QP: Billions in non sequiturs

Despite it being only a Thursday, Elizabeth May was the only leader in the House. Harper wasn’t even present for the many self-congratulatory Members’ Statements about the second anniversary of the “strong, stable, national majority Conservative government.” In the absence of Thomas Mulcair, it was up to Libby Davies to read off a pair of questions about the improperly tracked $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funds, to which James Moore, the designated back-up PM du jour, read off the Auditor General’s assurances that the money was not actually misspent. Davies moved onto the topic of search and rescue and threw in a mention for the need to reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Moore insisted that they were making investments and changes to the system as evidenced by this morning’s announcement. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe repeated the same in French — without a script — the twist being about the Quebec City substation (MacKay: We are making these necessary investments; Clement: The AG stated that there was no evidence of misspending). For the Liberals, Bob Rae led off — and got a round of applause from the Conservative benches for it — and asked about the “stealth campaign” of raising taxes, be they payroll or tariffs. Moore insisted that it was a ridiculous question, and lauded the many ways in which the government has lowered taxes. For his final question, Rae asked about withdrawals from the Interparliamentary Union, to which Moore replied that there was no withdrawal on the world stage.

Round two started off with Chris Charlton, Denis Blanchette, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Malcolm Allen and Charlie Angus all asked about leaks of personal data in various departments (Clement: We are collaborating with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that we prevent personal leaks), Annick Papillon and Ryan Cleary returned to the topic of search and rescue (MacKay: We have responded to the groups you mentioned and by the way, ground search and rescue is a provincial responsiblilty), and Mathieu Ravignat made the dubious connection between the unaccounted for $3.1 billion and the rebranding of government websites (Clement: That’s nonsense, and by the way we went with blue because our web experts said it was the best contrast colour). Geoff Regan asked about the wireless spectrum and the loss of competition in the market (Paradis: Rates dropped last year, by the way), and David McGuinty asked about the middle class tax burden amidst service cuts (Finley: We’re providing better, more efficient services for Canadians; Flaherty: Did you hear that our economy grew in January and February?). Isabelle Morin and Matthew Dubé asked about youth unemployment (Finley: Look at all of our training programmes!), and Anne Quach asked about the melting polar ice caps (Kent: Our regulations are getting results unlike your proposed carbon tax).

Round three saw questions on the changes to collective bargaining with Crown Corporations, the destroyed Residential School documents, the cuts to Elections Canada, a demand for proof of our level of greenhouse gas reductions, the need to keep a UN agency’s headquarters in Montreal, Cape Breton ferry funding and safety, extending a tax measure for Ontario, an issue with a Manitoulan ferry, and housing funding for Quebec.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Blake Richards for a tailored dark grey suit with a white shirt and pocket square and a dark purple tie, and to Lisa Raitt for a blue, red and purple v-necked dress with a black sweater. Style citations go out to Linda Duncan for a dress that graduated from grey to fuchsia leopard print with a fuchsia jacket, and to Stephen Woodworth for a black suit and tie with a bright red shirt.