Stage is set for important week

While many New Democrats were focused on our hotly-contested leadership campaign over the weekend, many also were trying to shift their attention to what is sure to be a landmark federal budget presentation tomorrow (March 29).
Finance minister Jim Flaherty, who can’t or won’t tell us how much his mega-jails or F-35s will cost exactly, has said very little to date about his first majority budget.
Whenever he has made reference to it, though, he has said it will contain spending cuts, service cuts, changes to some or all of our public retirement and pension plans (i.e., CPP, OAS, and CPP Disability), and some “transformational” changes to the way the federal government operates.
New Democrats will be keenly watching the budget presentation. And while we are most likely to oppose it, we also will try to keep an open mind and offer a positive but decidedly different approach that will be sure to put hard-working Canadian families first.
While the leadership race and budget preparations have been dominating headlines, we also have seen several developments on a number of major political stories related to the Conservative government that are sure to add a little spice to the mix this week, but one story in particular.
Last Thursday, the ethics commissioner released a report which found that Industry minister Christian Paradis violated the conflict of interest code for MPs.
The commissioner found that Mr. Paradis wrongfully instructed federal bureaucrats in his department to give special treatment to disgraced former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer over other private citizens who were bidding for federal money.
Giving special access to your friends is a definite no-no—unless, of course, you are a Stephen Harper Conservative.
When asked about the finding of wrongdoing by the ethics commissioner, Mr. Harper shrugged and said since there was no evidence of “substantial harm,” Mr. Paradis will continue to hold key position in cabinet.
Oh well, maybe next time he will do some real damage.
And here I thought New Democrats were the only party in Ottawa without a leader last week!
Well, the stage is set for a historically important week in Ottawa and I, for one, can’t wait to get back down to work.

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