University of Toronto
3 min

Gangs, pay equity, and media stunts, oh my…

During the Members’ Statements that precede Question Period, NDP MP Bill Siksay got up to speak about the links between drug prohibition and gang violence in BC.

Mr. Speaker, people all over greater Vancouver are deeply concerned about gang violence. While tough on crime measures always top the list of potential fixes there is a growing realization that drug prohibition policies are making the situation worse.
Alcohol prohibition did not work. Many of the same problems now associated with the drug trade were experienced in the United States during its period of alcohol prohibition. Gang violence that often caught innocent citizens, impure and dangerous alcohol sold in black markets, home stills and underground production, untreated addictions and family dislocation were all serious issues.
It took ending prohibition and implementing alcohol control policies to restore respect for the law and make progress on alcohol related social issues.
We must apply what we know to be true. We must move from prohibition to drug control regimes modelled on the experience of alcohol prohibition and control. Bold steps to confront our drug use hypocrisy and end the profitability of illegal drugs will make our communities safer.

A couple of minutes later, Hedy Fry got up to rail about the Op-Ed that Harper’s mentor Tom Flanagan wrote in the Globe and Mail, where he called the issue of pay equity to be a sham. Unfortunately, her decision to say “Harper government” in her first sentence had her shouted down twice – one isn’t supposed to use a member’s name in the House. Oops. (Incidentally, Hedy was wearing an orange-and-brown toned knitted jacket, and these fabulous brown boots).

As Question Period proper began, and Harper obfuscated around a yes-or-no question that Michael Ignatieff tried three times to ask, it wasn’t until Gilles Duceppe’s question on 1990 as the reference year on carbon emissions targets that Harper pulled a rather egregious – and utterly transparent – manoeuvre. During his answer on a supplemental question, he abruptly switched to English to decry that the question wasn’t really about the environment, but rather was an “attempt to divide Quebeckers from Albertans,” while the Liberals made chants of “firewall!” from their benches. No, mister Prime Minister – we couldn’t tell that you were setting up a perfect little clip for the English language media. Not at all. (By the way, I will say that Harper’s weight loss is becoming visible, and he actually looks like he’s got a waistline again).

When Jack Layton’s turn came around a minute later, he accused Michael Ignatieff of opening the door to extending the Afghan mission past 2011 – to which Ignatieff could be seen making a rather incredulous “What?” gesture.

More trouble at the Chalk River nuclear facility meant that Natural Resources minister Lisa Raitt was on her feet again to say that she was assured the leaks posed no danger to human heath, and to Carolyn Bennett’s supplemental question, our medical isotope production is just fine, thank you very much. Raitt’s jacket today was better, fitted and had appropriate lapels, worn over a brown turtleneck, but she could have stood just a touch more tailoring.

Toward the end of Question Period, Liberal Status of Women critic Anita Neville stood up to ask why it is that Helena Guergis, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, can’t answer questions in committee as everything put before her is not her responsibility. Guergis – who looked like she was wearing a black bathrobe over her daytime clothes – simply pointed out all the ways in which the Conservatives increased funding to Status of Women.

Sartorial snaps again go out to Kristy Duncan for her repeated use of a black suit jacket over a low-cut top, in this case, a green one. Let’s hope for continued adherence to these baby-steps to better style.

Fashion citations go out to Helena Guergis for her choice of bathrobe, but also to Lois Brown, the Conservative successor in Belinda Stronach’s former riding of Newmarket-Aurora. Brown apparently feels that it’s appropriate to wear a Persian rug across her shoulder. (Hint: it’s not really).