The Conservative contempt for Parliament doesn’t start and stop at the House or committees. Rather, it has spread to the Senate, with the prime minister’s spokesperson, Dimitri Soudas, claiming that those awful Liberal senators have stalled all legislation, including the budget implementation bill, in the Senate, and thus it was imperative that the prime minister appoint a new Senator to replace Michael Pitfield immediately. Erm, except that a) the Senate has passed all kinds of government bills so far, and b) the budget implementation bill hasn’t even passed the House yet, and furthermore, when they asked if they could get a head start on studying the bill, the Conservative vice-chair of the Senate finance committee said no.
So the Liberal leader in the Senate, Senator James Cowan, wrote a letter to the prime minister, to address these factual errors. Funny, Soudas didn’t back down when these errors – including supporting evidence by the Conservative leader in the Senate, Marjorie LeBreton – were aired on Power & Politics. Not that Harper has any interest in defending the Senate or its work.
Speaking of the Conservative contempt for committees, it was another gong show as Christian Paradis showed up instead of his staffer at the Ethics committee, and after demanding to be heard, didn’t bother speaking to the media afterward. Funny that.
During Question Period, Dominic LeBlanc got things rolling with a bit of a reveal – starting with a question about corporate tax cuts, moving onto the costs of the G8 and G20 summits, and for his final supplemental, bringing up the money being spent in Tony Clement’s riding to restore an old steamboat – ostensibly for the G8, but which won’t be in the water in time. Was this what they had in mind? Baird’s sole defence was that Michael Ignatieff himself agreed that Muskoka was a great place to hold the G8. Mike Savage followed up and reminded the House of a young Jason Kenney who thought that $28 million was too much money to spend to host the G8 in Halifax all those many years ago. Baird seemed to agree that yes, hosting a G8 is expensive.
Gilles Duceppe was up next, and he asked whether Dimitri Soudas’ refusal to show up at committee meant the government was saying it was okay to ignore the law? Jay Hill said that ministers were responsible for the conduct of their staff. So, does that mean they should be punished for contempt of Parliament instead of their absent staffers? As Michel Guimond followed this line of questioning, Jay Hill bemoaned the tyranny of the opposition majority on committees – seriously. Jack Layton raised the issue of the pipelines being built that would end up on the West Coast – you know, where there’s a moratorium on tanker traffic that would fill up at said pipelines. Christian Paradis affirmed there was a moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the West Coast – but conveniently didn’t mention tanker traffic.
Marlene Jennings asked after getting the Mulroney money repaid, Alexandra Mendes asked about the fast-tracking of Rahim Jaffer’s request to Christian Paradis’ office, followed by questions on the national securities regulator, the Quebec National Assembly’s concerns over the way young offenders would be sentenced in proposed legislation as it would undermine their successful system, the lack of emergency plans for an oil spill in Canadian waters, the Conservatives' plan to raise EI premiums, the fact that Tony Clement’s infamous infomercial apparently didn’t license any of the music it contained, the infamous iPod levy, the upcoming bill on bulk water exports (and all the holes it contains), dredging Sydney Harbour, and the Navy not being bilingual enough.
At the very end of QP, newly independent MP Helena Guergis stood up to ask just what exactly it was she was accused of that got her kicked out of caucus. John Baird said that there were serious allegations forwarded to the RCMP – just like every other time that question came up in weeks past.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Ruby Dhalla for her very nicely cut black-and-cream patterned dress. Citations, however, are issued for Sylvie Boucher’s hot pastel mess of a top, Lynne Yelich’s dull navy jacket and red trousers with – wait for it – a navy top with red polka dots and a matching pocket square. So. Very. Wrong. Also, Mike Wallace apparently took a cue from Gordon O’Connor the day before, as he wore a nearly identical gold patterned tie with a lemon-yellow shirt and a black suit. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports light grey trousers with a dull mustard sweaterlike top.
It looks like the Liberals are withdrawing their support for the “safe country of origin” proposals in the refugee legislation. This could get very interesting, especially if Jason Kenney decides to kill the bill rather than see those provisions cut.
The Commons special committee on Afghanistan took a surprise visit to Kandahar, and after seeing things on the ground have signalled their readiness to start debating just what our role post-2011 should be.
On the subject of Afghanistan, the agreement on those detainee documents still hasn’t been hammered out, and their deadline is about to pass yet again, and it looks like the government is to blame. Not that this should surprise anyone.
It looks like the bill to scrap the long-gun registry was voted by the committee that it not proceed. It still, however, has to have such a recommendation voted on by the full House of Commons, so the drama isn’t quite over yet. The Young Liberals, meanwhile, continue their campaign of trying to embarrass Conservative and NDP MPs into voting against it.
And Maclean’s takes a closer look at the enigma that is their Parliamentarian of the Year, John Baird. I would take issue with one bit, however – they talk about his “politician’s memory” of recalling faces and events. I can’t count the number of times he’s introduced himself to me, and even after I’ve called him out on it, he still does it. Alas!