After listening to Conservatives target the so-called “Liberal Eight” for the past few weeks on the long-gun registry, and how dare they be whipped by their party leader on that vote (as though the Conservatives have never been whipped on a vote), the Liberals today turned the tables a little. Judy Sgro stood up to demand to know why it was that John Baird was ignoring his constituents and the Ottawa Police Force, who want the registry maintained. Why wasn’t he doing the right thing and listening to those constituents. But as with any of these kinds of things, the first time was clever. Let’s hope they don’t now turn it into mind-numbing repetition.
As well, Michael Ignatieff rose to commemorate the 65th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, though none of the other parties mentioned it.
Question Period began with Ignatieff pointing out that the survivors of the École Polytechnique massacre were in attendance, and they wanted the long-gun registry maintained. John Baird reiterated that the long-gun registry was a waste of money, but the justice minister had all kinds of other measures being proposed to keep Canadians safe. Err, except all of his proposals actually undermine public safety and will only make things worse in the long run. But hey, the optics look good, and that’s what counts.
When Marc Garneau continued on that line of questioning, bringing up the consensus in Quebec on the registry, Vic Toews said that they wanted to instead end the criminalisation of gun owners, at which point Ignatieff called out “which is what we proposed.” Denis Lebel took the follow-up to say that the consensus with Quebec hunters was to scrap it. So there.
Gilles Duceppe asked why the Conservatives were funding religious groups instead of women’s organisations, citing the examples of those translating the Bible into African languages. Bev Oda replied that they were trying to help women responsibly, and when Duceppe pressed the issue, Ambrose said that they had increased their funding, but were oversubscribed – more groups were applying than ever. Nicole Demers took the second round, and said that Match Canada lost their funding at the last minute, to which Oda responded that the evaluations were done by independent CIDA officials, so it couldn’t possibly be politically motivated. I’m sure.
Jack Layton asked why the allegations surrounding Devinder Shory didn’t merit his expulsion from caucus, but the still mysterious allegations around Helena Guergis did. Conservative House Leader Jay Hill said that the allegations surrounding Shory were a personal, civil matter.
From there questions moved onto Rahim Jaffer, long-guns, the proposed international tax on banks, the poverty rate, and a demand for a national pharmacare programme. That progressed to a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, Omar Khadr, torture in Afghanistan, and funding for MS treatment, and as you could guess, almost none of these questions received an actual response.
In fact, the biggest and most repeated non-response of the day began when the Rahim Jaffer questions started, at which point John Baird suddenly accused Liberal Derek Lee of being an unregistered lobbyist based on an internet search (which apparently a Conservative blogger posted two weeks ago), and the allegations moved on from there to such an extent that apparently Lee was selling Canadian secrets from CSIS to foreign companies. Seriously. Shortly thereafter, Lee released a statement saying that he didn’t know how his law firm was portraying his role on their website, that the page had been taken down, and he had written a letter to the Ethics Commissioner to ensure that he was still in compliance with the Act. Oh, and he has never been a lobbyist, has never lobbied the government, and so on. Not that it stopped the NDP’s Pat Martin from extrapolating wildly and throwing around bribery accusations either.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Judy Foote for her navy pinstripe suit with the long jacket that was exquisitely tailored, with the crisp white collared shirt beneath. Also to Mario Silva, who had one of the nicest pink ties (and matching pocket squares) I’ve seen in ages, to go along with his pale pink shirt and dark grey suit. The style citation goes out to Josée Verner, whose coat looked like a butchered tan trench coat that was a bad cut, and a bad colour for someone who spends as much time in a tanning bed as she apparently does. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a perfectly lovely grey dress, poorly matched with an awful green-tinged mustard sweater, a long tied scarf that I thought was a bit much, and emerald heels which complemented nothing in the ensemble. And she was on a roll until this point too!
Maclean’s Aaron Wherry asks CIDA some very specific questions about abortion funding abroad, and oh, look – they don’t itemise the medical procedures offered by each organisation.
The government put out their list of the status of women organisations they’re funding, and they’re pretty disproportionately focused on domestic and sexual abuse victims’ organisations – not surprising, since they defunded any group that dealt with advocacy or research a few years ago now.