And civility has started wearing off, on day four of the current session of Parliament. The NDP wasted no time in rolling out radio attack ads aimed at the Liberals’ support of the Conservative budget, and Jack Layton has recast himself as the leader of the “New Democrat Opposition.” Does this mean that he’s given up on running for Prime Minister?
Meanwhile in the House, the love affair with Barack Obama seems to be wearing off, as concern was raised over the protectionist measures that have been included in the American stimulus legislation – no matter that such language is illegal under NAFTA and other international treaties. What was that whole bit about America keeping its word? That really lasted. Harper said he’s raised the issue with our Ambassador in Washington (apparently there currently is no US Ambassador to Canada as Obama has yet to appoint one), so I guess we’ll wait with baited breath to see if Obama has really let down Canada already.
On the topic of Obama, NDP House Leader Libby Davies raised a point after Question Period, musing whether a special sitting day should be added to the Parliamentary calendar for February 19th – the date of Obama’s visit to Canada. That week was designated as a break week, for MPs to return to their ridings to do constituency work. Davies raised the point that a special sitting day could allow Obama to address Parliament (possibly in a joint sitting of the House and Senate). No word yet from the government on whether this might happen.
Other things of note in Question Period:
-Marc Garneau raised the first of many questions about the omission of Genome Canada from the budget. The Government insists that they have two five-year contracts with Genome Canada, so no new funds were needed. That funding, however, is committed, so this omission will affect their ability to take on new research.
-Pablo Rodriguez is back to looking scruffy again.
-Rising to respond to Geoff Regan’s questions about the heavy water leak at the Chalk River nuclear facility, Lisa Raitt said she’s asked for a report into the incident. I also have three words to Raitt about her choice of jacket today: Far, too, and boxy.
-Joyce Murray (whose smartly tailored pink jacket and paisley shirt was top notch) let it be known that only $80 million of the $1.5 billion committed to the Building Canada Fund for infrastructure has actually flowed – essentially, five cents on the dollar. And how did John Baird respond? By trotting out his tired line that the government is “getting the job done.” Really? Can’t we retire that line yet?
The Bloc’s sub-amendment on the budget was defeated last night, and the vote on the Liberal amendment will take place on Monday (as they tend not to hold votes on Friday, as many MPs are on their way back to their ridings). As that vote is guaranteed to pass, it will simply be one more vote that the NDP are tracking about the Liberals’ supposed support for Harper.
And finally, with the threat of an emergency debate in Parliament (and possible back-to-work legislation) looming on the Ottawa transit strike, both sides caved and agreed to binding arbitration. The strike is over! Finally.