The final Monday of the spring sitting, and while there were a lot of empty spaces along the government front bench, the opposition benches were restless. Thomas Mulcair started off by bringing up last week’s Pamela Wallin interview, where she said that she briefed the Prime Minister’s office about her audit, contrary to Harper saying that he wasn’t briefed — never mind the fact that Wright and Harper are not the same person. James Moore, the designated back-up PM du jour, reminded him that there was an independent process underway. Mulcair then brought up the arrest of former Conservative candidate and “regional advisor” Saulie Zajdel, and he wondered what he was doing for Moore when he worked there. Moore said that the charges were of a municipal nature, and if he or the mayor were found guilty, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. When Megan Leslie brought up the very same topic, wondering why Zadjel left Moore’s employ, Moore hit back saying back by the justice system works best when people who know of wrongdoing come forward, as Mulcair should have done when he was offered a bribe seventeen years ago. For her final question, Leslie brought up Senator Wallin’s audit, to which Moore decided to go after Trudeau’s speaking engagements. Trudeau was up next, and brought up the cheque from Nigel Wright. Moore insisted that they didn’t have access to any personal cheques, but Trudeau got a cheque from the Canadian Mental Health Commission for a speaking engagement. Trudeau retorted that his party is raising the bar on transparency, before asking if any member of the government had met with Wright post-resignation. Moore kept swiping about Trudeau’s speaking engagements. When Trudeau pressed, Moore responded that no, he hadn’t met with Wright.
Round two started off with Charlie Angus making comparisons between Harper and a sponsorship-era Chrétien (Moore: We’re cooperating with investigations), before he and Alexandre Boulerice turned to the topic of Zajdel (Moore: He was in the municipal government for 22 years, and in my office, he helped to coordinate events), Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe asked Trudeau’s question over again — twice, because she is bound by her script (Moore: No, I haven’t met with him), Alexandrine Latendresse and Craig Scott asked when the electoral reform bill would be tabled (Uppal: It’s coming, but why does your party feel it’s above the law), and Ève Péclet asked about the National Captial Commission tour guide manuals (Moore: We didn’t discuss these guides with them). Garneau returned to the Zajdel question, and wondered about the background check that was done on him (Moore: A background check in 2011 would not have turned up a charge laid in 2013), Carolyn Bennett asked about the refusal to enforce the Canada Elections Act with their embattled MPs who are due to be suspended for filing violations (Poilievre: They were duly elected), and Ralph Goodale brought up the laundry list of bad appointments and the apparent lack of background checks (Moore: What checks were done on Mac Harb before he was appointed by the Senate?) Dany Morin and Robert Chisholm asked about the lack of cyberbullying laws (Nicholson: Look at all the laws we did on child pornography and child sexual abuse), and Jinny Sims and Sadia Groghé asked about the cuts to refugee healthcare (Kenney: Bonafide refugees get healthcare under the provincial system).
Round three saw questions on F-35 air-to-air refuelling problems, the revelation that the government asked the CRA for language used in the union disclosure bill, investigations being opened up about gross mismanagement at ECBC and ACOA, jobs for youth, yet more concerns about Zajdel, extending humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people in Syria, toxic dust at the port of Quebec, protecting navigable waters, and labour training agreements with Quebec.
Overall, still no mini-lectern for Mulcair, but we’re pretty much back to where we started before the Wright-Duffy affair exploded. Justin Trudeau’s performance continues to improve, and today he demonstrated that if you press a simple question after getting a non-answer rather than simply sticking to a script that is all preamble and little substance, you might just get an answer, as he did from Moore.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Kirsty Duncan for a blue dress with a white jacket, and to James Bezan for a dark grey suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and a light blue tie. Style citations go out to Jean Rousseau for a dark grey suit with a bright red shirt and red and black tie, and to Anne Quach for a dull mustard sweater with a belted white dress.