4 min

No, that’s not Ministerial Accountability

So remember a few months ago, how the government said that under the principles of Ministerial Accountability, which form an important basic part of our Westminster-style democracy, that ministers were accountable and would answer questions on things that went wrong on their watch? Uh, yeah. They totally demonstrated that today, where Christian Paradis, the minister whose staff interfered in Access to Information requests (one has resigned, more are now implicated), refused to resign as the actual convention would dictate. Oh, and he also refused to answer questions in the House, leaving it up to John Baird. So yeah – they’re totally dedicated to Ministerial Accountability.

(Oh, and we should totally thank the official media arm of The Party for reminding us that the Liberals interfered in Access to Information requests too.)

Before Question Period, Liberal MP Scott Brison rose to speak about the death of former senator Norm Atkins:

Mr Speaker, parliamentarians were saddened last week to hear of the passing of the Honourable Norm Atkins.

Norm was a great friend and mentor to many of us.

As a student at Acadia University, he excelled at football, which prepared him well for a lifetime of political activism and a string of political successes across Canada.

He was guided in his life by a respect for politics and a moderate vision of progressive conservatism. He believed in building Canada with less partisanship and more compromise.

He was a passionate advocate for post-secondary education. For this passion and his devotion to Acadia University, he was awarded an honorary degree by the university in 2000.

He was also a cofounder of Diabetes Canada and donations in his memory can be made to the Diabetes Hope Foundation.

To his partner, Mary, his three sons, Peter, Geoff and Mark, and his extended family, I extend sincere condolences on behalf of my colleagues.

Question Period began with Michael Ignatieff continuing his new schtick of passing along things he heard on tour – this time from a woman in Montreal who is caring for her aging parents on her father’s meagre veteran’s pension. In his three responses, John Baird basically said that the government was doing great things for veterans and subtly suggested that the woman should get a job.

Marcel Proulx was up next to ask just what it is with the PM’s incoming chief of staff, his “temporary leave of absence” from Onex, and his ties to the very same aerospace industry concerns that are attached to these F-35 fighters. Baird replied about how great Nigel Wright is. For his supplemental, Proulx asked about the aforementioned ATI issues.

Gilles Duceppe and Michel Guimond were on the Quebec City arena file, and Jack Layton borrowed Ignatieff’s schtick, hearing from someone about rising utility costs, which segued into his plan to cut the GST on heating bills (again, staying vague about how exactly that will work). John Baird responded by accusing Layton of voting against tax cuts in the past. For his final supplemental, Layton asked about a contentious government loan to Vale, to which Peter Van Loan assured him that Export Development Canada is an arm’s length agency.

Siobhan Coady asked after Nigel Wright, Denis Coderre the ATI affair, Christiane Gagnon asked about stimulus deadlines and Carole Freeman the ATI questions. Mark Holland asked about the G20 expenditures and compared it to Vic Toews' prison budgeting exercises, which he described as “people riding dinosaurs wrong.” Judy Foote followed up by asking about lighthouse closures in the context of money spent on a fake lighthouse in landlocked Muskoka.

From there, questions were about cuts to the tax evasion unit at the CRA, the lobbyist register showing that the oil and gas sector had more access to the prime minister than others (John Baird: It shows we’re focused on the economy!), questionable funding by some regional development agencies, and the cancellation of the appearance by a moderate imam at a National Defence event. In a government suck-up question, LaVar Payne asked about “US deserters,” and describing the defeat of Bill C-440 as a “victory for the rule of law,” though a Conservative using that phrase is usually being ironic, right? Rounding it off were questions on the West Coast tanker ban, the muzzling of Canadian diplomats at the UN and mounting student debt.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Judy Foote, whose greige jacket was excused by being a really interesting cut, and Kirsty Duncan for her tailored black jacket with the elaborate fastens along the front panel. Cathy McLeod was also back to wearing properly cut tops, which was a relief. Citations go out to the aforementioned LaVar Payne for wearing a yellow shirt and tie with a black jacket (again with the yellow and black!), and Bev Oda, for the most dull green-and-brown colour combination imaginable. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a nice magenta top (well, the cut was a bit off) with black trousers, a pink-tied belt and nice eggplant heels. I do believe she’s finally grasped how to coordinate colour!

After Question Period, former Conservative House Leader Jay Hill gave his farewell speech – he’s decided to resign in three weeks.

CBC posts the audio and transcript of the “flippant” comments Kory Teneycke made to Lawrence Martin about going to the Queen if Michaëlle Jean denied Harper his prorogation.
CBC also looks into Maxime Bernier’s claim that he got “a thousand complaints a day” about the census when he was industry minister, and oh look – they debunked it completely. Not that it should be a surprise.

And Peter Mansbridge talks to His Excellency, David Johnston.

Up today – Michael Ignatieff and his health and justice critics are apparently going to make a “major policy announcement.” No hint yet on what that might be, so stay tuned.
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