QP: Pursuing peace and human rights

It was all hands on deck in the Commons today, for the first time in what seems like ages. Even the Bloc leader, Daniel Paillé was present – albeit from his perch in the diplomatic gallery, as he doesn’t actually have a seat. Thomas Mulcair kicked things off by reading off a question about the leaked proposed foreign policy plan, whereby the government would be abandoning their pledge not to sacrifice human rights on the altar of the almighty dollar. Harper stood up and in his usual shrugging manner, said the document wasn’t official policy and that his government always works to pursue peace and human rights. Mulcair went on to talk about the violence happening in the Congo, and the fact that Harper was just there talking about trade in the region. Harper disputed that characterisation, however, by saying that he did meet with opposition groups and expressed his concern over human rights abuses while at the Francophonie Summit in that country. Peggy Nash was up next, and wondered why Harper didn’t want to meet with the premiers when they were going to be discussing the economy. Jim Flaherty took this question, and pointed out that Harper regularly meets with the premiers. Bob Rae was up for the Liberals, and asked if Harper would consider doubling the flow of the gas tax to the municipalities by the next budget, so that they can engage in some long-term planning for infrastructure. Harper pointed out that they are consulting, but it was his government that made the gas tax transfers permanent, before the two of them had some back-and-forth over who can take credit for the gas tax revenues flowing to the cities.

Round two kicked off with Peter Julian asking about the secrecy around the CNOOC deal, considering that leaks indicated CNOOC was willing to accede to government requests, but nobody knew what requests those were. Harper, curiously, got up to answer Julian, and bet him about the head with the usual talking points of scrutinising individual investments and the NDP opposing all trade. Hélène LeBlanc got up to ask the very same thing, and Julian took one more crack, each of them bringing in the lost jobs with previous takeovers and how even the Liberals were in favour of the CNOOC deal (well, Justin Trudeau is anyway), to which Paradis delivered his standard talking points. Alexandre Boulerice and Charlie Angus asked about those new robo-calling revelations and Peter Penashue’s campaign questions – not that either of those topics is the domain of QP because they don’t deal with government operations (Poilievre: We ran a clean and ethical campaign, you didn’t, etcetera). Scott Andrews took another crack at the robo-calling (Poilievre: You were “convicted” of violations – conflating an administrative CRTC fine with a criminal offence, which it was not), and Marc Garneau asked about Penashue and his silence (Poilievre: He works really hard. Totally). Jinny Sims asked about temporary foreign workers (Finley: Canadians must get first crack at those jobs), Sadia Groguhé said that that Kenney didn’t answer her question the day before about the closure of 19 immigration office – err, except that was the preamble to her question about the ethnic media monitoring (Kenney: Ethnic media is great!), and Rathika Sitsabaiesan and Wayne Marston asked if the government would be boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka because of that country’s human rights violations (Baird: Yay everything we’ve done for Sri Lanka, but we still haven’t decided if we’re attending).

Round three saw questions on victims funding, adequate funding for the justice system, First Nations per-student funding gap, deaths associated to energy drinks (Aglukkaq: People can make informed choices about caffeine!), the costs of sector-by-sector emissions regulations (Kent: We won’t know the costs until every sector is regulated), public service media monitoring in a writ period for partisan purposes (Kenney: You Liberals ignored ethnic media), grain commission cuts, First Nations children being left behind, and Quebec’s environmental assessments on pipelines.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Blake Richards for his dark grey suit with a pale grey shirt and pocket square, with a black and green tie, and to Lisa Raitt for a smart pink striped collared shirt with a black leather jacket. Style citations go out to Lois Brown for a black jacket and a white…well, I’m not sure if it was a giant cravat or a scarf, but she appeared to be drowning in it, and to Jasbir Sandhu for a fluorescent blue shirt/black suit violation worn with a light blue and yellow tie.