QP: Starting off the new parliamentary year

The first QP of 2013, and all leaders were in the House — even Bloc leader Daniel Paillé in the diplomatic gallery. Thomas Mulcair started off by wishing everyone a productive session before he read off a pro-forma question about the mission to Mali. Harper offered him assurances that there would be no combat mission and that he would consult the House before any future deployments. Next up, Mulcair read off a pair of questions about the First Nations, and why progress on their issues was so slow. Harper assured him that they were moving ahead with the issues, and that processes were in place and they would continue to work with those partners who were willing (this being the key phrase the government has been employing of late). Romeo Saganash was up next, and gave the vague threat that they didn’t need the government because he has a Private Member’s Bill on implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — err, except that he’s number 167 on the Order of Precedence, and it’s the job of the opposition to oppose, and not to govern. It’s called the Westminster system, which he may need to read up on. John Duncan offered up a bland list of achievements by way of response. Bob Rae then got up for the Liberals, and pressed about the signing of the Declaration, and that the government has been insufficient in its consultations with First Nations. Harper disputed this, stating that the government has met all of its legal obligations and their duty to consult. For his final question, Rae asked about the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to which Harper reminded him that his government created the office to be non-partisan and credible.

Starting off round two, Jean Crowder and Jonathan Genest-Jourdain returned to the First Nations (John Duncan: Look at all of our accomplishments over the past six years), Peggy Nash and Guy Caron asked about the PBO report on back office spending increasing while services have been cuts — while bringing up Moody’s downgrading Canadian banks as somehow being related to the issue (Clement: His definitions are wrong, as is his report), Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton asked about the changes to the EI system (Finley: The EI system requires claimants to be seeking reasonable employment), before Charlton and Charmaine Borg moved onto the issue of the HRSDC personal data loss (Finley: This was unacceptable and we’ve extended Equifax credit monitoring). Carolyn Bennett asked about lagging First Nations economic development (John Duncan: Look at these job-creating projects that are going ahead), Lawrence MacAulay returned to the question on that single mother kicked off of EI in his riding), and Stéphane Dion returned to the question of the PBO (Clement: Same as before). Alexandre Boulerice gave a bog-standard dog whistle question on Senate appointments (Uppal: The reason we haven’t had Senate reform is because you are delaying it), before he and Charlie Angus went after Jim Flaherty for his letter to the CRTC (Poilievre: You hate Canada! Van Loan: The Ethics Commissioner has dealt with this).

Round three saw questions on F-35 procurement procedure, Peter MacKay’s helicopter trip for an unnecessary photo-op, Julian Fantino’s partisan letter on the CIDA website and his handling of the Haiti file, the loss of the HRSDC data loss, search and rescue, reopening the abortion debate, the demolition of the historic Cape Breton marina, credit card merchant fees, EI reform, and input into Northern Gateway hearings.

Oh, and true to form, Charlie Angus demonstrated the NDP commitment to decorum by name-calling during his question. The Speaker did, however, call him on it, not that Angus apologised.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Rona Ambrose for a black jacket and skirt with a green geometric top, and to Maxime Bernier for his charcoal suit with a white shirt and peach tie. Style citations go out to both Jean Rousseau and Mike Sullivan for fluorescent blue shirts and ties, and to Hélène LeBlanc for a mustard turtleneck with a brown jacket and maroon trousers. Dishonourable mention goes out to Isabelle Morin for a dark mustard top with a black sweater and trousers.