QP: Toews attacks, Penashue lost

On the anniversary of the very first sitting of the Canadian parliament in 1867, it was a somewhat heated day in the Commons today during QP, and Vic Toews gave another gob-smacking performance. When the PM’s away, the ministers will balls everything up – or something like that. Thomas Mulcair started off by reading out a question on our impending nuclear agreement with India would include independent verification that the materials were used only for peaceful purposes. John Baird, once again acting as back-up PM du jour, assured him that the government takes nuclear non-proliferation seriously. Mulcair then asked why China was getting better briefings on agreements than Canadians were, to which Baird talked about how the FIPA was signed on the margins of another trade conference, and for his final question, Mulcair recounted his doomsday scenario of China buying up Alberta’s natural resources with nobody to stop them. Baird suggested that Mulcair was wearing his tinfoil hat, and touted the safe environment for Canadian investment that the FIPA would create. Peggy Nash was up next, trying to wrap the PBO’s latest report on spending cuts with the issue of Harper’s armoured limousines in India, but Baird deflected it with a defence of the RCMP’s recommendations. Bob Rae was up next, asking a pair of questions on whether Harper would meet with provincial premiers, given how he likes to travel abroad to meet other world leaders. Baird responded that he regularly meets with premiers of all stripes, and hey, look at all the good work they did together with the Economic Action Plan™! For his final question, Rae quoted the trade minister about the “opaque investment climate” in India, and wondered what we told them about the opaque climate in Canada, given that there is no clarity on what constitutes “net benefit.” Baird instead used the opportunity to recite a bunch of trite talking points about the jobs and the economy, and the fictional NDP “carbon tax.”

Round two started off with Randall Garrison and Rosane Doré Lefebvre asking about implementing the recommendations from the inquiry into Ashley Smith’s death, but Vic Toews decided that for his second response, it was a good idea to accuse the NDP of not supporting the victims of people with mental health issues that committed crimes. No, seriously. There were roars of outrage across the House, and Mulcair got up next to ask, in a rarely unscripted moment, whether Toews understood that Smith was the victim. Toews recited his points about how the PM told Corrections to cooperate, but went back to accusing Mulcair of not standing with victims. Irene Mathyssen read a question about funerals for poor veterans (Blaney: We support all veterans), and Alexandre Boulerice and Pat Martin asked about the Conservative Private Members’ Bill regarding union transparency (Poilievre: Union members have a right to know how their dues are spent), and Craig Scott, Alexandrine Latendresse, and Charlie Angus all asked about the revelations about RMG’s calling during the last election – again, not proper fodder for QP since it’s not actually a question regarding a government department (Poilievre: We ran a clean, ethical campaign). Bob Rae was back up for the Liberals, wondering why Toews himself didn’t instruct Corrections to cooperate with the provincial inquest into Ashley Smith’s death instead of waiting for the PM to say something (Toews: Yay PM’s statement, and oh yeah, we were limited by constitutional jurisdiction), and Bill Casey accused the governement of choosing style over substance by unveiling purple ribbons rather than helping veterans (Blaney: I’m proud of this initiative the Minister of Defence launched for families). Fin Donnelly asked about the Cohen Report and the changes to fish habitat protection (Shea: We’re focused on the productivity of the fisheries), and Anne Minh-Thu Quach and Mylène Freeman asked about the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Lebel: This is about navigation, not fish).

Round three started off with the NDP trying to get Peter Penashue to ask questions about his department, Intergovernmental Affairs – Clement gave a non sequitur on the first one about cuts to ministerial spending as Penashue seemed unsure if he should answer or not, he answered the second one but immediately got flustered when he stood up and babbled instead about how much he’s learned travelling the country, but Kerry-Lynne Findlay took the third one, and yeah, the attempt to then get him to answer about his campaign activities (once again, not the domain of QP) wasn’t going anywhere. The rest of QP saw questions on seasonal EI changes, Service Canada cuts, rural post office closures, Canada Post charging new fees in new housing developments, airline overbooking, forestry job losses, credit card fees, and the new advisory committee on vice-regal appointments (hint: the Bloc doesn’t like it because they’re not fans of the Queen).

Sartorially speaking, it was a day where a number of MPs were wearing purple to support the cause of stopping violence against women – and some wore it well, and some didn’t. Snaps go out to Alexandrine Latendresse for her tailored short-sleeved dress, and to Randall Garrison for his dark grey suit with a deep purple shirt and tie. Style citations go out to José Nunez-Melo for a greyish tan suit with a purple shirt and a loud floral purple tie, and to Diane Finley, for a dark grey dress with a black jacket that was covered in blinding red and white florals. Dishonourable mentions go out to Kelly Block for a mustard jacket with black trousers, and to Patricia Davidson for a black sweater with a light yellow top.