While the Conservatives attempt to change the channel on the Afghan detainee questions by suddenly trying to make it all about their “tough-on-crime” agenda (they’re unveiling yet another new justice bill today with no less than six MPs making simultaneous announcements to local media outlets), Harper avoided the House during Question Period. What could have been so pressing that he would avoid accountability, or even the media doing their important work for democracy by shining lights in the dark?
Two words – lacrosse hotties.
Harper was across the street in his office in the Langevin Block, accepting a Team Canada jersey from Brodie Merrill (left) and Geoff Snider, members of the team that hopes to win gold in 2010. It’s not an excuse to avoid being held to account by the Parliamentary process – but it is nice eye candy for the rest of us.
Over in the House, Question Period was again dominated by that pesky question of Afghan detainees. Once again, it went full-bore on questions – and calls for a full public inquiry – right until the Bloc’s second round on Afghan detainee questions, while the Liberals carried on until nearly the end. And throughout it all, Peter MacKay repeated his very same lines from last week.
It’s times like these that the heckles can be more instructive. Like the way John Baird kept calling out “Tell me what coercive interrogation means, Michael” during Ignatieff’s questions. (And pointing to former Liberal interim leader Bill Graham in the galleries, saying that was what a real Liberal leader looks like). Ralph Goodale, meanwhile, continually pointed out that the government has been stonewalling the very investigations they’ve been touting. David McGuinty’s repeated cries of “weasel words” were also perhaps terribly instructive when it comes to the Bob Rae’s exchange with MacKay.
Rae challenged the minister to table his briefing documents so that they can determine the “who knew what when” question. MacKay responded that he would do “one better” and “We will look at the documents that are going to be placed before the parliamentary committee, going back beyond the time that we took office.” But I notice that he said they’d look at the documents – not necessarily table them in the House. But maybe I’m just cynical like that.
The topic of those ten percenters painting the Liberals as anti-Semitic came up yet again, this time when Anita Neville asked after them. She was heckled with cries of “thou doth protest too much” and James Moore was shouting about “Crosses burning in Prince George.” Jason Kenney stood up to repeat their distorted claims, but the Speaker disallowed Neville’s supplementary question as he said it was a matter for the Board of Internal Economy and not the government.
Over the weekend, Ignatieff sent a letter to the Speaker to suggest that the rules around ten percenters be changed, and among those changes was that the party leader had to explicitly state their approval on the ad in question. (Did that stop any of the nasty attack ads in the States?) The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt, meanwhile, found an exchange from when the Conservatives were in opposition, talking about how valuable ten percenters were when the then-Liberal government could show up with big cheques with government logos on them, which totally wasn’t fair. Huh – funny that.
And if you’re wondering just how it is that Parliament’s decorum has degraded to this state, the CBC’s elder statesman Don Newman pens a column that points squarely to the Reform Party of old, who showed up in Ottawa with nothing but disdain for the Babylon of Central Canada and all its corrupting influence. Before you knew it, MPs stopped socialising outside of the Chamber, they stopped eating together in the Parliamentary restaurant when they abolished late-night sittings, and when they stopped being cordial, they then started to wonder where the decorum went? Fascinating reading.