University of Toronto
3 min

Harshing the Hill’s mellow

With the Parliamentary lawn awash in stoners for the annual 4/20rally” (and not a hacky-sack to be seen!), one had to wonder if the mellow would make it all the way into the House. Not so. No, it was back to high dudgeon about the Guergis/Jaffer Affair, during which Michael Ignatieff made a lame prorogation joke. Seriously? Aren’t we over those yet? At least we got some respite with the day’s second question by Dan McTeague about those stranded travellers (Cannon: We can sympathize with them), and Jack Layton about foreign takeovers (Clement: Look at this glowing press release!), but the early part of Question Period was again dominated by Guergis and Jaffer.

It’s not like there weren’t other important topics of the day, like, say, the Auditor General’s report, which talked about geriatric IT infrastructure in the government, or the crumbling Parliament buildings. No, those questions came at the end of QP. Or about the contemptuous attitude government lawyers show at the Military Police Complaints Commission hearings into Afghan prisoner transfers, telling the commissioner that they’ll turn over the documents “when they’re good and ready.” Those were toward the middle of QP.

Anita Neville did raise the issue of the CHVI vaccine facility cancellation and Vic Toews' involvement there. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq wanted to assure Neville that those funds were still on the table, and the Gates study proved the facility was unnecessary. Except that the Gates study was just a smokescreen, because it didn’t address the actual purpose for which the facility was supposed to be built.

At the end of QP, in response to a backbench suck-up question, Jim Flaherty began by saying, “Let’s be queer – clear.” And John Baird’s reaction was darling. (Thanks to the CBC for posting this!)

Sartorially speaking, it was a fairly dull day, with snaps going to Judy Foote’s grey '60s-inspired boat-neck dress. I also wanted to point out Justin Trudeau’s ripped jeans that he wore with his jacket and tie (but he wore it well). And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a black suit with a loose grey, white and pink quasi-floral top that I’m undecided on.

All those police officers meeting in Ottawa had a message for the government – all their “tough on crime” policies aren’t coming with new funding – which is putting all kinds of new pressure on them. Then again, this is nothing new. The Conservatives have consistently avoided answering questions about the real monetary costs of these “tough on crime” policies (let alone the social costs) because they’re only interested in looking tough. Just like their current penchant for introducing crime bills in the Senate rather than in the Commons, so that they can continue to use the Upper Chamber as a punching bag when things don’t get rubber-stamped. Remember, they let the Liberals retain the chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee, and I seriously doubt that was either oversight or altruism at work.

Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz sent out an angry press release yesterday, marked “For immediate release,” which lambasted Michael Ignatieff for his position on the gun registry and the fact that he will be whipping the vote. At one point in the release, Breitkreuz is quoted as suggesting Ignatieff’s true colours should be “black and blue” if “his caucus has any integrity.” And look at the bottom – it’s Breitkreuz’s assistant’s number and contact info for follow-ups. But hours later, Breitkreuz is denouncing knowledge of the release, and that he’s always tried to keep the long-gun registry debate civil, and so on. But it had to come from somewhere – his assistant? The comms gnomes in the PMO? Will heads roll?

Up today – Rahim Jaffer and company appear before the government operations committee to answer questions. Will this devolve into a media circus? Hell, yes.
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