Punctuation
4 min

Harper’s YouTube debut a winner only in his mind

The Prime Minister had his big YouTube debut tonight – more than an hour late – and despite all the top-rated questions being about pot use, it rated one single question at the end of the chat. (Spoiler – he’s not a fan). The rest of it was, well, staged, and not at all interactive, where the interviewer – from Google Canada – didn’t ask follow-up questions, or point out that Harper didn’t actually answer questions, or anything inconvenient like that. So obviously Harper and his staff must automatically rate this as Best. Interview. EVER! (Transcript here, and the CBC’s politics team live-blogged the “event” here, with much hilarity).

(Incidentally, while on his tour in Newfoundland, Michael Ignatieff said he’s not so much in favour of pot, and legalizing it would create too many headaches with the States. That’s… going to cause a few problems with the youth and granola voters).

But that wasn’t the only pot-related news – shockingly enough. No, there was an appeal by MPs Libby Davies, Ujjal Dosanjh and even Conservative Scott Reid to keep the “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery from being extradited to the United States. Dosanjh, a former attorney general in BC (before he was premier of the province) says that he’s more interested in decriminalization than legalization, but the point with Emery is that the punishment he would face in Canada – were he to be charged with the same offence – is far different from that he would face in the United States. A $200 fine as opposed to jail time, in fact. That the government is contemplating the extradition is tantamount to outsourcing our prosecution to the US, he believes. Well, that and sovereignty in our justice system.

Question Period wasn’t dominated by the Afghan detainee issue for a change – there were only a couple of questions on the subject, but there were so many others to choose from. Bob Rae asked the Prime Minister directly about his position on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Harper would not utter the words of Canada’s position, only saying that the government’s position was articulated by the Foreign Minister (that Canada was critical of the expansion of settlements). But he refused to say it out loud in the House. Likely because he doesn’t want there to be any tape of him saying anything less than his complete and whole-hearted, unquestioning support for Israel (as his Christian Zionist backers would demand).  Ujjal Dosanjh accused the Finance Minister of covertly attacking our health care system, while in the States, Gilles Duceppe asked about the HST harmonization negotiations with Quebec, and Jack Layton asked about green jobs in the budget.

Things got a bit more heated when Liberal health critic Carolyn Bennett asked about the food inspection issue, which has reared its head again, but even though her questions were addressed to the health minister, the agriculture minister stood up to reply. During the first non-answer, Bennett shouted out “Health! People die!” and during the second, asking if the Public Health Agency would take the lead on a future outbreak and the agriculture minister stood up to say that they would, she shouted “I can see who has the lead!”

The rest of the heckling was far more instructive than the non-answers. A non-answer on the changes proposed to the youth criminal justice system prompted Marlene Jennings to shout that “Our system is a good system,” which I believe was in reference to Quebec’s model. A non-answer on the cutting of Kairos funding had David McGuinty calling out “The Archbishop doesn’t like being called anti-Semitic,” while other Liberals shouted “Send them some 10-percenters!” and Rob Oliphant gave a resounding “Answer the question!” And when Helena Guergis gave a non-answer about a status of women question, Jennings called out “Shoe incoming!”

The moment that redeemed the entire afternoon, however, was when Marc Garneau stood up to ask about those cuts to the internet access funding, which Tony Clement now denies. But on his supplemental, Garneau pointed out that on Monday, Gary Goodyear said they wanted “every community” to have broadband access. And Tony Clement couldn’t “confirm” that – before he reverted to his talking points. These are the kinds of moments Question Periods are especially great for.

A Liberal motion to cut off access to the 10-percenters sent to opposition ridings narrowly passed in the House, even though the Bloc and Conservatives opposed it. The motion also called on the government to cut back on government advertising, travel, use of outside consultants and the size of cabinet. Somehow I doubt that will come to pass, and I’d be curious to see if this 10-percenter motion is respected – especially by the parties who voted to scrap them.

There was debate in the House on a Bloc MP’s Private Members’ Bill on euthanasia (spoiler – most MPs sound opposed). This is likely to come up for a second reading vote in the coming days.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who appeared before the immigration committee to dodge questions on the citizenship guide issue (my recounting here), is also being targeted for his expenses. The Liberals have accused him of spending taxpayer dollars on things like personalized fortune cookies. Kenney’s people denied it – but considering the “complicated relationship” with the truth that Kenney and his staff have, I do wonder if there isn’t actually some veracity to this tale.

Up today – Michael Ignatieff’s little tour takes him to Regina while he talks to Canadians.

It’s the NDP’s opposition day, and they’re moving the prorogation issue – as a motion in the House. A motion which has little more than “moral authority,” which we all know has no weight with this government.

UPDATE: I forgot the sartorial snaps for the day, which went to Mario Silva for his nicely tailored chocolate brown suit with the powder blue shirt, tie, and pocket square. Silva always know the value of a tailored suit – something many other MPs should learn. The style citation goes out to Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who needs to learn that an oversized jacket and three-quarter-length sleeves do no favours for a woman of her body shape.
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