A Harper-less question period got started with Michael Ignatieff asking a trio of questions about the rumoured perimeter security agreement that Harper will be off to Washington to discuss tomorrow. Ignatieff’s point was that nobody can get any information about this deal – neither the ministers of public safety or international trade seem to have any idea what’s going on, and Harper isn’t talking, and “bad stealth deals are bad for Canadian democracy.” Lawrence Cannon simply touted all of the opportunities for jobs and business with our trade with the Americans. Gilles Duceppe asked after the situation with Egypt, Jean Dorion asked more about the former Tunisian leader’s assets (because apparently Montreal has a large French-speaking Tunisian community – who knew?), and Jack Layton was trying to make a point about coalitions, given the Conservatives are cooperating with the Bloc on something but apparently won’t come dance with them. Or something like that.
Round two saw Siobhan Coady asking about pensions and Mike Savage asking after the cuts to parental benefits (to which Diane Finley actually said that the Liberals want parents to be forced to have other people raise their children. Seriously). Johanne Deschamps asked about the status of funds for Haiti, Maria Mourani about the perimeter agreement and border crossings being shut down in her riding. Navdeep Bains brought up the issue of payroll taxes (read: EI premiums) and small businesses owned by women, while Alexandra Mendes followed up on the issue of women being disadvantaged by this government’s programs.
Round three saw questions on greenhouse gas emissions targets (or lack thereof), tax harmonization and financial services, the CRTC and the usage-based billings issue, more questions on the perimeter agreement, a proposed electricity cable to New Brunswick, and the lack of a national transit plan.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go to Lisa Raitt for her pink-striped collared shirt with the black suit, which was nicely tailored. Also of note was Olivia Chow’s custard-coloured traditional Chinese jacket covered in gold embroidery (it was Chinese New Year after all), and because of that, I’ll forgive that she wore it with black. Style citations go out to Cathy McLeod for a grey turtleneck and skirt with a bad purple jacket (and I will reiterate that she should not wear turtlenecks), and Gérard Asselin for his unflattering brown suit with mustard shirt and tie.
In case you were wondering, Harper missed question period to announce the creation of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for volunteerism.
Scott Brison won a motion at the Finance Committee to force the government to turn over its figures regarding the costs of justice bills, which could be on its way to the House as a privilege motion.
After Jack Layton’s anti-Senate screed at a parliamentary procedural conference last week, Senator Nicole Eaton offered to let Layton shadow her for a day to see what kind of work senators do. Layton, naturally, turned it down, obviously needing no lessons on the Senate. But I wonder if he would have turned it down if there were cameras following him, with Mark Kelly to narrate?
More NDP MPs are hinting that all it will take are some concessions on pensions for them to support the budget – like they supported the government with EI last year.
And in the event you missed it, Maclean’s Andrew Coyne took on Tony Clement over the usage-based billing issue on Twitter, and it was quite the heated exchange. Also, here is the CRTC chairman’s address to the committee on the issue and the recap of what went down.