Jack Layton kicked off question period with a trio of questions about Libya, which asked about the mission Parliament intends to vote upon, why Canada was not playing a bigger humanitarian role and SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian firm currently under contract to build a prison there. John Baird responded by assuring Layton that they want to continue the UN-mandated mission to protect civilians and do humanitarian work, and that companies like SNC-Lavalin help promote Canadian values abroad. Layton then moved on to the auditor general’s report and the appropriation of border infrastructure funds for the G8 legacy projects. Baird returned to old talking points about moving expeditiously and said that it was a public service recommendation to do so, even though the AG's report said otherwise. Bob Rae was up next and asked about the continued lack of response from the government on the last inquiry into the Air India bombing, including ex gratia payments to the families. Vic Toews responded with a reminder of the threat of terrorism. And Stéphane Dion asked about the closure of those rescue centres, which the government is dismissing as “call centres.” Keith Ashfield gave bland assurances about the closures having no impact.
Round two kicked off with Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice returning to the issue of the appropriated border infrastructure funds by trying to tie the Liberal sponsorship scandal to it (despite the fact that the two are completely different). John Baird continued to reassure them that every dollar was accounted for. Peggy Nash asked about the ongoing employment crisis (Diane Finley: go Economic Action Plan!); Robert Chisholm asked about our dismal trade numbers (Ed Fast: welcome to the trade file, NDP!); and Mathieu Ravignat asked about the government promoting the oil sector over the forestry sector (Denis Lebel: right now there’s no market for forestry products). Marc Garneau asked about the promised update to the Investment Canada Act (Christian Paradis: foreign acquisitions continue to be reviewable); Joyce Murray asked about the inflated grades the Canada Revenue Agency gave itself based on client-satisfaction data (Gail Shea: we’re committed to fair and equitable taxpayer rights); Yvon Godin asked about the postal strike (Kelly Leitch: we’re disappointed they’re still on strike); and Françoise Boivin asked about the previous commitment to kill pay equity as a human right and the regulatory nightmare that resulted – taking a gratuitous shot at her former Liberal colleagues along the way (Tony Clement: we’re drafting regulations that make sense!).
Round three saw questions on the E coli crisis and food inspectors, an increase in budgets for ministers' offices, transparency on the perimeter agreement, a veteran on a hunger strike, a Quebec woman being held captive by her husband’s family in Saudi Arabia and a particular deportation case.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for his grey suit with a crisp white shirt, patterned black tie and some very fashionable black glasses and Kirsty Duncan for her white silk jacket with red-and-black Asian patterning. Style citations go out to Françoise Boivin for her beige smocklike jacket with black trim and Scott Armstrong for his yellow shirt with a black jacket and tie (again with the yellow and black).
Although QP felt slightly more organized today, with a few more follow-up questions by some NDP MPs, it was, for the most part, still composed of robotic recitations of talking points from both sides. The "age of civility" will continue to be the "age of the deadly dull" until we can get some actual back-and-forth exchanges that aren’t pre-scripted.