3 min

A surprising silence

It’s International Day Against Homophobia. And who was the only MP to mention it in the House on Friday? Richard Nadeau from the Bloc, who not only spoke out about his party’s support for the queer community, but also brought up that the gains made by the community are under threat by the Conservative government. I’m a little surprised that no other MP from any of the parties brought it up, seeing as they typically have in years past. And seeing as this is a break week for the House (which is sorely needed by all), if anyone else does bring it up, it won’t be for another week.

There was something else that was somewhat remarkable about Members’ Statements on Friday – the Speaker cut off Shelly Glover while she was launching an attack on Michael Ignatieff. He later cut off Dean Del Mastro when he was trying to attack Ethics committee chair Paul Szabo, saying that a point of order had already been raised on the matter, and he was going to leave it at that. About time he started cracking the whip again to try and restore some modicum of decorum.

Scott Brison brought up the navy cuts, while Laurie Hawn disingenuously claimed they weren’t going to be tying up any ships, and that they were giving them all kinds of money and were embarking on a shipbuilding program. But the new funds are for new ships, not operations! Yes, in the long-term they’ve made all kinds of commitments, but in the short and medium terms, the navy’s capacity is being slashed! It’s so utterly disingenuous to try and claim otherwise. Little more than an hour later, General Walt Natynczyk called a press conference to say that they had rescinded the orders to tie up those ships, and they would somehow make it all work out. The thing is that the whole affair kind of made Peter MacKay look bad because he didn’t really seem to know what was going on, and it was political poison for his riding, so Natynczyk went back to the drawing board. But given that this isn’t the first time Natynczyk has been at odds with MacKay, I am starting to wonder about the relationship between the two.

Later in QP when the Bloc’s Francine Lalonde tried to ask about promises made by Conservative MPs at the March for Life to re-open the abortion debate, Rona Ambrose spoke instead about World Vision’s report on child mortality in the developing world, and this government’s commitment to ending violence against women. How very telling that she didn’t even bother to deny anything. (Incidentally, 58 percent of Canadians reject Harper’s position on safe abortions as part of his G8/G20 commitments).

The Auditor General issue isn’t going away, given that MPs have rejected her request to look at their books. Liberal MP Paul Szabo suggests that one of the reasons why MPs don’t want the Auditor General to look at their books is that she might ask too many questions about the lawsuits that MPs are facing, being paid for by the House of Commons. The better explanation, however, is a certain amount of nervousness when it comes to the ease of “gotcha” journalism that this kind of audit would allow, and I can’t say I can entirely blame them. That said, the longer they resist, the more they look like they’ve got something to hide.

Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez is facing police charges regarding a breathalyzer incident relating to a car accident that happened last month – and look at that, he’s still staying in caucus. Not only that, he’s being upfront with the media about what the charges are, and he’s participating fully. How does this compare to the “open and transparent” government benches?

And finally, Susan Delacourt talks a little more about Stephen Harper and religion – specifically her experiences in talking with him about it. The impression seems to be that he’s courting the religious right more for tactical and political reasons than any deeply held beliefs of his own, which doesn’t really surprise me.
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