On a day when the government released its first budget implementation bill – an omnibus monster of some 431 pages that amends some 50 Acts, and takes a huge axe to environmental legislation – there was not a question on this bill, or the environment to be found. Instead, Thomas Mulcair led off Question Period with a trio of questions about a possible future Afghan deployment, to which Harper assured him that any deployment would come before the House (see my discussion yesterday about Crown Prerogative and why it’s really a bad thing for Harper to do this), before Mulcair turned to the question of the Woodworth motion – otherwise known as the backdoor abortion debate. Harper assured him that he would be voting against it, but seeing as it’s private members’ business, he can’t do anything else about it, unfortunately. And that’s true. (I wrote a bit more about the issue and the mechanics here). Bob Rae then stood up to ask about the Auditor General’s report on the F-35s – if Harper accepts the report, how can the deputy ministers be writing to the AG to disagree with it, given our system of government? Harper assured him that they accepted the conclusion of the report and were acting on it. Rae then asked if Harper accepts the conclusions, does he not then take responsibility for what happened. Harper, however, wasn’t going to fall for this and instead insisted that wasn’t the conclusion of the AG, but they did accept the conclusion he did draw.
Round two kicked off with Ève Péclet asking about cuts at CIDA given Bev Oda’s spending (Van Loan: Ministers travel at a reasonable cost) and Charlie Angus took a crack at Oda directly (Van Loan: We spend less than the Liberals did – even though what they’ve really tended to do is just hide transportation and hospitality costs in the departmental ledgers than the ministerial ones), Alexandre Boulerice asked about the financial mismanagement at the Old Port of Montreal (Ambrose: We’re in touch with the board and the AG about that) before moving onto voter suppression with Chris Charlton (Poilievere: False allegations; Del Mastro: These are wrong facts), and Peter Julian asked about the scandal-plagued and ethically-challenged cabinet (Van Loan: Our cabinet ministers are doing a great job!). Bob Rae got back up to wonder when Oda decided to repay the limousine charges – was it before or after yesterday’s debate (Van Loan: She repaid back everything and apologised), Wayne Easter called for a Royal Commission into voter suppression (Del Mastro: You have not facts), and Stéphane Dion wondered about OAS cuts downloading costs onto the provinces (Leitch: There will be no reduction in benefits. No really, she said that). Françoise Boivin and Niki Ashton returned to the Woodworth motion/abortion issue (Van Loan: We’re not reopening that debate), before Ashton and then Libby Davies asked about cuts to women’s health research (Carrie: We put $715 million toward women’s programmes!).
Round three saw questions on Aveos workers, cuts to food inspection and the Community Access Programme, whether new payments for veterans would be taxed (this didn’t get an answer, by the way), temporary foreign workers, closing regional development offices, shredded historical documents, and the Woodworth motion once more.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Ed Fast for his navy jacket, blue shirt and pink tie, and to Lisa Raitt for her fitted pink dress with black patterning and a black sweater. Style citations go out to Linda Duncan for her long yellow tunic with a multicoloured scarf, and to Claude Gravelle for a black suit with a lemon yellow shirt and tie.