As Statements by Members made their 2010 debut, there were a few rather sanctimonious speeches about prorogation, interspersed with shout outs to the Olympics and Paralympics, and the Speech from the Throne.
Ignatieff kicked off Question Period with a question on prorogation – Would the Prime Minister support a special committee on studying the issue and limit future use? Harper retorted that the last time he shut the House down was to stop a coalition. And those documents that you don’t want to turn over? Harper said it is government lawyers who get to decide what's redacted.
Ujjal Dosanjh followed up by pressing the Afghan detainee issue. Harper himself answered by talking about transfer arrangements. Dosanjh wouldn’t let it go, citing Judge Advocate General memos.
Gilles Duceppe was steamed about the national securities regulator, the upcoming new seats which would reduce Quebec’s weight in the House, and so on. Harper assured him that the securities regulator was voluntary, and hey, other Quebeckers wanted it. Duceppe moved onto the environment, and Harper hit back by…. What? Bringing in the Olympics? Really? I mean, it’s a stretch, but now you’re not only trying to get ratings on the backs of soldiers, but on the backs of athletes too?
Before his question, Jack Layton got an ovation from the House for his battle with cancer. He asked after prorogation. Harper talked up the Throne Speech. He also refused to bite on the question of detainee abuses on a follow-up, continuing to talk up his Throne Speech. Only in his final response did he bring up the threat of a coalition.
Bob Rae asked after the shenanigans at Rights & Democracy – Lawrence Cannon obfuscated. John McKay asked after KAIROS – Bev Oda reiterated the government’s commitment to effective aid and religious-affiliated groups. Also, the Bloc is apparently in favour of child traffickers. Marc Garneau asked about the cancelled facility to research AIDS vaccines. Leona Aglukkaq said that there was sufficient manufacturing capacity in North America, and they were continuing to work on the issue. Carolyn Bennett gave a much more spirited follow-up, not that the answer was any different.
Marlene Jennings brought up the citizenship guide issue, for which Kenney said that her party supported the guide, and that they support equality for men and women, and mentioned the Chinese Head Tax apology and about supporting our troops. But he also said he takes full responsibility for what’s in the guide, but in a rather vague sense that doesn’t fully cop to nixing those sections, especially since on Wednesday, he said his signature wasn’t on those documents. When Jennings asked whose rights were next on the block, Kenney lauded all the great things in the guide, and noted that same-sex marriage wasn’t in the previous Liberal-era version. Um, no – it wasn’t legal at that point. It was 1995, you thundering moron. Olivia Chow asked after the guide later on, and Kenney again didn’t provide an answer.
Nicole Demers asked after the need for safe abortions and contraception in developing countries – which Bev Oda didn’t bite on. Anita Neville asked why Helena Guergis was still in cabinet. Guergis noted her apology.
On the sartorial front, I was strangely drawn to Leona Aglukkaq’s boyish black jacket over a white collared shirt under dark v-neck sweater. I was also a big fan of Lisa Raitt’s new hair, all curled and grown out. And hey, she’s back to blonde, so you can tell that her credibility isn’t being questioned currently. Style citations go out to Ruby Dhalla for that Houndstooth jacket with a too-high neck, which made me wonder if she was really so cold that she needed to be bundled that tight. Also, I wasn’t crazy about the shade of orange that was Alexandra Mendes’ top, considering it really didn’t work well with the current copper shade of her hair. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a grey suit with a black top, and a red floral scarf tied rather tightly around her neck. As with Wednesday, it’s a bit of good with a bit of not so good.
Jack Layton’s request for an emergency debate on prorogation was turned down by the Speaker on the basis that it’s not an urgent enough issue in light of the budget and the Speech from the Throne debates.
Maclean's writer Aaron Wherry recounts his attempts to get an explanation on the redactions from Afghan detainee documents.
You might have heard that it was budget day. Here’s some reaction, if you’re interested. The important part – none of the opposition parties are going to support it, but coincidentally, no one wants to trigger an election over it. I suspect a bout of diplomatic flu may just hit the opposition backbenches.
But something I noticed? By cutting the defence budget, I think they can officially stop patting themselves on the back for how much support they’ve given the military. Also, cuts to foreign aid just as they’re planning this big push on maternal and child welfare? How does that make sense?
And oh, look – this government’s spending disproportionately favours men. Imagine that!