3 min

Harper’s understanding of the Speaker’s ruling questioned

There was a mixed bag of Members’ Statements yesterday in the House: Ève-Marie Thaï Thi Lac remarking that it was Vietnam Day, as the first Vietnamese-Canadian  elected to Parliament; Judy Wasylycia-Leis talking about women in Parliament and the rollback in pay equity; and all-party statements on cystic fibrosis and the national day of mourning for people who died at the workplace (also the reason the flags were at half-mast). At the end of Members Statements, the Speaker called for a moment of silence.

Michael Ignatieff kicked off Question Period with a trio of questions about the Prime Minister’s understanding of the Speaker’s decision the day before, and Harper made vague mutterings about recognizing the decision and their legal obligations with regards to national security, but he was open to “reasonable suggestions,” even though he once again raised the bogeyman of not jeopardizing the troops. Lise Zarac followed up by pointing out the unanimous declaration of the Quebec National Assembly for maintaining Canada’s established policy with regards to access to safe abortions for women in developing countries, again raising the very real problem of rape as a weapon of war in places like the Congo. Jim Abbott had the requisite lines about the government funding a variety of options.

Gilles Duceppe brought up the Jaffer affair in the context of the Speaker’s ruling, the loss of transparency, and when was the Prime Minister going to realize that he was in a minority situation? Harper, bafflingly, got up to deliver the lines about their position regarding safe abortions in the developing world. Carole Freeman followed up on the Jaffer allegations (four ministers and counting, and as we later found out, he was treated as a priority by the government), while Jack Layton returned to questions on the Speaker’s ruling, and demanded to know if Harper was planning on calling a snap election because he kept using the word “confidence” in his replies.

More questions on the Jaffer affair saw John Baird trot out the old talking point of the Liberals giving “bags of cash” to lobbyists, and demanding they repay the $39 million they stole from the treasury. Further questions on the policy on safe abortions in Africa had Ashfield remarking that it was sad the opposition kept coming back to this question, when they had all kinds of support for their position.

The remainder of questions involved questions about the proposed national securities regulator, judicial appointments, the accessibility funds, worker safety and the costs of prisons, which is what I’d been waiting for. Vic Toews responded to that one by declaring that protecting Canadians came first, so we apparently shouldn’t care about the ballooning costs. And right near the very end, the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair asked the government a suck-up question about campaign loans, to which Steven Fletcher replied that he had an announcement coming up, which was their third attempt to pass a law to limit political donations to $1,100.

Following Question Period, Judy Wasylycia-Leis gave her farewell speech, followed by members from the other parties talking about her 13 years in Parliament (and my own interview with her should be up on Xtra.ca later today).

Oh, and the “Culture of Deceit” drinking game only saw four shots. The more apropos drinking game might have been “bags of cash” or “$39 million” from John Baird.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go to Ève-Marie Thaï Thi Lac for a lovely pale green long coat with black trim, and Maxime Bernier did have a very nice lavender shirt and tie. I should probably give Diane Finley credit for her continued exploration of colour, this time with a teal blue jacket and top with a white skirt. Style citations go out to France Bonsant for the couch she was wearing, and Mark Eyking for his mom jeans. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a rather nice black jacket over a black-and-white patterned dress with black heels.

Elsewhere, the Commons voted to pass a Private Members’ Bill that would see a formal apology to Italian-Canadians for their internment during the Second World War, and to put a bit of money behind it. The Conservatives – the very same party who was all about redressing all these historic wrongs – voted against it. Also, emergency room doctors and nurses, as well as suicide prevention workers, testified before committee that the long-gun registry is a useful tool for suicide prevention. Not that it will sway the government’s position.

Up today – more debate on Second Reading of the refugee reform bill. How can you tell this government is treating it like the priority, as opposed to all those crime bills languishing on the order paper?
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