3 min

Break out your aluminium foil hats!

Friday’s Question Period was really only marked by one note of interest, which was the fact that the Liberals have made a slight addition to their calls for EI reform. While the whole national standard of 360 hours remains on the table, the release of the April employment figures from StatsCan on Friday saw jobs added to the economy – but most of them self-employed. The Liberals want to see that EI reform includes concessions for the self-employed, which apparently were promised a while ago, but haven’t yet come to fruition.

Friday also saw Scott Brison give a Members’ Statement about the first female graduate from Acadia University:

Mr. Speaker, Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia will be marking the 125th anniversary of its first female graduate during convocation ceremonies on May 10 and 11.
In 1884, Clara Bell Marshall became Acadia's first female graduate and only the second woman in the entire British Commonwealth to be granted a degree. In honour of that occasion, all of the honorary degree recipients at spring convocation this year at Acadia will be women.
The Toronto Acadia Alumni Women's Committee recently held a networking and fundraising event with proceeds going to the Clara Marshall Raymond Scholarship Fund, to which donations are most welcomed, I will remind my colleagues.
Women of Nova Scotia have made an important contribution in the founding and building of Acadia. In fact in the early 1800s, it was local women who knit great quantities of mittens to sell and raise funds to buy materials and supplies to aid in the construction of the college.
Congratulations, Acadia, on your contribution to equality for women.
Please join with me in congratulating Acadia's 800 new graduates and congratulating the new president, Ray Ivany, and the chancellor, Arthur Irving, and the entire Acadia community.

That afternoon, Ruby Dhalla broke her silence and called a press conference, with her lawyer doing most of the talking. Points of note – the employers were her brother and her mother, not her; that the testimony of at least one of the caregivers shows that she has contradicted previous statements made; and that Ruby herself could not have been present for the alleged periods, and there were boarding passes and calendar pages to prove it. But the biggest thing is that her lawyer alleged that this was the work of some third party.

Now, black helicopters and aluminium foil hats aside, remember that Dhalla’s riding has been targeted by the Conservatives, and she won the last election only by a rather narrow margin. That these allegations didn’t come up until a year after the fact, and by “sheer coincidence” just when the Citizenship and Immigration Committee is looking into just these kinds of problems – is a lot of coincidence. Dhalla definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt – especially in light of all the paperwork her lawyer provided – but I think we should also take a look at some of the motivation for this feeding frenzy. When you had reporters at the press conference asking if, because she’s a public official, her family shouldn’t be as squeaky-clean as she should be, it makes me cringe. Are all public officials now required to vet their friends and families before they decide to run for office? We already have a problem attracting our best and brightest to public life as it is – does this mean that we’re now going to have to groom our future political leaders by growing them from test-tubes from appropriately-vetted donor parents raising them in these hermetically sealed environments where they can’t be exposed to any potential moral taint? Because that’s the way things are going if we don’t temper our puritanical zeal on our politicians’ behalf.

Elsewhere, Ignatieff says that he had concerns about the legitimacy about the proposed coalition back in November because of the Liberals’ poor showing in the election. The Prime Minister has made a number of high-profile patronage appointments, and stuffed a number of major institutions with Conservative cronies of the most socially conservative kind. (Remember how he was going to clean up patronage appointments? Yeah, neither do I). And finally, the federal government is encouraging minority communities targeted by hate crimes to apply for funding for enhanced security. While they keep talking about places of worship, it begs the question – would gay bars and queer community centres apply as funding-worthy? Given that it’s Peter Van Loan in charge of this programme, I have my doubts.