There was no shortage of flagellation for the Liberals yesterday – both self-inflicted and coming from, well, pretty much everyone. It didn’t help that it was caucus day, so it meant they were all gathering in one place for the press to get their fill.
Ignatieff took full responsibility for the, well, screw-up, but said the knives weren’t out for him. And considering that Jane Taber’s blog wasn’t full of anonymous Liberals lining up to trash Ignatieff and his team, well, I’m a little more inclined to believe him.
But that doesn’t mean those offside MPs won’t face some kind of punishment – though perhaps, if what we hear is true about miscommunications regarding the timing and importance of the vote, the whip himself should face some censure as well for not doing his job.
But. And there should be a "but" here…
This is one of those funny little schizophrenic things about Canadian politics that we can’t seem to make up our minds about. On the one hand, we as Canadians bitch and moan about party discipline, and how it’s too rigid, and why can’t MPs vote their conscience, and wouldn’t democracy be better for it if they did. And look – when they do, we accuse them of not having their act together, and they’ll never form government because of it. Funny, that.
Of the notable Members’ Statements yesterday were those commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Le Devoir newspaper. Which is great – and let’s just hope that the great crisis in the media doesn’t claim them.
Michael Ignatieff led off Question Period by asking after the funding for First Nations University. Harper responded by remarking that there were still problems at FNU. Ignatieff broadened his follow-up by bringing in the government’s broader policies with regard to post-secondary funding, to which Harper claimed that his government was spending record amounts on post-secondary education. Liberal Michael Savage followed up by asking about the crisis in student unemployment and gave a statistic that the increased funding the government gave amounted to $10 per student. Diane Finley responded by reiterating Harper’s claims about record funding for students.
Gilles Duceppe asked about the withdrawal of troops from Haiti in advance of the upcoming donor conference. Harper pointed out their mission was an emergency one to be followed up by a longer-term deployment by development workers. Thierry St-Cyr asked about the slow pace of granting refugee requests from Haiti. Jason Kenney made the usual excuses. Jack Layton asked after pensions, and why they didn’t use the prorogation period to do the just-announced consultations. Harper obfuscated with talk of federal-provincial relations and all of their “measures” that the NDP voted against.
Marc Garneau stood up to correct Jim Flaherty’s assertion the day before that post-doctoral students make $70,000 a year, when it’s really half that. Flaherty obfuscated with senseless figures. Maria Minna asked after funding for childcare spaces, to which Diane Finley trotted out the social conservative talking point that families know best how to care for children.
There were several more questions on pension reform from all opposition parties, but guess what? There were no more questions on the G8 maternal and child health issue, with the Liberals trying to smoke out the pro-life Conservatives. There were no questions on Helena Guergis, Jean-Pierre Blackburn or Rahim Jaffer. Or any of the usual scandal-of-the-day stuff. Could this be a turning point to seriousness now that they shot themselves in the foot trying to play clever games? That remains to be seen.
Sartorially speaking, I like Joyce Murray’s silver-embroidered black jacket and the red necklace. I was amused by the matching side-by-side James Moore and Jason Kenney, both wearing identical dark-grey suits (which needed tailoring), white shirts and purple ties. I kid you not – they wore the very same thing. I was especially amused because it really showed them to be Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports an awful yellow sweater over an otherwise lovely white top and light grey trousers. The kicker though – a red bandana around her neck. Really?
And in case you missed it, NDP MP Bill Siksay passed a unanimous motion that commended the government for taking a stand on Uganda.
Up today – more on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Because that’s apparently all the government has on its agenda (given that they haven’t reintroduced most of the bills that died on the Order Paper the last time around). But Scott Brison has proposed an amendment to the bill that would strengthen its Human Rights component, which the Colombian government seems okay with, and the Conservatives actually seem on board as well. Perhaps this could be a real victory for Brison.