3 min

Painting the House blue

There was a bit of sartorial similarity in the House that was hard to miss – almost everyone in the House, men and women, was wearing bright blue striped ties (although a few were genuine scarves). At the end of Members’ Statements, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis got up to explain that they were to show support for Jack Layton and the fight against prostate cancer. This was followed by similar shows of support by Luc Malo for the Bloc, Bernard Patry for the Liberals and Jim Abbott for the Conservatives.

When Question Period began, Bob Rae took the lead for the Liberals and asked after that whole maternal and child health issue, considering that the United States and the United Kingdom have both called out Harper for his untenable position on contraception and abortion. Harper said that Canada will set Canadian priorities. Ooh – play the patriot card. Dominic LeBlanc took round two and asked after Rights and Democracy, and Peter Kent told the House that it’s an arm’s length agency – to many opposition guffaws.

Gilles Duceppe was banging on about tax harmonization – again – and Jack Layton, after thanking the House for their support with the ties, asked after EI premium hikes, but was mostly making digs at the former Liberal government. Because that strategy has worked well for them.

And then came the real hard-hitters. After Ignatieff called Guergis a liar after the morning caucus meeting, there were four successive Liberal questions on Guergis and her sock-puppet letter writers – Anita Neville, Alexandra Mendes, Yasmin Ratansi and Wayne Easter all asked, and Guergis simply said that she answered the question yesterday – which she didn’t exactly. John Baird later stood up and said the House should instead be focused on things like jobs. Way to go, Liberals, on keeping the important agenda items on the table.

There were more questions on Rights and Democracy, this time from the Bloc, and when Peter Kent said that board members would be testifying Thursday (today), Todd Russell loudly asked if that was going to be carried “on the Comedy Network?” When Ujjal Dosanjh asked about those new revelations about the troops in Afghanistan, Peter MacKay praised the Globe and Mail for showing that our troops are acting responsibly. And Geoff Regan asked why the government was abandoning the medical isotopes field, despite their own commissioned reports suggesting otherwise. Christian Paradis gave a canned answer about not making the same mistakes as the previous government. Judy Wasylycia-Leis asked after the cuts to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and you can read my story on that here.

Sartorially speaking, best use of the blue ties was by Justin Trudeau, who opened up his collar and used the tie like an ascot. Kicking it old school! The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a short grey dress with a very light yellow-green short-sleeved sweater – and of course, the tie as scarf. On the whole, not so bad.

After Question Period, the justice minister finally made his case regarding that Privilege issue. His argument seems to be… freedom of speech as pertaining to legal opinions. Oookay. Also, Parliament apparently isn’t supreme, so they shouldn’t see the documents. Yeah, that’s going to go down really well. Liberal Derek Lee has asked for more time to prepare his response, so the saga will continue in a couple of weeks, after the Easter break.

Meanwhile, I would like to officially declare Conservative MP Shelly Glover to be most intellectually bankrupt MP in the House – and considering some of the logic-defying assertions by certain cabinet ministers, that’s quite the feat. Glover has said some pretty dizzying things in the past, but yesterday’s appearance on Power & Politics took the cake. The topic was prison funding. Aside from some outright fallacy about increased staff for “more rehabilitation,” she gave this particular doozy (and thanks to Maclean’s Aaron Wherry for posting it). One particular part caught my attention:

I’ll tell you straightforward, Canadians are seeing an increase in crime. I don’t care what Stats Canada has reported because they only count reported crime. They do not count unreported crimes. And as a police officer, I’ll tell you, I worked sex crimes for four and a half years, 92% of sex crime victims do not report their crime.

Um, where’s the logic of this statement – “92 percent of sex crime victims do not report their crime.” Um, how do you get that figure if they don’t report the crime? DOES NOT COMPUTE! There's truthiness, and then there's outright fiction. I realize you’re probably getting a cookie for parroting all the right talking points, and you’re auditioning for Helena Guergis’s job, but have some dignity, and kindly stop treating the Canadian public like we’re a bunch of morons.

The Senate, courtesy of Senator Finley, was debating the state of free speech in Canada.

And look – more reaction to that revelation on gutting environmental assessment legislation.

Up today – it’s the last day of sitting before the Easter break, and a week off. They managed five weeks without going completely feral. But after a week back in the ridings, it’s five more weeks in a row.
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