Stephen Harper
3 min

Of women and detainee revelations

Yesterday was International Women’s Day plus Commonwealth Day. Both kind of ironic considering the government’s decision to kill the proposal to make the national anthem a little more gender-neutral. Nevertheless, International Women’s Day was a popular theme in Members’ Statements and throughout Question Period.

On that subject, however, I would advise a bit of caution at stories about how Canada ranks 50th in the world in women elected to legislatures. Yes, we elect fewer, but ours aren’t kept subordinate to men in the legislature – unlike other countries that keep getting mentioned, like Rwanda. Sure, they have 57 percent representation, but from all accounts, it’s a pretty powerless 57 percent. Perhaps we need to be reminded of quality over quantity.

As expected, Question Period began when Michael Ignatieff asked about those new allegations about the Afghan detainee issue. After all, he started the day by sending out an open letter on the issue (which the CBC’s Kady O’Malley analyzes in full here). Ignatieff renewed his calls for a full public inquiry into the issue.

Stephen Harper got up and implied that Ignatieff was impugning the reputations of the public service and troops and diplomats stationed in Afghanistan. Because you know, they take no responsibility – and witness how they’ve now shifted the public responsibility to Justice Iacobucci.

Ujjal Dosanjh got up to drive home the issue and reminded the House that they are not accusing the troops of wrongdoing – only the government. Harper reminded them that any transfers pre-2007 were thanks to a Liberal agreement.

(Incidentally, a breakdown of the detainee memos we’ve seen to date can be found here.)

Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton asked about Status of Women – which Harper pretty much shrugged off. Layton’s supplemental asked after those CSIS revelations, and Harper defended their role and actions.

The moral panic watch of the day reports that according to Vic Toews, the Bloc are soft on paedophiles. Imagine that!

Scott Brison brought up the citizenship guide issue again, wondering if the PMO was behind the nixing, as Kenney has denied involvement at one point or another. Jason Kenney again dodged by pointing to all those things the Liberals didn’t put in their previous version of the guide. As if that were the issue in question.

Sartorial snaps for the day and the Megan Leslie outfit watch actually coincide for a change. Indeed, Leslie wore a very flattering black top and trousers, with a lovely flower attached to what would be the lapel (if it had one). Well done! I was also a fan of Ruby Dhalla’s grey-and-black patterned top. Style citations go out to Helena Guergis for the belt-over-jacket that was not terribly flattering. I was also not a fan of Daniel Paillé’s greenish shirt with the yellow-patterned tie, or Marlene Jennings’s big red… Well, I’d call it a scarf, except I know it’s attached to her top, and it was just wrong. The black lacelike cuffs on her jacket just completed that very wrong picture.

The government announced that it was chopping 245 Governor-in-Council appointed positions – though most of them were vacant anyway. But aside from the fact that these seem to be yet more symbolic cuts that will have very little impact on the bottom line, I am forced to wonder – given that most of these positions are from various boards, how is this going to affect how decisions get made? Cuts to positions on the Canada Council of the Arts and the CRTC? One of the boards facing cuts was the Space Advisory Board, even though the government announced their support for our space program in the Throne Speech. How does that make sense? 

Meanwhile, Stockwell Day keeps talking about how they’ll control costs in the public service through attrition. But in the public’s eager desire to stick it to those “fat cat bureaucrats,” does anyone wonder about the loss of expertise that the public service is experiencing? And work still needs to be done – now with fewer people, apparently, and with a loss of corporate memory. Oh, wait – I forgot. This government has a disdain for the advice of the professional public service and would rather pay for expensive outside consultants to give them the answers that they want, rather than proven expertise that goes against government ideology. Silly me.

And apparently the Conservatives are bracing for a snap election on the budget – despite the fact that all three opposition parties have said they won’t call one. Or at least, that’s what they’re telling their membership base. This is why people need to be informed about what’s going on – so that they can’t be fooled by these kinds of phantom battles.

Up today – Her Excellency continues her trip to Haiti. And given the CBC’s new revelations that they’ve received documents that show the government was preparing a communications plan for torture allegations, I’m sure that will lead off Question Period.
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