3 min

Late-night emergency debates – almost like a functioning Parliament!

Parliament was very focused on the H1N1 vaccine – so focused that they managed to call for an emergency debate that sat until midnight. Not bad. More than half of the questions in Question Period were on the vaccine rollout and the problems associated with it – starting with Bob Rae, moving to Carolyn Bennett, and going down the line. And while John Baird initially answered with the PMO scripted talking points (six million vaccines distributed already, showing real leadership, and so on), Leona Aglukkaq quickly took over and repeated those same talking points time and again, with little variation.

Oh sure, there was some. At one point, she insisted that the government has been “very transparent” in their handling of the situation, and that they were in fact two weeks ahead of schedule. She also insisted that they adopted a pandemic plan in 2006 that didn’t exist under the previous government. To which Carolyn Bennett shouted, “Oh, stop it!” Bennett, as you may recall, was the Minister of State for Public Health and knows otherwise. In fact, on Power & Politics a few hours later, Bennett asked about the $400 million fund that the Liberal government had set aside after SARS in order to facilitate rapid vaccine rollout in future pandemic situations. Where is that money now? (We could ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer to track it down, but he’d like be deluged by paper that signified nothing).

There were a few other issues raised – Gilles Duceppe asked about the Pembina Institute report on a carbon exchange, Jack Layton asked about various things Afghanistan, and Marcel Proulx inquired once again into the ethics cloud surrounding Senator Housakos.

Sartorially, it was a pretty bland day in the House, though Lisa Raitt apparently needs to be reminded about sack-like jackets that haven’t been properly tailored.

Her Excellency completed her trip to Greece – where she oversaw the gift of 1500 trees from Canada to Olympia, which has been devastated by fires in recent years. She returned to Canada just in time to greet His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and his spouse the Duchess of Cornwall, upon their landing in Newfoundland and Labrador to begin the Royal Visit. Prince Charles said he was “deeply touched” by the welcome, and he spoke about climate change, and the sacrifice Canadian soldiers have been making in Afghanistan.

The government is making it more difficult for medical marijuana users to access the product. Apparently they’re demanding it be paid for up front, and sending collectors against those who haven’t paid up.

A crucial Private Members’ vote is coming up on Wednesday, which could see the end of the long gun registry. This is because a number of backbench Liberals and NDP MPs are willing to see the registry ended, and as a free vote, they’re almost certainly unlikely to be whipped into voting along party lines – even though both parties to support the registry.

The Toronto Star continues its look into the Temporary Foreign Workers programme, and part two details the ways in which it’s open to abuse.

From the “I get mail” file, I got not one but two pieces of political mail today. The first was a mail-out from my local MP, Paul Dewar, who is hosting an “Arts summit,” and he wants your say. Um, okay. Last I checked, Dewar was his party’s foreign affairs critic, but hey, one always needs a vehicle to show off three more photos of oneself smiling, and providing an opportunity for one’s party to mine data from respondents. At least he didn’t offer a sole-choice option survey – for once.

The other piece was a Liberal ten-percenter that has a Canadian passport in the centre, with a number of photos of “ordinary Canadians” of various ethno-cultural backgrounds. Inside, that same passport is shown with the slogan “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” The text references Suaad Hagi Mohamud, and very interestingly makes reference to the “Harper Reform-Conservatives.” Huh. Incidentally, this ten-percenter is courtesy of the office of Marcel Proulx, and the survey asks who I trust more to stand up for Canadians facing problems overseas? “Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals,” or “Stephen Harper’s Reform-Conservatives.” Huh. Very interesting choice of language there. Very interesting…

PS—Openly gay former Bloc MP Réal Ménard won his election for mayor of the Montreal borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve over the weekend.
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