It was a lovely Wednesday in the Nation’s Capital, the sun out, the snow melting. It being caucus day, the benches were almost full, and the energy level was high. Thomas Mulcair started off by reading a pair of questions designed to troll for support for his Senate abolition motion, but Harper wasn’t going to take the bait, and said that he favoured electing Senators because everybody knows that the provinces won’t agree to abolition. For his final supplemental, Mulcair turned to the issue of EI training funds, which Harper assured him that they were consulting widely on. Chris Charlton picked up on the same topic, to which Ted Menzies got to deliver the points about consultation and how training was helping with the economy. For the Liberals, Bob Rae asked about unemployment figures comparing between October 2008 and today, and whether the budget would address that. Harper didn’t really respond, but simply said that the Liberals voted against their job creating measures. Rae turned to the unilateral decision to reclaim the EI training fund, to which Harper said such a move would go against Rae’s assertion that they weren’t doing anything about the unemployed. For his final question, Rae asked why there hasn’t been an inquiry into security breaches like the Dr. Arthur Porter and Jeffrey Delisle, to which Harper gave the usual non-answer about Porter’s time at SIRC being unrelated to the allegations against him.
Round two started off with Anne-Marie Day and Philip Toone asking again about the EI training funds (Menzies: This is speculation, we are consulting and helping people get jobs), Robert Chisholm asked a broader question about EI reform (Finley: We’re helping Canadians find jobs), Peggy Nash asked about budget secrecy (Menzies: We’re the most transparent government ever — and did I mention that the chocolate ration is being increased from 24 grammes to 20! Doubleplusgood! Clement: Look at all of the reports we table!), Charlie Angus wondered if Arthur Porter was still a member if the Privy Council (Poilievre: The allegations are not from his time at SIRC), before he and Alexandre Boulerice called for Senate abolition (Poilievre to Angus: You attempted to gerrymander your riding; to Boulerice: How about your separatist leanings?) and Boulerice finished off with the same question about Dr. Porter (not that Poilievre’s answer changed). Judy Foote, Stéphane Dion and Ralph Goodale all returned to the question of the EI training funds (Menzies: We’re consulting on how to create jobs). Jack Harris and Christine Moore asked about the increase in use of consultants at National Defence (MacKay: Contracting costs are coming down), Anne Quach asked about cuts to Parks Canada (Kent: We’re not cutting front-line services of health transfers), and Megan Leslie decried trips to Washington to engage in “green washing” (Kent: Unlike your trip to Washington to kill jobs).
Round three saw questions on border delays thanks to American sequester spending cuts, for-profit blood bank proposals, how inflation is affecting the naval shipbuilding programme, more about the use of consultants at DND, the PBO not getting data on tax evasion, marine safety, seniors not getting paper tax returns, EI cuts affecting agricultural seasonal work, and the government’s position on the UN arms trade treaty.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Greg Rickford for a tailored dark grey suit with a white shirt and pocket square and mint green tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a black short-sleeved dress. Style citations go out to Anne Quach for a bizarre black-and-white striped turtleneck sewn into a purple, well, quasi-corset, and to Brian Masse for a distracting pink and grey paisley tie with a grey suit and pink shirt. Dishonourable mention to Ruth Ellen Brosseau for a leopard-print collar with her black jacket.