It was really a race to see who would make the first reference to Harper’s musical sojourn, and the winner was the NDP’s Paul Dewar, whose Member’s Statement was laden with puns and references to song titles as he made reference to the National Portrait Gallery.
Mr. Speaker, we saw the Prime Minister's attempt to sing a new song on the weekend.
While those in attendance at National Arts Centre's gala enjoyed the Prime Minister's show, the question is will he honestly change his tune when it comes to supporting the arts? Will he take a sad song and make it better?
For example, will he check the math of his heritage minister? This Minister has inflated the costs of the proposed national portrait gallery by 50 million dollars. Money can't buy you love, but you can invest in a portrait gallery with many fewer notes.
Will he clarify the minister's "twist and shout" on the portrait gallery? Or will the Prime Minister allow disharmony to continue and simply Let it Be?
Millions of dollars have already been invested in preparing the former US embassy for use as our national portrait gallery. Canadians want to know what the government is planning to do with this space now that they have decided to cancel the gallery. Do they have a plan or is it just a Magical Mystery Tour?
Mr. Speaker, if he truly wants to sing a new song on the arts, and not just be a "day tripper," I ask the Prime Minister to stop "hiding his love away" and start supporting the portrait gallery.
A few minutes later, Michael Ignatieff paid tribute to Marc Garneau on the 25th anniversary of his first flight in space as Canada’s first astronaut. Garneau, in the backbenches, stood up gracefully (and perhaps a bit bashfully) as the House erupted into a standing ovation.
When Question Period began, Ignatieff demanded to know when the government would admit that it plunged the country into a structural deficit – not that John Baird would admit to it, as he was designated spokesminister for the day. A quip about being in a "Yellow Submarine" in his first supplemental, Ignatieff turned to the subject of the Parliamentary Budget Officer in his second, and suggested the government unshackle him and let him open the books. Baird – quite hilariously – asserted that they were running an open and transparent government. In other news, the chocolate ration was increased from four grammes to two this week.
Questions about just when the government knew about plight of Suaad Hagi Mohamud were met with a recounting of just how hard the consular officials and border services agents work. Corruption in the Afghan polls? An Afghan election watchdog was looking into it. The Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources not adhering to ministerial accountability about breaches of the fundraising rules by the Toronto Port Authority? The Liberals “broke every rule in the book” – so there! The bill to taxpayers for all the partisan advertising under the guise of the “Economic Action Plan”? And perhaps the most hilarious non-response of the day, Vic Toews assured Canadians that the taxpayers were not billed for that kind of advertising. And did he mention how they increased the chocolate ration from four grammes to two?
Sartorial snaps go out to Justin Trudeau for his chocolate suit, with a pink shirt and a striped pink-and-chocolate brown tie. I also really liked Kirsty Duncan’s high-necked leather jacket with the elaborate fasteners up the front. I was undecided about Claude DeBellefeuille’s grey jacket and skirt, as each were fringed with what appeared to be brown suede and ringed with rhinestones. But the style citation goes out to Chris Charlton for her terrible light fluorescent green jacket. It’s not such a good look.
Meanwhile, the contests as to who can best Harper’s mad piano skillz is already heating up with Jack Layton’s guitar, and Michael Ignatieff booked to read at a Toronto International Festival of Authors event. Gilles Duceppe, however, scoffs at all of this, as he is a politician and not a singer.
NDP MP Bill Siksay introduced another Private Members’ Bill to designate August 1 to 7 every year as Williams Syndrome Awareness Week.
Over in the Upper Chamber, Alberta Senator Elaine McCoy took exception to referring Bill C-15 (mandatory minimums on drug crimes) to passing Second Reading because she disagreed with it in principle – that we should have long-since passed marijuana decriminalisation. But she also pointed to a very excellent speech by Senator Baker who reminded his new colleagues of the power of the Senate to deal with bad legislation that has passed the Commons, and that this bill should be no exception.
Over at the UNESCO Meeting in Paris, Her Excellency gave a speech in five languages. She addressed the delegates in English, French, Spanish, Italian and her native Haitian Creole. You can’t help but be impressed by that.
Up today: Liberal MP Michelle Simson will be holding a press conference to launch the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness (CCGF) and its mandate to secure legislation to ban genetic discrimination in Canada. Just so that we don’t into Gattaca or anything.