Politics of Canada
3 min

Let’s not quibble about statistics

When I first arrived in the Press Gallery, I noticed that Rob Oliphant’s purple striped shirt and tie looked pretty sharp. A minute later, I saw Justin Trudeau wearing something awfully similar, only his shirt was minus the stripes. Martha Hall Findlay had a really cool purple jacket that looked like it was made of brushed suede. Hell, even Jim Flaherty had a purple tie, and he always wears a green one. Something had to be up.

Sure enough, just before Question Period was due to start, Liberal Geoff Regan stood up to talk about a nine year-old constituent of his that started “Purple Day,” to raise awareness of epilepsy. There was my answer.

Of course, being as what followed was Question Period and not “Answer Period,” it was the only substantive answer to a question not even asked, and what we were left with was talking points and bafflegab. Lots and lots of bafflegab.

The two distinct narrative threads this time around were the independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, given his latest round of dire economic predictions while government MPs whinged that he was being too negative and didn’t talk about the “good things” going on; the other was the CBC cuts, to which James Moore’s tactic today was to point out just how much the CBC suffered cuts under the Liberals all those years ago – which of course is beside the point given that the issue in the here and now is bridge financing and a minister who doesn’t seem to grasp the ways in which a national public broadcaster is not supposed to be treated like a private broadcaster.

In fact, Moore tried some of these tactics during an interview on CBC Newsworld, and I don’t think I’ve seen him lose his cool like he did this time around – especially as Suhana Meharchand started cutting through his spin. And what was worse? When Moore told her that if she wanted to get more funding for the CBC, she should vote Conservative, and get her family and friends to do the same. Seriously! Who does that?

I should also mention that during several of Moore’s replies in the House, someone from the Liberal benches was catcalling “More is less!” It seems an apropos sentiment.

Diane Finley, in her brown-and-gold realtor outfit, was on her feet a lot to answer more questions about EI (one of them from Mario Silva about a constituent in his riding), and at one point she said, “let’s not quibble about statistics” when presented with numbers that contradicted hers. So, we should just take your word for it then? Because this government’s ability to give us the straight goods (pardon the expression) during this recession has been so bang-on already? Riiiight…

One of the government’s daily suck-up questions came from Donna Cadman (widow of the late Chuck Cadman), and she asked about Bill C-15, which is the justice bill on drug offences. The Minister of Justice replied that he wants to see the bill passed in one day. One day? Because again we should just trust that the government hasn’t put in any poison pills or other cute measures into the bill, or that it’ll be perfect and not hopelessly flawed by inept drafting of the language. And because apparently Parliament is now a rubber-stamp for the court of King Charles I Stephen Harper? Can one actually charge the Minister for contempt of Parliament for statements like that?

Bloc MP Thierry St-Cyr (in a bright green-on-green shirt and tie) asked about appointments to the IRB, including that of Doug Cryer, and was told by the Minister of Immigration that he simply accepted the recommendations of the IRB appointment process. Right.

And to wrap up for the day, Bill Siksay got up to ask about the latest revelations in the increasingly suspicious election of Gary Lunn, only for Jay Hill to once again say that the question should have been disregarded, and that no, the government had no plans to remove Lunn from his Minister of State portfolio pending investigation.

Sartorially, it was an above-average day, but maybe I’m biased to all the great purple looks in the House. Libby Davies was ahead of her usual game, and looked really great in a white suit jacket with a black top and skirt underneath (and in a rare occurrence, she was without a scarf). But for all the good must come the not so good. Maxime Bernier was wearing a curious robin’s egg blue jacket with a square pattern printed across it, and paired it with a tie that was a colour that lay somewhere between pink and orange, that just didn’t work well together. But most disappointing was to see that after several days of style reform, Megan Leslie slipped back into old habits with a coral pink dress paired with dark blue tights and shoes.

(On a related note, there was a staffer in the foyer who I’m quite sure worked for an NDP MP, who was totally rocking the Ugly Betty look – including the hair. All she needed were the glasses and the braces to round it off).