University of Toronto
3 min

A whiff of sulphur

A commonplace Parliamentary expression is the latest outrage that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has apparently inflicted upon the political scene. For you see, by describing Harper as having a “whiff of sulphur” about him – an expression which you’ll find is quite common in Parliamentary debates in places like the UK (as Kady O’Malley points out) – apparently he crossed another line by accusing Harper of being Satan. Or something like that.

Cue the outrage of Harper’s apologists and his media arm (which includes a bit of gay baiting as an added bonus. Hey, Brian Lilley – you’re a real peach!)

And sure enough, it did play out in Senate Question Period yesterday – alas, the final Senate Question Period of the sitting, for C-9, the budget omnibus bill, passed late last night on a vote of 48-44.

The day got off to a bit of a festive start with Harper’s newest Senator, Salma Taullahjan, taking her oath and her seat in the Red Chamber. From there, Senators’ statements included support for BC’s forestry industry, plaudits for Belinda Stronach’s G(irls)20 conference, a number of condemnations for Iran’s practice of stoning women for adultery, praise for a school in Saskatoon, and finally, a bit of rah-rah for both Canada’s economic strength, and for a Manitoba company that developed the grass seed used for the FIFA World Cup.

Senate Question Period began with Senator Callbeck asking after nutritional information posted in places like fast food restaurants per Health Canada expert recommendations – and as a supplemental, have we been studying the Obama initiative to combat childhood obesity? But it was Senator Jaffer who really gave Senator LeBreton a chance to exercise her talking points. Jaffer asked if the government would comply with the Federal Court’s ruling on Omar Khadr, and no surprise here, but they’re going to appeal. (This on the day his military tribunal was to begin in the States). But somehow Senator LeBreton speaking of the “very serious charges” Khadr faces doesn’t have the same ring as when it comes from Deepak Obhrai.

Senator Mitchell asked after spending on climate change polling, and Senator Cordy asked with great outrage about a Facebook posting by Ben Hicks of the PMO, which encouraged students to inform on teachers who indoctrinated them with evil lefty ideas. This was LeBreton’s cue to bring up her canned outrage over the “whiff of sulphur” comments. Rounding off the day was Senator Fraser returning to the Khadr issue, especially in the light of a Sun Media editorial which declared, “Screw him.” LeBreton reminded her that they followed the same policy as the previous Liberal government, but Fraser, rather understatedly, stood up and said that two wrongs don’t make a right. LeBreton took this as an invitation to recite the “very serious charges” speech.

Sartorially speaking, there were a whole lot of great outfits to choose from. I quite liked newly minted Senator Taullahjan’s long black South Asian jacket with the silver patterning across the front. Also, Senator Nancy Ruth’s black jacket with the banded collar and the grey floral motif across it was lovely. If there was a style citation, it would be for Senator Champagne’s rather dull choice of tan trousers, brown top and the butter cream coloured loose shirt over that.

Also on the Hill, the Commons Public Safety committee came back to ostensibly discuss the security breakdowns at the G8/G20 protests, and oh, look – it got filibustered by the Conservatives while the (Conservative) chair made up the rules as he went along. Because that’s accountable government, everyone.

Speaking of Sun Media editorials, their statement on the appointment of David Johnston as the new Governor General is actually stomach-churningly awful and indeed offensive. Meanwhile, Aaron Wherry contrasts Johnston’s Harvard credentials versus everything the Conservatives have said about Harvard the past couple of years, vis-à-vis Michael Ignatieff. Oh, and apparently Johnston’s opinions on government funding for IVF treatments and same-sex adoptions has run him afoul of Lifesite News, so apparently he can’t be all bad.

It looks like the government has cut the legs out of yet another Status of Women minister, this time contradicting Rona Ambrose on her statement that they were looking into legislation about honour killings.

It looks like the government is going ahead with spending $16 billion on replacements for the CF-18 fighters.

The list of organisations opposing the change to the long-form census continues to grow. Even the Official Languages Commissioner is going to launch an investigation into it, seeing as how much his office relies on reliable census data.

Up today – Michael Ignatieff’s “Liberal Express” – his summer bus tour – gets underway, leaving from Parliament Hill. Glancing at the itinerary, it won’t be a tour completely done by bus, but it will promises to hit every province and territory, and will go well into August. Kind of like a pre-campaign campaign.
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