Apparently it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy, as far as the Prime Minister is concerned. After launching a new series of attack ads against Michael Ignatieff on Tuesday night (the English versions proclaiming him an elitist snob who is “just visiting,” the French versions mocking his accent as not being Québécois enough), he took some of that churlishness to the House.
The opening salvo in Question Period revolved around EI reform, once again, and for his first reply, Harper accused Ignatieff of trying to resurrect the dreaded coalition with this EI proposal – after he undermined the previous one. But for his first supplemental answer, Harper suddenly changed his tactic. He now accuses the Liberals of wanting to put into place a system where a person only has to work 45 days in order to get a year’s worth of benefits, every year, in perpetuity. Seriously. And he repeated this accusation several times, apparently surprising even some of his own insiders.
Ignatieff, however, sounds like he’s digging in his heels over this EI reform issue, and he’s been talking about wanting to see these changes happen before the House rises for the summer, which is just about six weeks away now. And as for the attack ads, Ignatieff told reporters in the foyer that, “This government needs to grow up and do its job properly.” Oh, those elitist words!
The Auditor General’s findings on greenhouse gas emissions in this country rated questions from the Bloc and later the Liberals. Harper said that the Bloc has no plan, the Minister of Public Works said that their eschewing absolute targets was a “realistic plan,” and Lisa Raitt later said that it was “rich” for the Liberals to be talking about GHGs given their party’s record.
There was a new topic broached today by the Liberals, which was about the murder and disappearance of over 500 First Nations women in this country – a number brought out in a recent report by Sisters in Spirit. And thus, Anita Neville and Todd Russell were demanding that the government launch an independent investigation into this matter. The government made a complete dodge, and Helena Guergis, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, talked about how wonderful it was that the government had given Sisters in Spirit $5 million over five years.
There was again a complete lack of sartorial snap-worthy ensembles in the House, and most of it was pretty blah, in fact. Marlene Jennings’ outfit was slightly interesting with her dark denim jacket over white top and beige trousers, but it also seems to me that she is trying to push the bounds of just how relaxed her dress code can be in the House. The style citation goes out to Liberal backbencher Judy Foote, for her rather formless fuchsia-pink jacket with black trim. It also looked like it may have been made of felt, which just added to the wrongness of it all. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports that she was wearing in the infamous pumpkin wrap-dress (with a ruffled collar, one might add), but this time she wore appropriate tights and shoes with it, which I suppose is minimal progress – even if orange is not her colour.
At the end of the day, Maclean’s was hosting their third annual Parliamentarian of the Year awards, and it was quite a lovely event. Joe Comartin won Most Knowledgeable, Paul Szabo as Hardest Working, the recently retired Bill Casey as Best Constituency Representative, and Peter Stoffer as Most Collegial. The ensembley-challenged Megan Leslie won Best Rookie, and Toronto Centre MP Bob Rae won Best Orator. And the top prize, Best Overall MP, went to Jason Kenney. Really? Seriously? Huh. These are peer-awarded, with 70% of MPs participating, so obviously he had some support in across the various parties, but really? Kenney? I don’t really get it either.