Never mind that it was a disruption-free day in the House today – there’s a shake-up in the Liberal backrooms. Indeed, the Hill is abuzz with news that Peter Donolo, one of Jean Chrétien’s most effective communications directors, is going to be Michael Ignatieff’s new chief of staff. What could this possibly mean? Is Ignatieff learning his lessons that the people who got him the leadership may not get him 24 Sussex? Is he responding to Denis Coderre’s criticisms that his cabal was too Toronto-centric? Could we the media be any more breathless with our speculation?
But back to business. No Ignatieff again in the House, but Harper was there, and he didn’t really answer David McGuinty’s questions about partisan advertising in lieu of productive government spending. Nor would he really answer Gilles Duceppe’s questions around the questionable ethics around Senator Housakos. He didn’t even really answer Jack Layton’s questions about the legal fees for Richard Colvin’s whistle-blowing on the Afghan detainees issue. (They’re totally not singling him out for retribution – really).
Oddly enough, the only time Harper really gave something that resembled an answer was to Layton’s final question, which was about an apology and compensation for members of the Canadian Forces who were discharged before 1992 for being gay or lesbian. Harper stood up to say that his government was not there to correct every mistake of the past, but to learn from it, but he was proud of every single man and woman in uniform. So on the one hand, good to see that he wasn’t entirely dismissive, but you can tell where the queer community ranks on his list of communities to court for votes, given that he was leaping up to apologise to every wronged ethno-cultural community just last year.
Later on, Gerard Kennedy pointed out that Tony Clement’s riding is seeing communities nowhere near the site of next year’s G8 summit get infrastructure funds out of that pool of money. Jim Prentice later accused the yesterday’s flash protest of being an NDP stunt. Carolyn Bennett was visibly shaking when being heckled over her question on H1N1 vaccination for pregnant women – breaking her question to decry that “This is serious!” It took the Speaker a few seconds to restore order so that she could continue.
Elsewhere, the Conservatives came out with some version of a plan on pension reform, but it was quickly panned as being pretty thin gruel, and would do nothing in the short term. Also, the Conservatives look like they might finally be releasing some actual numbers on stimulus spending to the Parliamentary Budget Officer – but I’m sure they have to re-label everything once again first, so that it will make it more difficult for him to do quarter-to-quarter analyses.
There are still questions about yesterday’s flash protest in the Visitor’s Gallery, such as just what was the NDP’s connection to them (many were apparently there on visitors passes provided by the NDP, who claim ignorance) – especially as one of the ringleaders is an NDP activist. There’s also the curious case of one protester whose bloodied face seemed to be less bloody at certain points on the timeline than his televised appearances later on, which still seems suspicious in and amidst his denials of playing it up for the camera.
And finally, Her Excellency wrapped up her state visit to Croatia, and is off to Greece for her final stop. And yes, Senator Housakos is part of the delegation.
Her Excellency with the Prime Minister of Croatia (gg.ca photo).