Day two of the new parliamentary year, and the whole “carbon tax” versus “Conservatives are irresponsible” talking points continued unabated. Apparently nobody could think up anything new over the past six weeks, and the rest of us are left to suffer. When QP began, Thomas Mulcair started off by reading off questions about bank ratings downgrades, with his rather dubious connections between corporate tax cuts and high personal debt levels, and how this was an apocalypse in the making. Harper assured him that they recognised the issue of household debt and have taken measures. Mulcair went on to read a question about the funding gap for First Nations schools, but Harper insisted that they had made a number of changes to reduce poverty. Jean Crowder picked up on the First Nations education funding issue, to which John Duncan said that they are consulting on structural changes to the system, as throwing money at the problem won’t change anything. When Crowder asked about the high-level oversight on the First Nations that was promised, Duncan reiterated the pledge. Bob Rae was up for the Liberals, asking about the lack of progress on clean water for all First Nations reserves, to which Harper said that they had measures under considetation. When Rae pointed out that there weren’t resources attached to those matters, Harper accused the Liberals of voting against measures. For his last question, Rae asked about the government’s attacks on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but Harper didn’t really respond to the question.
Round two started off with Jonathan Genest-Jourdain and Romeo Saganash returning to the First Nations questions (Duncan: We continue to work with willing partners on shared priorities), Peggy Nash also made that connection between lowered corporate taxes and high household debt (Flaherty: Credit card debt went down last quarter), before moving onto the PBO question along with Guy Caron (Clement: We want a credible, non-partisan PBO; Flaherty: We continue to out-perform other countries), Christine Moore and Jack Harris asked about real property management on Canadian Forces bases (MacKay: We’ve made lots of infrastructure investments, and we’re looking at options for service delivery), before Harris moved onto the issue of search and rescue (MacKay: We made new investments in Goose Bay). Scott Brison wanted Flaherty to admit his culpability in the high debt levels, especially around mortgages (Flaherty: We tightened the rules four times because of excessive demand in the condo market), Stéphane Dion returned to the attacks on the PBO (Clement: We are continued to maintaining the office), and Judy Foote asked about closure of the Maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John’s (MacKay: The stated error that was made was quickly corrected). Alexandre Boulerice asked about Flaherty’s CRTC letter (Van Loan: It was an administrative oversight), and then asked about the $1 million price tag for Harper to bring his own motorcade to India (Poilievre: We don’t question the RCMP). Charlie Angus asked the very same thing (Baird: The people of India have paid a high price in the war on terror and we took RCMP advice), and when he turned to those CRTC letters, Van Loan read out a letter Angus wrote to the CRTC on a similar issue.
Round three saw questions on EI changes, the allegedly partisan decision making of ACOA, cuts to Immigration offices, the lost student loan files, people being forced to pay for paper bills in the mail, the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area, funding for cooperatives, refugee health care cuts, and a rumour that Environment Canada was to be merged with Natural Resources Canada (Harper: There’s no basis to that rumour).
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to James Bezan for a dark grey suit with a light blue shirt and pocket square with a dark blue striped tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a fitted black knit dress with pink, green and white quasi-florals that were actually done tastefully (as opposed to most hateful floral patterns). Style citations go out to Judy Foote for her gold-and-black zebra print bolero jacket, and to normally well-dressed Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for a loud suit whose print may have been taken from a sofa, circa 1974. Special mention goes out to Joan Crockatt — belt over jacket? Really?