It was bound to happen. For the second time in nearly as many months, lesbian Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth has been thrown under the bus by her own party. As soon as Bob Rae led off Question Period with the issue of her comments yesterday – christening the Conservatives’ “culture of intimidation,” John Baird and the Conservatives were quick to distance themselves from her. The language was inexcusable. No, she doesn’t speak for this government.
Funny, it was only a couple of months ago that the Speech from the Throne raised the issue she had been fighting for – restoring the national anthem to an older, more gender-inclusive version – and she got thrown under the bus for that one. And it was like watching it all over again.
At least Rae and Anita Neville didn’t make the story about the comments themselves (unlike most news media in this country, which took them out of context and distorted them completely). Instead, they fit them into the larger pattern – independent watchdogs getting slapped down, people who speak truth to power being fired, and NGOs who criticize the government getting their funding cut (especially women’s groups – 11 in two weeks lost their funding). Is it that this government has a problem with democracy? John Baird decided to change the channel – this is just the Liberals trying to start a culture war, and oh look – fundraising improprieties! Look at the shiny!
After Question Period, I asked Neville if she though Nancy Ruth had been thrown under the bus. Neville said, “Well, this government has a habit of throwing people under the bus, so I’ll leave it to your own conclusion.” And that conclusion isn’t so hard to draw when you see the Prime Minister’s former press secretary, Kory Teneycke, going on Power & Politics to call her a Liberal appointee and saying that he didn’t think she should be in caucus, and that she was only a Conservative under the loosest of definitions. I’d call that under the bus.
The Senator’s comments – and the associated topic of abortions in the developing world – were also fodder for the Bloc’s first round, and Nicole Demers rather artfully tied in the long-gun registry to that issue. Jack Layton again asked after the Louisiana oil spill and our own environmental protection regulations (which Baird assures us are “tough”), and Ujjal Dosanjh followed up by asking again about the moratorium on tanker traffic along the west coast (which John Baird says they have “no intention” to revisit).
Other questions involved the planned sell-off of AECL, the illogic of the amnesty on long-gun registration, bilingualism in the Supreme Court, obligatory Rahim Jaffer-related lobbying questions, white-collar crime, Omar Khadr, cutting regional development agency budgets and poverty. The NDP’s Charlie Angus raised the alarm about a potential takeover of Lion’s Gate, a Canadian film giant, by an American “corporate raider.” Heritage Minister James Moore assured him that it was all just hypothetical and not to worry. He won’t – he’ll be busy totally watching TV on his iPod. Or lobbying Ontario to legalize mixed martial arts, by showing Georges St Pierre around the Hill.
The Question Period drinking game was five “culture of intimidation” and two “culture of deceit.” Well, it was four and one, plus a “culture of deceit and intimidation,” but I was feeling generous and counted it as two drinks.
Sartorially speaking, there was a study in contrasts in the Liberal back benches, as Kirsty Duncan and Judy Foote, sitting side-by-side, demonstrated how to work an outfit, and how not to work it. Both wore pink jackets with black trousers, but Duncan’s was tailored and Foote’s was not. The difference was remarkable and an example of what not to wear. Also in the style citations was Martha Hall Findlay’s greenish-yellow jacket, which is an awkward too-short cut with three-quarter sleeves that looks wrong, and it should probably be banished – preferably with fire. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a fantastic fitted black jacket over a lovely black and white patterned dress, with black heels. Lovely!
(I also wanted to point you to Maclean’s Aaron Wherry’s post on yesterday’s Question Period, which summed up the Conservative culture of shutting the fuck up perfectly, and it’s well worth a read).
Elsewhere, Vic Toews says double bunking is “no big deal.” Um, no. It is a big deal. It violates our own correctional directives for good corrections practice and rehabilitation. It violates our international agreements. But when have binding international agreements ever stopped this government from doing just the opposite *coughs*Kyoto*coughs*
Work began in earnest at the Public Safety committee on the long-gun registry bill, and it was full of the usual shenanigans, with a few twists – bill author Candace Hoeppner is accusing all those boys in the opposition of bullying her, and her caucus mate Shelly Glover (Canada’s most intellectually bankrupt MP) is fighting alongside her, making sad eyes to the media table. Um, except the opposition side has more women on it than the government side and wanted to include more women’s groups to testify but the government put its foot down. But seriously – the girl card? Is this the next tactic of intimidation? Don’t criticize a bad bill, because you’re being mean to a girl? Seriously? And oh, look – all kinds of testimony that contradicts all of the supposed facts the government is putting forward on the registry, and their own star witness basically saying he agrees with the Liberal and NDP position that they would decriminalize the failure to register (on the first offence, anyway). Who would have thought?
And oh, look – cabinet ministers have refused to appear before the Government Operations committee on the whole Rahim Jaffer illicit-lobbying affair. Imagine that. It’s not like they’ve ever refused to appear before committees in order to be accountable before. Oh, wait…