Kicking off the final day of the 40th Parliament, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff moved his motion of non-confidence in the government as a result of their contempt for Parliament (thus ensuring that both would be achieved in one fell swoop). Ignatieff derided the notion that this would be an “unnecessary election” given the reasons that caused it – a government that doesn’t respect democracy.
This set the stage for an acrimonious Friday question period. Normally Friday QP is a sedate affair where it’s the B-team (and sometimes even the C-team) in action, with a designated cabinet minister babysitting the backbenches and parliamentary secretaries and the lesser-known critics getting their moment to shine. But today it was nearly a full house, minus the prime minister. In fact, throughout the entirety of QP, Marlene Jennings led off calls from the opposition benches of “Where’s Harper?”
And so it began with Michael Ignatieff raising questions about the government’s contempt for Parliament and John Baird responding with coalition scaremongering. Ralph Goodale asked about budget priorities, and Peter MacKay talked about supporting the troops. Gilles Duceppe and Michel Guimond asked why there was nothing in the budget for Quebec and were derided. And Jack Layton and John Baird traded accusations about which of them wants an election more.
Round two began with Denis Coderre and Bob Rae raising the issue of Bruce Carson, Daniel Paillé talking about tax harmonization, Christiane Gagnon the Davie shipyards, Francis Scarpaleggia on the activities of Senator Larry Smith (or lack thereof, such as his zero attendance at a committee he sits on), and Marlene Jennings returned to the issue of In and Out.
Round three saw questions on Bill C-393’s death in the Senate, Bruce Carson, the Champlain Bridge, the needs of families and poor veterans, investigations at ACOA, and EI changes.
The final sartorial roundup of the 40th Parliament gives snaps to Glen Pearson for his maroon bow tie – one of Pierre Berton’s bow ties in actual fact – and we all know that bow ties are cool. Snaps also go to Megan Leslie for her fitted black dress. Style citations go out to habitual offender Chris Charlton for her unfortunate bright yellow jacket with black trousers (can we all please stop with the yellow and black?) and Alex Atamanenko for his frightful powder-blue jacket.
Immediately after QP tributes were made to the service of Speaker Milliken, who will not be running again, and who has been Canada’s longest-serving Speaker. Milliken gave a fairly emotional address in return.
And then, after some routine proceedings, the vote. The government was defeated on a vote of 156 to 145. For the first time in the history of the British Commonwealth, a government has been found in contempt of Parliament.
Immediately thereafter, Harper went out to the foyer to make a sullen statement that completely ignored the contempt finding, trying to make it sound like this was about only the budget. And then he fled without taking any questions. Ignatieff subsequently came out, took questions and dodged the ones about possible coalitions, being in a damned-if-he-does, damned-if-he-doesn’t position. During his turn, Layton offered to strip for the press as proof of his state of health.
On the subject of coalitions, Susan Delacourt looks at the use of “manuals” for unclear election results, as used in places like New Zealand and the UK. Joan Bryden looks at the 2008 coalition agreement versus Stephen Harper’s 2004 coalition proposition.
Here is a list of MPs who are not running again.
And the Conservatives in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee managed to filibuster the proceedings there long enough for Parliament to dissolve, thus sparing Bev Oda her own separate finding of contempt of Parliament.