If I had to pick Question Period’s drinking game yesterday, the phrase would have been “High ethical standards,” which was how John Baird and company described the Prime Minister’s reaction to the Guergis Affair. And once again, the Guergis Affair dominated the first half of Question Period, with the occasional added twist of just how this government defines “credible allegations.”
Jack Layton broke the pattern, however, and instead asked why the widows and widowers of fallen Canadian soldiers weren’t being given priority staffing with the public service as had been promised by the government. Stockwell Day assured him that the regulations for that would be coming next month. Rob Oliphant later asked a similar question and had one of the best preludes in recent memory. “This afternoon I listened to the president of the Treasury Board equivocate, the Minister of Veterans Affairs regurgitate and the Minister of National Defence obfuscate.” (Oliphant later told me that Layton “stole his question,” when we spoke more about his question, so his prelude was unwritten).
(Apparently, it’s also just a coincidence that the NDP didn’t mention the Guergis Affair when they changed their minds and didn’t want Rahim Jaffer to come before the Government Operations committee to answer questions.)
There were questions of greater import later in Question Period – like questions on the new allegations around the Afghan detainee issue (Peter MacKay: Didn’t you read General Natynczyk’s letter? It explains everything – really!), the fact that the Parliamentary Budget Officer can’t get the numbers he needs (Stockwell Day: Have him call me, I’ll do what I can – really!), or why the Military Police Complaints Commission can’t get the documents they need for their investigations (Rob Nicholson: We’re providing all required, available documents – really!). And perhaps the most circular question of the day was when the NDP’s Glen Thibeault asked if the government was doing more for travellers stranded by the volcanic ash clouds than just providing an 800-number and a website, Lawrence Cannon invited stranded travellers to… check their website.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go to Alexandra Mendes for her cream jacket with the zebra stripes and splashes of red over a chocolate-brown top and skirt, and also Justin Trudeau for his teal-blue shirt and tie, which were lovely spring colours. The style citation goes to Carolyn Bennett for the red suit with the navy top and navy sweater tied haphazardly across the shoulders. The red was a bit much, and the sweater a bit distracting. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a very simple long black top with three-quarter sleeves and South Asian detailing, over grey trousers and dark heels.
Not content to simply bring up the moral panic of sex offenders getting pardons, Vic Toews dredged up the name of Karla Homolka. Because you can’t be too much of a moral entrepreneur in this government!
Michael Ignatieff promises to whip the vote on the long-gun registry, and lays out how his government would fix it. That said, even if he get his MPs to vote against it, it looks like it would still pass.
That iPod “tax” that Heritage Minister James Moore is so vehemently opposed to? Canadian artists are urging him to apply it so they can get some compensation for pirated music. NDP MP Charlie Angus, who is pushing the levy, has called Moore out for undermining the levy, and being a hypocrite for saying he supports the arts, but apparently not financially. Not that I think it’s going to sway Moore, as he’s busy totally watching TV on his iPod, yo!
The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt has an excellent analysis on the bigger picture in the whole Guergis Affair (hint: it’s about accountability, something Stephen Harper used to care about).
In the Congo, Her Excellency was very well received by the women in the audience of Congo’s Great Hall of the People (the men were more silent), and she praised the country’s promise to punish sexual violence. Congo is considered the rape capital of the world.
Up today – it’s “Police Day on Parliament Hill.” But with Shelly Glover around, isn’t every day police day?
Also, the Auditor General is releasing her latest report today, and I’m sure we’ll watch the Conservatives stretch all bounds of credibility to make any negative findings still the fault of the Liberals, five years later.
It’s also the Bloc’s opposition day, and they want to ensure that any new seat distribution in the House ensures that Quebec retains 25 percent of the seats, regardless of population. The NDP are looking to add an amendment that would denounce the government and forgo adoption of any bill that would reduce Quebec’s political weight.