’s breach of conflict-of-interest rules.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh needs to demonstrate that his party got something out of its deal with the Trudeau Liberals. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The NDP has shown little, if any, reluctance to go along with such investigations — and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has rivalled Poilievre lately in his willingness to denounce the Liberal government. But the New Democrats also have other things to play for lately — namely, that confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals.

Singh surely wants to be seen holding the government to account. He also no doubt wants to show that the NDP was able to achieve something with that deal. And he may need at least another year to do that.

The new dental benefit the government promised the NDP is still a work in progress and New Democrats have given the government until the end of this year to table pharmacare legislation, which would at least set out broad parameters for what eventually could be a national program.

Beyond Parliament Hill

And then there is merely everything else on the agenda.

Justice Paul Rouleau has until February 6 to present cabinet with a final report from the public commission probing the government’s use of the Emergencies Act to end the convoy protests that snarled downtown Ottawa and multiple border crossings a year ago. (Cabinet will then have until February 20 to release that report.) On Feb. 7, the prime minister is scheduled to meet the premiers to discuss a grand bargain on health-care funding.

Even if Trudeau and the premiers broadly agree on what to do with health care, the prime minister is signalling an increasing willingness to engage in the fight over the notwithstanding clause. And even when Trudeau’s not looking for a fight, Danielle Smith will be trying to start one ahead of what could be a very consequential election in Alberta sometime this spring.

Even if that’s the biggest election in Canada this year (Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are also due to go to the polls), the next 12 months will be full of the sorts of debates and challenges that leave a mark and will shape the next national vote.

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Election unlikely in 2023 despite recent political posturing, pundits say

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Even though federal political leaders have been using some heated, election-style language to snipe at each other in recent weeks, pundits say it’s unlikely Canadians will go to the polls in 2023.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was active during the six-week parliamentary break, making stops in Saskatoon, Windsor, Ont. and Trois-Rivieres, Que. to talk up his government’s accomplishments. He also occasionally took shots at Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and his recent assertion that “everything seems broken” in Canada.

“Crossing your arms and saying ‘Canada is broken’ is not the way to build a better future for Canadians,” Trudeau said.

Poilievre, meanwhile, toured Quebec in an attempt to boost his poll numbers in that province. He also met with Indigenous leaders in Vancouver to discuss a proposed opt-in policy for First Nations to share the revenue generated by resource development on their lands.

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The Conservative leader also hit back at Trudeau on Friday during an address to his caucus prior to the House of Commons’ return. He blamed the prime minister for inflation, the recent travel chaos and deficit spending while appearing to goad Trudeau into an election battle.

“If you’re not responsible for any of these things, if you can’t do anything about it, then why don’t you get out of the way and let someone lead who can?” Poilievre said as his MPs cheered and applauded.

 

Addressing his Conservative caucus, Poilievre says ‘everything is worse’ under Trudeau

Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses his Conservative caucus and highlights crime rates during Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister.

Speaking to his own caucus earlier this month, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh touted his party’s confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals, saying that the deal was “delivering for Canadians.”

But Singh also indicated that he had his eyes set higher.

“We’re going to fight for every bit of help and hope we can win for Canadians and then I’m going to run for prime minister of Canada,” he said.

But Tim Powers of Summa Strategies said he doesn’t think any of the leaders are itching for an election right now, despite their recent posturing.

“The conditions don’t exist for an election this year,” he told CBC. “I don’t think anybody’s really going to have a breakaway moment.”

Shachi Kurl, president at the Angus Reid Institute, and Éric Grenier, writer and publisher of TheWrit.ca, joined Power & Politics Friday to discuss the latest polling data.

Powers said the Liberals are unlikely to seek a new mandate with the threat of an economic slowdown this year hanging over the government’s head.

“We will only have an election this year if Justin Trudeau sees the winning conditions exist for him,” Powers said. “I don’t think the Liberals are yet ready to manufacture an election.”

Sharan Kaur of SK Consulting agreed that an election is unlikely this year. She suggested the Conservatives will still use the economy to needle the Liberals and position themselves as a government-in-waiting.

“I would say the biggest looming issue of 2023 is going to be cost of living, a potential recession, and that will probably be the main pivot point for the Conservatives,” she said, adding that she thinks the Conservative Party is the only one that wants an election this year.

But Powers said Poilievre might be happy to wait and give himself more time to pitch himself to Canadians.

“I think Poilievre is content to have the time to let the Liberals age and build a brand and a platform that can be useful to him,” he said.

If the Liberal-NDP deal holds for its intended duration, the next election won’t happen until 2025.

But the agreement may face a tougher test in 2023 than it did in 2022 because it includes more benchmarks for progress — including a commitment to table pharmacare legislation. Singh also threatened to pull out of the deal if the Liberals don’t address the health-care crisis.

“The confidence-and-supply agreement gets a little bit more muscular [this year],” said Brad Lavigne of Consul Public Affairs.

Snow covers a fence surrounding Parliament Hill, Friday, January 20, 2023 in Ottawa.
Snow covers a fence surrounding Parliament Hill on January 20, 2023. MPs are set to return to the House of Commons on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

NDP MP Daniel Blaikie told CBC News this month that the 2023 federal budget will be a key factor in deciding whether the Liberals are holding up their end of the deal.

But even if the deal falls apart this year, Lavigne said, it wouldn’t necessarily trigger an election.

“If you look back at recent history, [former prime minister Stephen] Harper had minority Parliaments in which he had no such supply agreement with any one opposition party, yet he maintained the confidence of the House for many years,” he said. “That is an option that is open to Mr. Trudeau as well.”

Even if an election doesn’t happen this year, Kaur said she doesn’t expect the political posturing to stop.

“We’re going to see a lot of pandering in the next year, especially around economic challenges, cost of living for people — just like the bread-and-butter issues,” she said.

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