4 min

Splitting hairs about Omar Khadr

Before Question Period began, Mario Silva rose to speak about his birthplace: the Azores, Portugal.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of the Parliament of Canada to recognize Casa dos Açores do Ontario, located in my Davenport riding, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Canada's long and storied history with the Azores dates back hundreds of years. The nine lush islands of the Azores have for mariners formed a welcome horizon over the Atlantic Ocean with Canada to the west. For the 400,000 Canadians of Portuguese origin who were born in the Azores, both places are special in their hearts.
The Azores is home to many esteemed poets and the first two presidents of Portugal. As the first Canadian Member of Parliament to have been born in the Azores, I share this pride.
Azoreans on both sides of the Atlantic cherish their country of birth, the place they have always considered their homeland. For the past 25 years, Casa dos Açores has helped build bridges between two neighbours: Canada and the Azores.
I would like to congratulate Casa dos Açores on this special anniversary. 

Libby Davies also spoke about the death of Sandy Cameron.

Mr Speaker, the many people who knew, respected and loved Sandy Cameron mourn his death and the loss we will experience.

His decades of leadership, compassion and hard work in the Downtown Eastside helped countless people. Sandy's numerous, enduring and thoughtful columns in the Carnegie Newsletter, his books of poetry, his work at the Carnegie Learning Centre, as well as his kind and gentle ways of helping people, are things that inspired a whole community.

He told us and recorded our history; he was a wonderful teacher; a mentor and a guide, who, along with his partner of 25 years, Jean Swanson, helped forge a strength of community that is legendary across Canada.

Most of all, Sandy worked for social justice and peace. He believed and lived that it came from the people. His unwavering belief in our own ability to create a better world, without violence and inequality, is what he left us. The best thing we can do is carry on that work because that's what he would expect us to do.

Thank you Sandy, for the gifts you gave us. Your words live on.

With Harper, Ignatieff and Layton out of the House, it was up to Ralph Goodale to rise and ask about the Potash deal and for John Baird to obfuscate instead of answering. Alexandra Mendes followed up by asking about cuts to cultural programming – especially those programs that allowed Canadian artists to tour abroad. James Moore insisted that his government increased funding for the arts (when, really, they increased the department budget, and much of that went to sports).

Gilles Duceppe was the first to raise the issue of Omar Khadr, and Lawrence Cannon began his afternoon of hair-splitting answers – the government didn’t have any part in the plea negotiations between Khadr’s defence lawyers and the American government (notice that distinction), and they would “implement” the plea deal. Johanne Deschamps asked about the KAIROS funding decision, and Tomas Mulcair followed up by returning to the Potash deal.

From there, Ujjal Dosanjh and Raymonde Folco asked after Khadr, and Maria Minna asked about the KAIROS funding. Carole Lavallée asked about the PromArts and Trade Routes cultural programs, and Christiane Gagnon wondered why 20 years later, the Meech Lake documents were still kept secret. From there came questions on the F-35 contracts, FedDev funding choices, the HST, underwater seismic tests, the fact that 90 percent of disability funding has gone to Conservative ridings, regulations for shale gas exploitation, and Made in Canada food labelling changes.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Kirsty Duncan for her fantastic little black dress, while style citations go out to Martha Hall Findlay for that awful moonstone-yellow bolero-ish jacket that needs to be burned. No, seriously.

Immigration target numbers are expected to remain the same, but the government looks to be lowering its targets for economic migrants in favour of more spouses, children and refugees.

The prime minister’s new chief of staff is going to be behind an “ethical wall” to protect him from conflicts of interest. Really? Good luck making that work.

The business community is targeting Scott Brison and the Liberals about their plans to roll back those corporate tax cuts should they get into office. But they’re being “non-partisan,” and just want to “raise awareness.” Meanwhile, Peter Van Loan, our international trade minister, says that our future is tied to the US, not Asia or other emerging economies. Good to know this government is helping to diversify our economy.

Leaked documents from Veterans Affairs show that the government expected fewer claims than they’ve been getting, and that they’re paying out less money under the new system – to the detriment of veterans. I’m quite sure this will make excellent Question Period fodder tomorrow.

It also looks like the Natural Resources department doesn’t want Christian Paradis, the minister in charge, to talk about what could happen if there were an oil spill in Canadian waters. Apparently they didn’t even want their documents on such an eventuality to make it to his office. I don’t see this playing well in Question Period either (other than calls for a full public inquiry into Natural Resources Canada).

Pirates ahoy at Rideau Hall!

Movember is here – beware the month that style will try to forget.

Up today – Michael Ignatieff is in Montreal to give a talk about rebuilding Canada’s leadership on the world stage. This after Paul Martin said that the government should be taking lessons from our loss at the UN Security Council.

PS – Maclean’s has more photos from Spirit Day, including Rob Oliphant and Mario Silva.
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