3 min

A session of thin gruel

It looks like this will be the final week of Parliament sitting before the summer break, and it’s been pretty thin gruel all session. Despite what will likely be a mad rush to get the amended refugee reform bill and the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement (complete with Scott Brison’s amendment that would add a human rights component) passed, the NDP and Bloc are warning that the debates may yet be bogged down. By what, you ask? The determination of those Afghan detainee documents.

You see, the negotiations for their release hasn’t yet been concluded, and unless they’re concluded to their satisfaction, then they’re perfectly happy to hold up the federal appropriations the government needs to hold things like the G8 and G20 summits over the summer. So those couple of bills may yet be further delayed if the government wants to get them passed before summer.

But what has been noted most of all is just how little was accomplished over the spring sitting, and how few bills have received Royal Assent, and no, it’s not because the Senate is holding them up. They’ve passed more legislation than the Commons, in actual fact. Part of it is that the government has been dicking with the legislative agenda, declaring all kinds of things vitally important and then not doing anything about it – like their “crime” (or perhaps more accurate “punishment”) agenda, where they announce bills but don’t bring them forward for debate. That way they can blame the opposition and the Senate for holding them up – even though it’s the government who controls the agenda, which won’t bring these bills forward for debate. It also didn’t help that they lost five weeks because of prorogation, but considering that the legislative agenda is pretty thin gruel anyway, I’m not sure it makes a huge difference.

Further to Friday’s post, here’s the open letter those journalists have penned about Harper’s control over messaging.

That letter made the rounds in Friday’s Question Period, where it was held up as context for why the costs of the G20 were so astronomical, given that Harper needed the expensive backdrops for his messaging.

There were also questions from Carolyn Bennett about Toronto Pride’s funding being cut in light of Clement’s riding getting all the G8 funding. Thierry St-Cyr also noted the way the government changed festival funding criteria in order to deny certain festivals funding for ideological reasons. As well, the NDP’s Peter Julian asked after a Colombian human rights report, which highlighted killings of queer activists. Lawrence Cannon said it was a draft report by a UN agency written two years ago that was never completed, and which was never meant for Canada.

Speaking of those G20 costs, the Liberals are unveiling an attack ad on the cost of that spending for the “world's most expensive photo op,” emphasizing that our tax dollars are paying for Harper’s ego trip. Simple, and hopefully effective.

While certain reporters continue to hound Judy Sgro for her rent situation irregularities, they’re saying that the net is being cast to the rest of the MPs. But amidst all of this, nobody has mentioned that Sgro has never taken the per diem she’s entitled to for her time in Ottawa, which does make a difference if you’re going to cast her as being some kind of dishonest grafter. And of course, the NDP and Bloc consider their MPs squeaky clean, because you know that they’re all above reproach.

Jim Flaherty wants agreements from the provincial finance ministers on the direction that pension reform should take.

Israel has asked Canada’s former top military lawyer to head up the inquiry into the attack on the aid flotilla bound for Gaza. But will this make it an actual independent inquiry, or an Israeli one with a Canadian at the head to give it the appearance of independence without any actual substance (which, considering this government’s position on Israel, may be something to beware of)?

Michael Ignatieff says MPs need to up their game if they expect people to bother to turn up and vote, and said the politics of division isn’t helping. But you know that’s all we’ll get if Fox News North starts up.

And finally, venerable parliamentary journalist Don Newman outlines why such a Fox News North is as bad an idea as the supposed “merger” between the NDP and the Liberals. And it’s well worth a read.
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