Coalition panic! Separatist leader Gilles Duceppe tells a Quebec journalist that he was the driving force behind the 2008 coalition pact, which Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert warns will give new ammunition to the Conservatives. Proving her right, Members’ Statements in the House of Commons were all about these supposed revelations… (done in the voice of The Clone Wars newsreel intros).
But that wasn’t what dominated Question Period. No: after Michael Ignatieff asked his questions on homecare (to which Harper replied that the Liberals promised this five times now, and that they’ll just raise taxes), the big story was news of an RCMP investigation into allegations of inappropriate contracts for renovating the West Block on Parliament Hill. Marcel Proulx asked this, and Rona Ambrose replied that no “member of this government” is under investigation – and she would give this same verbatim reply some seven or so more times that afternoon. (It was later pointed out that the use of present tense was interesting, because the contracts would likely have been signed when Michael Fortier was minister of public works, and he’s no longer in the game).
Gilles Duceppe and Diane Bourgeois asked about this. Layton asked about the GST on home heating (to which Harper reminded him that he didn’t vote for other tax cuts), and then Geoff Regan and Denis Coderre asked about the allegations, Coderre going the extra step to getting Christian Paradis to confirm that he attended a fundraiser with the two characters at the centre of the allegations when he was minister of public works – but “no ministerial business was discussed.” This was followed by Robert Bouchard asking about the census, and Jean Dorion asking about Quebec’s natural resource development.
From here, the questions moved on to Nigel Wright and his potential conflicts of interest, problems the Pentagon has with the F-35 fighters, the aforementioned allegations, stimulus deadlines, the costs of the new prisons the Conservatives are now spending on (incidentally, which the provinces are going to have to pay plenty more for as well), the end of certain EI programs, the Vale loan, a deal involving Air Canada machinists, and mercury in fish.
Sartorially speaking, it was actually a pretty good day overall. Snaps go out to Marlene Jennings for her rather stunning short black dress under a greenish jacket, with knee-high boots. Also, Hedy Fry had fierce zebra-print pumps. If I were to give out style citations, it would be to remind both Cathy McLeod and Sylvie Boucher that women of their body shape shouldn’t wear turtlenecks. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a small miracle – a matching thing, eggplant-coloured belt to go with her eggplant pumps. And it worked with her avocado top – until she ruined it with a fuchsia sweater. But it was so close, and she deserves points for finally matching a belt and shoes.
On the prison issue, it looks like the government has closed prison farms in order to put a few prisoners to work on repairing military vehicles – which I doubt has any of the same therapeutic value of working with animals.
The Commons public safety committee has voted to look into the G8/G20, and what went on there, both with costs and police actions.
The Supreme Court is going to hear an appeal to have the prime minister’s schedule released under access to information laws. The funny thing – the Conservatives (and their Reform Party forebears) used to cry bloody murder about how awful it was that Liberal prime ministers kept their agendas secret, even after they left office, and oh look – now they’re the ones fighting tooth and nail to keep them secret – even the Liberal ones. Funny that.
Over in the Federal Court, a judge shot down the attempts by francophone groups to have the long-form census restored, saying the court wasn’t convinced the data from the planned National Household Survey would be unusable. Erm, but what about over the longer term, where it no longer can be compared against previous data?
And a former Canadian general continues to insist there was no evidence of torture going on in Afghan jails, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
PS – Speaking of Chantal Hébert, I couldn’t resist posting this.