With Harper heading home from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bob Rae away elsewhere, it was up to Thomas Mulcair to be the sole leader in the leader’s round of questions. He began QP by reading a trio of questions on the tainted beef issue, his third question including a demand that Gerry Ritz resign. Ritz was up to speak each time – rather than another back-up PM du jour – but spoke about taking food safety seriously and science-based decision, but wouldn’t take the bait on the resignation demand. Malcolm Allen was up next to say that there aren’t enough meat inspectors in the system, to which Ritz replied that the Union said there were. Marc Garneau was up for the Liberals, first asking a pair of questions on reassurances around food safety, to which Ritz took the classy move of blaming previous Liberal cuts for the problems and to tout their government’s “reinvestments” in food safety. For his last question, Garneau asked about the issue of bullying, to which Rob Nicholson replied that the government was taking action, there were two Parliamentary committees studying the issue, as well as funding for RCMP and cyber-tips hotlines.
Round two started with Ruth Ellen Brosseau repeating Allen’s questions in French (Ritz: We’re building capacity in the system!), Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton asking about the partial retreat on the EI clawbacks – Charlton going so far as to take credit on the NDP’s behalf for the changes (Finley: Our priority is job creation), and Don Davies and Romeo Saganash asked about the government report that said the European Free Trade agreement would raise drug prices by up to $2 billion per year (Keddy: We’re striking a balance and consulting as part of the negotiations). Frank Valeriote demanded a comprehensive audit of CFIA (Ritz: Safe food!), Gerry Byrne asked about the inappropriate appointment of a friend of Peter MacKay’s to ACOA and his myriad of expenses (Keddy: This is a matter before the courts), and Roger Cuzner was back to the issue of the partial retreat on the EI clawbacks (Finley: Job creation!). Matthew Kellway and Christine Moore closed the round with a question each on the clearance being given to a handful of Canadian troops to engage in combat operations in Afghanistan – neglecting the powers of Crown prerogatives in matters of national defence and putting undue weight on non-binding motions in the Commons as part of their questions (MacKay: This is a normal part of professional development all of our allies engage in), and a question on the renegotiation process for those Sikorsky helicopters (Gourde: We will be looking for damages from the previous contract).
Round three saw questions on Huawei, CNOOC, cooperatives funding, cuts to prison chaplains, rebranding and possibly politicising the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, the government’s actions hurting small businesses, cuts to marine science as there is an issue with Beluga whale calves dying off, speeding through the immigration process of a table-tennis champion, and the costs to Quebec of the many justice bills.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Raymond Côté, a habitual offender who instead came dressed in a very nice grey suit, with a crisp white shirt and a grey and white spotted tie, and to Lisa Raitt for a black v-neck top with a black suit. Style citations go out to Anne Minh-Thu Quach for a honey mustard jacket with a grey ruffled top and navy trousers, and to Claude Patry for a fluorescent blue shirt/black suit offence. Dishonourable mention to Olivia Chow for a bright mustard dress with a black jacket, and a warning to this new trend of bright red shirts that seems to be slowly taking the place of the fluorescent blue ones – it’s not okay. Stop it now, please.