QP: Half points for effort

Monday in the Commons, and there were few leaders in the House — just Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair. Mulcair kept up with this short questions, asking first the date in which the Prime Minister spoke with Mike Duffy about his expenses. Baird gave a packaged talking point about how Harper insisted that Duffy repay any improper expenses. Mulcair then asked whether Senator LeBreton recused herself from cabinet discussions involving Senate expenses (though I’m not sure why she would, but whatever). Baird returned to the talking points about how Harper learned about the deal on the morning of the 15th. When Mulcair asked about Senators being paid for campaigning, Baird said that all campaign expenses were paid from by party funds. Megan Leslie was up next, more questions on the expenses, to which Baird gave the same talking point about repaying expenses and hey, Mulcair sat on that bribe allegation for 17 years. Bob Rae was up for the Liberals and asked why not simply call one public inquiry than to have the several separate private enquiries currently going on with regards to the Wright-Duffy affair. Baird touted the Accountability Act, and hey, your caucus has a Senator with an offshore tax haven (which is of course false).

Round two started off with Charlie Angus asking about the deal with Duffy, assuming there was some kind of go-ahead given to Wright to negotiate (Baird: Duffy was told to repay his expenses and hey, if Mulcair had come forward 17 years ago all this corruption in Quebec might have been stopped), Craig Scott asked the same before turning to whether Harper had spoken to Senator Wallin about her expenses (Baird: When those expenses have been reviewed they will be made public), Alexandre Boulerice asked if Harper indeed regretted appointed Mike Duffy (Baird: Yes, the PM is disappointed in their conduct and we’re pleased to cooperate with the authorities), Sadia Groguhé asked about the timeline around Duffy approaching Harper in February (Baird: Duffy was expected to repay his expenses), and Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe asked who else in PMO knew what was going on with Duffy (Baird: Nigel Wright took sole responsibility). Marc Garneau asked if Wright was fired instead of resigning and what compensation he would get (Baird: He resigned taking full responsibility and will only get the minimum of what is required), he asked about the employment agreement Wright made upon his appointment to PMO (Baird: It was the same as any exempt ministerial staff), and finally Garneau asked if taxpayers would be billed for Wright’s lawyer (Baird: Your leader supports the status quo!). Jack Harris and Élaine Michaud asked about the investigation into a supposed media leak that came from a US Navy press release (Findlay: It is appropriate to conduct reviews around sensitive information), and Hélène Laverdière and Paul Dewar asked about Canada not signing a small arms treaty (Baird: We participated in the discussions and we already have strict controls domestically).

Round three saw questions on public transit investment, northern airports, the closed Kitsilano coast guard station, Conservative MPs attacking the Federal Court judge rather than being concerned about electoral fraud, floods around Quebec City, the scourge of coal dust, advertising the non-existent Canada Jobs Grant being advertised, black market organ transplants, sponsoring heritage lighthouses, the fact that Vito Rizzuto being back in charge of the Montreal Mafia in the face of the ending of the police recruitment fund, and a crooked Public Works relocation contract.

There were actually overtime questions today, because they got through the whole speaking list before three, and there were MPs standing up to ask questions, some of them *gasp!* without scripts! Those questions included ones on who is the high-level person in the PMO looking over the agreement with First Nations made in January, the steps being taken to bring Arthur Porter back to Canada and to a secure facility given the secret information he possess, and fishers caught on sandbanks off the coast of New Brunswick.

Overall, the tenor was better than usual today, with more of the short and pointed questions, but they were still scripted, and following a predetermined speaking list. That meant that even though most of the ridiculous theatrics were toned down, it didn’t give MPs any real ability follow-up or press for answers, and that is a crutch of the speaker’s list — why would the minister bother answering a questions if he or she knows that the next person on the list already has their script ready and won’t ensure that they’re being called out for ridiculous non-answers. The other bonus of the short questions today were the extra questions at the end, which is probably the first time I’ve seen that happen in five years of attending QP.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Lisa Raitt for a khaki jacket and skirt with a v-necked black top, and to Ron Cannan for a black suit with a purple shirt and black and purple tie. Style citations go out to Jean Rousseau for a grey suit with a fluorescent teal shirt and a light blue tartan tie, and to Rona Ambrose for a mustard blazer with a black top and striped black-and-white skirt. Dishonourable mention goes out to Niki Ashton for a black and blue jacket with a yellow skirt.