With the Clusterduff explosions still ringing in the air, and Harper on his way to Peru, it was a somewhat tense mood in the House as Question Period started. Thomas Mulcair began by reading a dig about Harper jetting off to Peru before demanding that the RCMP be called in and all papers be turned over. John Baird, the designated back-up PM du jour, read a carefully prepared script about how Harper didn’t know about the payment until last week, and that he made a strong statement about it that morning. Françoise Boivin tried another kick at the same questions, bringing up his iron-fisted control and micromanagement of his office to indicate that he had to be aware, but Baird told her that he’d already given a clear answer, and that perhaps she learn how to roll with QP (as opposed to sticking to her script). Justin Trudeau decried that the government had lost its moral compass, and asked the for the documents on the deal between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy. Baird responded with the very same answer, that nobody knew anything. For his final question, Trudeau wanted an apology to Canadians over the whole affair, but Baird wasn’t about to provide one.
Round two started with Charlie Angus asking the very same thing (Baird provided the same answer), Craig Scott cited sections of the law that the Wright/Duffy cheque contravened (Baird: Wait for the investigations to be completed), Alexandrine Latendresse remarked that this reeked of a cover-up (Baird: Nobody believes these expenses should have been claimed, and a reimbursement was made), Alexandre Boulerice wanted to talk about the TV ads for a jobs programme that doesn’t exist because the provincial negotiations haven’t been completed (Leitch: We’re addressing skills mis-matches around the country!), Robert Chisholm asked about the revelation of partisan hiring at ACOA (Shea: The Public Service Commission investigation concluded there was no political interference), and Pat Martin gave a rambling bit of outrage (Baird: If anyone is found to be in the wrong, they’ll be shown the door). Dominic LeBlanc returned to the laws likely broken by the Wright/Duffy cheque (Baird: Let’s wait for the results of the investigation), and wanted to know who told the Conservative senators on the audit committee to whitewash Duffy’s audit (Baird: There was a repayment and these are under investigation). Chris Charlton and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet asked about EI Board appointees making donations to the Conservative Party (Van Loan: That board no longer exists, as it was replaced by the Social Security Tribunal), and Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton asked about the problems with EI training programmes (Leitch: We’re focused like a laser on jobs).
Round three saw questions on convicted bid-riggers still getting Public Works contracts, more questions on advertising the non-existent Canada Jobs Grant programme, the expenses by now-former head librarian Daniel Caron, the perversion of the Senate’s official report on Duffy’s finances, and funding for pure research.
Overall, I’d have to say that the performances were pretty lacking. The fact that even John Baird began mocking the NDP on being unable to roll with the answers given was an indication that MPs were not able to stage a coherent enough of an attack line to derail him from his talking points. Also, the Liberals were very repetitive in their use of “Ordinary Canadians can’t have their debts wiped out…” I’m not sure that such repetition is an effective strategy, but some people seem to think that it works. (At least they didn’t say “middle class” today).
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to James Bezan for a dark grey suit with a pale lavender shirt, purple pocket square and purple plaid tie, and to Rona Ambrose for a dark grey speckled dress with a black jacket. Style citations go out to Susan Truppe for a yellow top and black jacket, and to Bal Gosal for a black suit with a pale yellow shirt and yellow and black tie.