Stephen Harper
2 min

Just an administrative dispute

Shortly after Liberal MP Rob Oliphant made a statement about the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minorities, Michael Ignatieff kicked off question period by giving Stephen Harper the opportunity to condemn the killing. Once Harper finished his statement, Ignatieff got back to hammering the government on the In & Out ruling. Dominic LeBlanc, Gilles Duceppe, Claude DeBellefeuille and Jack Layton each continued with the attack. Harper and Pierre Poilievre took turns giving the same answer: this was just an administrative dispute and there's nothing to see here.

Round two kicked off with more questions on In & Out; Mike Savage, Justin Trudeau, Stéphane Dion and Maria Minna each asked about it. Christiane Gagnon asked about the Quebec City arena and Daniel Paillé questioned cuts to environmental and cultural funding. Carole Lavallée followed with a focus on the cultural spending cuts. Bonnie Crombie returned to the subject of Bev Oda and John Baird answered again. When Anita Neville asked whether Oda was a minister in name only and if she would appear in committee to defend estimates, Oda herself stood up and praised the government’s commitment to Haiti. Thanks for that, Bev, but did you really answer the question?

Round three saw questions on whether a new contract agreement would put Air Canada's technical jobs at risk, planned cuts to Environment Canada, the National Capital Commission's use of untendered contracts and the government's plan to cut funding to regional economic-development agencies.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Ruby Dhalla for her well-fitted blue dress and Bryon Wilfert for his chocolate-brown velvet jacket with a chocolate-milk-coloured shirt, burgundy striped tie and matching pocket square. Style citations go out to Leona Aglukkaq for a mustard sweater over a black top (stop the yellow and black!) and Robert Bouchard for his fluorescent green tie (because it’s not the '80s).

The Conservatives announced Wednesday that they will not fund any of the proposed arenas because the facilities will be used for professional sports; Quebec City's mayor says that will be political suicide for the government. Who’s to say the Conservatives won’t find some way of funding the cultural or multipurpose parts of these arenas as opposed to the ice surface itself? That still remains to be seen.

Andrew Potter calls out the Liberals for resorting to a Degrassi High level of tactics in the Bev Oda affair. In effect, he’s offering a reminder that this is a system of responsible government and the official opposition should begin behaving according to its role in that system.

Kady O’Malley notices a couple of odd questions on the Order Paper; two Conservatives asked about the number of hours and dollars that were spent on answering Order Paper questions from the opposition. Is this some kind of strategy to accuse the opposition of wasting resources (when what they’re really trying to do is get answers)? As O’Malley points out, this could be a very dangerous game.

Up today is the third-reading debate for Bill C-393, which proposes reforms to Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime. And yes, I’ll be in the gallery for it.
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