Friday’s Question Period was pretty run-of-the-mill for a Friday, which means of course that it was a lot of empty benches, with the b-teams standing in for the most part. Libby Davies asked about the report being tabled today at the United Nations on the status of women, and among the recommendations of that report is a national housing strategy. Keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks for Davies’ private members bill on a national housing strategy to be debated in the House.
The other highlight on Friday was Scott Brison’s question about the contradictory statements being made by both the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his Minister of State for the Americas, Peter Kent, on whether Canada would be appointing its own special envoy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as so many other countries are doing. When Kent stood up to once again respond by naming who our Ambassador to Afghanistan and High Commissioner in Pakistan are, Brison’s supplemental was prefaced by “The Minister of State’s not very good without a teleprompter,” referencing of course Kent’s career as a newscaster. Oh, snap!
But the biggest news of the weekend of course is the fact that there seems to be a bit of a climb-down on the part of the Liberals when it comes to the brewing brinksmanship over the “slush fund” provisions in the estimates. The Liberals are planning on tabling a motion today calling on the government to specify which departments and programmes would receive the money (though the motion won’t be debated until later in the month). But before Harper or Flaherty can say “well, that’s all in the budget,” according to Treasury Board, this slush fund is supposedly for things that they didn’t think about in the budget. So don’t try to pull that particular line.
That said, one of the most recurring phrases in the House these past few weeks has been the government exhorting the opposition to pass the budget to get stimulus money flowing – even after the Liberals started pointing out that the money from this budget can’t legally flow until after April 1st. Not that it’s stopping the Conservatives from creating this false sense of urgency as to the necessity of getting this budget rubber-stamped. Two days of study in the Finance committee has been unheard, and yet it happened, to get this budget passed – and yet the government will insist that it wasn’t fast enough. And now with it heading to the Senate, they’re repeating the same lines.
Of course, the chair of the Senate finance committee knows full well that the money couldn’t flow until April 1st, no matter how fast they put it through the paces, so why not give it proper study so long as they get it passed by the end of the month? Even if that means splitting it up, passing the actual stimulus portions quickly while spending more time on the non-stimulus aspects (like the pay equity provisions, or the changes to the environmental assessment laws that are intended to “streamline” the process). That is, after all, their job as the chamber of sober second thought.
But it won’t matter – we’ll have Jim Flaherty red-faced and howling about how those evil unelected Liberal senators are damaging the economy. After all, truth has little place in the face of politics.
It’s an opposition day today, and it looks like there’s a motion up by Liberal Marc Garneau about science, research, and innovation.