3 min

QP: Ask a simple question

The topic of the day was raw sewage, as
Nycole Turmel kicked off question period. News that new federal regulations on
wastewater treatment would mean some hefty budget burdens on municipalities
left Turmel wondering where the money for these infrastructure projects was
going to come from. It was James Moore’s turn to be backup PM today, and he
accused the NDP of simply voting against the budget that would help these
municipalities. Peter Julian wondered why the government wasn’t creating jobs
(Ted Menzies: We have a plan to do that – it was the Economic Action Plan™ that
you voted against), and Ralph Goodale, filling in for Bob Rae, asked about the
government’s insistence on raising EI premiums (Moore: Support our low-tax

Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice
teamed up to kick off round two, as they often do, returning to their favourite
topic of the G8 legacy – in this case, new revelations about costs for
renovations at Deerhurst Resort. But did Tony Clement get up to answer? No.
And with both John Baird and Deepak Obhrai out of the House, it fell to Bob
Dechert to obfuscate by extolling all the good things that happened at the
G8 meeting in Deerhurst. Hélène Laverdière asked about sanctions on Syria
(Dechert: We’re calling for tougher ones right now); Matthew Kellway asked
about a new half-billion-dollar line item for a US military satellite (Fantino:
Our recent operations have shown the need for secure communications); and Guy
Caron asked a question about the F-35s (Fantino: They’re the bestest planes in
the history of ever!). Sean Casey and Francis Scarpaleggia asked about those
wastewater regulations, paying particular attention to harbours in Halifax and
Charlottetown (Kent: We’ve invested $3 billion in infrastructure, and they get
another $2 billion from the gas tax transfer), and John McKay also asked about
that satellite spending. Claude Gravelle asked about the unrest in the Conservative
benches over asbestos (Paradis: Crysotile can be used safely! Really!), and Megan
Leslie asked about ozone monitoring (Kent: Environment Canada is still
monitoring ozone).

Round three saw questions on media vetting
for the RCMP; provincial input on the omnibus crime bill; a government briefing
note on the ozone cuts related to the two different types of monitoring, and
when Kent didn’t answer, Justin Trudeau asked Kent if he knew what ozone was
and if he knew the difference between its impact at low and high altitudes (Kent
could not answer and simply obfuscated); our “broken” fisheries; the minister
insulting seasonal workers; a prescription drug shortage (Aglukkaq: I totally
took leadership and told the drug companies to take action or face
regulation!); concussions in children’s hockey; and child poverty.

In the foyer afterward, Trudeau scrummed
with reporters on his question. “The question of what Canada’s doing around
monitoring the ozone layer over the past months and years has come up many
times in the House, and we’ve got nothing but political obfuscation from the minister of the environment. This led me to be concerned that perhaps, as we had
a minister of science who couldn’t define evolution, now perhaps we have a
minister of the environment who does not know what ozone is. Kirsty [Duncan,
the environment critic] and I have been talking about this – almost joking – for a
few weeks, about what would it be like to stand up and ask the minister of the
environment if he could define ozone, and just give him a total opportunity to
make me look like a fool for asking a question that he would obviously know the
answer to. The answer, by the way, is fairly simple – it’s an oxygen molecule
with three parts, O3. It’s bad for us on low levels because it’s a contributor
to smog, and it’s very good for us at high levels of altitude because it
reflects ultraviolet radiation. He could have said that – he didn’t. He was not
able – I’m sure he’s right now going to Wikipedia and is going to have an
answer for anyone who asks him – but the fact that this government has ignored
the science, that he was unable to make me look like a fool by asking such a
simple question means about when we think about the Bali negotiations going on
right now that he’s not attending – or has not attended yet – on the renewal of
the Montreal Protocol on the ozone layer, which was signed in 1987 by a
Progressive Conservative government of Canada, and it also makes you wonder if
he understands the climate science that he’s going to be representing us at in
Durban in a short while.”

Sartorially speaking, it was a pretty bleak
day in the House, so no one is being awarded snaps. Style citations, however,
are numerous, starting with both Jamie Nicholls and Raymond Côté for each
wearing a black suit with a fluorescent blue shirt (Nicholls had a black tie, Côté
a light-blue one), and to Candice Hoeppner for an awful black dress with a
mystifying green and brown pattern. Dishonourable mention goes out to Megan
 for a yellow top (with a dubious front drape feature) with – you guessed
it – a black jacket.

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