QP: Getting Harper on the record, scattershot style

With all leaders on deck on a lovely Tuesday afternoon in the Nation’s Capital, QP got underway with Thomas Mulcair reading a question on why John Duncan was dropped from cabinet over an improper letter, but not Jim Flaherty. Harper responded that in Flaherty’s case, it was an administrative error. Mulcair moved on to the topic of EI “quotas,” to which Harper insisted that they were merely performance audit. Mulcair then moved onto the “scandals” in the Senate, to which Harper somehow turned it into a paean for an elected Senate — not that it would actually address the current issues. For his final question, Mulcair demanded that Harper stay away from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, and Harper started off by carrying on his elected Senate paean before saying that he would not attend the meeting. For the Liberals, Bob Rae asked about the house calls that EI recipients are receiving as part of the effort to stamp out fraud. Harper responded by saying that EI was paid into by honest Canadians and they want to ensure that the money is there for honest recipients. For his final question, Rae asked about the Estimates tabled yesterday and the increase in advertising budgets while front-line services are being cut. Harper insisted that said front-line services were not being cut.

Round two started off with Randall Garrison saying that there have yet been no meetings with Chiefs about First Nations policing (Toews: I’ve got meetings later today), Peggy Nash wondered why Senate funding was being increased amidst cutbacks (Flaherty:The budget is on the way…eventually), before asking a rambling question that apparently had to do with the PBO (Clement: We’re looking for a credible new PBO as we speak), Hélène Laverdière asked about cuts to DFAIT and CIDA, reducing Canada’s international presence (Baird: We’re meeting our international obligations), Olivia Chow asked about VIA Rail cuts while they have not yet implemented new safety measures (Lebel: We’re working to implement changes but there are a few snags), Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton returned to the question of the EI quotas (Finley: You only care about fraudsters, whom you call victims), while Ruth Ellen Brosseau and Yvon Godin put a seasonal spin on the topic (Finley: We assist the jobless in finding work). Scott Brison returned to the increase in advertising spending while things like CFIA are being cut (Clement: We have an obligation to communicate programmes and services), Lise St-Denis asked about the social costs of First Nations policing not being funded (Toews: We will make this funding decision soon), and Joyce Murray asked about the need for the Office of Religious Freedoms if it might impact the rights of women of the LGBT communities (Baird: We defend all human rights abroad). Alexandre Bourlerice and Charlie Angus returned to the issue of Senators under investigation (Van Loan: The Senate will report on these audits publicly).

Round three saw questions on data loss and privacy breaches with HRSDC and FINTRAC, cuts to the Last Post Fund, the Defence Minister’s inability to properly handle his procurement budget while his department gets cut, the need for clearer resource development regulations, the impact of inflation on the shipbuilding programme, a local tax issue, consumer costs in the North, and GHG emissions regulations.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Alexandrine Latendresse for a sleeveless grey dress with an asymmetrical neckline, and to Ralph Goodale for a dark grey suit with a pink shirt and light blue tie. Style citations go out to Ron Cannan for a fluorescent blue shirt with a black suit and tie, and to Charmaine Borg for a fluorescent orange top with a black suit.