In the afterglow of the by-elections, and with Thomas Mulcair still absent – having celebrated his party’s win in Victoria last night – it was up to Libby Davies to lead off QP for the NDP today, and she started off with a question on budget choices. Harper indulged her, and spoke about preserving essential services while still eliminating the deficit in the medium term and growing the economy. So far so good. But then Davies painted a rather odd picture about Mark Carney making an abrupt departure for England, and getting out of Canada in a hurry before our economy cratered again – apparently. Roars of laughter went across the Conservative and Liberal benches, and when Harper did get up, he reminded Davies that their definitions of “abrupt” may be different as Carney is sticking around until June, and that he doesn’t take his new position until July. Oops. Nycole Turmel was up next to wonder about what the government’s fiscal contingency plan was, considering that Europe was back in recession. In response, Jim Flaherty touted the OECD’s projections that Canada would be the second-fastest growing economy in the next two years, behind only the US, which is starting from a much worse position than we are. Bob Rae was then up for the Liberals, asking about the coming 2014 health accords and whether there would be provisions for drug coverage, as it is the fastest-growing portion of healthcare costs. Harper reminded him that healthcare is a provincial responsibility, and that the government sends plenty of health transfer dollars to the provinces.
Round two kicked off with Peggy Nash asking about the contradictory messages around deficits (Flaherty: The figures are within our risk adjustment figures), Megan Leslie wondered what the plan was for the climate conference in Doha (Kent: We took the lead in tailpipe emissions regulations!), Ming the Merciless – err, Evil Matthew Kellway asked about what guidance the Fighter Jet Procurement Secretariat would be getting on what planes to select if they didn’t have a Statement of Requirements (Ambrose: Expertise will be brought in – and during her answer, Vic Toews gave a “well done, Rona” on her open mike, for which she thanked him for his support at the end of her answer, amid the titters of laughter around the Chamber), and Christine Moore and Jack Harris wondered why the Military Ombudsman couldn’t get documents about why reservists were treated differently (MacKay: We implemented ten of his twelve recommendations and are working on the others, including ensuring that reservists are treated fairly). Kevin Lamoureux asked about refugee health cuts (Kenney: If provinces want to fund failed claimants, let them), Carolyn Bennett asked why the health minister licensed six generic versions of OxyContin amid the outcry not to (Aglukkaq: This is provincial jurisdiction and we want scientists and not politicians to decide if the drugs are safe), and John McKay asked about the issue of reservists being treated differently despite it being raised four years ago (MacKay: You guys didn’t do anything when you were in power – but we intend to fix it). Peter Julian brought up the Nexen takeover (Paradis got his talking points right today when he accused the NDP of being anti-trade and the Liberals of just rubber-stamping everything), and Jinny Sims and Sadia Groguhé asked about refugee healthcare (Kenney: Think of all of those false claimants from developed countries who come here for our generous benefits! No seriously, he brought that up).
Round three saw questions about climate change, lobster trap labels, whether the government would keep its fixed election date in order to ensure the budget was balanced before the next election, the apparent closure of the Postal Museum, tourism in decline because of cuts to Parks Canada sites, the menace of GMO apples, and the closure of the only francophone Fisheries Department library.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Ed Fast for a dark grey suit with a white shirt and pink tie, and to Annick Papillon for a tailored grey jacket and skirt, with a white top. Style citations go out to Christine Moore for a white wrap dress with black horizontal stripes over a pair of black trousers and hiking shoes, capped off with a short black-and-white striped scarf, and to Colin Carrie for a black suit with a dusky rose shirt and a mottle mauve and dark teal tie. Dishonourable mention to Gail Shea for a yellow top with a black jacket and a yellow and draped grey scarf.