That question of whether the Conservatives made a breach of privilege by refusing to turn over the Afghan detainee documents finally reared its head in the House yesterday – first from Liberal Derek Lee, then the NDP’s Jack Harris, followed by the Bloc’s Claude Bachand. The Conservatives tried to make a specious defence, citing a precedent that was completely and utterly unrelated, probably hoping the bafflegab would provide an adequate shield. I’m not so sure. The Speaker isn’t expected to rule until sometime next week, so stay tuned.
Ralph Goodale started off Question Period on the issue of the 10 percenters, saying there was no way one could “paint a moustache on that pig and call it Brad Pitt.” Now there’s a sexy image. Would the Conservatives stop them? Harper said sure, they’d stop if the Liberals would – but they’d also want the “direct subsidy to political parties” stopped.
Goodale moved onto questions of First Nations University, to which Harper replied they would no longer fund it, but they'd still be “taking care of” the students. On the supplemental, Chuck Strahl said what he “understood” from the question was that the Liberals wanted to get rid of the subsidy to parties to pay for other programs. Seriously? That’s not even clever.
Bob Rae asked after the whole “maternal and child health” issue, and out of the blue, Bev Oda volunteered that they’ve been clear in saying the whole time they haven’t “closed the door” on contraception, but they weren’t going to open the abortion debate. She’s been saying it the whole time! Really – check Hansard! In other news, the chocolate ration has been doubled from four grams to two! Doubleplusgood!
It didn’t help that we were getting criticism for our socially conservative position on contraception and safe abortion. Or that our G8 partners were well ahead of us on the issue. Or that we actually signed onto an agreement about family planning two years ago.
Gilles Duceppe was back on about HST negotiations with Quebec. Jack Layton asked after the moral will of the House on the prorogation vote. Harper invoked coalition panic instead. Layton turned to the contraception issue, but Harper was asking him about 10 percenters. Huh? Mark Holland asked why they were so quick to pass judgment on other provincial sentences, but not Rahim Jaffer’s. Nicholson retorted with a not-unexpected “you’re soft on crime” dodge.
Sartorially, it was a pretty dull day, but it didn’t help that there were a lot of empty seats. I did like Judy Wasylycia-Leis’ black jacket over a white top, with a cool, chunky red necklace. I was not, however, a fan of James Moore’s awful tan-and-beige striped tie. Awful! And he still needs to take his jackets to a tailor.
In the event that there hadn’t been enough spin for the day, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews went on Power & Politics and asserted that they won’t be building any new prisons – despite there being memos from the head of Corrections Canada that say otherwise. And to handle that massive increase in the prison population that will result from their wrong-headed “tough on crime” bills? Well, they’ll just resort to double-bunking the prisoners, and that’ll be fine. Because it’s not like we have to respect their rights or anything, because that would mean we’re coddling criminals and paying more attention to their rights over the rights of the victims. Oh, and never mind that the Correctional Investigator has pointed out they’re already over-capacity, and are double-bunking and triple-bunking in places. But hey, Vic Toews says no new prisons, and they can handle the increase in population. I think Jason Kenney isn’t the only one with a “complicated relationship” with the truth on that front bench.
The number two Mountie says the gun registry is helpful and necessary. Something else Vic Toews doesn’t want to hear.
The NDP are calling out a Conservative MP on the special Afghanistan committee for his reinterpretation of the Geneva conventions.
Up today – Michael Ignatieff is off to Vancouver and Burnaby while he continues his tour of the country in the lead-up to his big conference next week.
PS – I don’t normally do much foreign news, but this story about a former US general accusing the Dutch of failing at Srebrenica because they had gay soldiers was too ridiculous not to mention.