QP: PRISM concerns

With Harper prepping for his trip to Europe, and Justin Trudeau elsewhere, Thomas Mulcair was holding down the fort in the House for QP. He began by asking in Nigel Wright had signing authority for the “secret” party fund. Pierre Poilievre was designated to answer, and he insisted that the fund wasn’t secret, it was controlled by the party, and audited by Elections Canada (which is not exactly true). Mulcair then turned to the issue of the American surveillance programme PRISM, and asked about the Canadian monitoring by the Communications Security Establishment. Peter MacKay answered that the CSE is prohibited by law from engaging in domestic surveillance, and has been lauded for its culture of compliance. Jack Harris asked more of the same, before wondering if CSE was using PRISM data. MacKay noted the policies on foreign information sharing, and that those reports are tabled in Parliament. Ralph Goodale was up for the Liberals, and asked if Benjamin Perrin was aware of the the deal between Wright and Duffy, if not the source of the funds. James Moore was up, belatedly the designated back-up PM du jour, and took swipes at the Liberals over Senators Mac Harb and Pana Merchant.

Round two started with Craig Alexander and Charlie Angus asking about the contradictory messages around the “secret” party fund (Poilievre: A sarcastic “Don’t tell anyone, but the Prime Minister is the leader of the Conservative Party, and when he incurs expenses for a party function, the party pays for it;” Moore: Yay new jobs and Senate reform plans), Alexandre Boulerice and Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe asked the same again in French (Moore and Poilievre: more of the same), and Nathan Cullen gave some kitchen sink outrage and unctuous sanctimony (Moore: We’re cooperating with the Ethics Commissioner and we have a plan for Senate reform). Marc Garneau demanded to see a copy of the $90,000 cheque (Moore: Where is the cheque from Mac Harb?), and Yvonne Jones enumerated a litany of ethical breaches (Moore: the very same response). Hélène LeBlanc and Dan Harris asked about cuts at the Canadian Space Agency and if that was addressed at the PM’s meeting with Chris Hadfield (Paradis: We support the CSA and are very proud of Hadfield), and Randall Garrison and Rosanne Doré Lefebvre asked about the government rejecting civilian oversight for the RCMP (Toews: We brought in good legislation that will transform the RCMP but your party stands in the way of meaningful reform).

Round three saw questions on refugee healthcare cuts, budget cuts and legal battles with First Nations, the intimidation of a veteran testifying before committee, EI claimants being given the opportunity to properly appeal their cases, the rebranding of Radio-Canada, more about Canadian access to PRISM data (MacKay: Metadata is only collected on foreign threats), seniors in poverty, a funding application for a youth employment programme, and the lack of a national rail strategy.

Overall, despite Mulcair’s three short questions off the top, QP had officially returned to its usual state of debased puppet theatre, full of canned outrage, scripted exchanges, and rounds of asking the same question in French that you just asked in English so that you can get a clip for YouTube to put on your website. You know — all the things that are wrong with what’s going on. Well done, MPs. Slow clap.

Sartorially speaking, snaps to out to Patrick Brown for a dark grey suit with a pink shirt and light grey tie, and to Eve Adams for a royal blue zippered jacket and skirt. Style citations go out to Susan Truppe for a yellow top with a black suit, and to François Choquette for a black suit with a washed out orange shirt and brown tie. Special mention goes out to seatmates Ruth Ellen Brosseau and Sadia Groguhé for matching outfits — Brosseau with a lime green sweater over a grey dress, and to Groguhé for a lime green jacket with a black dress of the very same cut.