It was Friday-on-a-Thursday in the House, as it prepared to rise for the Easter break. Attendance was lighter than usual, but not as light as a usual Friday, and most unusually, Stephen Harper was present, which I completely did not expect. Megan Leslie was leading off for the NDP, asking about the tax increases in the budget. Harper stood up to list all of the tax increases that he claimed the NDP were in support of (which may or may not reflect reality). For her final question, Leslie asked about a patronage appointment at ACOA of a former ministerial staffer, to which Harper assured her that it had been cleared by the Public Service Commission and there was no ministerial interference. Craig Scott was up next, and with his air of affected gravitas, asked about the Elections Canada report on recommendations to avoid future instances of misleading robocalls, and wondered where the promised bill was. Tim Uppal reminded him that they just got the report yesterday, and that the bill would come in due course. For the Liberals,Ralph Goodale asked about the government pulling out of the UN convention on drought, which has plenty of applications back in Canada as well as abroad. Harper responded that the UN body spent less than 20 percent of its dollars to achieve results, and surely they could spend their funds being more effective elsewhere. Goodale moved onto the robocall report, to which Harper somewhat spuriously claimed that only the Liberals were “convicted” of breaking these laws, and as the the report was only tabled yesterday, they were reviewing and and would take its findings into account. Massimo Pacetti asked the same again in French, to which Harper repeated the same again in French.
Round two started off with Alexandrine Latendresse asked again about the robocall report (Uppal: The bill will be tabled in due course), Ryan Cleary and Jack Harris returned to the question of the ACOA hiring, bringing in Peter Penashue (Shea: The Public Service Commission cleared this; Poilievre: Peter Penashue did ALL THE THINGS for Labrador), Hélène Laverdière and Paul Dewar returned to the question of the UN drought convention pullout (Brown: We are making out aid dollars more effective, focused and accountable), and Guy Caron, Murray Rankin and Peggy Nash turned to the issue of tax increases in the budget (Menzies: A low tax plan means tax fairness, and we are closing loopholes). Scott Andrews brought up Chief Electoral Officer’s request for more investigators and brought up Dean Del Mastro’s absence from Ethics Committee (Poilievre: We will take no lessons, etc.), before he moved onto the ACOA hiring issue (Shea: This was cleared), and Stéphane Dion asked about the new plans for Official Languages (Moore: I was pleased to table our roadmap today). Jean Crowder and Romeo Saganash asked for nation-to-nation negotiations with Aboriginal communities (Valcourt: The NDP supports the positions of protesters who shut down a First Nations mother from speaking), and Randall Garrison asked about a grant in the budget to an institution that denies gays and lesbians from being hired (Nicholson, out of nowhere: Why won’t you pass the bill on same-sex divorce?)
Round three saw questions on budget measures affecting BC, the port of Kitimat, data on concentrations of nickel dust, coal-fired emissions in Alberta, decreasing competition in the cell phone sector, the Code of Conduct at Library and Archives Canada, gasoline prices, on-reserve education funding for Aboriginal youth, a local unemployment issue after a plant closure, youth unemployment, and the negotiation on skills training for Quebec.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Greg Rickford for a tailored dark grey suit with a blue-striped white shirt and a dark blue tie, and to Lisa Raitt for her black suit with a purple top. Style citations go out to Megan Leslie for a grey top and jacket with a sickly yellow skirt, and to Jean Rousseau for a fluorescent blue shirt and striped tie with a black suit.