3 min

A cloud of obfuscation

If there was one person in the Conservative front bench who was thankful for Richard Colvin’s explosive testimony, it was likely to be Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. For the first time in months, there was nary a question about H1N1, or the troublesome vaccine rollout (and likewise we were spared from another painfully canned answer about how they were working with provincial and territorial partners).

No, Thursday it was Peter MacKay (and his credibility as a minister) to take one for the team – especially as Harper was still out of the House. He got to rise a total of eighteen times to try and cast doubt on those allegations in a manner that Maclean’s Paul Wells described as a “bucket defence” – a kind of cloud of obfuscation that attempts to confuse the issue to discourage people from paying closer attention to it.

To that effect, MacKay tried to claim that Colvin wasn’t credible – even though he’s had an illustrious career. He tried to claim that all of the allegations came from Taliban agents – even though some of them came from foreign intelligence reports and NGOs. He tried to say that there were no proven allegations – prompting calls from the opposition benches to “Investigate!” He tried to claim that there was no evidence. Alexandra Mendes shouted out “What did you do with the 17 memos?” And yet he also contradicted himself and said that they changed the detainee transfer policy was changed based on substantive evidence from Colvin and others. Huh? Oh, right – scattershot defence. But perhaps most reprehensibly of all, MacKay tried to turn these questions into allegations of wrongdoing against Canadian troops, which has never been an issue.

Calls from across the opposition benches were for a full public inquiry into these allegations, to clear the air once and for all. Not surprisingly, the government rejected that call, but MacKay went one step further to say that those calls obviously meant that the opposition parties didn’t believe in Parliament’s ability to get answers, seeing as they had their own inquiry under way. Huh? Really? That’s your defence?

It wasn’t until the Bloc’s second round that questions turned to the environment, Senator Housakos, and the likes.

Scott Brison had a trade-related question, about how China was buying carbon sequestration technology from States – even though we’re world leader in developing the technology. Was it because this government wasn’t promoting it, or because they’ve been treating our relationship with China with contempt? Jim Prentice gave a nonsensical answer about the clean energy dialogue with China, and Peter Kent answered the supplemental with a figure that our exports to China grew 33 percent from 2006 to 2008.

The brewing war over accusations of Liberal anti-Semitism ratcheted up as Candace Hoeppner – who is looking ever so much like the apple-polisher of the backbenches these days – made a Members' Statement about it (until she was drowned out by cries of “Shame!” from the Liberal benches), and Lois Brown asked a suck-up question on the very same topic late in Question Period. After Question Period, Irwin Cotler rose on a point of privilege, and gave a spirited defence of his party and their actions with regards to Israel, and how the Conservatives were engaging in an abuse of privilege to slander the Liberals in this way. The Speaker did slap the Conservatives on the wrists for printing untruths in ten percenters about the long gun registry, but one has to wonder how he’ll rule on this issue. And why is nobody bringing up the fact that the Conservatives’ pro-Israel-at-all-costs stance is a result of an unholy pact with Christian Zionists trying to bring about the end of days?

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Pablo Rodriguez for his tailored grey suit worn with a crisp white shirt and a brown tie. It looked very good on him. I also liked Alice Wong’s long grey patterned jacket with the banded collar. Lynne Yelich’s outfit of a navy suit over a white shirt with a little tie-let just made me think she should have been pushing a beverage cart in Economy Class somewhere. The style citation goes out to Lois Brown for her awful ruffled red top under a black jacket. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a nice grey sweater over a grey dress, unfortunately paired with the clashing teal belt and greige shoes. Yes, those same hateful shoes that must die. Greige works on no one. Stop wearing it!

Elsewhere, the nonsense battle over Twittering MPs continues to ramp up. Seriously? I don’t want to give Charlie Angus’ concerns that it’s turning the House of Commons into a junior high school cafeteria too much credence, but I am starting to feel that junior high vibe, where pretty soon we’re going to get tweets about boys and who’s taking whom to the dance on Friday.
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