With Harper in London at the G-20, and Ignatieff also away, it was time again to see who could try and get a turn in the spotlight. For the Liberals, John McCallum asked about a national standard for EI eligibility and whether the Conservatives will finally admit that Paul Martin was right about the need for the G20, and Marlene Jennings (in her disappointing dusky rose jacket) asked about the possibility of Air Canada going under.
But the biggest story of the day didn’t really hit until Jack Layton’s turn, when he returned to Dawn Black’s question yesterday of the issue of the law passed in Afghanistan that would affect the rights of Shia women. Initially Stockwell Day, the lead minister on the Afghan cabinet committee, was doing a good job, talking about the government’s concerns with the law (which Harper himself later echoed to CBC Radio). But as the questions mounted, the quality of Day’s answers started to decline.
When asked about how this development squares with what we’ve been told about the reasons our soldiers are over in Afghanistan – one of them was girls in schools and the rights of women – Day snapped that they should leave our soldiers out of it. When Bob Rae demanded to know just what kinds of consequences were being threatened, Day avoided the answer entirely.
Otherwise, there were questions on the revelations in the Public Safety committee about the possibility of CSIS employing intelligence obtained through torture, the fact that not enough Service Canada employees were being hired in order to deal with all of the new EI claims, and the fact that the Auditor General’s update yesterday proved that the Conservatives’ refusal to fill spots on the Immigration and Refugee Board largely created the backlog in the system that exists currently, but not a lot of substantive answers.
After Question Period, the vote on Bill C-311, also known as the resurrected version of Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Bill, passed Second Reading with a vote of 141 to 128. It looks like the Liberals decided to vote for it after all, and now it can head to committee, where the real work will begin.
Sartorial snaps again go out to Lisa Raitt, for her red wrap-top that is ideal for her body shape. I believe she’s officially on a roll, my friends. Disappointingly, however, Martha Hall Findlay's particular style choice today – a black turtleneck sweater under a cobalt-blue jacket with the sleeves rolled and the collar up. It was just a bit…bizarre looking, I’m sorry to say.
Elsewhere, the government withdrew a Private Member’s Bill on dismantling the long-gun registry in favour of a government bill – to be introduced in the Senate. It’s something of an unusual move, and smacks of political gamesmanship. They don’t have the votes to get it through the Senate if both parties make it a whipped vote, which they are more likely to as it is not a Private Members’ Bill. It’s likely the government is doing this to blunt the inroads that Ignatieff has been making out west, since the gun registry is far more popular in places like Toronto and the province of Quebec.
Up today: Libby Davies’ Bill C-304 – the Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act – gets its first debate at Second reading. The second half of the debate and the vote on second reading won’t take place until next month sometime (remember the two-week Easter Break starts next week), but it’s still going to be an interesting debate, and we’ll see if she can get the Liberals and the Bloc onside.
And finally, the Queen is coming, the Queen is coming! Err, we’re not quite sure when, sometime this year or next, but yay, the Queen is coming! (Sorry, is my monarchism showing?)