Late yesterday, the Federal Court of Appeal made a unanimous decision to reverse a lower court judgment that exonerated aspects of the ongoing In & Out saga, thereby gutting the Conservative talking points on the issue. Not to worry – they’ve already issued talking points to reiterate that this is a difference of opinion and there’s nothing to see here. Incidentally, the only former Conservative candidate to refuse to be part of the election financing scheme feels pretty vindicated by this decision.
Before question period, Liberal Roger Cuzner gave a recap of the Oda Affair in the style of Dr Seuss. Not surprisingly, he got a few good laughs.
QP kicked off with Michael Ignatieff taking on the In & Out scheme (pre-appeal decision, mind you); Harper responded by stressing that this is just an “administrative dispute.” Ignatieff wasn’t finished; he used the full Liberal allotment of five questions and moved on to the issue of the government's not releasing their costing documents. Harper then pointed to the dump of documents (whose usefulness has yet to be determined) the government had just provided. Gilles Duceppe again asked about the freezing of Gadhafi's assets versus those of the Ben Ali family. Claude DeBellefeuille returned to the In & Out issue; Jack Layton stayed on topic before his last question turned to why Harper won't take his “reasonable” suggestions on democratic reform and Senate abolition. Harper said that Layton’s abolition idea would require reopening the Constitution, whereas his own Senate reform bills would be much easier to pass (easier in the sense that the constitutional amendment for term limits and “consultative elections” would require the consent of seven provinces representing more than 50 percent of the population, whereas abolition would require unanimous consent of the provinces, which is never going to happen). Otherwise, Harper is just as deluded as Layton on his plans for the Senate.
Round two kicked off with Raymonde Folco asking about Bev Oda. John Baird answered for her once again, which prompted the Liberal benches to chant, “Let her speak!” (You need to read Scott Feschuk’s take on Baird's always answering for Oda here.) Paule Brunelle asked about the proposed transmission line between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; Bernard Bigras inquired about environmental assessments; and Scott Brison and Alexandra Mendes asked about the costs of justice legislation and whether the provinces realized how much was about to be downloaded to them.
Round three saw questions on the doctor shortage in rural areas, the incident of a Tim Hortons being used as a triage facility because of hospital overcrowding, the Nutrition North program, the In & Out affair, the use of Agent Orange in Ontario and federal airport facilities elsewhere, the undermining of Radio-Canada, road infrastructure and the policing of First Nations reserves.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Jean-Claude D’Amours for his grey suit with a white-and-purple-checked shirt and brilliant purple tie and to Rona Ambrose for her grey spotted dress with a grey jacket. I’m going to issue a style citation to Garry Breitkreuz for his brownish jacket, grey shirt and yellow-and-brown tie, none of which went together.
Elsewhere, the Conservatives are cutting the funds we give to the International Criminal Court (no doubt as per an American ideology of undermining the ICC to keep themselves from facing prosecution) at the same time that the government is demanding that Moammar Gadhafi be sent there to answer for crimes against humanity. Oops.
Remember back to Monday's QP when Joe Volpe alluded to emails showing a cozy relationship between the former integrity commissioner and the PMO? Well, The Canadian Press has obtained them; they do raise a bunch of questions about the relationship – and that of her successor – along with what it means for the independence of the office.