It was the government’s turn to be too cute by half – at least with respect to the requested Afghan detainee documents. The government tabled some 2500 pages of redacted documents yesterday morning – some of them nothing more than a blacked out page – and declared their job done. Oh, and former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci hadn’t seen these documents yet.
The opposition was outraged. The documents weren’t in any particular order, and as you can see, heavily redacted in places. The government provided one copy, untranslated, which means even more delays in making sure that the opposition parties – and the press – can get a look at what is there. (And apparently, there are already things in it, which raise a bunch of new questions. Imagine that).
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for the Speaker to make his ruling on the breach of privilege question, but before he does that, he’s waiting for a response from the government on the points raised. A response that will apparently come “in due time.”
When Question Period rolled around, Michael Ignatieff led off by asking about those media reports of the Americans looking to press Canada to keep five or six hundred troops in Afghanistan post-2011. Harper was absent from the House – apparently getting in on the roundtable action by hosting one on his government’s “Economic Action Plan™” instead – and so Lawrence Cannon assured the House that there had been no approaches made by the Americans, and that we would pull out by 2011.
It wasn’t until the second question that Ujjal Dosanjh got up to ask about that box of redacted documents delivered to the House, but Rob Nicholson stood up to tell him that getting these redacted documents would in no way go around Justice Iacobucci’s review of all documents. The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair later got up in Jack Layton’s stead to vent his own outrage, calling it “two boxes of contempt,” under the “lie of National Security.” Nicholson simply told him to read all 2500 pages before jumping to conclusions.
Gilles Duceppe asked after an Algerian author being watched by CSIS, and why was it that the CSIS watchdog website was available in French, English and Arabic? Was this an admission of racial profiling? Vic Toews said he’d look into it. There were also questions on pensions, and the consultations the Conservatives promised a year ago.
Liberal Rob Oliphant stood up to ask about the death of that soldier earlier this week from his wounds in Edmonton, and why was it that the military won’t release statistics on wounded soldiers so that they could see to it that they were getting care. Peter MacKay gave the usual lines about how any releases would be feeding information to the Taliban on the effectiveness of their tactics, and that we should be content with the once-a-year statistics on wounded troops.
The rest of Question Period brought up questions about the Transportation Safety Board’s report on pilot fatigue (John Baird: We’re concerned about pilots), whether or not all forms of family planning will have a role in international aid (Bev Oda: We’ll provide real action), and specific initiatives for PEI in the budget (Jim Flaherty: Yes, the budget is accurate). Once again, no real attempts (at least by the Liberals) at gotcha questions, scandal-mongering, or about tantrum-throwing Cabinet ministers. But will this newfound sense of professionalism last?
Sartorially speaking, it was a pretty meh day in the House. Diane Finley wore her weirdly constructed WTF jacket, and Chris Charlton wore that fluorescent green jacket again (which really needs to be burned – the eighties are over), but nothing too offensive. The Megan Leslie outfit watch was full of such hope – a great fitting black-and-white harlequin-patterned top with a nice brown skirt. It was great – right up until the thin hot pink belt and emerald heels. Thwarted by inappropriate accessories!
Elsewhere, Harper has found a new moral panic – senior citizens in jail getting the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Obviously this is a blow to victims and must be crushed with extreme prejudice! Cue all the requisite moral outrage.
The Liberals want an investigation into a contract given to a company who has a Conservative MP as its chairman.
And Maclean’s has a little more on Scott Brison’s coup on the Colombia Free Trade agreement.
This weekend – It’s the Liberals' Canada 150 Conference in Montreal. During it, Justin Trudeau will be hosting town hall discussions and live webcasts.