His third day as opposition leader, and Mulcair still had no Harper to battle in the House. While his delivery was a little bit less wooden, he was still reading from a script on a miniature lectern, asking about provincial transfers coming in the upcoming budget. In Harper’s place it was John Baird’s turn to be designated back-up PM, and he asserted that their government has given more to the provinces than any other government before them. Libby Davies followed up, accusing the government of abandoning healthcare with the rather dubious claim that they’re “slashing” $31 billion in health transfers (it wasn’t really a cut, people), to which Leona Aglukkaq reminded her that the Conservatives have funded healthcare to “historic levels” and they’re trying to make the system more sustainable. Bob Rae then got up to ask about the lack of a government policy on addictions and mental health, and John Baird took it on a tangent about the Liberals wanting to legalise marijuana, and that they were fighting that for the safety of middle-class families. No, seriously. Rae immediately picked up on that – every evidence shows that alcohol is the most dangerous substance out there, and why is the government announcing proudly that they’re joining in the failed war on drugs in Central America? (You see, you can pick up on questions like that when you’re able to deliver them off-the-cuff. Just saying). Baird continued to beat his chest about how proud they were to stand against the scourge of drugs, ignoring the evidence of course. For his final question, Rae asked about Harper’s former complaints about minister staying with people who do business with their departments (back when it was Don Boudria and Harper was the leader of the opposition), but Baird wasn’t going to take that bait.
Round two kicked off with Peter Julian asking a series of questions on jobs in the budget and the Aveos workers, to which Denis Lebel assured him that this was a private sector issue, and Ted Menzies assured him that they would continue on the path of job creation from the ongoing Economic Action Plan™. Wayne Marston and Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe asked about OAS changes (Leitch: OAS is unsustainable for “future Canadians,” not specifying if she meant Canadians in the future or those who are not yet Canadian), and Nycole Turmel and Paul Dewar asked about some unions not being allowed into the budget lock-up as stakeholders (Menzies: The budget is being delivered in the House where everyone can hear it). Judy Foote asked whether the government was asking the Conservative Party – as they’re actually separate entities remember – about its cooperation with Elections Canada considering that RackNine had an exclusive contract with the party for phone services and “Pierre Poutine” had access because of party connections (Del Mastro: You made your own illegal calls!), Denis Coderre asked about Aveos declining to appear at Transport Committee (Lebel: This is an issue between two private companies), and Judy Sgro asked about OAS changes (Leitch: Unsustainable!). Guy Caron and Charlie Angus closed off the round with questions on Paradis’ ethical latest ethical lapse (Paradis: I used my own means, and nobody lobbied me).
Round three saw questions on the F-35 Statement of Operational Requirements (one of those questions from Rae, as he tried to use logic to overload the duotronic circuits of the M-4 Unit – err, I mean Julian Fantino), environmental regulation changes to be “buried in the budget” (even though there is no indication this will be the case – broad outlines in the budget document doesn’t mean changes will be buried within implementation bills), the Northern Gateway pipeline, cuts to Katimavik (for which Justin Trudeau got a boxing joke in response), francophone immigration officers, the fleet separation policy for the East Coast fishery, rural post offices in Quebec, and the way the way the government handled the Air Canada strike versus the Aveos issue.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Michelle Rempel for her fuchsia belted dress, and to John McKay for his grey suit with a pink shirt and pale blue tie. Style citations go out to Carol Hughes for the jacket equivalent of a ball of elastic bands, and to LaVar Payne for his black shirt with a white collar worn with a white tie and a grey suit. Just…no. Dishonourable mentions to Romeo Saganash for a fluorescent blue shirt/grey suit violation, and to Maxime Bernier, who is normally a snappy dresser, for a black suit/lemon yellow shirt violation.