3 min

Flaherty ramps up the partisan rhetoric

The big news across the wires last night was that the government had a dossier on an outspoken veterans' affairs critic in the minister’s briefing materials, which included said critic’s medical and psychiatric records. Seriously. In violation of pretty much every privacy law in this country, not to mention a huge ethical lapse the likes of which can scarcely be described. This is going to explode in the House tomorrow.

At the non-partisan Canadian Club, Jim Flaherty gave a blistering partisan speech where he raised the spectre of a “Michael Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc coalition,” which would apparently destroy our economy and kill some 400,000 jobs. Immediately after saying that we need to put partisan politics aside. Funny, I wasn’t aware that we had a Michael Ignatieff Party in Canadian politics. Perhaps I should check with Elections Canada.

Before Question Period, there were a few interesting confabs going on. In the one corner, Liberal Albina Guarnieri, who was recently diagnosed with MS, was having a friendly chat with Conservative cabinet ministers Chuck Strahl (who has an incurable form of lung cancer that is currently not progressing) and Stephen Fletcher (who is quadriplegic). In the opposite corner, Helena Guergis was having a chat with Michael Chong and Diane Ablonczy (three rogue Conservatives together?). Interesting to observe nevertheless.

Michael Ignatieff kicked off Question Period by asking about the $130 million the Conservatives spent on advertising last year, despite the great deficit. Oh, that was just the government being open and transparent about stimulus spending, and hey, H1N1 warnings in there too, John Baird replied. Dominic LeBlanc got up next to ask about that pesky untendered F-35 fighter jet purchase. Peter MacKay first told him that security was a priority for the government, and then Tony Clement got up on a supplemental and accused the Liberals of trying to ruin the economy because stopping the contract to “review” it would kill all our supply chain contracts and associated jobs – even though the very documents that Clement refers to disprove his bluster.

Gilles Duceppe and Johanne Deschamps for the Bloc asked about our Millennium Development Goals spending, and Jack Layton came back to the $130 million in advertising spending when seniors were having a difficult time. (Baird, unsurprisingly, responded with the assurances that his government hadn’t cut social spending.) From there, the Liberals returned to the $130 million (theme of the day, it seems), the Bloc asked about the long-gun registry and Quebec’s economic demands, and Scott Brison and Alexandra Mendes brought up the issue of corporate tax cuts, and the payroll tax increases the Conservatives plan to bring in. Flaherty responded by reciting an old quote from when Brison was a Progressive Conservative.

(Later in the foyer, when Brison was asked about Flaherty’s coalition comments, Brison pointed to the “right-wing coalition” that drove progressives like him from the PC party, and where he then extolled the virtues of the “big red tent.”)

The rest of Question Period touched on the National Energy Board review of off-shore drilling regulations, the federal securities regulator, whether the new money for veterans injured in Afghanistan would be retroactive to 2006 (which Blackburn conspicuously didn’t answer), First Nations education needs, help for farmers with ruined crops, and the long-form census.

Sartorial snaps go out to Siobhan Coady for a fabulous orange-and-black patterned dress under a black jacket, and Cathy McLeod for her tailored black jacket and well-cut melon-pink top. (McLeod’s style seems to have been improving greatly of late, and let’s hope that she’s one of this session’s success stories.) Not so great was Leona Aglukkaq’s choice of a yellow sweater over a black top and trousers. (Yellow and black? Who told anyone that was a good look?) And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a rather fetching pale pink collared shirt with cropped sleeves and black trousers. The only loss of points was for the thin red belt paired with black shoes. So close!

At the UN, Harper said that accountability was the key to beating poverty. But does accountability also apply to his government, where they simply move around money and keep reannouncing funds rather than actually spending new money on the goals they keep setting?

The government’s plans to create a new category of asylum-seekers who arrive in large groups (to “combat human trafficking,” as it’s their new moral panic) doesn’t get the seal of approval of experts in the field, not that this should surprise anyone.

And despite the report that shows that RCMP Commissioner William Elliott was the cause of many of the organization’s tensions, Elliott is determined to move ahead, and change the makeup of the senior management team. So if you’re the problem, you just replace everyone else?

Up today – you know it’ll be that gun registry vote, for which there is all that pressure on NDP MP Niki Ashton. But you can bet that the Sean Bruyea story will dominate Question Period.
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