It was World Statistics Day yesterday, and given the whole census debacle, I couldn’t help but think of this. And oh, look – Statistics Canada says it is planning on a 50 percent response rate for the National Household Survey, which will produce less and less-reliable data than the long-form census, and cost more money. But hey – this government has found a “good balance.”
It was also Spirit Day, which the NDP were the only ones to mark during Members’ Statements, but curiously, it was Glen Thibeault who delivered it. Libby Davies also gave a statement to commemorate a staffer who recently died of cancer (a video of which is here).
Kicking off Question Period, Michael Ignatieff relayed the concerns of a student named Diane, whose family is caring for her aging grandmother. What would the government do? Harper responded with a rant about how this was the Liberals’ fifth attempt at a homecare plan, that their promises apparently amounted to $75 billion (remember, it doesn’t have to be true – you just have to say it convincingly), and on the supplemental, said that his government wouldn’t cut healthcare, education, or EI. Err, so literacy programs aren’t education, then? Just checking.
Ralph Goodale asked in turn about the latest Bank of Canada report and the Potash situation in Saskatchewan. Gilles Duceppe and Diane Bourgeois asked about the situation with those Parliament Hill renovation contracts and various donations to parties that may or may not be nefarious.
Speaking of the renovations:
Back in QP, Jack Layton also asked about the Potash situation, John McCallum about the UAE fiasco, Gerard Kennedy about the convention on biodiversity, Jean Dorion on the latest developments at Rights & Democracy, and Carole Freeman about the situation with the public sector integrity commissioner resigning as the auditor general announces she’s auditing the office. Bernard Bigras asked about the biodiversity issue, and when Johanne Deschamps asked about a report on the activities of Canadian mining companies abroad, Mark Warawa gave another answer about biodiversity. No, seriously. Listening to the question might help.
Lise Zarac and Marlene Jennings both asked about the apparent double standard of Helena Guergis being booted from Cabinet while Christian Paradis remains in place after being accused of far worse. When Mark Holland asked about the latest G20 spending excuse of not having numbers because they were still “waiting for the bills,” Vic Toews stayed classy and accused Holland of calling the Speaker incompetent. No really, he went there. Paul Dewar then got some chins wagging by claiming that former public works minister Michael Fortier manipulated contracts.
Rounding off QP were questions about tax fraud, the census, the tar sands, Harper’s forthcoming meeting with the Ukrainian president, Quebec highway construction costs, and those pesky CSIS allegations (where Toews claimed he would be at the public safety committee on Monday).
Sartorially speaking, a number of MPs did take up the challenge to wear purple for Spirit Day – of the purple ties I counted were Rob Oliphant, Scott Brison, Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, Glen Thibeault, James Moore, Mike Savage, Mark Eyking, Geoff Regan, Laurie Hawn, Mark Holland, Peter Braid, Paul Dewar, and even Stephen Harper had some purple stripes in his navy tie (but speculation was that was accidental). Liberal Navdeep Bains went above and beyond and matched his purple tie with a purple turban – nice! (CBC has a bunch of photos here.) On top of that, Mario Silva had a purple pocket square, Scott Sims wore a dark purple shirt, while Hedy Fry and Ève-Marie Thaï Thi Lac each had purple scarves. Christiane Gagnon and Joyce Murray had purple jackets, while Michelle Simpson went for the purple jacket and shirt, and Olivia Chow had the purple suit and skirt (along with a pink top, to make sure she had all her anti-bullying bases covered). And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a purple top, a pink and purple tied belt, and eggplant shoes – yes, she got into the spirit of things. (Oh, and Tony Clement says that John Baird was supportive, but had a “wardrobe malfunction.”)
There are even more concerns about the F-35 fighter jet purchase, this time concerning the maintenance contract, given that we don’t exactly have a maintenance history for these aircraft yet, so eating any inevitable cost overruns could be a very expensive proposition indeed.
Up today – the Conservatives are planning to unveil new legislation to combat “human smuggling” and crack down again on asylum seekers, and Michael Ignatieff is hosting an “Open Mike” night in Ottawa. Oh, and it’s a Bloc opposition day, on doing away with federal spending powers in provinces.