It started out like any other Question Period would. Thomas Mulcair rose to decry the effect of the EI changes on seasonal workers, and Harper assured him that EI would be there for those who need it. Peggy Nash tried to draw a connection between today’s census data and the need for OAS, but Diane Finley returned to her “sustainable” talking points, while Tony Clement assured her that all of their financial data was still being reported in quarterly reports and so on. Bob Rae brought up the comments of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale regarding the EI changes and the lack of consultation, but Harper assured him that he meets with premiers all the time. The Liberal benches didn’t sound like they believed that story, and while Harper may meet with premiers on an individual basis, he certainly hasn’t called a First Minister’s meeting in about six years, for the record.
Round two started off with Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton asking about the EI changes (Finley: We’re helping people to identify existing jobs!), Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice asked about the latest allegations about the mismanagement at the Old Port of Montreal – oh, and note to Charlie Angus, you might want to look up what “rum bottle politics” actually means, and hint: It has nothing to do with patronage (Ambrose: The Auditor General is now looking into it and we’ve appointed a third party to sign off on their finances), while Irene Mathyssen read off some outrage about the pension issue in the CP Rail strike (Raitt: You should actually read our back-to-work bill because we’re actually being reasonable about this). John McKay asked about the Conservatives shutting down the F-35 inquiry at Public Accounts (Saxton: Stop playing partisan games!), Marc Garneau asked about the competitive process to replace our aging search-and-rescue planes (Fantino: There’s a process), and Gerry Byrne asked the chair of the public accounts committee about why his motions weren’t being dealt with (Christopherson – yes, an NDP MP – said it was because the motions were out of order, and there was some in camera stuff in there as well. And don’t look so shocked that occasionally opposition members get asked questions – committee chairs get asked questions in QP too). Randal Garrison and Rosane Doré Lefebvre asked about the ongoing sexual harassment investigations at the RCMP (Toews: We’re concerned and measures are being taken), and Matthew Kellway insinuated that there was a cover-up going on around the F-35s (Saxton: Questions were answered at committee, time to write up our report).
Around round three, things started going a bit crazy – news broke over the wires about a severed foot being delivered to Conservative Party headquarters, and a sudden thunderstorm hit Ottawa, that could be heard inside the Chamber. Apocalypse jokes abounded over the Twitter Machine. Nevertheless, the questions ranged on the objections of former fisheries ministers to the provisions in the omnibus budget bill, Arctic offshore oil exploration, air pollution monitoring cuts, how budget cuts endanger lives, disability programmes, municipal infrastructure, child poverty, and northern Ontario flooding.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for a dark grey pinstriped suit with a white shirt and a cream-and-grey tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a fitted navy dress with thin white stripes across. Style citations go out to Rathika Sitsabaiesan for a gauzy orange and green short-sleeved pastel top with big red butterflies across the front and back, and to Bal Gosal for a black suit with a yellow shirt and tie.