It was a Tuesday with all of the leaders back in the House and ready to face off once again. Before the show could get started, things took a brief pause so that the newest Liberal MP, Yvonne Jones, could be brought before the bar and be given the chance to take her seat for the first time (which she got a bit sidetracked with, trying to go to shake hands with the Speaker and much laughter ensued). Thomas Mulcair started QP off with the prosecutorial style questions again, asking about Senator LeBreton saying that Harper had dealt with the Wright matter on the 14th and not the 15th as Harper had previously stated. Harper responded by saying he had been clear that he found out on the 15th, and that Mulcair said in 2010 that he didn’t know anything about Quebec corruption. Mulcair then asked when Harper had first spoken to Duffy about his expenses, to which Harper said that they had spoken after caucus that one Wednesday in February, and that he told him to repay any improper expenses. Mulcair asked when he ordered the rest of the caucus to repay their expenses, and who in his staff was present, but Harper kept going back to the fact that he was clear about insisting that improper expenses be repaid — and you sat on corruption allegations. Justin Trudeau was up next, and asked for the reason that Nigel Wright gave him for writing that cheque. Harper repeated the tale that Wright wanted to ensure that taxpayers were reimbursed, and tried to insist that Liberal senators were resisting calling in the Auditor General — a falsehood, as Senate rules dictate that all motions need 24 hours’ notice, and it was only tabled today. Thus, they’ll discuss the motion tomorrow, per the rules. Trudeau tried to ask why Duffy was so special — was it because of his status as a high-profile party fundraiser? Harper’s response didn’t change.
Mulcair was back up in round two, and wondered about why it took so long for Harper to order expenses be reimbursed despite it being a media story for months (Harper: I’ve been clear that inappropriate expenses be reimbursed), which staff members were present when Harper insisted that Duffy repay those expenses (Harper: Same answer), who told the director of communications to say that he had confidence in Nigel Wright when the payment was first revealed (Harper: Wright thought he was trying to protect taxpayers), is Nigel Wright’s “executive” severance pay less than or greater than $90,000 (Harper: He is only being paid the minimum required by law and it’s less than that figure), was Ray Novak aware of the payment (Harper: Wight did this on his own), did Marjorie LeBreton recuse herself from cabinet discussions on Senate expenses (Harper: I told you last week that this was not cabinet business), who is responsible for the Senate in the PMO (Harper: The Senate is an independent body according to the constitution, but we do have discussions with them), and did he know that Duffy was billing the Senate for campaign expenses (Harper: The party pays for campaigns, and the revelation he was double-dipping means that it has been referred to other authorities). Trudeau was back up and asked why he chose to appoint Mike Duffy to the Senate (Harper: Because the evil coalition would have appointed Senators of their own in 2008 if I didn’t), why did you appoint Pamela Wallin to the Senate (Harper: Probably the same reason the Liberals appointed her to be the Consul General in New York), and he gave one last attempt at asking why those two appointments (Harper: Your Senators are resisting calling in the AG). Ève Péclet and Paul Dewar asked about why the government hasn’t signed the UN arms treaty (Baird: We are consulting Canadians), and Jack Harris and Christine Moore asking about the the Canadian Forces investigating journalists who embarrass them (Findlay: When there are leaks, it is expected that they be followed up on for security reasons).
Round three saw questions on the two MPs who are in danger of being suspended for campaign activities, inadequate oil spill clean-up equipment, the modernisation of the classification of firearms, the lack of operational search and rescue helicopters in Happy Valley Goose Bay (Yvonne Jones’ maiden question, for the record), the issue of pension reform, Commissioner Paulson attacking victims of abuse at a committee hearing, the accountability rules for Aboriginal companies, and on VIA Rail service cuts.
So it was another good Tuesday QP, with the leaders asking most of the questions for the first two rounds, and keeping up the short and clear style, and trying to press when questions weren’t being answered. Mulcair continued with his absurd questions of whether Nigel Wright’s severance pay would cover the $90,000 or Senator LeBreton somehow recusing herself from Cabinet discussions on the Senate expenses issue (seriously — the very notion defies logic), and Harper did smack him down on the latter question. It was back to the usual puppet theatre of scripts for round three, however, which remains a disappointment.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Blake Richards for a dark grey suit with a lavender shirt and purple tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a fitted white dress with random black stripy patterns. Style citations go out to Chris Charlton for a yellow jacket with a black top and trousers, and to Mike Sullivan for a faded orange shirt and tie with a black suit.