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2 min

QP: Last shout before summer

In statements leading up to the final question period of this sitting, NDP MPs from Quebec said that they wanted to show up to St-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremonies in their ridings and lamented that those mean Conservatives were going to make them stay to fight the back-to-work legislation. Layton’s first three questions were about the postal strike, in which he blamed Harper personally for the lockout and compared it to prorogation. Harper shrugged and said that the opposition caused the last election (not that he minds, I’m sure). Hélène Lavendière and Jack Harris asked about the Afghan detainee documents, accusing the government of a cover-up and demanding a public inquiry. John Baird claimed the recent document release answered all questions. Bob Rae asked first about a specific issue in the back-to-work legislation (Harper: we’re ensuring the resumption of postal service). Rae then turned to the topic of the insanity of Harper’s Senate-reform bill (Harper: you’re making false statements).

Round two kicked off with Romeo Saganash, Nathan Cullen, François Lapointe and Pat Martin all asking about the government’s decision to block the addition of asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention (Christian Paradis: chrysotile can be used safely! Really!); Peggy Nash asked about household debt and EI in the face of the ongoing jobs crisis (Jim Flaherty: look at our job creation record!); Jean Crowder asked about cuts at HRSDC (Diane Finley: we’re helping families with our childcare benefit!); and Manon Perreault asked about the UN convention on the rights of the disabled (Finley: look at our registered disability savings plan!). Marc Garneau asked about tobacco versus asbestos and brought up the heretofore unspoken issue that people in the developing world can’t afford the proper equipment and training to use chrysotile safely (Paradis: chrysotile can be used safely!); and Judy Foote asked about a value-for-money audit of the G8 legacy fund (Baird: the auditor general made helpful observations). Alexandre Boulerice and Charlie Angus each took another run at Tony Clement, only to have Baird rebuff them yet again.

Round three saw questions on the deportation of refugees, Libyan students in Canada, cuts to immigrant settlement organizations, the Afghan documents and our failure to protect prisoners, natural disasters in Western Canada, the rail service review, rescue centre closures and a new Detroit-Windsor border crossing.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to James Bezan for his charcoal suit with a lovely pink shirt and light-blue tie (and matching pocket square) and to Rona Ambrose for her nicely tailored off-white jacket and skirt with a beige top. Style citations go out to Jonathan Tremblay for his black suit with a bright-green shirt and a striped black-and-green tie and to Lois Brown for her blinding salmon-coloured jacket and skirt with a red scarf that was so huge it appeared to be swallowing her head.

And that wraps up the final QP of the spring session. It was three weeks of dull QP, which largely consisted of robotic recitations of scripted questions answered with scripted talking points (and you can tell that cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries are coming along with their ability to perform when their recitations start sounding more free-flowing). When the House returns, let's hope that debate flows easily, questions are more dynamic and when members of the government don’t provide answers, their feet are held to the fire. I realize that I’m probably dreaming.

Program note: Beginning next week, I will try to hit Senate question period for as long as they sit, just for a change of pace.
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