Now that the House is up and running, things are getting back into their groove. Debate on the Speech From the Throne is ongoing, as it will be for another five days, but who should be one of the first government members to speak on it but the Parliamentary Secretary for the Government House Leader. In case you don't know who that is in the current Parliament, well, it's "reformed" homophobe Tom Lukiwski. The same one who pledged the rest of his life to combating homophobia and discrimination, and then refused to engage the queer community in his own riding. That's right, he's back – unchastened by either his voters or the Prime Minister.
Things of note before Question Period began: a) the Liberals were wearing blue ribbons to mark "National Child Day;" and b) NDP MP Bill Siksay rose during Member's Statements in order to bring the House's attention to it being Trans Day of Remembrance. The transcript from Hansard is as follows:
Mr. Speaker, today is a Trans Day of Remembrance, the day when here in Canada and around the world, members of the transsexual and transgender communities and their families, friends, co-workers and allies remember victims of transphobic violence and recommit to ensuring the full humanity and full human rights of trans people.
Trans people have too often faced violence, even to the point of death, discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in the provision of identity documents, and the denial of appropriate health care.
We celebrate the life experience of trans people and the new perspectives on gender they bring to our understanding of human diversity. To that end, the Canadian Human Rights Act must be amended to explicitly include protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. The Criminal Code must be amended so that hate crimes against trans Canadians can be prosecuted and so that judges can consider transphobic violence in sentencing.
New Democrats stand in solidarity with transsexual and transgender Canadians on this important day.
And onto the first Question Period of the 40th Parliament! The tone was a bit more civil, and there was far less heckling than usual – but then again, it's early days, and everyone is still conscious of the need for decorum. (I have no doubt that there are pools going as to how long it will last). Scott Brison, being the new Liberal finance critic, got the first question of the second round, asking why the Conservatives had spent the "rainy day" contingency fund. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's response was to congratulate Brison's re-election to whichever party he was running for now. Brison's second question quoted the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report on how Conservative policy and not the global economic crisis has taken Canada back to the brink of deficit, and with that, Brison brought forward the first great quip of the session, calling Flaherty "Canada's new Deficit Daddy." Laughter and catcalls ensued.
I should also note that Human Resources and Skills Development (note the name change, because apparently "social development" is far too socialist for this government) Minister Diane Finley finally, finally updated her haircut and dark glasses, so that her look is only five years behind instead of ten-to-fifteen. Of course, that won't actually make her any more competent at her job, nor will it likely give her the incentive she needs to actually read her departmental briefing materials. But, baby steps, I suppose.