Wednesday, caucus day, and the benches were mostly full. Thomas Mulcair started off by reading a pair of questions about the improperly reported $3.1 billion in anti-terror funds, and showed just how with it he is by making an Arrested Development reference, asking if the money was in the banana stand. Harper ignored it and once again assured him that the Auditor General said that the money was not misspent. Mulcair then turned to the issue of Treasury Board taking an active hand in the collective bargaining of Crown Corporations. Harper reminded him that the government backstops these Crown Corporations, and with some of them in financial difficulty, they had an obligation to ensure that taxpayer’s money was being treated responsibly. For his final question, Mulcair brought up the demise of the mandatory long-form census, as the National Household Survey data was released today. Harper responded with congratulations to Statistics Canada for the data release and praise for how high quality the data was. Justin Trudeau was then up, and after paying mention to the long-form census, he turned to the question of those Economic Action Plan™ ads, and how each spot they run during the playoffs, it costs the same as 32 student summer jobs. Harper first repeated his congratulations to Statistics Canada, before he moved onto the necessity of informing Canadians of how well the economy is doing by way of those ads.
Round two started off with Malcolm Allen and Lysane Blachette-Lamothe returning to the $3.1 billion (Clement: The usual talking points about what the AG said), before Blachette-Lamothe and Murray Rankin turning to the topic of layoffs at CRA (Shea: We have increased staffing with the audit compliance division, and yay our new measures), Hélène LeBlanc and Dan Harris returned to the question of the long-form census (Paradis: Yay our high quality data and respect for privacy), Linda Duncan and Mathieu Ravignat asked about a Toronto Star report on secretive contracting issues (Clement: We contract out for certain services like nursing on First Nations reservations, and we are looking at improving our processes), and Charlie Angus demanded that the Senate audits be turned over to the RCMP (Van Loan: We haven’t yet seen the audits but will ensure that the money is paid back to the government and will determine the next steps). Judy Foote returned to the contracting issue (Clement: Many of these contracts are for services like nursing and we are ensuring that these departments increase their transparency), Mauril Bélanger asked if the government would cut its ads during tonight’s hockey game in order to restore funding to community access centres (Paradis: Look at how we’ve improved Internet access across Canada), and Rodger Cuzner asked about why 40,000 summer student positions have been cut per year since they’ve come to power (Finley: Look at the Canada Student Grant programme and funding for five thousand interns!) Robert Aubin and Olivia Chow asked about the request by WestJet to reduce the number of flight attendants aboard (Poilievre: The French example you cited has the same regulation that we just passed; Fletcher: Transport Canada is concerned with passenger safety), and Paul Dewar and Sadia Groguhé asked about reuniting Syrian refugees with their families in Canada (Obhrai: We have provided extra resources for immigration services in Beirut and Ankara; Kenney: I met with dozens of members of the Syrian-Canadian community in Canada and with refugees in Turkey and Baghdad).
Round three saw questions on greenhouse gas emissions, the experimental lakes area, declining lobster prices, the independence of the CBC, the impacts of EI changes in Atlantic Canada, declining tourism, a wharf closure in Gaspé, asbestos mines, layoffs at a local company, and taxing insurance appraisal services.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Blaine Calkins for a tailored medium-grey suit with a white shirt and a pink patterned tie, and to Rona Ambrose for a black-and-white chain mail-patterned top with a charcoal jacket and skirt. Style citations go out to Anne Quach for her hybrid low-cut brown sweater stitched onto a horrible seventies orange floral turtleneck, and to Scott Andrews for a black suit with a bright red shirt and a black plaid tie.