After yesterday’s standout QP performance, the question was going to be whether lightning could strike twice. Mulcair opted not to use his mini-lectern for a second day in a row, and with notes on his desk, asked briefly about the emails between Senator Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright. Harper highlighted that Duffy was no longer in caucus was being investigated by the appropriate authorities. Mulcair then asked if the RCMP had asked PMO for said emails, and Harper insisted they were cooperating — unlike Mulcair sitting on a bribery allegation for some 17 years. Mulcair tried to press on what was discussed in Cabinet, but Harper insisted that this wasn’t public business and therefore not discussed in cabinet. Mulcair wanted to know how Harper could be sure that it was a personal cheque, and Harper said that he would take Wright at his word — and by the way, you sat on a bribery allegation for 17 years. Justin Trudeau was up next and returned to the February 20 email and wanted it to be made public, but Harper went back to his talking point about about cooperating with authorities. Trudeau brought up the media contacting the PMO in the afternoon of May 14th and the identical talking points from Duffy and the PMO that evening, but Harper continued to insist he found out on the morning of the 15th. When Trudeau pressed, Harper brought up Liberal Senator Pana Merchant’s husband’s offshore accounts, to much applause.
Mulcair was back up for round two, asking about the assumptions made when Duffy paid back his expenses (Harper: Duffy said publicly that he personally repaid it, and how about you covering up for the mayor of Laval), how often did you speak to your chief of staff (Harper: He didn’t inform me until the 15th, and hey, Laval), when did you first speak to Wright about the whole Senate expenses scandal (Harper: As soon as the story broke, and hey, corruption in Quebec under your watch), who is the “we” in this quote (Harper: Wright’s has spoken about his motives), did Nigel Wright get severance pay (Harper: He’ll receive what he is entitled to by law), how much is that separation pay — $90,000? (Harper: Policies are clear around things like accumulated vacation pay), who in your office knew on May 14th (Harper: Nigel Wright told me on the 15th, and if I’d known sooner I would have gone public sooner), have you asked to examine all of Nigel Wight’s emails (Harper: We will assist the appropriate authorities when they search), and what did you learn about in Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses that caused you to remove her from caucus (Harper: She removed herself and if she has broken any laws, she will be accountable for it). Bob Rae was up next, and asked who in the PMO was in charge of the file on the Senate audits (James Moore: Yay revised audits and the new Senate rules!), and when he pressed on the topic, Moore insisted that Wight took sole responsibility. Paul Dewar was up next and asked about Dr. Arthur Porter’s fraud charges and his continued status as a Privy Councillor (Toews: The opposition leaders signed off on his appointment, and hey, what about Mulcair sitting on bribery allegations for 17 years), Françoise Boivin asked about Porter’s extradition order (Teows: What about your leader), Rosane Doré Lefebvre tried to draw a wholly dubious connection between Porter and Jeffrey Delisle (Teows: Your leader), and Randall Garrison asked about rebuilding trust with our intelligence allies (Toews: Your leader and the mayor of Laval!)
Round three saw questions on an investigation of the CEO of Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, the dodgy hiring at ACOA, EI reforms affecting forestry workers, Senator Wallin’s expenses audit despite Harper’s previous assurances that it was fine, consulting with Aboriginal leaders, the invasion of privacy that Cindy Blackstock has been subjected to, Conservative failures in general, assisting Formula One in Montreal, government ad spending, and the CRTC fine imposed on the Conservatives.
Overall, lightning did not strike twice. Mulcair was not as sharp in his questions, relied more visibly on notes today, and nothing really went for the jugular, nor did the smart-assed remark about $90,000 in severance pay for Nigel Wright really help sell his attack. The Liberals deployed Bob Rae today to great effect, as he is still possibly one of the best questioners in the House, and while Harper was not as calm or collected as he was yesterday, he was on the full attack today — the best defence being a good offence, apparently. This won’t carry on tomorrow either, as both Trudeau and Mulcair have speaking engagements outside of Ottawa while QP is going on. While the Liberals could be expected to again put Rae out front, we’re likely to see a heavily scripted performance by the NDP.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Lisa Raitt for a banded-collared black leather jacket with a light blue top, and to Blake Richards for a tailored dark grey suit with a pale lavender shirt and dark purple tie. Style citations go out to Mark Warawa for a brown suit with a striped shirt and a teal tie, and to Susan Truppe for a yellow top with a black jacket and trousers.