4 min

Harper dumps the candidate who said too much

You can almost imagine the conversation. “It’s not me – it’s you,” Harper might have said. “I’m a maniacal control freak, and you wouldn’t wear your muzzle.” And with that, Gordon Landon became the former Conservative candidate for Markham-Unionville. Landon accused his own party of not giving stimulus funds to the riding because it was currently held by the Liberals, and well, none of us expected him to last very long once that happened. But one has to wonder – do they have any other former PMO staffers they can parachute into the riding (like they did with Rahim Jaffer’s)?

During Members’ Statements, Liberal Anita Neville referenced this dismissal, along with the other item buried in the same Toronto Star article about how the Parliamentary Budget Officer isn’t being given the documents on stimulus spending that he requested. And what word did Neville keep using? “Scandal.” Just like Ignatieff and Martha Hall Findlay’s press conference last Friday. I’m starting to wonder if this is the new Liberal strategy – calling every bit of incompetence and mismanagement a “scandal” to employ the very same hyperbole the Conservatives employed so effectively in the past. If so, I’m disappointed that the political discourse in this country has continued to sink to that level.

Question Period talked a lot about forestry – a Quebec-heavy issue for those of you keeping score – especially given an International Tribunal decision which slapped Canada’s hands. Scott Brison lambasted the government’s performance on softwood lumber, saying this Tribunal decision came about because they violated their own agreement, responded to that violation with payments that further violated said agreement, and how could forestry workers trust them to help them out? Stockwell Day assured the House that he’s been talking to stakeholders who are “happy with the direction we have gone.” Um, okay, if you say so.

John Baird claims that the government has “put aside partisan politics” with the stimulus spending (now that Gordon Landon can’t criticise them any longer, it must be true), and later in Question Period, Baird took a quote from the NDP’s Linda Duncan about the infrastructure money flowing to her riding. Duncan later put out a press release that said the quote was entirely out of context. The government take something out of context for their benefit? That would never happen. Ever.

Jack Layton and Libby Davies were both railing about the incoming HST in BC and Ontario. Davies especially blasted the “$1.6 billion bribe to the provincial Liberals,” and wanted to know when they began negotiating with the province about implementation. Flaherty assured her that the province made the decision alone, after their last election. I’m stuck wondering if the NDP’s current focus on the HST isn’t an attempt at being too clever, because it’s a provincial issue that they can rail about without risking bringing down the government over in the immediate future.

Also, Martha Hall Findlay asked for the dollar figure the government has spent on advertising – and didn’t get it. Marc Garneau asked about Tony Clement’s officials blocking Ignatieff from attending a non-partisan Jewish event. Clement said that person was no longer working in his department. Garneau then asked again about the intimidation tactics used by the officials of the Minister of State for Science and Technology toward arms-lengths funding bodies. Goodyear called it false, and said the Liberals hate science. No really – this from someone who believes in creationism, saying this to a former astronaut. That’s rich.

Sartorially I didn’t see anything particularly deserving of snaps or citations in the House, but Martha Hall Findlay’s black-trimmed pink jacket did catch my eye. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a light grey suit jacket over a black top and trousers with a chunky rose stone necklace. Granted I couldn’t see if the shoes were hideous, but it looks like she may finally be developing a dress sense.

Behind the scenes, the whole Denis Coderre fallout continues, and while some pundits obsess over the gift that Coderre gave to the party’s rivals (most especially the Bloc), other Quebec Liberals are calmly downplaying the issue. And despite some calls to name a new Quebec lieutenant immediately, others are saying that this is the perfect opportunity to phase out such a position and actually do politics differently in Quebec. Difficult to say how this will all turn out, but I suppose it also depends on whether it’s another fairly slow news day today…

And finally, the architect who worked on the National Portrait Gallery has called bullshit on the grossly exaggerated figures that James Moore has been giving out about the gallery’s “ballooning” costs. He says that the project’s initial estimate was $22 million – and not $2 million like Moore claimed – which was made while the building was still occupied and they couldn’t do a proper survey. He also says that the final figure was pegged at $45 million, and certainly nowhere near $100 million like Moore has said on several occasions. Moore’s spokesperson says that the costs escalated so it’s not untrue – but giving wildly inaccurate numbers devoid of context for political gain? From this government? The same way they gave overly inflated numbers they gave for the Liberals’ EI proposals? Would never happen!

Up today: After talking about Security Certificates yesterday, NDP MP Bill Siksay will be introducing his Department of Peace legislation today, to be seconded by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis.