The NDP managed to be at the centre of all the major drama on the Hill yesterday. One the one hand, there were Libby Davies’ comments about Israel, and the myriad of calls for her resignation in spite of her apology for them. On the other hand was the NDP’s walking out of the talks on the agreement to see the unredacted detainee documents. The other three parties signed the agreement, but the NDP decided that the agreement wasn’t good enough for them (even though Ralph Goodale later explained to Jack Harris on Power & Politics that his concerns were addressed), but it nevertheless set the tone for the day.
Davies did give a Members’ Statement – but it wasn’t her apology (which appeared in a newspaper), but rather it welcomed the “Homelessness Trekkers”, a Vancouver group that has re-enacted the Trek from Vancouver to Ottawa to highlight Canada’s housing crisis.
Bob Rae kicked off Question Period back on the topic of the costs of the G8 and G20 summits, to which Harper pointed out that the costs were for two separate summits, and then accused him of opposing inviting Africa. When Mark Holland pointed out that it cost South Africa less for security for world leaders to host the month-long FIFA World Cup, Lawrence Cannon assured him that most of the costs were for security.
Gilles Duceppe asked after the agenda items for the summits – specifically asking after climate change and abortion, and Johanne Deschamps asked about NGOs who were afraid of attending events because they were afraid of getting their funding cut. Jack Layton was on a tear about the “coalition of the unwilling” between the Liberals and the Conservatives – unwilling in that they were unwilling to see the truth about torture in Afghanistan come to light, apparently – but Harper turned around and demanded Davies’ resignation instead. James Moore and Paul Dewar got into a shouting match while Question Period continued on, oblivious to their eye rolls, finger-pointing and hand waving.
From there came more questions on summit costs, lump-sum payments to veterans (which Rob Oliphant later fumed about, even though it wasn’t his question, but he felt the answer blamed the victims), relief wells for off-shore oil wells, and the emergency debate in the House the night before on the experimental new MS treatment.
Bill Siksay asked after the rise in hate crimes, and got a half-hearted answer about how the Canadian Human Rights Commission was launching a study, and yay their justice agenda. On the supplemental about the specific rise in violence against queers, Nicholson instead demanded Libby Davies’ resignation.
The day was rounded off with questions on the national securities regulator, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, First Nation’s healthcare in this country, and the case of that young woman being held in Saudi Arabia.
Sartorially speaking, I quite loved Rob Oliphant’s purple tie, and it was the second day in a row that Cathy McLeod wore outfits that conformed to The Rules – in this case a structured black-and-white dress with an appropriate deep-v neckline, and a structured white jacket overtop. Less good was James Moore’s bright blue tie (though, admittedly not as bad as the previous day’s hot pink tie), and Lois Brown’s coral pink jacket with the cloudy patterning was a bit much (even if the cut was good). The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a nice black slip dress with a short-sleeved orange sweater and matching orange brooch. This was paired with mauve strappy heels, but they seemed to work with the outfit, so I’m giving it a pass.
Michael Ignatieff laid out his party’s foreign policy platform. Now watch it disappear from the mainstream media and be replaced by complaints that we haven’t seen “a coherent platform” from Ignatieff in 4…3…2…
“See no evil, hear no evil,” was apparently the Canadian Forces position on detainee abuse in Afghanistan. Good to know.
Liberal and independent Senators failed in their bid to split up the omnibus budget bill by a vote of 42 to 51. Meanwhile the Conservative senators are saying that omnibus budget bills are not their invention. That’s not the point! The point is that this particular bill is an egregious abuse of the process – not that they would admit to that.
The Auditor General has (finally) been invited to do a performance audit of Parliament’s operations, and she’s accepted. But of course, because she’s not going to audit all 308 MPs, suddenly people are calling it “half measures,” even though this is all she’s been asking to do in the first place.
The Commons’ Law Clerk’s official verdict is that the government can’t prevent its staffers from being summoned by committees, even in the (false) name of “ministerial accountability.” Not that this is a surprise, but at least there’s some weight behind this now.
And the vote to not proceed with the bill to scrap the long gun registry has been delayed – until late September. One more agenda item for the summer barbecue circuit.