It was a tactic I had not seen in Question Period for, well, a very long time, if I had personally ever seen it since I began following the daily proceedings. With Michael Ignatieff out of the House, usually the party puts someone else prominent in his place, like Bob Rae. But today they decided to shake things up – David McGuinty led off the first two questions about the Beaufort Sea drilling plans in light of the disaster off the coast of Louisiana, but instead of him taking the third question as well, it went to Larry Bagnell. Then Joyce Murray. And then Gerry Byrne, each on related questions, from safety regulations, to the moratorium on tanker traffic on the West Coast, to previous offshore oil disasters in Canada. But Harper didn’t bother to answer any of these questions, leaving it up to Jim Prentice and Christian Paradis (who couldn’t be bothered to actually answer Joyce Murray’s question, but simply recited a talking point about offshore oil drilling regulations). But it was still fresh and new, which I kind of liked.
Harper did, however, deign to respond to Gilles Duceppe’s questions about the proposed national securities regulator, and Jack Layton’s questions about that oil disaster in the States. Only Harper’s approach was to accuse Layton of badmouthing the National Energy Board – which, to be fair, Layton did (and justifiably, it could easily be argued) given the NEB’s history of being fairly industry-friendly.
From there, it went to questions of pension reform and corporate tax rates, that pesky abortion question and bilingualism on the Supreme Court. Gallingly, when Francis Scarpaleggia and Mark Holland asked about why the RCMP was being under-resourced in their commercial crime units, Vic Toews accused them of a) not supporting white-collar crime legislation, b) hating the RCMP, c) not supporting the victims of white-collar crime, and most gallingly of all, d) creating “prison cities” of innocent people barred in their own homes because of all those horrible criminals roaming the streets, making them live in fear. Seriously. Seriously. WTF? W.T.F?
Only then did the Guergis nonsense rear its head, alongside questions of the forestry industry, broadband internet access in rural areas, and children’s Tylenol recalls. Mario Silva got in a couple of questions about why the government was using diesel trains for new rail corridors when electric was likely the better alternative – but John Baird simply told him that it was a decision of the government of Ontario.
Sartorially speaking, it was another fairly blah day, but Inky Mark’s red tie with gold dragon patterning did catch my eye. On the style citation side, Cathy McLeod needs to learn that a woman of her shape shouldn’t wear tops with such high necklines. Lisa Raitt again looked fairly pedestrian today with a simple red sweater over a black top and trousers, but at least she had some fairly fierce red and black heels to assure us that she hasn’t entirely given up on life yet. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a lovely black dress – marred by the unfortunate accessory combination of an orange sweater with turquoise heels.
Otherwise, the Speaker has granted the parties an extension until Friday to come up with an agreement on those detainee files, before he starts talking about contempt of Parliament.
Fire alarms went off in the Centre Block yesterday morning, which kept the Prime Minister’s press secretary from testifying before a committee about how the government handles Access to Information requests.
While the Conservatives never met a moral panic they didn’t like, they especially couldn’t pass up a moral panic where they can hold up a wounded former NHL hockey player like Sheldon Kennedy. Pardons are now “record suspensions,” and whole classes of criminals with sexual offences will be ineligible for them, period. And just like all of this government’s other moral entrepreneurial legislation, it looks like more useless gestures that won’t solve any problems.
Stephen Harper called up the UK’s new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, and congratulated him on his victory – but funnily enough, didn’t mention the fact that Cameron is leading a coalition.
The Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias talks to Marci McDonald about her new book on the evangelical Christian right in Canada. Like McDonald’s article on Harper and the Theo-Cons, it charts their growth and influence, and it serves as a warning that we should beware. Wendy Mesley later spoke to her on The National, and it looks like this is going to be a must-read book.
Up today – More Rahim Jaffer/Helena Guergis nonsense as the private detective who made all those allegations goes before committee.