Dean Del Mastro
2 min

QP: Dusting off some old favourites

Many a Wednesday, question period is
buzzing with energy, the MPs having just been pumped up by caucus meetings, and
they’re ready to go and kick some butt. Today was the opposite of that. In
fact, it was so listless and dead in the chamber that it sapped the energy
of those of us observing the proceedings instead. Nycole Turmel pretty much
repeated her questions from the previous two days, and while Harper did
indicate that he might be open to a new vote on giving the chief electoral officer more powers, he pretty much shrugged and said that they were
cooperating fully and had provided all of their information to Elections
Canada. And Pat Martin once again demanded to know what government contracts
the calling firm RMG had received, but Dean Del Mastro assured him that the
government was transparent on these kinds of matters – before returning to talk
of “exaggerated allegations” and “baseless smears” that somehow demean all of
those voters who cast legitimate ballots in the last election. No, it’s not
just you – we were all trying to figure how exactly that worked. Bob Rae asked
about the CEO’s powers, but for his last supplementary asked about regulatory
changes to inshore fisheries in Eastern Canada, hoping that Harper would
answer, but no – Ashfield stood up to deliver his talking point about the
importance of consultation.

Round two kicked off with Alexandre
Boulerice and Charlie Angus asking about the In and Out repayment and how that
fit into the robo-call issue (Poilievre dusted off his old In and Out talking
points about Conservative dollars used for Conservative advertising, while Del
Mastro continued to be his blatherskite self); Alexandrine Latendresse and David
Christopherson asked about the CEO’s powers (Poilievre/Del Mastro: same as the
previous two responses); and Libby Davies and Anne Minh-Thu Quach asked about
drug shortages (Aglukkaq – It’s the fault of the provinces for engaging in
sole-source contracts. Err, except that the one company is the only
manufacturer of 40 percent of the drugs that there’s a shortage of. Oops). Frank
Valeriote demanded the Conservatives give Elections Canada access to their
voter software (Del Mastro: Smears!), while Francis Scarpaleggia and Judy Foote
detailed cases of two-stage robo-calls, where constituents in at least two
ridings got live calls asking for their support, and when they said they
weren’t voting Conservative, they later got a robo-call about a moved polling
location (Del Mastro: We’re fully assisting Elections Canada). Peter Julian
asked about budget choices (Menzies: You voted against increasing transfers to
provinces), and Irene Mathyssen and Matthew Dubé asked about cuts to EI centres
and youth employment centres (Finley: We’re focused on jobs and growth!).

Round three saw questions on the OAS, cuts
to Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Appeal Board, staff changes at search and
rescue centres, the Canada-European trade agreement, muzzling scientists,
Diamond Jubilee pins being made in China, and a concussions strategy. It should
also be noted that the only question on a potential Air Canada strike came from
the government backbenches, providing Lisa Raitt an opportunity to admonish the
opposition for not raising it.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Hélène
 for her black dress with the silver leaf pattern and a black jacket,
and to Pierre-Luc Dusseault for his grey suit with the pink-striped shirt and
pinkish tie. Style citations go out to Cathy McLeod for a black turtleneck
(which she should never, ever wear) and a goldish jacket that looked like it
was possibly of some kind of snakeskin pattern, and to Patrick Brown for a
black suit with a yellow shirt and tie (seriously – enough with the yellow and

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