There were really two main stories facing the Commons yesterday – Omar Khadr, and the ongoing saga of those construction contracts for the West Block (and Christian Paradis’ possible fundraising improprieties as part of them). On the Khadr front, faced with the prospect of a stacked court and a possible life sentence, Khadr has taken a plea deal. Sentencing proceedings will now take place, and it looks like he’ll make it back to Canada within a year as part of that deal. And on the West Block front, there appears to be no evidence of political interference – not that it makes the optics any better.
During Question Period, Michael Ignatieff started things off by asking about home care again, under the aegis of his meeting with the Victorian Order of Nurses on Friday, and questions then moved to the West Block contracts, from Marcel Proulx, Gilles Duceppe and Claude DeBellefeuille. Rona Ambrose kept responding that there were rules in place, and that public servants were responsible. Wait – what happened to ministerial accountability, which the Conservatives were defending to the death just weeks ago? Libby Davies and Joe Comartin, however, asked about the HST and implementing Jack Layton’s plan for lowering the federal tax on heating (which I’m given to understand is just for heating oil, if what I heard on Power & Politics is right).
After a few more questions on the West Block contracts, in which Rona Ambrose repeated her answers verbatim, there were a couple of questions on Omar Khadr, for which Lawrence Cannon read out the ministerial press release word for word. There were questions on contaminated water in Shannon, the questions around the public service integrity commissioner, Nigel Wright, and improving the guaranteed income supplement for seniors.
A Conservative suck-up question set the stage for the minister of veterans affairs to repeat his apology to Sean Bruyea for the abuse of his personal information. Or was it an apology? The word “regret” was in there, but I can’t recall that “apologize” actually was (and one Liberal MP pointed that out in a loud heckle).
Rounding off QP were the suggestion by Ralph Goodale of a connection between former Australian prime minister John Howard (who Stephen Harper has a big man-crush on) and the BHP bid for Potash Corp, questions of relief for farmers, our presence at the Francophonie, Quebec lobster fishers, tax evasion and the possible trade deal with the EU.
Sartorially speaking, it was a pretty meh day, but I will give snaps to Glen Pearson for his lovely blue bow tie. I suspect it may have been a nod to Lester Pearson as he spoke about Canada’s commitment to peacekeeping. (And we all know – bow ties are cool.) I will give a style citation to Rona Ambrose, whose tailored grey dress was lovely, but she insisted on wearing a huge black scarf that nearly swallowed her entire head – not good. And it is with a heavy heart that I report the Megan Leslie outfit watch – she was doing so well, and then she reverted back to old habits – a rather awful light-grey jacket with bad ruffles along with a teal-green dress and grey heels. And she was doing so well!
Hearings on the G8 and G20 debacles have begun in the Public Safety Committee, and oh, look – Vic Toews showed up and said as little as humanly possible, deferring to his officials at any and all opportunity. On the plus side – we’ve now figured out what all those glow sticks were for at the G8/G20 summits. Apparently the military needed them to mark equipment at night and dangerous areas.
The Conservatives’ new human smuggling bill violates three international treaties. You don’t say!
Senator Serge Joyal, a constitutional expert, calls the current Senate reform bill on “consultative elections” unconstitutional – because it absolutely is. Conservative Senator Hugh Segal says that Joyal is being “undemocratic.” Because that’s helpful language that completely misses the point of Joyal’s arguments in favour of truthiness.
And Scott Brison’s message about a lack of venture capital is being heard in the financial community.
Up today – It’s the auditor general’s interim report on stimulus spending. Oh boy!