I arrived in the Press Gallery a few minutes early and caught the last few minutes of debates on an opposition motion brought forward by MP Scott Brison:
That, in view of the growing protectionism in the United States, which is reminiscent of the counterproductive behaviour that led to the great depression of the 1930s, this House calls upon the Government to intervene forthwith and persistently, with the United States Administration, and the Congress, in order to protect Canadian jobs, and urge the United States to respect its international agreements including the Canada-United States Trade Agreement (CUSTA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The debate on that motion will continue next week. It was also a big day because Auditor General Sheila Fraser tabled her latest reports, though she didn’t have too much to be scathing upon. The Environment Commissioner, however, also tabled a report – and his report was full of disappointment about billions of wasted dollars in money that was supposed to go toward reducing our carbon emissions and yet did almost nothing. Fraser, incidentally, was in one of the VIP galleries, watching as Question Period went down.
During Members’ Statements, Mario Silva rose to speak about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war:
Mr. Speaker, since 1996 war has raged almost continuously in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the official cessation of violence in 2002, fighting has still been a recurring and terrible facet of life in this region.
As is always the case, war takes an especially terrible toll on the innocent. Since the beginning of August of last year, some 250,000 people have been displaced, not to mention the countless murders and kidnappings, as well as reports of torture. Violence against women is especially prevalent in this war zone.
On June 19, 2008 the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring rape as a weapon of war and a threat to international security, yet the violence against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues.
I urge all members of the House and all Canadians alike to condemn the systematic use of rape as a weapon and support the Congolese women's campaign against sexual violence by signing the online petition at www.drcsexualviolence.org
Also during Members’ Statements – big fashion snaps for Bloc MP Johanne Deschamps who was rocking an Annie Lennox Eurthymics-era look, with her reddish-purple hair colour, and the fitted androgynous suit-and-tie.
As Question Period began, Ignatieff began slowly with questions about job losses in the aerospace industry, but as he passed it off to Gerard Kennedy, the narrative thread was developing, and by his second question, Kennedy scored a killing blow – analysis that of the $1 billion dispensed from the Building Canada infrastructure fund, 75% of it went to Conservative ridings – 21 of 26 projects. John Baird was a bit flustered in his quick retort, but the damage was done. When Joyce Murray followed this up towards the end of Question Period, she pointed that all 7 Building Canada projects in British Columbia were in Conservative ridings. Baird’s retort was to say that it was because there were just so many.
In his round, Jack Layton raised the analysis of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who told the Finance committee that morning that he believed there would likely be 20% fewer jobs created than the government said would be by the budget.
Martha Hall Findlay (whose bolero-style jacket was a mistake), brought up the Environment Commissioner’s finding that the $635 million the government spent on tax credits for public transit translated into almost no reduction of greenhouse gases, unlike the 220,000 tonnes they initially promised.
When David McGuinty brought up the report tabled regarding the leaks at Chalk River, Lisa Raitt outlined the timeline, that she only received those reports yesterday and tabled them today. But when Geoff Regan followed up and asked why she didn’t ask for the reports sooner, Raitt said that she had been assured at the time that there was no danger to human health. (Raitt’s jacket today was her shiny black one, which is fitted – one of her best choices).
Other Question Period sartorial notes: Diane Finley has had several good fashion days now, and this trend should be encouraged. Fisheries Minister Gail Shea looked like one big mossy block with her poor choice of very boxy jacket, and Libby Davies was actually *gasp!* scarf-less today.
Oh, and in the scrum in the foyer afterward, Ignatieff said he doesn’t believe that Obama’s “working visit” is a snub. Just in case you were lying awake at night, worrying about it.