Just to get it out of the way, the whole Helena Guergis/Rahim Jaffer nonsense blew up entirely after the private investigator testified before a Commons committee yesterday. And while he threw around more accusations such as complicity of the Liberal party president with the nefarious Nazim Gillani (which, as it turns out, was only that said party president was his lawyer for all of nine days before he returned his retainer and sent him to another firm), said investigator also confirmed that he is a paid-up member of the Conservative Party, and that his accusations were went to the Ethics Commissioner. Or rather, a version of them were sent, but when the Commissioner’s office called to verify the accusations sent to them by Guy Giorno, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, they turned out to be almost nothing alike, which was why the Commissioner dropped the investigation.
So what does this mean? That unless the allegations against Helena Guergis came from another source, then they appear to be more of a fabrication by Mr. Giorno – and that leads us to questions of the credibility of the PMO, and ultimately in the judgement of this Prime Minister.
During Members’ Statements, several MPs spoke about the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s “Chair Leader’s Day,” where 25 MPs and Senators spent the day in a wheelchair (except in the House).
Geoff Regan got the Liberals started off in Question Period on those pesky questions about drilling permits in the Beaufort Sea, which the government assures use that there’s nothing to worry about. Ujjal Dosanjh followed up with questions on the moratorium on tanker traffic on the West Coast, but he was making a very big distinction about the 1972 Trudeau-led moratorium, while John Baird kept talking about the 1988 “exclusion zone,” which I’m not clear on, but I have little doubt that there is some difference between.
Gilles Duceppe, Francine Lalonde and Jack Layton all had questions about Canada and the UN – why we weren’t supporting the charter on the rights of indigenous people, or our commitment to African aid, or our commitment to nuclear non-proliferation or climate change. And why not? After all, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was in town, so these questions were for his benefit as well. Not that there were actually substantive answers.
Michael Ignatieff returned to the House in time for the second round (he had been meeting with the aforementioned Ban Ki-Moon up until that point), and he asked whether we’d be putting climate change at the top of the G-20 agenda, seeing as Mr. Ban thinks it’s a great priority. Harper patiently explained that the G-20 is an economic forum, focused on the economy – as though climate change wasn’t actually an economic issue waiting to bite us all in the ass. But I digress – Harper confirmed that climate change is not going to be a feature at the G-20, but hey, they’re all for the Copenhagen accords!
The rest of QP was dominated by questions on corporate tax cuts, Afghan detainee allegations – this time from new testimony from a general on the ground there – the likelihood of the national securities regulator being located in Toronto, festival funding (including questions on Pride festivals courtesy of Hedy Fry), and bilingualism on the Supreme Court. And pretty much no Guegis/Jaffer questions! Too bad that’s not going to be the case tomorrow…
Sartorially speaking, I kind of liked Carolyn Bennett’s linen suit with the long coat and red scarf, as well as Joyce Murray’s fuchsia jacket. As well, I didn’t see anything that was too horrific and worthy of citation, though my worry over Lisa Raitt’s pedestrian choices continues, with a pink striped shirt and black leather jacket. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a black suit with three-quarter sleeves, a custard-coloured top, and emerald heels. I’ve been contemplating what it is about her heels that’s been bothering my style sensibilities, and I think it’s that if you’re going to wear bold-coloured heels, they’d better be fierce, and Leslie’s particular shoe styles are far from that fierce quotient. But maybe that’s just me.
Vic Toews wants to resurrect the term “rape” in the Criminal Code, rather than sexual assault. One more way he’s trying to distract from the real problems of the justice system. Meanwhile, the Federal Corrections Investigator is adding his voice to the concerns over the unspoken costs of the Conservatives tough-on-crime agenda, as well as their decision to allow double bunking in the face of a signed UN convention that says that it’s an unacceptable practice.
Bill Graham was before a Commons committee yesterday, and admitted that the detainee arrangement that was signed under his watch wasn’t perfect, but reminds MPs that when it was signed, it was under the understanding that detainees would be turned over to the Afghan National Army and not the NDS, and that Canada’s combat deployment in Kandahar didn’t actually start for another five months – by which point the Conservatives were in government.
Oh, look – the Conservatives took exception to the CBC’s report on Tuesday night about the new book on Harper and the religious right. Apparently, it’s “fomenting religious division.” Or maybe it’s actually shining a spotlight where they don’t want one to be shone, and that’s why we should care, and continue to keep shining that spotlight.
And over in Regina, Saskatchewan’s highest court is slated to hear the case of a marriage commissioner who refused to marry a gay couple because it offended his religious beliefs – even though he’s a civil marriage commissioner. I can’t see him winning this particular appeal.
Something else to read – Aaron Wherry’s observation that while Michael Ignatieff tries to give substance, the country’s media is focused on nonsense like Rahim Jaffer and Helena Guergis.