3 min

Even more census straw men

By now you’ve heard that an Ontario Superior Court has struck down the laws surrounding prostitution, at least as far as enforcing them in that province. (My story on the federal reaction is here.) Expect this to turn up during Question Period later today.

It was debate on the Liberal’s opposition day motion on the census yesterday, and we saw the return of all kinds of fictional census questions (Breakfast cereals? Books you read? Bathrooms in your house?), red herrings about jail time and other straw men from the Conservatives, along with once again the spectre of a coalition. Really, guys? This is what you call debate these days?

Question Period began with an anecdote from Michael Ignatieff about a question he heard from a woman during his “Open Mike Tour” stop the day previous, which had to do with government spending priorities – fighter jets instead of housing. (I suspect this may soon become Ignatieff’s schtick, relaying questions from Canadians from his tour.) Harper responded with the usual platitudes about the F-35, and saying that Ignatieff’s policy made no sense.

From there it was Mark Holland asking about G20 spending (Vic Toews: We’re transparent – really!), Gilles Duceppe and Marc Lemay asking about the census, and Jack Layton about the tar sands (Harper: We’re the government that’s legislated eliminating oil subsidies – really!) Marlene Jennings and Carolyn Bennett returned to the census question, and four Bloc MPs on the stimulus deadlines. Then came four Liberal MPs asking rapid-fire questions on spending priorities – “Economic Action Plan” signs instead of $10 million to help look into missing and murdered aboriginal women, corporate tax cuts instead of post-secondary education, G20 overspending instead of cultural funding, super-prisons instead of more efficient border crossings. I wonder if this, too, isn’t a future tactic we’ll see more of.

From there the topics went to the proposed mine at Fish Lake, the US government reviewing the F-35 contracts, more about stimulus deadlines, Health Canada abandoning plans for bigger tobacco warning labels in favour of cracking down on contraband cigarettes, EI pilot projects coming to an end, the proposed national securities regulator and continued inaction on decades-old Status of Women recommendations.

Sartorially speaking, there really wasn’t anything worthy of snaps, but there were a couple of missteps. Mark Warawa’s pumpkin-and-teal shirt with a bright teal tie? Wrong. Stockwell Day’s ugly tan shirt with the white collar? Wrong. Judy Foote’s yellow zebra-print jacket? Bad cut. But hey, the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a nice grey suit and fuchsia top with really cute white heels with floral patterns on them.

Speaking of the “Open Mike Tour,” at his first stop in Montreal, Michael Ignatieff ripped into the separatists for the “tyranny” they impose on the people of the province for forcing a choice upon them that they don’t really want to make. Also, Jack Layton is a poor leader (in a shot aimed at retaking Outremont from Thomas Mulcair).

Statistics Canada’s Victimization Survey – the one that tracks “unreported crime” – was released and found that the levels remained unchanged in general, and that violent crime has continued to decline. Imagine that! Not that it’ll stop the truthiness of Conservative talking points about the need to crack down on crime.

It should be little surprise that the Privacy Commissioner is going to be looking into those breaches that have occurred in Veterans Affairs.

Surprising pretty much no one, the government said it would take the Senate’s unanimous report on eliminating poverty “under advisement,” while they file it on the shelf with all of the other reports collecting dust.

And finally, Her Excellency gave her farewell address to Parliament yesterday, with a few moving speeches. The only party leader I saw in attendance was Michael Ignatieff, who hung at the back, while the Speakers of the Commons and the Senate made their speeches before hers. (Video here). As well, Her Excellency has finally broken her silence on her fateful prorogation decision in 2008. While she still won’t discuss the specifics of her advice, part of why she took so long to make the decision was to help provoke debate among the public about why such a deliberation could take that long, and what her decision would mean for Canadian political institutions, and about the roles of prime minister and Governor General, which most people don’t understand.

Up today – votes on the Liberals’ (non-binding) opposition day motion on the long-form census, and Gerard Kennedy’s Bill C-440 on war resisters.
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