2 min

Breathless with anticipation

The anticipation for Obama’s visit on Thursday has the Nation’s Capital ever more breathless with anticipation. It seems that’s all anyone can talk about anymore.

Friday’s Question Period – staffed almost entirely by each party’s B-teams, was largely focused on Obama’s visit. What is the government planning on talking to him about? What about the environment policies? And the “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus bill, which may have been watered down in passage but which are going to actually require a great deal more diplomacy to see that they’re actually remaining watered down and not upheld quietly by protectionist-minded state governments or so on.

Environment is going to be one of those fairly sticky points, and for all of the various things that perhaps could be said to the American president about the plans to create a common North American carbon market – one cased on absolute targets and not intensity-based ones – or so on, Environment Minister Jim Prentice rather seems to be intent on telling Canadians that the Americans are troubled more by the emissions from their coal-powered power plants than we are by the “dirty” oil from the tar sands. Really? Wow. Is this part of your government’s tactics of deflection and delay rather than actual action on the file?

Meanwhile, more questions from the NDP on the Chuck Cadman affair are met by more incredulous statements from the Conservatives – that the tapes were indeed doctored, and that the matter remains closed. During Friday’s Question Period, Joe Comartin called for the Conservatives to repeat those allegations outside of the House, where they wouldn’t be protected by Parliamentary privilege. Small surprise in that they didn’t.

This week is a break week for Parliament, so the Hill is going to be a pretty quiet and empty place. While most MPs are going to back in their ridings doing constituency work – something that is even more important during a minority Parliament, especially for those who won by a fairly narrow margin – this is also the time for things like Inter-Parliamentary trips to take place.

Scott Brison told CTV’s Question Period that he will be part of the trip to Washington DC by the Canada-US Parliamentary Association this week, and that they plan to focus on the relationship with Congress, being as that’s where much of the protectionist sentiment is coming from. Given the way that Brison also talks about the neglect of the relationship with Congress that the Conservatives have allowed to take place, this relationship will likely be doubly important for him in an era where they’re saying that we’ll need a more robust presence in Washington to keep a look out for our interests.