3 min

Harper shows open contempt for Parliament

Stephen Harper betrayed his contempt for Parliament yet again with the release of the final “report card” on the economic stimulus. This time, they tabled the report in the House the night before, planned a release way the hell out in Winnipeg – where it should be noted that the House of Commons is not located – and then the Prime Minister suddenly delivered it to reporters on the plane that was carrying him to Beijing. Seriously? He put on this whole song and dance about how it was because he couldn’t be in the House to do it, but that’s not the point. The point is that Parliament is the place for these kinds of things to be tabled and announced. Taking them on the road, aside from being expensive in a time of mounting deficits, is their way of circumventing not only questions in the House, but also the Parliamentary Press Gallery, whom they have demonstrated that they’re not big fans of. Add to that the fact that they used the reporters on the plane, with eleven hours to go in their flight, to control the message that much further is further proof of their utter contempt for the way democracy happens in this country. So why aren’t more people calling them out on it?

Oh, and that report card? “Pure fiction” and “fairy tales,” according to the Liberals. Boasts that are hard to verify and full of old money that wasn’t actually stimulus funds being counted into their stimulus accomplishments, according to The Canadian Pressanalysis. But this “open” and “transparent” government would never print anything misleading to make themselves look better, would they?

Jack Layton marked the 20th anniversary of the election of Audrey McLaughlin as the first female leader of a federal party. Ignatieff got up to speak about violence against women, with the anniversary of the massacre at L’École Polytechnique, along with the over five hundred missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Ignatieff led off Question Period by asking about what Obama’s announcement about a new deployment in Afghanistan means for Canadian troops. Peter MacKay didn’t answer with a rousing bit of applause for the good work our troops are doing. He then went on, past his usual three questions, to carry on about questions of Afghan detainees, where it was John Baird’s turn to stonewall.

Gilles Duceppe was on the climate change file, while Jack Layton reminded the government’s commitment to “openness and transparency” with its refusal to call an independent inquiry on the Afghan detainee issue, and its decision to release the economic report card aboard the PM’s plane. John Baird responded with an assurance that theirs was the most open and accountable government in history. Also, they’ve doubled the chocolate ration from four grammes to two. Layton then moved onto the HST issue.

On an interesting note – after Jane Taber’s post over the weekend about how the Afghan detainee issue is apparently being taken as an example of “gender roles” in file distribution in Parliament, I will say that I’ve noticed a lot more Liberal backbench female MPs like Lise Zarac and Judy Foote asking questions on the issue, and it was the NDP’s Dawn Black who was raising the issue back in the day – so I think it should be noted that there are efforts being taken not to relegate women in the House to the social services files.

The revelations of the economic report card didn’t really make it until over halfway through Question Period, on the third round of Liberal questions – and we got the usual rah-rah from John Baird. The cost of the “road shows” was also raised, not that Baird answered.

Libby Davies later asked about more about the HST, and oddly enough it was Heritage Minister James Moore who answered.

On the sartorial front I once again didn’t see anything standout worthy of snaps. A style citation goes out to Marlene Jennings for the rather unfortunate ruffled pink shirt under a knitted off-white jacket, and I was a bit perplexed by Josée Beaudin’s short-sleeved sweater with its huge collar worn over a collared white shirt. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a robin’s egg blue ruffled shirt under a black jacket.

And Bill C-393 on reforming Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) passed Second Reading in the House by 143 to 127 – after plenty of high-profile lobbying including former Prime Minister Paul Martin. A few Liberals voted against it, but a few Conservatives voted for it. Now comes the committee stage, but given that there’s only a week left before the House rises for the winter break, I don’t imagine that this will be picked up until the New Year.
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