Harm reduction
3 min

Why don’t you act more like a minister?

Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of forestry workers rallied outside of the PMO in the Langevin Block, closing down the streets just off the Hill. And while Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe were down there, showing their solidarity, Michael Ignatieff wasn’t so keen.

“The one thing I would not do and will not do as the Leader of the Official Opposition is to appear in demonstrations in front of the Langevin Block,” he said. “I just think it's inappropriate.”

Unless it’s just because he’s too “cosmopolitan” to slum it with forestry workers. (I kid).

Just before Question Period began, there were a couple of things – one which amused me greatly, being that according to Charlie Angus, bonuses paid to the CPP Investment Board is now considered “skimming” off the hard work of Canadians. The other was Conservative Scott Reid speaking about the new Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, which he chairs alongside Mario Silva.

And they were off. Ignatieff and the Liberals were still largely concerned with the issue of Chalk River and the medical isotope situation in this country. Harper gave vague assurances on the matter. Lisa Raitt, for her part, got to answer not only questions on medical isotopes today, but also on the forestry sector (as that is also her file).

Raitt, incidentally, looks like she’s going to quite possibly be in some hot water, as either she or one of her aides left a binder full of sensitive material at a CTV studio. Some of the documents were even stamped “secret.” Oops. That this story broke today could mean a firestorm for Raitt in the House today. (Also, MDS Nordion thinks the MAPLE reactors may be salvageable, even though Raitt denies that possibility).

The topic of Crown asset sales was also raised several times, thanks in no small part to this Globe and Mail article which raised the spectre of the sale of the CBC, VIA Rail, or the Royal Canadian Mint. After all, they’re planning on selling off the potentially lucrative chunk of AECL, and they did book asset sales into the federal budget. Flaherty said that of the departments listed for an “asset review” in the budget – which is apparently a good business management practice – Heritage was not among them. So the CBC is theoretically safe. Funny how he didn’t issue the same denials for some of those other crown corporations.

Incidentally, when David McGuinty asked about these asset sales, John Baird shouted that he should act more like his brother, Dalton – the Ontario premier. One Liberal shot back, “Why don’t you act more like a minister?” Why not indeed?

Sartorially snaps go out to Bloc MP Johanne Deschamps for her stunning long black coat with the blue and pink floral prints. Only a few flowers, mind you – not a whole pattern. But with the good came a whole lotta bad – Carolyn Bennett’s deep blue suit with the red top and shoes, Lisa Raitt again wearing a solid-black jacket which does not suit her body shape, Helena Guergis wearing a hideous ruffled mustard shirt under a black jacket. But the worst offence belongs to the Megan Leslie outfit watch – a bright teal shirt with grey trousers, worn with that gods-awful mustard sweater that she hasn’t yet burned. To say that the overall effect was hideous is an understatement.

After Question Period, Ignatieff went out to the foyer to engage in some election sabre rattling, reminding Canadians that the government’s next fiscal report card is due out next week – and there are some serious problems. Not only the needed EI reforms, but also the ballooning deficit – private sector forecasts say that it will be as big as $168 billion over five years, the slow roll-out of stimulus funds, and even their handling of the Chalk River situation.

Elsewhere, former Reform Party MP and Conservative election planner John Reynolds now says that the government should supply heroin to intractable addicts, as they would with other people with a serious medical condition. What’s that? An advocate of harm reduction from within the Conservative ranks? Has the sun become black as sackcloth of hair and the moon as blood?

And the dear province of my birth, Alberta, has now officially enshrined “parent’s rights” into their human rights legislation, so it’s now a human right for parents to keep their children ignorant about sex, religion, and the gays. Um, okay – good luck with that once the first Charter challenge comes down.