Bob Rae
3 min

QP: Look at your own robo-call tactics

With more Robocon revelations continuing to
pour out in the media, it was a chance to see if the New Democrats could actually carry
the ball they dropped yesterday when it came to effective questioning. And
so, when Nycole Turmel got up to ask about robo-call allegations, entering one
of the dubious phone numbers into the record, Harper took a new tactic in
response – did the NDP not engage in harassing robo-calls in Lise St-Denis’s
riding after she crossed the floor, which jammed her office’s phone lines? Is
the pot calling the kettle black? No, Turmel insisted – they’re totally
different things because Robocon was about voter suppression – but now on the
defensive, momentum dissipated, never mind when Pat Martin got up for the day’s
bout of hyperbole (with bonus odd reference to the Conservatives’ “moral
sextant,” which apparently measures the latitude of their morality as opposed to
the direction, as a moral compass would). Dean Del Mastro called for the New Democrats to
forward their evidence to Elections Canada. And when Bob Rae got up to demand
that the Conservatives turn over their own evidence – the contracts and
invoices to the phone bank companies – Harper hit back with the Liberal
complicity in VikiLeaks “smears” and then insinuated that the various
robo-call accusations were smears against dozens of Conservative MPs that Rae
needed to apologize for. Again, momentum stalled.

Not that the questions on robo-calling
stopped. Alexandre Boulerice demanded information on the Conservative
connections to RMG and RackNine (Poilievre: Turn over your evidence); Charlie
Angus read another suspicious phone number into record (Del Mastro: Turn
over your evidence); David Christopherson hysterically demanded more powers
for the chief electoral officer (Del Mastro: Turn over your evidence); and Guy
Caron asked about the Service Canada centre closed in Rimouski in favour of
one in Thetford Mines (Finley: This was based on a competitive process). Irwin
Cotler reiterated the attacks against him by Conservatives and connected them to
the robo-call issue (Del Mastro: We didn’t place any misleading calls – err,
except the ones they admitted to in Cotler’s riding, right?); Frank Valeriote
wondered about all of those close ridings and the robo-call campaign (Del
Mastro: We totally deny involvement); and then Rae got up to ask about the Ottawa Citizen's revelations, where court documents showed a number of calls between the
Conservatives and RackNine (and that the burner cellphone at the centre of
this was registered to “Pierre Poutine” – no, seriously), and could he account
for those? Del Mastro again denied involvement. Jack Harris asked about the PBO
 on conditional sentencing (Nicholson: We’re acting on our beliefs that
child molesters shouldn’t get house arrest); Sylvain Chicoine added the costs
to provinces to that question (Nicholson: We don’t think arsonists should get
house arrest after they burn down someone else’s house); and Don Davies and
Sonia Groguhé asked about the ability of the minister to strip a refugee claimant's citizenship if his or her country of origin is subsequently deemed “safe”
(Kenney: That’s not in C-31 but is already in the law as a power of the
independent IRB).

Round three saw questions on the job bank
shutdown, the closure of an Arctic research station, the forthcoming aerospace
industry program review, more RackNine/Conservative questions (first from the
Liberals and then a single one from the NDP), demanding support for the NDP French
language-of-work bill, yesterday’s revelations on Rights & Democracy, and seal
exports to Russia.

Overall, I would like to point out that the
Liberals were nimble in being able to get the new revelations of
RackNine/Conservative connections into QP as it happened, whereas it took
another 15 minutes for the NDP to get a single scripted question in there, allowing the Liberals to get in more questions on the issue
before them. And for as much as the topic is robo-calling, the government
responses were pretty robotic in that members were largely repeating the same line

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to James
 for a dark grey suit with a white shirt and purple tie and pocket square,
and to Michelle Rempel for her own dark silver/grey jacket and skirt with a
black top. Style citations go out to both Jacques Gourde and Charlie Angus for
repeat grey suit/fluorescent-blue shirt violations, and to Kellie Leitch for
her long jacket that was a kind of yellow-green shade with bright green
reflective patterns that looked like they were possibly in the shapes of

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