3 min

So many flashpoints, you’d think it was the Geminis

There were a number of flashpoints in the House yesterday – and some of them proved downright explosive.

Armed with reports that the government had, in 2007, told its diplomats in Afghanistan to withhold information on torture allegations in that country, as well as Richard Colvin’s memos, Bob Rae led off Question Period with questions on the Afghan detainees. Peter MacKay obfuscated about how his government “took action,” and when Ujjal Dosanjh brought up the 2007 order, Peter Kent called the question outrageous and without evidence.

Funny that when Richard Colvin himself went before the special committee on Afghanistan a couple of hours later, he graphically laid out the torture allegations that the government has been covering up. Some experts cast doubt, but feel that the allegations deserve further examination – but good luck seeing that from this government, since they’re continually distorting these allegations as it is.

Gilles Duceppe asked about the Copenhagen negations, and Jack Layton again was on about selling nuclear technology to India. When Kirsty Duncan asked about the H1N1 vaccines, Leona Aglukkaq patted herself on the back for the estimation that 20 percent of the population had been vaccinated – which earned a Liberal shouting out “Do you have a sign for that?”

It was a pretty good day for heckles. When Marcel Proulx asked after the allegations against Senator Housakos, Liberals called out “Big Fish!” as John Baird explained how his party cleaned up government. Bob Rae made fishing motions from his seat. Other Liberals shouted “In and Out!” When Michael Savage pointed out how much the government had spent on Economic Action Plan™ signs, and how that money could have been better spent on food banks, Liberal David McGuinty shouted “Let them eat signs!” And when Gerald Keddy answered a suck-up question on Bill C-23 – the Canada/Colombia free trade agreement – Liberals called out “Cheque please!” referring, of course, to Keddy’s penchant for posing with novelty cheques stamped with the Conservative logo.

There was another flashpoint in accusations that Vic Toews made a gun-like gesture during one of the Afghan detainee questions. That deteriorated into Toews accusing the Liberals of accusing Canadian soldiers of torturing detainees – not the case – but he didn’t deny making the gesture.

But perhaps the biggest flashpoint in the foyer afterward was the ten percenter that Conservatives have been sending out which accuses the Liberals of anti-Semitism. Seriously. Irwin Cotler – himself a Jew who is a respected human rights scholar – had his riding targeted, as did Joe Volpe, whose riding has a significant Jewish population. They dispute the facts laid out in the flyer, but it probably doesn’t help that the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada says he doesn’t see the flyers as painting the Liberals as anti-Semitic – just that the Conservatives were more in tune with the Jewish community. Bob Rae says this is indicative of the new “gutter politics,” and he’s not wrong. But I still doubt that anyone will have an appetite to do anything about these kinds of incendiary ten percenters, given that they’re still valuable data mining tools.

Sartorially speaking, snaps again go out to Alexandra Mendes, whose strategic use of autumnal shades with her top and scarf, paired with a grey jacket and skirt, were well done. But while Mendes can wear autumn shades, as can Diane Ablonczy (with her smart pumpkin jacket), Judy Foote’s high-necked jacket that was a shade somewhere between burnt orange and paprika was not so good. Also improved was Rona Ambrose who wore a tailored dark grey dress and jacket, with a single non-chunky necklace. Keep it up! The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a rather odd-shaped high-collared light grey jacket with three-quarter sleeves, which most people shouldn’t even attempt to wear. That was paired with dark grey trousers and dark green shoes, which I wasn’t sold on.

Who wants to bet that Colvin’s testimony is going to dominate Question Period today?
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