3 min

Mr. Harper goes to Washington

Harper and three of his Ministers – Cannon, Prentice and Van Loan – went to Washington yesterday to meet with Obama and senior White House staff. And right off, speculation is that they were snubbed when Obama didn’t go down to greet them as Harper’s car arrived. Ouch.

Afghanistan, “Buy American” and other trade issues were apparently the topics of the “42-minute meeting” – as the Liberals described it – and Obama assures us that Harper is on the job, and that everything is fine. Wow – I’m sure we can rest easy now. Harper and company continue the visit today, meeting with congressional leaders.

Back in Ottawa, the NDP have announced that they’ll support the government for the time being, since nobody wants an election and hey, while the Liberals only got a “working group” for propping them up in June, the NDP are getting a billion dollars in EI reforms. One billion dollars! *Dr. Evil Pinky* Whatever helps them sleep at night.

Liberal justice critic Dominic LeBlanc led off Question Period to lambaste the Prime Minister’s lack of progress on a number of Canada-US files. Stockwell Day read out a statement by Obama about Harper’s dedication to those files as a reply. (It was during LeBlanc’s third question that PETA protesters started screaming from one of the visitors’ galleries, necessitating being carried off in handcuffs).

Gilles Duceppe continued on his Tough-on-Crime™ approach on White Collar Criminals by asking the government to pass their Private Members’ Bill on ensuring that criminals can’t be released after serving only one-sixth of their sentence. In fact, he wants that two-clause bill passed in a single day. A single day – really? What about things like, oh, proper study, consultation with witnesses, and so on? The government, by the way, thanks the Bloc for coming around to justice files, but still chides them for their litany of other failures in their Touch-on-Crime™ credentials.

Marlene Jennings brought up the isotope crisis for the first time since Parliament returned, saying that the Conservatives saying it’s the responsibility of the provinces to pay for the for the increasing cost of isotopes while the world’s supply diminishes. Lisa Raitt, being completely klassy-with-a-k, said the nuclear file was just one Liberal mess after another, blaming them for approving a “faulty design” as a replacement reactor. Um, how were they supposed to know that it was faulty – were they nuclear scientists, and I don’t think it’s been proven that the MAPLE reactors are in fact faulty. Jennings’ retort was that the Conservatives like to rewrite history to avoid taking any responsibility.

On the sartorial front, snaps go to Diane Ablonczy for her chocolate brown jacket paired with a tasteful pumpkin scarf that she didn’t drown in. She certainly owns her autumn colours. The style citation goes to both Conservatives Jacques Gourde, who’s overly wide cuffs and crooked tie made him look ridiculous, and Diane Finely who broke out her gold jacket and brown top, which makes her look like an 80s realtor. That outfit needs to be burned – at once. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a monochromatic black suit over a black top – virtually unheard of for the colourful MP. That said, I couldn’t see her shoes, so they could have made all the difference between a tasteful (if somewhat understated) ensemble and complete chaos.

On the home front, I got a piece of crass pre-election advertising from my local MP, who wants to remind me that he’s a) Working for me, and b) has done all of these many and varied accomplishments in Parliament, which seems to consist largely of introducing a Private Members’ Bill that stands little chance of ever seeing the light of day. (I’m not sure where he is on the Order of Precedence, but I don’t imagine it’s very high – they’re still dealing with the first 30 pieces of business a year later). Of course, now that his party is propping up the government, I guess he jumped the gun a bit on getting that flyer out while he still could.

It looks like Rahim Jaffer fell pretty hard from grace after his loss in the last election. Not only did he lose the only seat in Alberta for the party – to the NDP no less – but his party sidelined his nomination. And then yesterday, he was arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession. Especially ironic is that he used to lead the Conservatives’ anti-drug campaign. That really has to suck.

And finally, it was Réal Ménard’s last day in the House of Commons as an MP yesterday. I had a chance to sit down with him in the morning to talk about his 16 years in federal politics, how the Bloc has changed federal politics and why he’s a fan of minority governments. That interview is posted here. That’s one less openly gay MP in the House, and now no queer representation for the Bloc.