Hey everyone – did you miss Question Period as much as I did? Because it's back today, baby! I'm on my way up to the Hill now, and I'll give you the play-by-play as it happens.
How will Michael Ignatieff face-off against Stephen Harper? What will the new Liberal front bench look like – and how will they peform? Will any finance critics be present, or will they be in the buget lock-up? Will Lisa Raitt still be wearing jackets that are far too boxy? Check back soon to the answer to these, and so many more questions.
13.43 – Arrived a few minutes early, and got up to the gallery without getting lost this time. A few MPs are filtering in. Helena Geurgis' outfit looks far too conservative and demure compared to her usual style.
13.48 – Just been kicked out of the gallery until the MPs and everyone formally arrive. This is what you get for showing up early.
13.52 – Found a new seating plan while waiting. The Liberal front bench honestly doesn't make a lot of sense to me. McCallum and Brison, their two economic heavy hitters, are in the second row, while others who aren't currently in the shadow cabinet, like Hedy Fry, remain in the front row. Odd.
13.55 – LeBlanc, the justice critic, is third row centre? This seating plan really doesn't make any sense to me.
14.03 – In the Gallery now, listening to Members' Statements. Rona Ambrose looks like she's drowning in her sweater/shawl monstrosity.
14.06 – Justin Trudeau has a sexy new haircut. The benches are filling up now. It's just a few minutes from showtime.
14.10 – A Conservative MP, who I only know as Mr Allen from Tobique-Mactaquac, gets up to talk about bullying. Nice to know someone is paying attention to it. (Update: He's Mike Allen, from New Brunswick).
14.13 – Olivia Chow is up talking about investing in child care in the year of the Ox. Because it was the Chinese New Year on the weekend.
14.15 – Stéphane Dion, sitting at the very end of the front bench, looks a little forlorn. Not that you can blame him.
14.17 – Question Period begins with an ovation for Ignatieff, whose first queston is in French. Harper begins his response by congratulating Ignatieff on the leadership, and gives a stock answer on the economy. Oh, and I don't think he should be wearing yellow. It makes him look a bit sallow.
14.21 – Marlene Jennings is up next, returning to the question of deficits. Ted Menzies, Flaherty's Parliamentary Secretary stands up to answer, and says it's too important an issue to play partisan politics. Really? Who knew?
14.23 – Duceppe is up to ask about equalisation. Guess what? Quebec doesn't like that it's being capped.
14.27 – Layton is up, with his orange tie, asking about why they should trust Harper on the budget. Harper reads a quote from an NDP MP about waiting to see the budget before voting on it.
14.30 – Harper and Layton are trading barbs about unconstitutional ways to reform or abolish the Senate.
14.32 – Bob Rae and Lawrence Cannon volley on the question of Omar Khadr and Guantanamo Bay. Cannon gives the stock answer of Khadr "facing serious charges."
14.34 – Geoff Regan asks about the spill at Chalk River. Lisa Raitt responds, saying there's been no adverse effects – and her jacket is belted, for a change, which eliminates her usual problem of boxiness. Not that she's really answered the whole question.
14.38 – The Bloc's Carole Lavallée asks about arts funding. James Moore says they're delivering on the arts, though Lavallée retorts that the government doesn't realize the importance of Quebec exporting their arts and culture.
14.41 – Hedy Fry, who is wearing an outfit that looks like it's made of crushed velvet, asks about the forestry sector. Lisa Raitt responds, and while her delivery is improving, she still doesn't provide a lot of substance.
14.43 – Martha Hall Findlay asks for the real job loss forecasts. A Conservative backbencher heckles to "wait for the budget."
14.45 – And Ignatieff is out.
14.47 – Mulcair, also with an orange tie, asks about the budget "leaks." I'm actually surprised he's in the House and not the budget lock-up.
14.49 – I think Stockwell Day has a tablet PC at his desk. That's pretty high-tech for someone who believes that Man used to walk with the dinosaurs.
14.51 – David McGuinty asks about the Ottawa transit strike – or a "crisis" as he calls it. Rona Ambrose says she's heard from Ottawa residents and that they're "working closely with both sides." Really? That's news. Mauril Belanger follows up, but Ambrose, still drowning in her shawl, repeats her previous answer.
14.54 – Libby Davies asks why we should trust the Conservatives. John Baird answers with a laundry list of "accomplishments" with his usual bombast and bluster.
14.57 – Diane Finley, whose updated look is still a few years behind, gives stock answer to a suck-up question from her back bench.
14.58 – Gerry Ritz gives us schtick when Wayne Easter asks about the listeria inquiry. But he has a reputation as a funny man to maintain now.
15.03 – James Rajotte is wearing a lovely lavendar tie as he asks the government's final suck-up question of the day.
15.04 – And that's the end of this session's first Question Period. It was pretty exciting and none too raucous for a change. Now I'm off before budget stuff begins. I think I've had enough of sitting in the House for one day.