With Stephen Harper off answering audience questions at the Canadian American Business Council’s fall policy conference, and John Baird over in the United Arab Emirates discussing the Gaza situation with his counterparts, it was up for grabs as to whose turn it was to be back-up PM du jour. So when Thomas Mulcair got up to read a pair of questions on Harper and Jim Flaherty contradicting each other’s deficit rounding error numbers, we found out that Tony Clement was the day’s designated hitter, who informed the House that it was their objective to balance the budget by 2015, and the NDP wants to raise taxes. Mulcair moved onto a question about why Harper wasn’t meeting with premiers in Halifax, what with the “fiscal cliff” looming and all, by Clement reminded everyone that the NDP wants to raise taxes. Peggy Nash tried to press after why Harper wasn’t meeting with the premiers, but this time Ted Menzies got to respond, reminding her that Harper meets with the premiers regularly. Bob Rae was up next, asking about a Calgary infrastructure project that was to have benefitted from an arrangement with P3 Canada, only to have the rules changed once the project was completed (and incidentally, this happened a year ago, and in the scrums afterward, Rae openly admitted that yeah, he’s asking these questions because there’s a by-election in Calgary Centre and god forbid there be politics in the House of Commons). Menzies accused Rae of having incorrect information, but did congratulate him on his concern for Calgary, and only wished that the Leader of the Official Opposition felt the same. For his final question, Rae asked about the situation in Gaza and working toward a cease-fire, to which Peter MacKay responded with a reaffirmation of the right of Israel to defend itself.
Round two kicked off with Hélène LeBlanc and Peter Julian asking about the Petronas deal being back up for evaluation again (Paradis: We’re examining the deal), Christine Moore and Matthew Kellway asked about Peter MacKay dodging the question of what other fighters are being examined as replacements for the CF-18s on the weekend politics shows (Ambrose: We have a Seven-Point Action Plan™!), and Alexandre Boulerice and Charlie Angus asked about the revelation that Elections Canada was looking into illicit robo-calling during the election – not that this is a question that should be asked during QP because it has nothing to do with the operations of a department (Polievre and Uppal: We ran a clean and ethical campaign, unlike you guys). Judy Foote asked the same question and got the same response, Scott Andrews somewhat cleverly worked In & Out Affair references into his question about Peter Penashue and his campaign conduct – again, not a question in the domain of QP (Poilievre: Say your allegations outside), and John McCallum wondered why public service dollars for media monitoring were being spent to gauge Jason Kenney’s popularity in ethnic media (Dykstra pretty much admitted that their immigration policy is successful if it boosts their party fortunes). Jinny Sims asked about that incident where a BC mine hired all of those temporary foreign workers (Finley: It’s before the courts so I can’t say anything), Sadia Groguhé asked about the media monitoring (Dykstra: You don’t understand media monitoring), and Ève Péclet and Paul Dewar asked about embassy security in Moscow (Ablonczy: We’re not going to engage in a public or partisan discussion about this, and we’re thinking about calling in the RCMP to see how this report was made public).
Round three saw questions about federal jobs lost in Gatineau, infrastructure funding, the Victoria by-election, First Nations student funding, the lack of jobs in some regions being a problem with the new EI rules (Finley: We’re helping people find jobs!), cuts to anti-gang groups, the effect of CETA on drug prices, cuts to a scientific library operated by a department (Shea: Most of their resources are moving online as it is), French Language of Work legislation, and funding to combat organised crime.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Maxime Bernier for a dark grey three-piece suit with a dark blue shirt and matching pocket square, with a red and white tie, and to Candace Bergen, for her tailored navy jacket with a black skirt and top. Style citations go out to Jean Rousseau for a bright red shirt with a black suit and tie, and to Hélène LeBlanc for a yellow turtleneck with a brown jacket and maroon trousers. Dishonourable mentions go out to Charlie Angus for yet another fluorescent blue shirt/grey suit violation, and to Christine Moore for a bright pink bolero jacket with a black frilly dress. That’s right – a bolero jacket. Dear MPs: Please just say no to bolero jackets.