Wednesday, caucus day, and MPs filled the benches on both sides. Thomas Mulcair started things off short and sharp once again, asking what clarification Mike Duffy sought after caucus back in February. Stephen Harper said that he simply stated that any improper expenses needed to be repaid. Mulcair asked if Nigel Wright was present for that meeting, but Harper’s answer didn’t change — even after Mulcair asked it again. Mulcair then tried to press about the amount of Nigel Wright’s severance package, but Harper refused, stating that he was only being paid the minimum amount required by law. He then asked if Harper authorised the statement on May 17th that said that Nigel Wright would be staying on. Harper spoke about how Wright made an error in judgement, and he accepted his resignation, before finally breaking out the “You sat on a bribery allegation for 17 years.” Justin Trudeau called into question the logic of Wright paying Duffy’s expenses to spare the taxpayers and asked for the real reason for Wright’s resignation. Harper gave the same talking points. Trudeau asked the same in French before pointing out that Nigel Wright was the director of the Conservative Fund for seven years, and asked one more time which Harper appointed Duffy. Harper didn’t really respond, and took a swipe a Trudeau instead.
Mulcair was back up and pressed the issue — it made no sense that Wright would write the cheque to protect the taxpayers, and he was this about getting the issue out of the PMO (Harper: He paid this out of his own personal funds), how many times did he speak to Senator LeBreton about the Senate expenses issue (Harper: I speak to her regularly and encourage Senators that all expenses be appropriate), was Harper briefed about Wallin’s audit results (Harper: I haven’t seen it and she’s outside of caucus), was Wallin offered the same deal as Duffy (Harper: I asked Wright if he had any similar deals and he said no), was Ben Perrin involved in this deal in any way (Harper: He’s a private citizen and can answer for himself, but he did say no), was Ray Novak involved in any way (Harper: These actions were Wright’s sole responsibility and I have no information to indicate otherwise), did your comms director get involved (Harper: Wright took sole responsibility), how could your comms staff answer if they weren’t present (Harper: These were Wright’s actions alone and didn’t communicate with me or my staff). Marc Garneau brought up the eligibility of Shelly Glover and James Bezan to sit while their election expenses are up for dispute (Poilievre: They acted in good faith and have the ability to make the intervention at the courts), and Judy Foote brought up the various scandals and noted that “fish rots from the head” (Poilievre: We brought in the Accountability Act!). Craig Scott and Alexandrine Latendresse returned to Glover and Bezan (Poilievre: They were elected democratically), and Marjolaie Boutin-Sweet and Chris Charlton brought up former Conservative candidates being appointed to the Social Security Tribunal even though they broke donation rules (Leitch: These appointments are merit based).
Round three saw questions on the RCMP Commissioner’s comments around harassment in the Force, the lack of health and safety standards being employed by Public Works, Trudeau asked a couple of crowd-sourced questions on EI premiums and advertising spending, the lack of consultation with First Nations on the Canada-China FIPA, expanding CPP, compensation to Air Canada passengers who suffered from over-booking, and the Supreme Court reference on the Senate.
Overall Mulcair continued to do well, while Trudeau did a little less so in the first round, asking the same question in French as he did in English (a script failure) rather than pressing the issue he didn’t get an answer on. There were points of order raised at the end about a 1994 Speaker’s ruling that said that questions couldn’t come from constituents (though I’ve heard them on many an occasion previously), while Trudeau argued that they weren’t from his constituents, and that they were questions that Canadians in general had.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Alexandrine Latendresse for a black dress with a notched neckline and a grey jacket with rolled sleeves, and to Maxime Bernier for a navy suit with a light blue shirt, pocket square and tie. Style citations go out to Costas Menegakis for a black suit with a yellow shirt and reddish-striped tie, and to Leona Aglukkaq for a yellow paisley dress with a white jacket. Dishonourable mentions go out to Niki Ashton for a black jacket and top with a yellow skirt, and to Olivia Chow for a yellow jacket with a black top and trousers.