You’d think that Earth Day would warrant a bit more attention on the Hill. This being the first day without Tamil protesters on the Hill or along Wellington in two weeks, one might have expected to maybe see some environmental protests or something on the lawn. Nothing – just the signs of spring as a lone red tulip, heralding the explosion of them to come.
This was the first day that both Harper and Ignatieff had squared off in the House in nearly a month. Harper hasn’t been present since April 25th, when he went off to a variety of international meetings, and the House went on its two-week break. Not that it will last long either – Ignatieff will be off in Washington today, as it turns out, meeting with all manner of people now in important places that he knew when he was a professor at Harvard. And you can be sure that the government doesn’t like that level of access one bit.
Nevertheless, both Harper and Ignatieff brought their A games to the House today, and both were pretty scrappy. The topic was the revelation that the International Monetary Fund predicts we’ll be facing the most severe recession since 1945. Harper, however, wanted to assure us that the IMF said that because of our conservative fiscal policies, we were in a better position than most other countries. And he didn’t even bring up the whole “Ignatieff wants to raise taxes!” meme until the first supplemental.
Incidentally, the problem with the leaders bringing their A games? The fact that their respective caucuses feel the need to follow up absolutely everything with a standing ovation. It gets tiresome really fast, and slows down the pace of the debate – if you can call it that most days.
There were plenty of questions relating to Earth Day, and yet no Jim Prentice to answer them, leaving his Parliamentary Secretary Mark Warawa to fill in. Most of his answers, predictably, weren’t very substantive either, full of plenty of accusations of the Liberals only paying lip-service to the environment when they were in power – as though his government has any better of a track record.
Bill Siksay also got in a single question toward the end, bringing up Jean-Pierre Blackburn’s predilection for charted jets in his former role as Minister of Economic Development for Quebec. (Blackburn is now Minister of National Revenue). And despite the question being directed to the President of the Treasury Board, Blackburn got up to defend his actions, saying that regional ministers need chartered flights to do their jobs. Too bad he missed the point about not reporting the flights properly, hiding the cost of them in departmental ledgers rather than on the ministerial website.
Sartorial snaps go out to Justin Trudeau for his sharp teal shirt and tie, with honourable mentions going to Candice Hoeppner’s patterned grey suit, and Yasmin Ratansi’s reddish-pink jacket. The style citation once again goes out to Megan Leslie. Today’s travesty – an orange wrap dress with dark blue tights, and black shoes.
After Question Period were a series of votes – the Bloc’s opposition day motion on maintaining the gun registry passed 143 to 136, and interestingly enough, it looks like Larry Bagnell was the only Liberal to vote against it, and I believe NDP MP Dennis Bevington abstained. Bagnell represents the Yukon, Bevington the Northwest Territories.
All of the Private Member’s Bills up for Second Reading passed, including Thierry St-Cyr’s C-291, which passed 140 to 134, with all opposition parties supporting it. It now heads to committee for study and for any amendments to be proposed.
Up today: An NDP opposition day, with the topic of “Economic Situation” listed on the projected order of business.