Seven minutes. Not even. Despite his Monday morning sanctimony press conference in which Nathan Cullen announced that his party was going to be the stewards of decorum in the Chamber, they were heckling the Conservative MP who dutifully read out the Member’s Statement of the day denouncing a member of the Shadow Cabinet – in this case, Peggy Nash, because she voted against the budget. OH NOES! Immediately thereafter, Cullen stood up to announce their glorious plans for restoring decorum. And a few minutes later, QP began. While Thomas Mulcair kicked things off asking about the two sets of books on the F-35 that the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Auditor General have alluded to – for which Baird, in his capacity as back-up PM du jour stood up and read off talking points about having a credible process and avoiding another “Decade of Darkness” for the military – it was Charlie Angus that immediately broke his party’s pledge. As he is wont to do, Angus stood up to gleefully denounce the government for having received the Canadian Association of Journalists’ secrecy award, and he began throwing around some of his favourite pejoratives, like the “Muskoka Minister,” and so on. Peter Van Loan immediately stood up to announce that the NDP’s commitment to decorum in the House had lasted a full seven minutes, and they can’t even refer to ministers by their proper titles. Bravo. Slow clapping all around. Angus shrugged it off, indicated he’d done nothing wrong, and carried on. To his supplemental, Tony Clement rose to tout the government passing the Accountability Act as their first piece of legislation, which apparently absolves everything. Ralph Goodale was up first for the Liberals, also asking about the two sets of books, and which minister knew this fact when. Baird ranted about the “Decade of Darkness” in reply. Marc Garneau demanded an open and transparent bidding process to replace the CF-18s, but Baird accused the Liberals of starting the F-35 process (which they didn’t, as it was a separate process entirely). Goodale was back up for the final question of the round, and brought up the Liberals’ opposition day motion – that in light of the Walkerton crisis brought about by government cuts, why was this government – with some of the very same ministers – going down the same path. Baird didn’t provide a coherent answer, but rather a thirty-five second rant about how Bob Rae once led the provincial NDP and how two of his former cabinet ministers, currently in the NDP benches, disavowed his leadership. No, seriously, it didn’t make any sense.
Round two opened up with Hoang Mai and Peggy Nash asking about cuts at CRA in the midst of that corruption inquiry (Shea: The internal investigation budget was actually increased), before Nash moved back over to the question of cuts (Clement: the Comptroller General can audit those regional offices just fine, thanks), Peter Julian decried changing environmental policies and “irresponsible” resource development (Oliver: We consulted widely), and Romeo Saganash on cuts at CIDA (Oda: We’re using focused and targeted measures to alleviate poverty). Judy Sgro asked about OAS cuts as it relates to seniors poverty (Finley: We’re trying to make the system sustainable), Marc Garneau asked about funding for homeless veterans (Finley: We signed agreements for five years with the provinces), and Carolyn Bennett asked about cuts to aboriginal health organisations (Aglukkaq: We’re protecting front-line services and this one programme was dysfunctional). Robert Chisholm asked about the changes to the Fisheries Act (Ashfield: We’re focused on rivers, lakes and oceans, not farmer’s fields and ditches), and Paul Dewar asked about the charges brought against an SNC-Lavalin executive and if the government knew about his activities before they sold AECL to them (Dechert: We’re liaising with consular officials). But rather than call Dechert out on that non sequitur of an answer, Nycole Turmel hit the reset button and asked the whole thing over in French (Baird: We have no tolerance for this kind of crime).
Round three saw questions on the unfulfilled promise for enhanced EI benefits for parents of gravely ill children (Finley: We promised to review the measures and we have), the spread of threats to potato fields with the loss of vehicle washing stations at ferry crossings (Lemieux: CFIA is not in the business of washing vehicles but food inspection), cuts to the Community Access Programme, the way the government has handled its cutting the immigration backlog, the proposed changes to refugee detention, cuts in the Atlantic region, magazine funding rules for minority official languages (Moore: They’re not being cut, and it was a false rumour), and the democratic legitimacy of an omnibus budget measures (Van Loan: But these are all provisions related to our budgetary focus on prosperity!).
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for his light grey suit with a light blue checked shirt, and to Michelle Rempel for her fitted grey dress with the black stripes and side panels with a black jacket. Style citations go out to Niki Ashton for an orange striped shirt with one of those hateful 80s cravats built onto the front of it, and to Jean Rousseau for a bright teal shirt with a dark brown suit.