Helena Guergis
4 min

Coasting on the Liberal record

Given that the House is now into week four of a five-week stretch, and most MPs are usually pretty squirrelly at this point, Michael Ignatieff kicked off a terribly serious-sounding question for Monday’s Question Period. Harper was off touting Canada’s regulated banks and low debt ratios in Europe, but he was “coasting” on the accomplishments of the Liberals – so would he then bow to their wisdom about holding off on corporate tax cuts? John Baird, however, apparently convinced that class is spelt with a k, decided the best response would be to talk about how horrible the Liberals were in the ‘90s, what with Shawinigate, and the sponsorship scandal, and all the downloading of expenses they did on the provinces. Hecklers reminded Baird of his own actions in the Ontario government in the ‘90s, to little avail.

When David McGuinty raised the issue of offshore oil drilling in light of the Louisiana spill, Christian Paradis said that McGuinty was making false allegations about BP and Imperial Oil leases. Gilles Duceppe and Daniel Paillé raised questions about the proposed national securities regulator (Flaherty: It’s a voluntary approach), and Jack Layton again returned to the question of the oil spill, where John Baird assured him of Canada’s strong environmental regulations.

At this point, Liberal Navdeep Bains raised the issue of Toronto Pride’s funding being cut, while Tony Clement insisted that no, that wasn’t the case at all – they were just spreading the wealth. (His assertion that Pride is well taken care of and a victim of its own success also doesn’t quite pan out, considering who else is getting funded). Later in QP, the same question was raised again by Christiane Gagnon and Brian Masse (Masse? Oh, right – industry critic, but it’s odd seeing him talk about something other than the auto industry), not that they got any better answer.

Lise Zarac asked about the cuts to women’s groups; Serge Ménard asked after bilingualism on the Supreme Court; John McCallum and Dominic LeBlanc asked why the RCMP weren’t being given the resources necessary to combat white-collar crime (given that they declined to investigate the mortgage fraud against the BMO); Paul Dewar asked about our G8 and G20 plans; and Claude Bachand asked after the military’s Board of Inquiry into Afghan torture allegations.

Sartorially speaking, it was a fairly dull day, and the only thing that caught my eye was Marc Garneau’s lovely pink tie. What caught my eye in a bad way was Niki Ashton’s ruffled fluorescent orange top with white trousers, which matched the same-coloured top that Cheryl Gallant wore, only hers was a collared shirt under a black suit. Nevertheless, the '80s are gone, and fluorescent shades should be banished from wardrobes. Also, I’m concerned about Lisa Raitt – yesterday’s outfit was a rather pedestrian powder-blue collared shirt with a black leather jacket and black trousers, but with copious pearls and what appeared to be white sneakers, though they could simply have been some other white flats. Nevertheless, her glam factor has diminished significantly since she was moved to the Labour portfolio and her seat moved in the House to a less visible one. It’s like she isn’t trying anymore, and that’s not a good thing. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a rather disappointing grey suit with a less-than-impressive ruffled mustard top, and clashing pink flats.

Funnily enough, Leslie was named second-best dressed female MP in the Hill Times survey this year (the best being Ambrose, but while she’s been doing well lately, she was going through a phase that looked like it was all maternity wear for a while there). And while yes, Leslie occasionally has some great style choices and has improved greatly over the past year, she still seems to average more misses than hits. I’m half-convinced that staffers have been nominating her in the same way that they tried to nominate Larry Bagnell for sexiest male MP (which Peter MacKay took this year). Incidentally, Scott Brison was second-best-dressed male – Maxime Bernier beat him, with his fine tailoring and good use of lavender tones.

Elsewhere, the deadline for the deal on those detainee documents is up today, and still no agreement – but it hasn’t broken down into bitter acrimony. Word is they may ask the Speaker for an extension, before he decides to lay down the law as he’s threatened to do.

Peter Mansbridge spoke to Helena Guergis yesterday, who is making out to be a surprisingly sympathetic figure who doesn’t know what the allegations against her are and who has been wronged by her party. Watching the interview, however, I was struck by how insistent Guergis was that her husband promised her he wasn’t going to lobby, or break the rules, and that he didn’t know where the cocaine came from. Call me cynical, but she sounded a bit like those naïve girls who take everything their husband says at face value and can’t possibly believe they’d do something wrong, which you’d think a savvy and accomplished woman like Guergis wouldn’t fall for.

Marc Emery has been extradited to the States, where he faces a five-year sentence for selling pot seeds by mail.

Her Excellency is having a very busy week. After a speech at the Canadian Club of Toronto yesterday on the strength of Canadian diversity, she’s meeting later this week with Princess Margriet of the Netherlands – and being presented with the Michaëlle Jean Tulip – as well as UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon.
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