Statements by Members were pretty sombre – first Todd Russell spoke about Terry Fox (as Canada launches a new research effort on the 30th anniversary of his walk). Joe Comartin spoke about the tragedy of the Polish airplane crash, which was echoed by Daniel Paillé, Michael Ignatieff and Blaine Calkins. Ken Dryden rose to speak about Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Ralph Goodale spoke about Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Ypres, and the End of an Era commemoration.
Too bad all that sombre and intense sentiment was immediately wasted as the first half of Question Period was virtually all about the salacious details of Helena Guergis and the allegations about her – for which the designated spokesminister, John Baird, simply said that a third party made the allegations, and now it was up to the RCMP and Ethics Commissioner to come to their own conclusions. Oh, and they passed the Accountability Act, so they are above reproach. When the Bloc asked, Christian Paradis gave the verbatim answers in French. When Anita Neville and Marcel Proulx gave dates for meetings Guergis’s husband, Rahim Jaffer, had with Ministers of the Crown – while not a registered lobbyist – Baird (one of the Ministers in question) denied any business was discussed, and Lisa Raitt made motions that the same was the case when her name was brought up.
Only Jack Layton didn’t lead off with questions of Guergis – focusing instead on the nuclear summit in Washington that Harper was off to (where we agreed to return some spent enriched uranium to the Americans, even though they never wanted it back previously) – before rather clumsily trying to tar Liberals with the same scandalous brush as the Conservatives. Only Liberal Mark Holland was able to be a bit more narrative with just where this particular “scandal” fit into the bigger picture – redactions, firing watchdogs, prorogation – all ways of avoiding accountability.
The rest of Question Period was a bit more substantive – the Bloc opposing the 30 extra planned seats for the Commons, Geoff Regan wondering about Gail Shea’s apparent conflict of interest with her son-in-law’s wind-farm project and a chorus of Opposition defence and foreign affairs critics wondering just what was going on with that governor of Kandahar that we were apparently funding while he allegedly carried out torture in a private dungeon. (Peter MacKay wondered why the Opposition hated the troops).
At the very end of Question Period, Scott Brison asked why, as a Pacific nation, Canada was not at the table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Peter Van Loan said that Canada was still considering if it made sense to participate.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Rona Ambrose for a very lovely white-grey slip dress under a grey jacket, which was perfect for her shape. I also loved Kirsty Duncan’s white linen jacket over a pink top. For the style citations, Diane Finley looked like she needed to hurry out after Question Period because she had a property to show. Oh, wait – she’s not a realtor. Could have fooled me.
Chris Charlton needs to remember that the '80s are over, and fluorescent yellow is no longer an acceptable colour of jacket (not that it ever really was). Martha Hall Findlay needs to stop wearing those high-cut three-quarter-length sleeve jackets, and Cathy McLeod should also remember that women with her body shape should never wear turtlenecks. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a dark grey suit with a teal green ruffled top that was on the right track.
After Question Period, Liberal Derek Lee gave his long-awaited rebuttal to the justice minister over the whole issue of breach of privilege in the government’s refusal to turn over those documents. (Spoiler: the government’s position is wrong, wrong, wrong).
Bill & Melinda Gates – likely already miffed that this government is not exactly living up to its international HIV vaccine promises – are even more miffed after learning that a key player in Canada’s initiative to curb smoking in Africa, Mulroney-era External Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall, was also on the board of Imperial Tobacco. Not so cool.