Helena Guergis
3 min

Parliament Hill marks Day of Pink

It was Day of Pink on the Hill, and it was early on in Members’ Statements that the NDP’s Bill Siksay rose to speak about it:

Mr. Speaker, today is the Day of Pink, the international day against bullying, discrimination and homophobia. It calls for an end to bullying of all kinds, the end to discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual youth and it is a celebration of diversity in our schools and communities.
This day originated after an incident at a Cambridge, Nova Scotia school where a student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The next day many students wore pink in solidarity with him. This important initiative is now spearheaded by Jer's Vision, an organization that works with thousands of youth through over 40 programs and which today celebrates its fifth anniversary.
GLBTT youth often face persecution, bullying and violence, which causes some to drop out of school, suffer serious depression or attempt suicide. We must act against homophobic, lesbophobic, transphobic and misogynistic bullying and discrimination and stand in solidarity with GLBTT youth and their friends, families and allies on this important and in this important struggle.

Question Period, predictably, started off with questions about the Guergis affair, punctuated by vivid images of tentacles – no, seriously. Ignatieff actually talked about the tentacles of the Jaffer-Guergis pairing. He then moved on to how this incident of Harper refusing to disclose the allegations under the guise of a police investigation was part of the broader “pattern of arrogance” of the government, which included failing Access-to-Information grades and redacted documents. Not that Harper would bite on any of the answers. He took appropriate actions, don’t you know?

The Bloc was fully on the Guergis file, and Layton’s first question was as well, though he tried the levity approach by referencing Magnum, PI. Layton moved on to the question of user fees in Quebec for health care, and was Harper going to either tell Quebec that it was contravening the Canada Health Act, or try to amend the Act to make it okay? (Ignatieff, incidentally – now against the fees). Harper dodged the question, saying the law was the law, and the provinces have to comply with it. But that wasn’t the question!

From there, Guergis/Jaffer questions were fewer, and the topics moved on to Access to Information and the failing grade that Heritage got for it (James Moore: We’re doing an awesome job at Heritage! And I totally watch TV on my iPod, yo!), the problems at Rights & Democracy, and more of those pesky allegations around Afghan detainees. When Bob Rae pointed out that by pulling out our troops from Haiti, we also pulled out the heavy equipment they need to clear the wreckage, Lawrence Cannon said that we got all kinds of international applause for our response. But that wasn’t the question!

Gilles Duceppe got up for a rare second round to ask the government about its logic on why it refused to act on allegations of torture in Afghanistan, but acted swiftly on allegations around Helena Guergis. Logic? In this government? Surely, you jest! Indeed, since Lawrence Cannon got up and, with a straight face, said that they took necessary steps in all cases.

Liberal public health critic Kirsty Duncan got up near the end to ask about the cancellation of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative plant, in the context of the cancelled Gates Foundation grants regarding anti-smoking campaigns in Africa. Leona Aglukkaq got up to answer, but Cannon ended up taking the question, and said that they were still continuing to partner with Gates. But that wasn’t the question!

Sartorially speaking, there were a number of pink ties, including Bill Siksay, Jack Layton, Rob Oliphant, Scott Andrews, Larry Bagnell, and Mike Savage (and those are the only ones I could see). On top of that, Bryon Wilfert had a lovely pink shirt with a pink pocket square, Ron Cannan had a Day of Pink t-shirt over his shirt and tie, and Navdeep Bains was out to one-up everyone with his pink turban. No real pink style violations, but the non-pink style citation goes out to Josée Verner, who appeared to be wearing a tan trench coat in the House – no, seriously – and given how positively orange her fake-tanned skin tone looks currently, tan is not a good choice of colour. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a coral pink dress under a grey jacket with rolled sleeves. I could have done without the rolled sleeves, but it was a good effort from Leslie.

The NDP’s Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, passed report stage, so it’s one step closer to moving forward. As well, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis tabled a Private Members’ Bill on preventing genetic discrimination – lest we turn into Gattaca. Just don’t expect this bill to see the light of day, as Wasylycia-Leis already had a bill at the committee stage, which would amend Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).

And finally, Her Excellency confirms that her appointment will be up in September, and that she’s looking at what she wants to achieve before her tenure is up.

Up today – You can bet that these allegations by a former translator in Afghanistan of Canadian soldiers subcontracting torture to the NDS will come up in Question Period. And hopefully it’ll overshadow the Guergis affair.
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