QP: Quotas and downshifting

It’s an awful, wet day out in the Nation’s Capital, the precipitation an ugly mix of fluffy wet snow and needle-like ice pellets. Inside the Commons, QP kicked off with Thomas Mulcair reading a question about cuts to services for First Nations including policing. Harper responded that there were no cuts, and that new funds would be announced in due course. Mulcair’s second question was about Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC, to which Harper reminded him that he already answered the question the day before. Mulcair then asked a question about those Senators who have not yet responded to the CBC about their residency. Harper assured him that all Senators respect their residency requirement (though I suppose that remains to be seen). Nycole Turmel was up next to ask a pair of EI “quota” questions, speciously tying in the Senate, to which Diane Finley assured her that there were no quotas or bonuses for achieving cuts. Rae pressed on the issue of bonuses for cuts, to which Harper talked about how they wanted to ensure that EI funds were there for those who paid into them. Rae carried on about how this move was simply downshifting the unemployed onto provincial welfare rolls, but Harper insisted there was no such plan.

Round two started off with Mulcair getting back up to hound the government for not moving on the Senate reform bill, and offered unanimous consent if the government worked with the provinces on abolition (Harper: You blocked the bill because you want to appoint your own Senators), Robert Aubin and Olivia Chow asked about cuts to transportation safety (Lebel: We are working to implement new safety regulations), Malcolm Allen and Peggy Nash decried cuts to food safety while the Senate’s budget is going up (Clement: The estimates are not the budget, they’re a baseline for planning purposes — and no, he should probably check on what what the Estimates are for; Lebel: We haven’t cut any frontline transportation inspectors), and Anne-Marie Day, Philip Toone and Chris Charlton railed against the impact of EI changes (Finley: Our main objective is the economy and jobs!) Judy Sgro asked about poor seniors (Wong: We have one of the lowest seniors’ poverty rates in the world), Sean Casey asked about cuts to veterans’ burials (Blaney: We are investing in veterans at record levels), and Scott Brison called out Tony Clement for the advertising spending increases (Clement: We’re spending less on advertising than your government was). Charlie Angus asked a bog-standard Senate question (Poilievre: You were cited for inappropriate involvement in the Electoral Boundaries commission), before he and Ève Péclet turned to the appointment of Arthur Porter, who is now wanted on charges (Poilievre: “Charlie is no angel”; Toews: The opposition leaders agreed to Porter’s appointment – which is precisely why appointments should not be consulted upon, as it launders the prerogative and the accountability for when things go wrong, like it did with Dr. Porter), before Péclet returned to the Senate question (Van Loan: You blocked our reform bill).

Round three saw innumerable questions on EI changes, as well as questions on bilingualism for officers of Parliament, French in federally regulated businesses in Quebec, First Nations policing funds, marine Atlantic ferry rate hikes, and the housing crisis.

Sartorially speaking, it was Pink Shirt Day for anti-bullying awareness, though it was not as widely adopted by MPs as it could have been. Snaps go out to Jasbir Sandhu for a grey suit with a pink shirt and tie, and to Peggy Nash for her dark pink jacket with a black top and trousers. Style citations go out to Diane Finley for a her green/yellow/red abstract foliage print dress with a black jacket, and to Jean Rousseau for a fluorescent orange shirt and tie with a black suit.