2 min

QP: While Harper’s away . . .

With Harper on a plane bound for China, the
question became just which of his cabinet ministers was going to be back-up PM
for the day? And when Nycole
Turmel rose to ask about the UN vote on Syria, and whether Harper would
raise the issue with China during his trip, it was Diane Finley who rose to
reply, meaning it was her turn for the role. Finley, by the way, didn’t really
answer the question but pointed to the call for Canadians in Syria to
evacuate. Turmel then turned to the topic of the OAS (Finley: We’re ensuring
its viability in the future!), and Peter Julian asked for a jobs plan
(Flaherty: We’re keeping focused!). Bob Rae asked if the government would hold
off on making any changes to OAS until 2015 so that Canadians could vote on it
(by expressing confidence in the budget). Finley assured him that no current
senior's benefits would be affected. For his final supplemental, Rae asked if
the government would be so kind as to table any documents around the
acquisition that Caterpillar made in Canada before they shut down their plant
in London, Ontario. Christian Paradis said that the sale was not under the purview
of the act and proceeded to tout all the ways in which the government
encourages job creation.

Round two kicked off with Yvon Godin
turning puce while yelling about the Caterpillar closures (Paradis: Tax credits
for new hires!); Hélène Laverdière asked about recalling our ambassador to
Syria (Obhrai: We’ve sent a clear message that Assad must go); Brian Masse
asked about trade talks in China in the face of rising Canadian unemployment
(Keddy: Look at the great things we’ve done for trade!); and Françoise
Boivin and Carole Hughes asked about the abortion debate in the wake of
Conservative backbencher Stephen Woodworth's press conference earlier in the
morning (Nicholson and Ambrose: We’re not reopening the debate). (Might I also
say that calling for Harper to “control his backbenchers” does fly in the face
of the usual calls for more independence for MPs, unless it’s a double standard
of more independence unless they’re rightwingers. Just saying.) Scott Brison
asked about unemployment rising in provinces that aren’t Alberta (Flaherty: Yay
Economic Action Plan™!), and Judy
Sgro and Justin Trudeau asked about OAS changes (Finley recycled talking
points). Christine Moore and David Christopherson asked about that story of
private contractors billing DND for shoddy work (Ambrose: We haven’t seen that
union report yet, but we’re waiting for it and we’re totally forwarding this to
the auditor general).

Round three saw a quartet of
Toronto-centric questions from the NDP (because apparently there’s a
by-election coming), questions on childcare, the Syria situation, the upcoming
copyright bill, oil sands monitoring, Service Canada centres possibly closing,
and whether those backbench/Senate musings were the government’s way of getting
capital punishment and abortion back on the agenda (Nicholson: No).

Overall, it was a feistier day, and maybe
we’ll see some actual cut-and-thrust among the MPs while Harper is away. Maybe.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Lysane Blanchette-Lamonthe for her nicely tailored camel jacket, and to Ted
Menzies
 for his grey suit with a violet shirt and tie. Style citations go out
to Judy Foote for a red turtleneck with a grey-and-beige checked . . . jacket, I
guess, but it was of a distressingly odd puffy-yet-square cut that probably
shouldn’t exist in our space-time continuum (kind of like a hypercube), and to
both Joe Comartin and Harold Albrecht for yellow-and-black violations. Also, a
note to Laurin Liu to please burn that cream-coloured jacket with the
three-quarter sleeves, because they really work against you. Just saying.

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