With the House coming back today, I’m quite excited to see what’s going to dominate Question Period. Will it be more job losses, or the looming deadline for one of the Big Three auto companies going into bankruptcy protection? Will it be about the Prime Minister’s visits to both Summit of the Americas (which has been declared a “success”), or about his decision to hire two former White House press secretaries in his ever-elusive quest to find journalists who won’t ask him tough questions?
Not that Harper will be there. He’s currently in Jamaica for an official visit, where he’s expected to address a joint session of Parliament there. (What was that about the quest to avoid the tough questions?)
Back home, there were some hints as to what the tone of the debate is going to be, when on CTV’s Question Period yesterday, there was a bit of a scrap between the Conservative mouthpiece du jour (in this case MP Rick Dykstra) and Liberal Scott Brison. Dykstra waxed poetic about all the flowing stimulus funds, and how right at this very moment there are all manner of new infrastructure projects starting up and creating jobs. Brison smacked that notion down by reminding everyone that the money to approve those projects is really old money – and he’s right. All the recently passed funds from the budget and the estimates won’t see the light of day until June at the earliest, in most cases, because that’s the speed at which things travel in the bureaucracy – and that’s even with a degree of haste to it. Brison also said that it would have been better for the money to flow through existing mechanisms like those in place for the gas tax, and he also warned that a lot of new projects just happen to be cropping up in Conservative ridings, which isn’t exactly unexpected.
Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to being back up in the Gallery for Question Period, and in the foyer for the scrums afterward.
Up today: Bloc MP Thierry St-Cyr’s Private Members Bill, C-291, goes up for debate in Second Reading. The bill would see to that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act be amended so that the Refugee Appeal Division finally comes into existence. As it stands, the provisions for the Division are spelled out in the legislation, but were never enacted, and his bill would see to it that it happens one year following its Royal Ascent. This is the kind of thing that people like Olivia Chow and others have been discussing, so that refugee claimants turned down by the IRB have a proper place to appeal their cases. That could go a long way to helping queer refugees who have been turned down by the IRB for whatever reason, get a second hearing. We’ll see which other parties support this bill, and whether it will make it past Second Reading. (More about how the system works currently in the absence of the RAD can be found here).