One of the things in my job that I take a great deal of perverse pleasure in is when someone like Senator James Cowan – the leader of the opposition in the Senate – decides to write an open letter to spank whatever cabinet minister is spouting off on any particular day. Yesterday, that minister was Rob Nicholson, for his decision to trot out the old straw man of Liberals – especially those in the Senate – holding up crime bills, even though we all know that’s nothing more than a falsehood. And yet, Cowan decided to take him to task, just as he’s done with other ministers in the past.
And the letter? It’s good. It largely focuses on the issue of Bill S-10, which is the drug bill that the government plans to use to force all kinds of new mandatory minimum sentences upon people, especially pot users. And Cowan, who knows his stuff, takes it apart, including bringing up Nicholson’s own opposition to mandatory minimum sentences back when he was a committee vice-chair in 1988 because they don’t work and they’re expensive. And there are some pretty memorable lines in it, like “you cannot expect Canadians to take responsibility for their actions when you, the head of our justice system, do not.” Great reading. Highly recommended.
Over in the Commons, Michael Ignatieff started off question period on the pesky issue of those F-35 fighters, now that we have all that lovely new behind-the-scenes information about them out in the open thanks to the three-part exposé in the Ottawa Citizen. Peter MacKay obviously hadn’t read it, as he went and repeated all of the talking points that the exposé debunked, and then turned to attacking the Liberals – and Marc Garneau in particular after he picked up the line of questioning – rather than honestly answering questions. Gilles Duceppe asked about the agreement from Cancun, Claude Guimond about the high tides that caused damage in the lower St Lawrence, and Jack Layton asked about “predatory” credit card companies and “predatory” foreign investment.
Round two got started with Ujjal Dosanjh taking the government to task for not defending the healthcare system, then Alexandra Mendes and Mike Savage teamed up to ask about the cancellation of the Millennium Scholarships. Claude DeBellefeuille asked about the GIS for seniors, Robert Carrier asked about the CRA official who was beaten in Montreal for investigating potential links to organized crime (yikes!). Rob Oliphant asked about the surrendering of Canadian sovereignty if the perimeter security deal goes through, and Anita Neville and Denis Coderre teamed up to ask about the lack of action on Haiti.
From there, questions included the Dhalla Dam project in Afghanistan, the catch-22 of cutting EI programs to encourage training while people can’t access training without being on EI, the Canada Summer Employment Program, allegations that the Conservatives “cheated” in the last election given these new revelations of the regional campaign offices, railway marketing powers, the costs of a Quebec highway, and a UK ruling on pensions and how that relates to the Nortel situation here.
Sartorially speaking, I’m going to give snaps to Marlene Jennings for her long hot-pink coat, which I was a little skeptical of until I saw her stand up with it, and the cut was fantastic. The style citation goes out to Candice Hoeppner for her very '80s outfit of a black jacket with huge shoulder pads and tiny belted waist, and a matching skirt. Also, Blaine Calkins cannot wear pumpkin shirts with blue ties. Just saying…. The Megan Leslie Outfit Watch reports a nice brown dress with a burnt orange sweater and cute reddish shoes.
Lawrence Cannon met with his American and Mexican counterparts to talk about Haiti and call for peace amidst the post-election distress there.
The governor of the Bank of Canada is worried about your household debt.
The Consumer Product Safety legislation has passed the Senate and is due for royal assent, despite many concerns about the search-and-seizure powers in the bill. But lead in children’s toys! That has to be the overriding panic over some very troubling other provisions, right?
The Senate finance committee has also concluded its study of the issue and recommends the elimination of the penny.
And here’s a takedown of the government’s loans to aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney, which is pretty damning. Apparently the Conservatives have sold out all of their principles.