QP: KPMG and conspiracy theories

With the benches mostly full, the Chamber was ready to begin the grand inquest of the nation. After a moment of silence for an RCMP officer who lost his life in a car accident in Quebec, Rona Ambrose led off, asking whether the PM had answered questions from the Ethics Commissioner on his Christmas holiday. Trudeau simply stated that he was happy to answer the Commissioner’s questions. Ambrose pressed on the accountability angle, and Trudeau expounded upon the responsibility to Canadians and openness and transparency, but that was all. Ambrose pivoted to the lack of judicial appointments affecting the criminal justice system, for which Trudeau noted the appointments have been made, and noted the new process that was ensuring that more women, visible minorities and Indigenous get appointed. Ed Fast was up next, back from recovering from a stroke, and he demanded the government’s figures on the costs of carbon pricing. Trudeau welcomed him back but chided him for not understanding the new economy. Fast brought up hydro rates in Ontario, but Trudeau was unmoved, taking shots at the previous government’s record. Thomas Mulcair was up next, demanding action on tax havens, and wondered when the budget was. Trudeau noted the commitment to tax fairness, by didn’t give the date. Mulcair railed about KPMG and different rules for the rich, and Trudeau reminded him that they were engaged on the file. Mulcair demanded criminal charges, and Trudeau again reminded him that the file was still being investigated. Mulcair worried about CRA-funded advertorials, for which Trudeau reminded him that they employ a broad range of ways to communicate to Canadians.

Round two, and Gérard Deltell worried about the deficit (Morneau: We are investing in growth) and tax credits for seniors (Morneau: We will continue to implant our program to help vulnerable seniors), Diane Watts and Alain Rayes worried there was not enough transparency in infrastructure spending (Sohi: He streamlined the application process), and Pierre Poilievre worried about the costs of carbon taxes (McKenna: This will help drive innovation and create jobs). Pierre Dusseault drew up a conspiracy theory around the KPMG (Lebouthillier: The CRA are still conducting a preliminary inquiry), and Alexandre Boulerice continued to rail about KPMG sans conspiracy (Lebouthillier: Same answer). Cathy McLeod and Todd Doherty worried about the sale of nursing homes to a Chinese firm (Bains: Why are you opposed to global investment?), and Jacques Gourde and Chris Warkentin grumbled about fundraisers and helicopter rides (Chagger: The PM has said that he will answer any questions from the Ethics Commissioner). Hélène Laverdière demanded action on nuclear disarmament (Freeland: We are looking to make tangible progress), and Sheila Malcolmson demanded pay equity (Hajdu: We have proactive legislation on the way).

Round three saw questions on Chinese-language claims by candidate Mary Ng that she made appointments to the IRB, the lack of watchdog appointments, whether Stéphane Dion and John McCallum were “special advisors” or ambassadors (Freeland: Here’s some praise), whether the immigration department is disadvantaging French language tests, a Lyme disease framework, judicial appointments, bail reform, a bridge in New Brunswick, drywall tariffs, a diesel spill near a fish farm, Asian carp, and KPMG contracts.

Overall, it was a relatively decent day for exchanges, but I will note that the Conservatives’ insistence that the PM answer his ethics questions to be accountable to Canadians is a bit blunted by the fact that it was their party that insisted on the creation of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to keep those matters from being subject to the whims of the Commons where a PM with a majority could essentially escape censure. That he now relies on that system for accountability and not the Commons (short of a vote of non-confidence) is kind of their own fault. Oh, and when they rail about how he’s not answering their questions to their satisfaction, well, when they were in power, they made non-sequitur non-answers a complete catalogue of performance art, so really, reap what you sow, etcetera. Would we prefer they gave more substantive answers? Of course. Should it surprise anyone that they stick to message tracks? Not in the least.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Terry Beech for a nay suit with a crisp white shirt and a red striped tie, and to Rona Ambrose for a blue dress with a canvas grey jacket with black elbow patches and pocket detailing. Style citations go out to Anju Dhillon for a red turtleneck with a lace panels, and to Guy Lauzon for a chocolate brown windowpane suit with a butterscotch shirt and brown and grey striped tie. Dishonourable mentions go out to Yvonne Jones for a black jacket with embroidered flowers with a bright yellow collared shirt, and to Frank Baylis for a black suit with a lemon yellow shirt and a brighter yellow striped tie.