Continuing their commitment to reintroducing all the various bills they killed with prorogation, the Conservatives reintroduced their bill to re-jig the distribution of seats in the House to give more representation to BC, Alberta and Ontario to reflect their growing populations. Which is good – more MPs is actually good for democracy, especially in Canada where our governments have huge cabinets. More backbenchers can actually be a good thing, because if they have less chance of getting into cabinet, they’re more likely to actually start holding their own party to account, rather than simply sucking up and currying favour for that cabinet post – kind of like what happens in the UK.
But there’s a downside to this, and that’s where most of these seats are going to be distributed. Yes, it will finally break the disproportionate hold that rural ridings hold on politics in this country, but it’s going to shift it to the suburbs. And who is doing very well in the suburbs? The Conservatives, with their carefully crafted messages about spiralling crime rates and government cheques instead of childcare spaces. That could be worrying, even if the principle of more MPs is a good one. (And no the Bloc isn’t happy about this because it means Quebec will have proportionally less influence in the Commons).
Bob Rae kicked off Question Period by asking after the standards that Harper set out for his Ministers, and how it applied to Helena Guergis. Harper replied that she already addressed the matters, and that she’s doing good work. In the supplemental, Guergis talked about all the good work she’s doing. Wayne Easter got up ask after it again (and suggested that Baird was now the Minister of Mild-Mannered Apologies after he got up to answer in Guergis’ stead and talk about the “fragile” economic recovery). But really guys? Do we not have more important things to ask about?
Gilles Duceppe asked after the waiting period on receiving EI, and whether Harper would support their bill on eliminating that 2-week waiting period. Total shocker, but Harper said no. Jack Layton was back to needling the Liberals over the EI fund, and asked why Harper couldn’t pay back to the fund if he could compensate wronged minorities. Yeah, that one didn’t work either.
Ujjal Dosanjh asked after the new revelations in the Afghan detainee investigation, which Peter Kent refuted. Siobhan Coady asked after science and education funding over lowering corporate income taxes, but was given little response from Flaherty.
There were questions on sea lice, emissions in the Athabasca River, the procurement of Canada Post trucks, and suck-up questions on the aforementioned legislation to add more MPs to the House. Mark Holland asked after the prison farm programme, which Vic Toews replied with distortion, saying the Liberals were concerned about the rights of prisoners to farm. No! That wasn’t it at all! That kind of intellectually bankrupt answer is almost worthy of Shelly Glover…
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Alexandra Mendes’ black and white patterned jacket. Style citations go out to Diane Finley’s brown and gold realtor’s outfit (really, burn it already), and Linda Duncan’s hot mess of a jacket, with a high collar that belongs to a cheesy science fiction villain, mostly in black but with a patchwork of various greens near the top. Collar aside, it was too busy and distracting.
Just before a long weekend, the Conservatives dumped another 6500 pages of redacted regarding the Afghan Detainees. Pages that didn’t pass Justice Iacobucci once again, and oh look – pages in Farsi. Because that’s a commitment to openness and transparency.
Jason Kenney suggested that overly generous welfare programmes in provinces are attracting asylum seekers. Really? This is starting to smack of the kind of asylum-seeker xenophobia that exists in places like Great Britain, which doesn’t square with the realities of most refugees – and it’s utterly odious.
The Conservatives cancelled the ecoEnergy home refit programme because it was too successful. But hey, they’re committed to the environment, don’t you know.