Kicking off question period, Michael Ignatieff rose to ask about post-secondary education and the government’s lack of investment in the future. Harper countered that Conservatives have made unprecedented investments in education, while the Liberals slashed transfer payments. Ignatieff moved on to the issue of Harper’s meeting with President Obama on Friday and wanted to know if the perimeter security agreement would be discussed, at the peril of our sovereignty. Harper retorted that they are “Canadians first and only,” which I’m guessing was a dig at Ignatieff having lived and worked abroad, or a slight to anyone with dual citizenship. Ralph Goodale followed up with a question on tax cuts and Jim Flaherty’s record in Ontario regarding them. Gilles Duceppe and Daniel Paillé asked again about sales-tax harmonization, and Jack Layton asked about pharmaceutical shortages across the country (which Leona Aglukkaq didn’t really address in her answers).
Round two saw Siobhan Coady ask about deficit projections, Dan McTeague about the usage-based billing issue (Tony Clement promised again he’s taking a look at it, and when Harper said on Twitter he was going to look into it, you know he’s serious). Robert Bouchard asked about forestry jobs, while Raynald Blais and Claude Guimond both asked about assistance for those regions along the St Lawrence affected by high tides. Mark Holland asked about the government’s prison strategy (which made Vic Toews apoplectic, spewing false moral equivalencies along the way), and Bob Rae asked about Egypt and our lack of diplomats abroad.
Round three saw questions on usage-based billing, Tunisia, Senator Larry Smith and his using his Senate office to launch a bid to get elected to the Commons, more questions about the forestry sector and the upcoming expiration of the softwood lumber agreement, cuts to gang prevention programs, cellphone towers. And Bill Siksay asked about the government’s response to the murder of David Kato in Uganda.
Sartorially speaking, it was a fairly lacklustre day. I will give snaps to Diane Ablonczy for her orange jacket and matching headband (and yes, she is one of the few people who can wear orange). Style citations go out to Mike Wallace for a brown suit with a somewhat bile-coloured yellow shirt that did him no favours. Also, Mark Holland’s jacket sleeves seemed a bit too short for his cuffs.
Likely issues for QP today:
-The fact that we’re now auctioning off Chinook helicopters that we paid big money for as we wind down the Afghan combat mission. Apparently that was the plan all along because we have new helicopters on order anyway, but apparently we can’t have too many helicopters, according to some.
-The fact that National Defence didn’t get proper approval for a program that paid for the families of fallen soldiers to go to Afghanistan to see the work that was done.
The government’s decision to start privileging releases via Twitter rather than official channels is not necessarily good news.
Conservative senators deny wrongdoing in sending out partisan newsletters, which makes me think that they’re just going to ruin them for everyone (like the Conservatives did with 10 percenters).
And Yann Martel has decided that after nearly four years and 100 books, he’s ending his biweekly “book club” mailings to Stephen Harper, for which he never once received a personal reply. And yes, this should speak volumes about what this prime minister thinks about reading and the arts.