Shortly before Question Period, a group of prison farm advocates brought that donkey to the Hill, seen here posing with the NDP’s public safety critic Don Davies. Davies suggested the cut-line – “Which one’s the ass?”
(Dale Smith photo)
What’s that? Charles McVety has the ear of the Prime Minister? You don’t say! (Caution – French link). And what do you know? The Bloc was bringing this up during their Members’ Statements.
When Question Period began, Michael Ignatieff asked after the American request for us to stay in Afghanistan – surely the government knew it was coming, so why did they say it wasn’t? Harper reiterated that we would be pulling out in 2011 – conveniently not answering the question. When Ignatieff asked just what our Afghan plans were post-2011, Harper remarked that not every G8 country had a military presence in that country, while Laurie Hawn was yelling that it was a matter for the committee. (Hawn later sent out a snide release saying that he wanted to bring up said matter at the special Afghan committee, but the dastardly opposition was too busy playing political games and wanted to keep on the detainee inquiry).
Liberal member from Yukon Larry Bagnell then got up and asked about why the Inuit were excluded from that Arctic summit – hence earning our rebuke from Hillary Clinton. Peter Kent got up to explain that only coastal states were invited, and that the minister briefed the Inuit before and would do so shortly again. The Bloc’s Francine Lalonde and the NDP’s Jean Crowder would later return to this point. (Clinton has been blunt on our positions on Afghanistan, that Arctic conference and our position on safe abortion and contraception with that maternal and child health commitment.)
Gilles Duceppe returned to the topic of the QST/HST negotiations, and Jack Layton asked just why it was that the budget implementation bill had, hidden in its depths, provisions that would remove the triggers for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to do environmental assessments. Harper insisted the regulations were developed last year to simplify the process between the federal government and the provinces – this was just formalizing it. But – and this is a big but – the federal government has SEPARATE AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY when it comes to environmental assessments. It’s a big red herring to say this is just “streamlining.”
Other points included the upcoming increase in EI premiums, the potential sale of AECL to foreign investors and the government’s new refugee legislation, which will bar claimants from so-called “safe countries of origin” from certain avenues of appeal. Olivia Chow also asked after this issue. (For more on this, check out my story on Xtra.ca).
At the end of QP, Wayne Easter got up to return to the question of Helena Guergis – this time because it turns out that one of her assistants has been writing letters to local papers in support of Guergis, but under her maiden name. (Some examples here). And later, it was revealed that another assistant has been doing the same! Guergis stood up to say the staffer apologized to her and promised it wouldn’t happen again. But once again, Guergis takes no responsibility and didn’t fire the staffer (let alone discipline her). But also? The Liberals not engaging in this kind of juvenile point-scoring after last week’s attempt at being too clever by half didn’t last a week.
Sartorially speaking, there really wasn’t anyone worthy of snaps. But there was plenty of bad – like Alex Atamanenko’s powder-blue suit jacket (didn’t powder-blue suits die in the 70s?), Lisa Raitt’s yellow top with her black suit (yellow and black should almost always be avoided), and worst of all, Cathy McLeod’s busy, multi-coloured sparkling jacket, which looks like it emerged from some 70s casino. So. Very. Wrong. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a perfectly acceptable black suit and shoes, with a black-and-white striped top. And a pink kerchief-type scarf tied tightly around her neck. Right idea, wrong execution.
Senator Elaine McCoy (who is made of awesome) reminds us of why the government’s current plans for “Senate reform” are hollow and ultimately bad for democracy in this country.
PS – I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m really enjoying the way some of We the Media are finally taking a look at ourselves after some of the fallout from the Liberal conference over the weekend. While Susan Delacourt derides the journalists and columnists who wrote about the conference without bothering to attend, Andrew Potter and Adam Radwanski challenge the snide anti-intellectualism that has infiltrated the establishment.