Wednesday, caucus day, and the benches were mostly full, except for Thomas Mulcair’s seat. Well, that’s not entirely true — one of the backbenchers from the nosebleeds was filling the seat while Mulcair was on a plane to Labrador, headed there directly after the morning’s caucus meeting. That left it up to deputy leader David Christopherson to get things off to a shouty start, yelling about cuts to Elections Canada amidst the report that showed the magnitude of problems during the past election. Harper assured him that Elections Canada recommended their own cuts and their legislation to strengthen their powers was forthcoming, based on their own recent report. Nycole Turmel was up next, asking about the improperly tracked $3.1 billion identified in the Auditor General’s report. Harper reminded her that the Auditor General himself pointed out that nothing pointed to any misspending, and that Treasury Board had already accepted his recommendations. For the Liberals, Justin Trudeau was up to decry Harper’s lack of understanding of the plight of the middle class. Harper assured him of all the great programmes they had for everyday Canadians, and look at how great the country is doing compared to other OECD countries.
Round two started off with Malcolm Allen and Lysand Blanchette-Lamothe returning to the $3.1 billion “boondoggle” (Clement: Here’s the AG’s quote to prove that the money was not misspent), Libby Davies asked about the AG’s findings on the failure of the diabetes strategy (Aglukkaq: Look at all of the programmes we have for healthy starts especially for northern communities), Romeo Saganash asked about the obstruction with documents being turned over to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Valcourt: We have already turned over 3.5 million documents and this process is ongoing), Murray Rankin asked about the uncollected tax figures in the AG’s report (Shea: We are taking actions and those measures are in the budget), Annick Papillon and Jack Harris asked about the closure of the maritime rescue subcentre as related to the AG’s report (Ashfield: We have bilingual capacity in place; MacKay: We accept that adequate search and rescue responses are not good enough and are working on improving them), before Harris asked about the air cadet glider programme (MacKay: We addressed this fabrication two days ago, and we’ve made increases to the cadet programme each and every year). Joyce Murray wondered how Doctor Evil might try to shaft small businesses in the country and supposed that he might raise payroll taxes — just like the budget proposes (Flaherty: Our economy grew by 0.3 percent in February!), Scott Brison asked about the new addition of GST to certain medical services (Flaherty: There is no GST on treatment), and Ralph Goodale asked about the $1.5 billion in hidden tax increases in the budget (Flaherty: More of the same). Hélène Laverdière asked about AG’s report on foreign assistance programmes (Fantino: We are ensuring that the money is going to projects that get results, but we accept that there is room for improvement), and Ève Péclet and Paul Dewar asked about Baird saying that we wouldn’t be trying for another seat on the Security Council (Baird: Our foreign policy is not for sale!).
Round three saw questions on youth unemployment, the Atlantic premiers’s opposition to the EI reforms, the death of a sailor in English Bay as it relates to the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, the procurement of new search and rescue planes, the changes to collective bargaining for CBC and other Crown Corporations, the scourge of temporary foreign pilots, the jurisdictional issues around those diluted chemotherapy drugs, tooth decay among Inuit, and the plight of Syrian refugees.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Maxime Bernier for a tailored tan suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and a striped pink and red tie, and to Rona Ambrose for a fitted black dress and jacket. Style citations go out to both Sadia Groguhé and Chris Charlton for eerily similar butterscotch jackets with black tops and trousers, and to Rick Norlock for a black suit with a yellow shirt and striped tie.