University of Toronto
3 min

Never mind those defection rumours

Never mind those rumours of possible Liberal defections – the Prime Minister’s very own press secretary told a Toronto Star reporter that they were bullshit. This raises some eyebrows – it was government agitprop to begin with, was it not? One theory has it that it’s a turf war – said press secretary wants to be the only one who gets to make such leaks. But it should also serve to remind reporters to take these government “leaks” with a grain (or perhaps a shaker) of salt.

When Question Period began, Ignatieff attacked the government plans to increase EI premiums as a job-killer. Harper claimed they were cutting taxes while the Liberals would raise them. And on it went time and again.

Jack Layton asked after Military Police Complaints Commission (which is looking into Afghan torture allegations), and the witnesses the government was muzzling, flouting the Federal Court rulings. Both Harper and MacKay claimed they were following the rules. Bob Rae brought it up again, wondering why they were invoking “national security,” and in his supplemental asked why we didn’t have some special advocates or other who could review those newly sealed documents. MacKay kept insisting it was an arms-length process they didn’t want to interfere with. How convenient.

Libby Davies asked after the HST, with the spin this time on the impact on seniors. During Members’ Statements, catfights are starting out between Todd Russell and Shelly Glover, who accused Russell of swearing at her several times in succession at the Aboriginal Affairs committee. So when Russell asked a question about investigating the disappearances of aboriginal women in the country, Chuck Strahl told Russell that if he wanted to do something about the abuse of aboriginal women, he should start with apologising for the abuse he hurled at Glover. Seriously? *sigh*

Sartorially speaking, most MPs were wearing blue flowers on their lapels, which I believe has to do with ALS awareness. Snaps go out to Navdeep Bains for his fetching lavender turban and tie. I also really loved Johanne Deschamps suit and tie, which was a welcome return of her very cool Annie Lennox Eurhythmics-era androgynous look. The style citation goes out to Diane Ablonczy who is usually well turned out, but perhaps needs to be reminded that women with her body shape shouldn’t wear turtlenecks. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports the return of her rather nice black scoop-necked dress, but I do wish she would retire those rather unfortunate greige shoes she insists on wearing.

Down the hall, the Senate is flexing its muscles again, and decided to amend Bill C-25, the “Truth in Sentencing Act,” which would further take away judges’ discretion by eliminating the “two-for-one” sentencing credit for people who spend time incarcerated before trail. The Senate, after hearing from numerous witnesses, changed the sentencing credit outlined in the bill. The Justice Minister was outraged, and considered the bill “gutted.” The Liberals in the House, however, say they approved of the bill unamended, so those amendments may not survive a return to the House (should the full Senate adopt them). But honestly – the Senate heard from expert witnesses who said the bill was flawed. One would think that they would want to listen rather than keep playing to the Conservatives out of fear of being labelled “soft on crime.”

Michael Ignatieff has named Marc Garneau as his new Quebec lieutenant. It also looks like he’ll be appointing a chief organiser who isn’t an MP in order to try and head off any attempts by organising MPs from furthering their own ambitions in their organising (as Coderre has been accused of).

Up today: The Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce meets to look at Bill S-232, which would amend the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), thus allowing fewer regulatory roadblocks to getting cheaper AIDS meds to poor countries.
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