While Stephen Harper, Rob Nicholson and Julian Fantino were in Toronto to announce their citizen’s arrest bill, the outrage over Bev Oda misleading Parliament continued during question period. Michael Ignatieff kicked things off on the topic, Pablo Rodriguez followed with a pair of questions, and Gilles Duceppe weighed in next. Although each phrased their questions a bit differently, John Baird’s answer to all three was that Oda was clear all along and that she made the right decision. Jean Dorion broke the Oda streak with renewed questions about the government’s failure to freeze the Canadian assets of deposed Tunisian leader Ben Ali. Next, it was back to the Oda affair, courtesy of Jack Layton.
Round two saw Anita Neville wondering if the PMO wasn’t using Oda as a human shield for their decision. Wayne Easter wondered if Oda made the changes on the PMO’s orders, which prompted Baird to intimate that Easter had some particular misdeed in his past that made his asking a question morally suspect. Those of us in the gallery wondered what dirt Baird had on Easter, who just shrugged the suggestion off. Robert Carrier asked about tax fraud, and Pierre Paquette questioned Jason Kenney’s comment that “Radio-Canada lies all the time.” Then the Liberals decided to be clever. When Yasmin Ratansi asked a question about aid to Haiti, Bev Oda stood up, confirming that she was capable of answering questions. Ratansi then asked some very direct and specific questions on the Kairos file, which Baird stood up to answer. When Bob Rae asked if Oda had targeted the wrong Kairos (as apparently there is another group with the same name that did advocate the boycott and divestment of Israel), Baird continued to talk about what a great job she did.
Round three saw questions on those concerns about lobbyists and Lisa Raitt, the Nutrition North program, the proposed US “entry fee,” those cyber-attacks on government departments, Ben Ali’s assets (this time from a Liberal) and filmmakers in Iran being persecuted.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Kirsty Duncan for her white jacket with the black and blue square pattern and Scott Simms for his grey pinstripe suit with a pink shirt and striped purple tie. Nice job! Style citations go out to Bonnie Crombie for the terrible red and blue scarf that she paired with her navy suit and red top. It was a bit much. Citations also go to Mike Lake for his dark grey suit with a custard shirt and brown tie. Not so good. Also, it was nice to see Chris Charlton wearing something other than a fluorescent jacket. Just saying.
After QP, the official privilege motion against Oda was filed with the Speaker. The Conservatives wanted more time to formulate a response; seems that their new tactic is that it’s the opposition misleading the House, not Oda. Uh huh.
Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget officer, was at the public safety committee to talk about the fact that nobody can get costing figures from the government on all those justice bills. It’s pretty much impossible for MPs to properly evaluate legislation if they don’t know how much it will cost the treasury (which the House controls under the rules of a parliamentary democracy). Watch Scott Brison speak in the House about this very topic here.
Independent MP André Arthur won a Supreme Court ruling to do with a 1998 on-air radio rant about Montreal cabbies. Although the rant was declared racist, the court decided that there was no personal injury and that people should have been aware it was simply “shock jock” tactics at work.
Up today, Michael Ignatieff kicks off a “working families” tour in Winnipeg.