3 min

Duelling punchiness

Neither Harper nor Ignatieff were in the House on Monday – and for that matter, neither were Tony Clement or Bob Rae, and after the day’s performance, I’m starting to wonder if the presence of the two leaders isn’t in fact acting like a more calming influence, because there were some punchy MPs in the House. The Minister of State for Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear, was so punchy that at one point, he even stood up and answered a question directed for the Heritage Minister’s proxy, amidst a host of answers that were so full of vitriol that the tale in last week’s Globe and Mail about him screaming at a stakeholder group sounds all the more plausible.

On the other side of the House, Maria Minna’s continual interjections were so loud and forceful that both Jim Flaherty and Vic Toews kept referencing her in their responses – especially when she would call them out for statements like elements of the budget being “gender tested” as standard government development policy. This during a response to Marlene Jennings pointing out in her question that the economic stimulus measures are directed at male-dominated fields. And when she asked about the “slush fund,” Jim Flaherty accused her of bad-mouthing the public service.

Seriously, guys? Seriously? That’s your new line of defence?

That slush fund was once again topic of the day, from Ralph Goodale’s assertion in his opening questions that since the fund wouldn’t be able to be spent until after April 1st, he can assure Canadians that the stimulus spending is not being delayed by the Liberal party. And there’s that false sense of urgency again.

When Martha Hall Findlay (whose green jacket I was at first a little dubious about but it grew on me) asked for clarification as to whether or not the previously infrastructure money would lapse or not, John Baird stood up and said that there would be “no dollar left behind.” Cute.

When Liberal heritage critic Pablo Rodriguez asked about the funding crisis at the CBC (amidst shouts of “who wrote that question?”), he was treated to assurances that the government had pledged $1.1 billion in the budget for the Conservative-created CBC, which you may realise was not an actual answer to the question at hand. In fact, that has become a common Conservative tactic – when confronted with questions about funding specifics or cuts to programmes within departments, they will often just shout about how much is being spent in that department – as though that will somehow make up for the cut programme. Goodyear was particularly fond of that tactic.

During Members’ Statements, Bloc MP Réal Ménard rose to speak about the tenth anniversary of the passing of a Parti Québecois luminary Camille Laurin.

Mr. Speaker, with the 10th anniversary of the death of Camille Laurin just two days away, the building that houses the Office québécois de la langue française will be renamed in his honour.
Elected as a Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly for the first time in 1970, Mr. Laurin held a number of portfolios in the Lévesque governments of the 1970s and 1980s. Appointed minister of state for social development in 1976, Mr. Laurin introduced Bill 101, Quebec's Charter of the French Language, which made French the only official language of the Government of Quebec. It also guarantees Quebeckers the right to work and study in French.
A psychiatrist by training, he was a pioneer of the sovereignty movement in Quebec and saw Quebec's independence as a necessary collective affirmation.
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Mr. Laurin's death, the Bloc Québécois would like to acknowledge the importance of his contribution to ensuring the pre-eminence, the very survival, of the French language in Quebec.

No sartorial snaps to hand out, but a nod of appreciation in the directions of both Kristy Duncan and Lisa Raitt, who both had good jacket choices. Also, Navdeep Bains’ black turban was a nice change from the red he usually sports. Also of interest was the white scarf that Rob Oliphant had donned, but I suspect it may actually have been a stole in stead of a scarf – Oliphant used to be a United Church minister.

Style citations go out to Jack Layton, whose choice of a pale green shirt and light green tie did not go well with the grey-brown suit he wore, as the whole thing made his skin tone look overly pink. Also Liberal Byron Wilfert’s leather suit jacket was not a terribly wise choice. I have no particular objections to a black leather suit jacket on principle, but make sure that it’s properly tailored, and doesn’t just hang limp and formless the way this one did.