With it being caucus day, most of the desks were filled in the Commons, and MPs were ready to go. Rona Ambrose led off, asking about the sale of some BC retirement homes to a Chinese firm with murky ownership. Justin Trudeau reminded her that we are a trading nation, and that means allowing foreign investment in our interests. Ambrose pressed about the Chinese’s firm’s murky ownership, and Trudeau took the rare move of pulling out a note to read off some of the provisions of the deal including provincial oversight and job guarantees. Ambrose turned to the issue of consecutive sentences and demanded that they remain in place. Trudeau reiterated his previous day’s response about supporting judges while doing the broad-based Criminal Code review. Ambrose asked again, and got the same answer, before she turned again to the lack of full-time job growth, and Trudeau retreated to his well-worn talking points about tax cuts and the Canada Child Benefits. Jenny Kwan led off for the NDP, railing about a massive immigration crackdown in the United States and and asked if the PM still thought the US was a safe country for refugees. Trudeau noted that the expectation of this government is to work well with the Americans. Matthew Dubé pressed about refugees heading for our border, and Trudeau noted that he was surprised that the NDP, who are concerned about the rights of workers, would look to jeopardize our economic relationship with the States. Dubé then asked about Canadians turned back from the US border and worried that the pre-clearance bill would make it worse. Trudeau reminded him that pre-clearance means that they still get Charter protections that they wouldn’t have on US soil. Jenny Kwan demanded that Trudeau stand up to the bully Trump on Pink Shirt Day, but Trudeau repeated his answer.
Round two and Denis Lebel worried about pension income splitting (Morneau: We are helping the most vulnerable) and protection of caribou (Wilkinson: We are working with provinces and territories and stakeholders), Karen Vecchio and John Brassard asked about the burden of a carbon tax (Wilkinson: Pricing pollution has been praised by lots of conservatives; Duclos: We’re protecting the most vulnerable), and Gérard Deltell wanted a guarantee not to increase taxes (Morneau: We have reduced taxes for the middle class). Tracey Ramsey worried about job losses as a result of CETA (Goldsmith-Jones: This is the most progressive trade agreement ever and the report you cited doesn’t look at tariffs), and Fin Donnelly worried that problems, particularly on the East Coast, weren’t addressed with CETA (LeBlanc: We are working with provincial governments and innovation ministers to address these issues). Marilyn Gladu returned to the BC retirement home sale (Bains: This was cleared and will create Canadian jobs), and Cathy McLeod and Jacques Gourde worried this deal was discussed in a fundraiser (Chagger: The Lobbying Commissioner said no rules were broken; Bains: This was under the Investment Canada Act and we studied it). Hélène Laverdière worried about an Iranian due to be deported (Hussen: I can’t comment on specific cases), and Robert Aubin worried about aerodromes being built without consultation in Quebec (Garneau: This is provincial jurisdiction but we are consulting).
Round three saw questions on the Infrastructure Bank, Stéphane Dion’s dual posting, the Chinese takeover of those seniors homes, the Port of Churchill, ending the visa requirements for Mexicans, the Criminal Code review, human trafficking, implementing the UN Convention on the Rights for the Persons with Disabilities, supporting new businesses, and banning nuclear weapons.
Overall, it was a slightly more boisterous day than usual, and the Speaker was issuing plenty of warnings, and using Pink Shirt Day as a caution against bullying, as heckling could be a form of aggression. I think that was a bit much, personally, but there we have it. We also saw a couple of different things today — Trudeau actually read from notes at one point, which he virtually never does, and he finally pushed back at some of the NDP demands that he attacked Trump, citing the effect that it would have on our jobs in Canada. Meanwhile, could we not have QP scripted by the Globe and Mail? The fact that opposition research is now pretty much the Globe and their particular peccadilloes makes one wonder why the Official Opposition has a research bureau in the first place.
Sartorially speaking, it was Pink Shirt Day, which was widely picked up by all parties, but not all pink works for all wearers. Snaps go out to Bill Morneau for a finely tailored navy suit with a pink shirt and navy tie, and to Julie Dzerowicz for a pink collared shirt with a black suit. Style citations goes out to Bardish Chagger for a boxy dusky rose jacket with black buttons and three-quarter sleeves and a grey and pink skirt, and to Michel Picard for a melon pink jacket with a white shirt and brown tie.