With the raw wound of Brent Rathgeber’s resignation still palpably present, and Harper sat through Members’ Statements, his mood inscrutable. Thomas Mulcair led off QP with another round of prosecutorial questions, first asking if Nigel Wright or any other staff member was present when he instructed Duffy or the caucus as a whole about repaying inappropriate instructions. Harper insisted that he insisted that all claims be legitimate and any illegitimate ones must be reimbursed, and that he was under the impression that Duffy had repaid them on his own. Mulcair then asked if he instructed anyone to make the Senate expenses scandal go away. Harper said that Duffy made a pledge to act honourably, and will have to face the consequences if he didn’t. For the Liberals, it was up to Rodger Cuzner to lead off, and he asked about Rathgeber’s statement that the PM doesn’t seem to be in control of the PMO, and was that why he could claim that he knew nothing about the Wright-Duffy payment. James Moore got up to take that bullet, and deflected it with an untrue swipe about Senator Merchant. Garneau closed up the round and asked why Harper didn’t insist that Duffy still repay those expenses on his own, even if it meant garnishing his wages. Moore’s response didn’t change.
Round two started with Mulcair wondering if Harper had seen the cheque to attest that it came from a personal account (Harper: It didn’t come from a government account and we’re not reimbursing him for the amount like you’ve alleged), is a trust account a personal account (Harper: I’ve answered repeatedly, and you sat on a bribery allegation for 17 years), you won’t say if you instructed your comms director to call Wight honourable (Harper: I made sure the facts were public once I knew about them), what happened between you said you had reviewed Senator Wallin’s expenses and throwing her out of caucus (Harper: We said all those expenses would be examined and it became clear that she needed to leave caucus until it was dealt with), what else did you ask Wright when you asked him if he made a deal with any other senator (Harper: You sat on that bribery allegation), what date did Wright write the cheque (Harper: Wright took full responsibility), CTV reported that Duffy said that PMO told him to keep quiet, is that true (Harper: These are his statements on the record and he’ll be held to account for them), do you regret any of your own actions in this affair (Harper: When someone accepts responsibility we insist action be taken. What about your own responsibility for that bribery allegation?). Yvonne Jones brought up the Glover/Bezan issue and wondered when the government would be held to account as Peter Penashue was (Poilievre: They acted in good faith and Elections Canada changed their interpretation of the rules between 2008 and 2011), Gerry Byrne asked about the hiring shenanigans at ACOA (Shea: We can’t speak to ongoing investigations, but when they came to light I sent them to the Ethics Commissioner), and Scott Simms asked about the litany of ethical lapses in the Conservative government (Moore: Yay Accountability Act!) Malcolm Allen and Ruth-Ellen Brosseau asked about the report into the XL Foods E. coli contamination (Ritz: The same report praised lots of things), and Alexandre Boulerice and Pat Martin delivered some generic kitchen-sink outrage (Moore: Bruce Hyer, everyone).
Round three saw questions on compelling testimony from a veteran at committee, upcoming cuts to First Nations organisations, the date for which food safety recommendations will be implemented, why the government amended Rathgeber’s salary disclosure bill (Nicholson: The salary ranges are public and we expanded access to information laws), floor crossing, the renaming of Radio-Canada, saving certain farmlands, water pressure in Quebec City, and British Columbia rejecting the Enbridge Pipeline in the context of Harper’s infamous Firewall Letter.
Overall, the level of energy seemed to be flagging today, both from Mulcair and Harper, though that was likely their last exchange before the House rises. Mulcair increasingly looks like he’s on a fishing expedition than hammering away at key dates and points. There were places where Harper blatantly didn’t answer questions, and yet Mulcair just let it slide and asked the next one on his list. As for the Liberals, Cuzner’s initial questions was bang-on with regards to tying in Rathgeber’s comments about the PMO running itself and Harper’s lack of awareness, but rather than pointing out that Moore was clearly deflecting, they let the issue slide and instead moved onto that annoying habit of putting all of the various scandals into a single question, thus making it easier to avoid. Likewise with questions by the likes of Boulerice and Pat Martin, where it was kitchen-sink outrage that wasn’t directed to any one minister or have anything to do with government operations. Generalised outrage is not what QP is for. If you want theatrics like that, there are microphones in the Foyer that you can stand in front of.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Cathy McLeod for a brown jacket with a white top, and to Christian Paradis for a fantastic purple striped tie with an otherwise generic black suit and white shirt. Style citations go out to Bal Gosal for a black suit with a yellow shirt and black-and-yellow tie, and to Jinny Sims for her green sequinned top with a black sweater and trousers.