With visiting astronauts in the Speaker's Gallery, it was all hands on deck in the House for Question Period yesterday, with all leaders and frontbenchers in place. The Conservatives, however, decided to be cute and had their hands in red Olympic mittens for the sake of a stunt. My first thought – aren’t there rules about using props in the House? Indeed there are, but it wasn’t until after Question Period that the Speaker said that he was troubled by how many props were being used.
Ignatieff led off with more questions about – what else – but H1N1 vaccinations, for which yesterday’s talking points were joined by a new one from the Prime Minister – that we will see an additional 1.8 million doses distributed next week.
Gilles Duceppe was concerned that the new EI benefits for parental leave would unduly burden Quebeckers, who already have a provincial programme in place (for which Harper reminded him that it was a voluntary programme), while Jack Layton again asked if the federal government would financially backstop the delivery of vaccines. Harper reminded him that the federal government was already paying the lion’s share of the vaccine. Layton again asked about the relationship between the contract the Liberal government had signed for vaccine production, the donation to the party they had received from that manufacturer, and how one of Harper’s close friends was now the lobbyist for said company on the influenza file. While Harper gave a platitude about the biggest vaccine rollout ever, Liberal Marcel Proulx prefaced his next question by saying that vaccine contract was actual for avian flu.
There was a particularly odd turn of phrase used when Jim Prentice responded to an environment question from the Bloc, stating that they were involved in tough negotiations and that Canada wasn’t going to be “the boy scouts at the table.” What the hell does that even mean? The motto of the Boy Scouts is “be prepared,” and they’re supposed to do a good deed every day. How does this apply to international climate change negotiations?
In the final round of questions, Gerard Kennedy asked about a report by the RCMP on the long gun registry that is sitting on the Public Safety Minister’s desk that has not yet made it to the House – was this because its contents would shed unflattering light on their plans to scrap said registry? Peter Van Loan said he was still within his time limits before he had to table it (he has until Friday), but one has to wonder if that was the reason.
And a vote on the Private Members’ Bill that would scrap the registry did take place, and it passed second reading – 164 to 137. Eight Liberals, twelve NDP MPs and one independent voted in favour of killing the registry – never mind the fact that the Chiefs of Police in this country say that it’s a vital tool. Quebec is now looking at maintaining its own registry without the federal government.
Sartorially speaking, I once again have to give snaps to Kirsty Duncan for her tailored leather jacket with a great v-neck. Duncan is quickly discovering a great sense of style, which I must applaud. I was less crazy about Geoff Regan’s navy suit, with a blue-and-pink checked white shirt paired with a pink tie. It just didn’t work. Neither did Blaine Calkins’ navy suit with the bright yellow shirt and light blue tie. Mixing primary colours in daylight hours is tricky business, and he didn’t get it right. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a light brown jacket that I almost didn't mind – until I noticed that it bore ridiculous three-quarter length sleeves and these rather random looking bits of embroidered piping that ruined the whole look. Sorry – try again.
As the Royal Tour rolls on, the Royal Couple laid a memorial wreath in St. John’s before heading to Toronto. Tomorrow they’re off to Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, where both of their ancestors met – Camilla is related to Sir Alan Napier McNab, the Prime Minister of Upper Canada from 1854-56.