It was a pretty feisty day in Question Period, and whether or not it has to do with revelations in the new book about Harper is anyone’s guess, but Ralph Goodale set the tone with his heated rhetoric about Harper’s bad fiscal choices. Harper, however, was having none of that. He debuted the Conservative counter-offensive of the day, which was to say that the EI reform bill that MPs voted on the previous night (which was defeated) would apparently have increased EI premiums by some 35 percent and would have cost $7 billion a year. And plenty of Conservative responses in some way segued into this talking point, no matter how tortured it was.
Bob Rae was up next, asking why Harper was so quick to dismiss the will of Parliament with the census vote, or with the long-gun registry, wondering what he had against democracy. Harper wondered what the Liberals had against farmers and duck hunters. Gilles Duceppe and Daniel Paillé asked about the revelations of Canadians using tax havens in Switzerland. Harper and Keith Ashfield (minister of national revenue, not that you’ve ever recognize him) assured Canadians that they were taking “aggressive action” against those who broke tax laws. Jack Layton took up that same mantle and got pretty much the same answer.
Alexandra Mendes and Scott Brison asked about Flaherty’s missed deficit targets (in contrast to G20 overspending), to which Flaherty and Toews took turns reassuring Canadians about our economic recovery and the good work of the G8 and G20 summits, but as Brison cranked up the rhetoric, so did Flaherty, eventually accusing the Liberals of having stolen money from the EI fund. Both Michel and Claude Guimond asked about infrastructure project deadlines, while Pablo Rodriguez and Carolyn Bennett asked about the census, Bennett going so far as to call Harper a dictator for ignoring the will of Parliament. The NDP’s whip, Yvon Godin, also got on the topic of the EI fund.
From there, another couple of questions about the census, G20 overspending, the fact that new documents have proved Richard Colvin was right about Afghan detainees (remember that issue?), that James Cameron is apparently the new environment minister because it took his visit to actually get some action on the tar sands, and a question about product safety legislation in the wake of new recalls on toys (but I wonder if anyone will bother to pick up the Senate’s concerns about unconstitutional provisions in the bill that they rejected in its last incarnation, since the new bill is the same as the old bill).
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Scott Simms, for his nicely tailored grey pinstripe suit, with the crisp white shirt and brilliant green tie. Very nice! Style citations go out to Larry Miller for a muted yellow shirt with a black jacket and a blue striped tie (again with the yellow and black!), as well as Randy Hoback for a pink shirt with a navy suit, which did not suit him at all. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a black suit with a green top and *gasp!* matching green heels! I do believe she’s got it.
Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett has now formally tabled her long-form census bill. I’m not quite sure where Bennett is on the Order of Precedence, but I believe it’s soon, so debate will begin within a few weeks if that is the case.
Remember that Conservative staffer who interfered in an Access to Information request? Turns out that he’d interfered repeatedly in other requests as well. He’s since resigned, which means that he might now be fair game for the Parliamentary committee looking into these transgressions, as he’ll no longer fall under the faux “ministerial responsibility” umbrella the Conservatives have erected.
Lesbian Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth has been made the chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights.
Maclean’s has photos from the Egale gala.
Supreme Court Justice Beverly McLachlin has poached Stephen Harper’s personal chef – who was apparently glad to go because of the political uncertainty of being a chef at 24 Sussex, and was apparently tired of the “simple” Alberta fare the Harpers preferred.
And Her Excellency, on her final day, posts a video culmination of her youth dialogues series (including some discussion of queer youth in there). She also planted a tree at Rideau Hall to mark her time there and thanked the media for helping make things resonate during her term. (Can you imagine Harper ever thanking the media?)
Up today – it’s the installation of David Johnston as the new Governor General. That means the House’s schedule has shifted for a 9:30 am Question Period. Ugh.