QP: Big files demanding facile answers

There were no leaders, permanent or interim, present for Question Period today, most at the funeral for victims of the Ste-Foy shootings, leaving it to be a much more subdued atmosphere in the Chamber. Denis Lebel led off, worried that softwood lumber and the TPP were not included in the new round of mandate letters. Chrystia Freeland responded by pointing out trade victories they have achieved so far as that they would continue to fight for softwood lumber. Lebel switched to English to ask the same thing, and François-Philippe Champagne stood up to insist that they would fight for new markets. Lebel worried that Canada wasn’t competitive enough to attract jobs, to which Navdeep Bains listed an auto deal that they just signed to get more jobs. Candice Bergen was up next, concern trolling that the government wanted to legalize all drugs. Jane Philpott assured her that they made evidence-based policy, and their marijuana legislation was based on strict control and regulation. Bergen pressed, and Philpott said there were no plans to legalize any other drugs. Alexandre Boulerice led off for the NDP, railing about the loss of electoral reform. Karina Gould read a reply that there was no broad support from Canadians. Boulerice reiterated, and so did Gould. Nathan Cullen tried to insist there was consensus for proportional representation, and that the government didn’t have a mandate to abandon it, but Gould kept reading her points.

Round two, and Gérard Deltell worried about the deficit (Morneau: We are encouraging growth and innovation ), Pierre Poilievre worried about manufacturing jobs under carbon taxes (Bains: We have made harmonizing regulations a key priority), and Diane Watts and Alain Rayes worried that infrastructure spending wasn’t flowing per the PBO’s report earlier today (Sohi: Look at these billions of dollars that are flowing). Jenny Kwan and Hélène Laverdière demanded an end to the safe third country refugee agreement (Hussen: The executive order has no impact on asylum claims made in either country). Rachael Harder, Sylvie Boucher and Marilyn Galdu worried about the renovations for the Status of Women office (Monsef: This way the Minister and department are in the same place). Tracey Ramsey worried about NAFTA renegotiations (Freeland: You’re wrong, the clock has not started), and Ruth Ellen Brosseau gave a plaintive wail about supply management (Freeland: We will continue to defend those interests).

Round three saw questions on funding for Canada 2020, Indigenous suicides, “Sixties scoop” litigation, peacekeeping deployments, the situation in Ukraine, the opioid crisis, electric charging stations at federal buildings, broadband connectivity programme deadlines, and supply management.

Overall, it was a mediocre day, but the quality of the questions left a lot to be desired, and there was a hell of a lot of reading on the cabinet side. I’m a bit surprised that it took four days for Hussen to declare that the safe third country agreement that the NDP want suspended has nothing to do with the resettlement of refugees that Trump’s “Muslim ban” is affecting. And Karina Gould needs to step it up a notch or three pronto. Meanwhile, Blaine Calkins’ continued conspiracy theorizing about the SSHRC funding for Canada 2020, and complaining about how they characterized their offices, was tiresome and still a bit gross. That said, the government could have done a better job of answering the question that by prefacing the fact that the granting bodies are arm’s length than the platitudes about supporting science. But I’ll let Paul Wells take it from here:

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Shannon Stubbs for a burgundy dress with a black jacket, and to Arif Virani for a tailored dark grey suit with a white shirt and a red tie and pocket square. Style citations go out to Mark Holland for a navy suit with a bright pink shirt and light blue bow-tie, and to Maryam Monsef for a black smock with a large florals and a long black sweater.