4 min

All over austerity

Dear Canada: The issue around the loss of C-311 being killed in the Senate is not that the Senate killed it. The Senate’s job is sober second thought, and as a result, it needs to be able to kill bad bills. The issue is that the Conservatives used a procedural trick to kill it before it had been studied properly to determine whether it was a good or a bad bill. Please stop confusing the issue. Also – the issue of Harper using his senators inappropriately to “snuff out democracy in the Senate” is largely a by-product of having so many new senators who still believe they can be whipped or they are somehow beholden to him. They are not, and in time they will realize that – some of them already have started. This process likely won’t happen in earnest until a party leadership convention, however, but it is a learning process. We don’t need to denigrate the entire institution because of it. Thanks!

On the issue of the Senate, NDP MPs Megan Leslie and Peter Stoffer renew calls to abolish the Upper Chamber. Gee, and how do they propose we do that, considering that it would need unanimous consent from every province, and I have a sneaking feeling that Nova Scotia – their home province – isn’t in favour of that?

Stockwell Day started off the day by giving a press conference on new austerity rules for public servants where travel and hospitality are concerned – but can’t say how much they’ll save. Which I’m guessing will be next to nothing, given that those rules are pretty tight to begin with. And where travel is concerned, the problem lies with the travel company the government has a standing offer with: it doesn’t always give the lowest prices for flights, and yet bureaucrats are forced to book through this service. Also, it seems to me that the cabinet flies around the country for photo ops all the time – couldn’t those travel costs be saved on instead? Oh, but those are “essential communication” events. Silly me.

Question period started off with Michael Ignatieff asking about the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun, and suggested that with a part-time environment minister going, it might as well be for a beach vacation (a suggestion Baird didn’t take kindly to). Marc Garneau followed up with questions on the sole-source nature of the F-35 fighter contract, and suggested that Peter MacKay wasn’t doing his job. Gilles Duceppe asked about oil platform incidents and what repercussions might be in a similar Canadian incident, while Bernard Bigras returned to the topic of greenhouse gasses and the Cancun conference. Jack Layton remained concerned about the lack of a vote on the Afghan issue (no matter how bad such a vote would be for our system of Responsible Government).

For round two, Maria Minna and Vic Toews sniped in a proxy war of the Vaughn by-election (which I am So. Very. Tired. of), while Denis Coderre continued after the testimony around the West Block contracts offered up the previous day. Daniel Paillé went after his favourite target — the proposed national securities regulator, and Christiane Gagnon and Richard Nadeau teamed up to ask about Harper’s hypocritical position on the Senate. Ralph Goodale then got up to press the government on its austerity record, which made Jim Flaherty absolutely lose his shit. Scott Brison pressed the attack, but he resorted to the Rob Ford-isms of “respect for taxpayers” and “stopping the Conservative gravy train.” The first time was clever. The second time was worthy of a chuckle. But now it’s tired. Please find a new line.

From there, questions ranged from tax havens to the copyright bill to missing and murdered aboriginal women, water quality standards, funding for homeless programs and the EU’s condemnation of the loss of our long-form census.

Sartorially speaking, I’m giving snaps to Judy Foote for her cool black-and-white houndstooth jacket with a black skirt. Style citations go out to Joyce Murray for the awful '80s cream-with-brown-flecked top under an otherwise fine eggplant jacket. Also, a warning to Cathy McLeod that all her style progress is slipping away as she continues to wear turtlenecks, which she should never, ever do. (Seriously – it’s in The Rules. Look it up.) And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a black suit with a loose grey-green top and matching heels! Yay!

In the scrums in the foyer, Ignatieff jokingly referred to the current meme of getting patted down constantly in airports (video here). The punditocracy exploded with confusion as to how seriously he was really taking the issue.

Elsewhere, University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé examines more reasons why trying to get the Commons to vote on military deployments is a Very Bad Idea for our system of Responsible Government (namely, it creates confusion in the constitution as to just who would become responsible for the Canadian Forces).

On the Afghanistan issue, the Liberals sent out a trio of MPs, including Bob Rae, to offer up the notion that Lester B Pearson, the father of peacekeeping, would support the mission extension.

And constitutional arguments in the BC polygamy case have begun.

Up today – it’s the Bloc Opposition Day motion on the Afghan issue. And oh, will this Divide The Liberals™ once again? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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