3 min

QP: The politics of deceit and abandonment

The first day back, and you would have
thought that question period would be bursting with excitement, with MPs eager
to trade barbs that they haven’t been able to for the past six weeks, and that
there might be a pent-up need to hold the government to account. One also
expected that in light of the prime minister’s speech in Davos that it was
going to be all OAS all the time today – and it was not. Far from it, in fact.

Nycole Turmel kicked off asking more
broadly about cuts and condemned Harper for making announcements in Davos
rather than at home, but Harper shot back that he wasn’t making cuts directed
at seniors but was simply trying to reduce the deficit and make the program
sustainable in the long term. Peter Julian then followed up on the pensions
issue, to which Diane Finely reiterated that no, they weren’t making cuts but
trying to preserve the system. Bob Rae, however, was having none of it. He
reminded Harper that during the last election, he promised that there would be
no cuts to transfers to individuals or to provinces, and this apparently being
the “Davos Reneg,” meant he told an international crowd something completely
different than he told the electorate. “This is the politics of deceit and
abandonment!” Rae threw down. Harper responded with his very same talking points.

Libby Davies kicked off round two with a
question about the health accords ultimatum and transfers to the provinces, for
which she was furnished with the stock talking points about the government
having increased transfers to record levels. Alexandre Boulerice asked about
cuts to services (Clement: We have a strong mandate!); Jean Crowder asked about
cuts to Service Canada and the wait times there (Finley: People and employers
should submit their applications on time; note that Crowder did not use this to
hammer back at Finley in her supplemental but stuck to her script); Jack Harris
asked about the prisons agenda (Nicholson: Stand up for victims!); Françoise
Boivin was up next (sorry – I missed that exchange); followed by Mathieu
Ravignat asking about French language training in the government (Clement:
We’re continuing to outsource it like the Liberals did before us). Judy Sgro,
Lise St-Denis (in her first question as a Liberal – and possibly her first
question ever in QP) and Scott Brison each asked about the OAS (Finley: You’re
all just fear-mongering and besides, you voted against helping seniors in the
budget). Christine Moore and Matthew Kellway asked about the F-35s – whether
there was a plan B, and about the American delays and how much it would affect
us (Fantino: You’re desperately trying to attack these great planes).

Round three saw questions about opponents of
pipelines being deemed “radicals” (Oliver: We want to hear from those with a
“legitimate view”), First Nations concerns around the oil sands and the fact
that they’re tired of having to sue the government to have their treaty
rights honoured. Bob Rae got up again and asked about jurisdictional issues around the
First Nations and the Enbridge pipeline, since the National Energy Board
process doesn’t have jurisdiction with First Nations (Harper: We have a
constitutional requirement to consult, but it’s “essential” that we export our
energy). There were also questions on some labour issues at the White Birch
mill and Electromotive in London, a closed refinery in Montreal, First Nations
education, former Tunisian president Ben Ali’s seized Canadian assets, and a
final question on the OAS.

As you can see, only the Liberals seemed
focused on the OAS issue, while the NDP were back to their scattershot tactic
of trying to keep every file in the open and allowing no one issue to shine or
control the news cycle.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to
Matthew Kellway for his grey suit with a pink-hued shirt and reddish tie, and
to Lisa Raitt for her great brown-and-teal speckled dress with a fitted black
leather jacket. Style citations go out to Laurin Liu, not for the great
cranberry dress she had on, but for the terrible cream jacket with
three-quarter sleeves that she should stop wearing, and to Dany Morin, who did
not start the year off right with the fluorescent yellow shirt with a black
suit.

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