Vic Toews
3 min

Mind the defection rumours

The day began with rumours of potential Liberal defectors, including Ruby Dhalla, supposedly because she wasn’t going to get much caucus support for her upcoming Private Member’s Bill (though ostensibly because that bill would require a Royal Recommendation). The party quickly quashed those rumours, as did Dhalla herself, pointing out that she’s been a Liberal since she was 12 years old. Later in the morning, Michael Ignatieff shuffled up his shadow cabinet and gave Dhalla the post of special advisor for child poverty. Dhalla said she was looking forward to the challenge. Incidentally, gay MPs Rob Oliphant and Mario Silva got new posts – Oliphant is now Veterans Affairs critic, and Silva is now special advisor on Latin America.

The day in the House began with “rogue” Conservative Michael Chong making a statement about climate change that didn’t pat the government’s (non)-action on the back. That very fact was pretty intriguing.

Ignatieff led off Question Period by repeating Monday’s inquiry about our nation’s finances being in a structural deficit. Harper responded by talked up our “relative” fiscal strength and the Finance Minister of the Year award that Jim Flaherty has received. Ignatieff pointed out that Lehman Brothers also won a brokerage award from that publication. Oh, snap! While Harper didn’t respond to the slam in this response, it was the second supplemental – a question about how Harper previously claimed not to know about Suaad Hagi Mohamud’s case until August 10th when Access to Information documents showed his staff was preparing media lines on July 1st – that Harper suddenly declared that the Lehman Brother’s mention was another example of Ignatieff talking down Canada. Really? Nice way to avoid answering. (Incidentally, the Liberals want the government to settle Mohamud’s $2 million lawsuit, and have put up a timeline of events and relevant documents on their site).

Jack Layton was still on about the HST, while Marlene Jennings asked how much was spent on self-promoting advertising. Vic Toews again stood up to claim that they don’t spend money on self-promotion, but on “advising Canadians” about things like H1N1, the Home Renovation Tax Credit and Canadian Forces recruitment. Funny how he keeps omitting the “Economic Action Plan” ads. When Paul Szabo asked about why a constituent of his who applied for a grant started receiving government “junk mail” which pointed him to the “Action Plan” website, Toews kept saying that there shouldn’t be a problem with those notices pointing the constituent to more tax savings. Toews’ inability to apply logic to his answers is quite stunning.

After a list of Liberal questions on H1N1, Leona Aglukkaq claimed that there was no pandemic plan before her government came to power. Carolyn Bennett shouted repeatedly that the answer was “absolutely appalling.” She later pointed out that we’ve had pandemic plans since 1988, and Bennett, for the record, was the Minister of State for Public Health under Paul Martin’s government, so she should know – and it is appalling that Aglukkaq is engaging in such partisan historical revisionism.

Sartorially speaking, I liked Martha Hall Findlay’s purple wrap top, and I liked Ted Menzies’ lavender shirt and tie, while Marlene Jennings’ orange leather jacket still has me on the fence. The style citation goes out to Judy Wasylycia-Leis, because her brilliant copper hair does not go well with that light pink jacket (or matching necklace). The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a grey ruffled sweater over what looked like a grey dress with a green belt, which I’m entirely convinced about.

Elsewhere, the Globe and Mail has a rather unflattering piece about how Michael Ignatieff doesn’t appeal to women. Even though he was known in the UK as an intellectual sex symbol, the “thinking woman’s crumpet,” that hasn’t translated into his political career. Apparently he’s “stuffy” and his intellect has crossed over into “arrogance.” And Stephen Harper is any better? He’s the man who shook his son’s hand while dropping him off at school. He’s not stuffy or cold? Huh.

Bill Siksay has asked for an emergency debate on the hunger strike of security certificate detainee Mohammed Mahjoub.

There was a very interesting Federal Court ruling that showed how CSIS was able to enlist the military’s Communications Security Establishment to keep tabs on a couple of Canadians travelling abroad without breaching CSIS’ mandate of ensuring that the country those people were travelling to was notified. It’s a very interesting ruling that could have serious consequences for the future.

And finally, the Conservatives say they’re ready to bring in changes to the refugee laws, now that it’s unlikely we’ll be going into an election. This looks like it’ll include the provisions to fast track claimants from “safe” countries – which could disadvantage victims of domestic abuse or gays and lesbians in democratic countries like Jamaica.
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