Wednesday being caucus day, it tends to produce the best and most engaged question period of the week. And yet the energy wasn’t really crackling. The only things that seemed to have more enthusiasm were partisan members’ statements in advance of QP proper. And so, Nycole Turmel kicked things off by demanding an accounting for Senator Boisvenu’s musings that prisoners should be given ropes in their cells as a means of controlling prison populations; Turmel said that it’s a crime to encourage suicide. Harper replied that Boisvenu had withdrawn his remarks and that they were focused on helping the victims – like Boisvenu’s family (his daughter was murdered). For her last supplemental, Turmel turned to the OAS question, not that Harper would acknowledge that he’s boosting the qualifying age from 65 to 67. Peter Julian picked up the OAS issue as well, and Finley gave him pretty much the same answer Harper did. Rae also took up the OAS issue, reminding Harper that it’s meant for low-income seniors and about costs to provinces and municipalities. Harper went back to his lines about protecting seniors today and in the future.
Round two saw Charlie Angus return to the issue of Attawapiskat and concerns about money being held up by the third-party manager (John Duncan: You’ve just fabricated that whole story); Alexandre Boulerice asked about cuts to services (Finley: We’re trying to provide entitled benefits as quickly as possible); Randall Garrison and Dany Morin brought up the regulations on security screening at airports blocking trans travellers (Lebel: The rules are important and are applied equally to all travellers; you ask us to strengthen regulations and now want us to be less strict); Françoise Boivin and Libby Davies asked about maternal and child funding and the abortion issue (Oda: Look at all the good we’re doing!); Robert Aubin asked about the auditor general’s language issue (Moore: We’re committed to second language training!). Gerry Byrne asked about the demographic crunch (Finley: You keep voting against measures to help); Scott Simms asked why the government would turn over salary data for the CBC but not the PMO (Tony: We have both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act!); and Kirsty Duncan asked about a response to a petition on “climate change” when the subject was ozone monitoring (Kent: We do know the difference between them and better than you did). Rathika Sitsabaiesan and Matthew Dubé asked about cutting tuitions (Finley: We’re totally helping students, and tuition is provincial jurisdiction!); and Jinny Sims asked about CIDA funds going toward corporate social responsibility (Oda: This government is about using development funds to make a difference!).
Round three saw questions on F-35 design flaws; those training contracts for Blackwater/Xe Services (MacKay: It was the best possible training and the most cost-effective); on the Tamil refugees abandoned in Togo; the trans air regulations issue (this time from Justin Trudeau; Lebel replied with bafflegab about 9/11 and air safety); US steel; forestry in Quebec; a critical Coast Guard science vessel being laid up in drydock; a community trying to buy its wharf back from the government; veterans services under threat; and how the OAS age hike will hurt Quebec’s finances.
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed to hear all the tittering from the government benches on the trans questions and really disappointed in the quality of the minister’s answer. I fully expected an answer blaming the bureaucrats, but what we got instead was a justification of the status quo full of bafflegab. Unbelievable.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Anne Minh-Thu Quach for her trim black dress with purple sleeves, and to Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for his grey suit with a purple checked shirt and dark tie. Style citations go out to Eve Adams for her collection of dull, boxy primary-coloured jackets that she has a habit of sporting (today being a bland forest green), and to LaVar Payne for his tan suit, shirt and tie.