QP: Happy clappy budget points

With most of the benches filled, MPs were settling in after a constituency week, but Rona Ambrose was absent for some unknown reason. Denis Lebel led off, immediately railing about deficit and family tax credits being imperilled in the budget. Justin Trudeau responded with his well-worn talking points about lowering taxes for the middle class while raising them on the one percent. Lebel switched to English, noted the American promises to lower smaller business taxes, and demanded that Trudeau follow suit. Trudeau noted that they were working to grow the middle class, and gave the same points about tax cuts. Lebel worried about airports being privatized, for which Trudeau told him to wait for Wednesday’s budget. Candice Bergen was up next, worried that the government was ramming bills through and worried that they wanted to bully through changes to QP so that he only has to show up one day per week. Trudeau avoided answering, and praised their programme to date. Bergen moved onto plans to change the Commons calendar to four days per week, but Trudeau noted that they were happy to open a discussion on making Fridays a full day instead of half days “like the Conservatives seem to want,” which was a clever bit of evasion. Thomas Mulcair was up next, railing that the government didn’t have a mandate to privatize airports. Trudeau explained that the Infrastructure Bank was a way of leveraging global investment, but more details would have to wait for Wednesday’s budget. Mulcair asked again in French, and Trudeau retreated to talking points about growing the middle class. Mulcair moved onto funding First Nations child welfare funding, and Trudeau gave his usual lines about the historic investments to start the long work of reconciliation. Mulcair then demanded that stock options tax loopholes be closed, but Trudeau again returned to his middle class talking points.

Round two, and Gérard Deltell worried about taxing health and dental benefits (Petitpas Taylor: Middle Class!), Dan Albas worried about the deficit (Petitpas Taylor: Full-time jobs!), Alice Wong read some outrage about small business taxes (Chagger: We are taking a whole government approach to open markets), and Pierre Poilievre worried about increased taxes (Petitpas Taylor: We lowered taxes for the middle class; Duclos: We care about vulnerable seniors). Rachel Blaney and Alexandre Boulerice railed about banking sales practices (Petitpas Taylor: We expect all financial institutions to live up to their obligations). Mark Strahl railed about the proposed changes to the Standing Orders (Chagger: When I’m in my riding, I work hard, but I can’t speak for him), and Luc Berthold wanted the committee chair to give a timeline on the debate (Bagnell: The committee is the master of its own destiny), Scott Reid wanted assurance that the committee would only proceed unilaterally (Bagnell: Same answer). Romeo Saganash and Sheila Malcolmson worried the MMIW inquiry only has 90 names in its database (Bennett: We have provided resources to the commission that includes a database with hundreds of names).

Round three saw questions on Mexican refugees claims, Stéphane Dion’s diplomatic appointment questions, softwood lumber, HMV’s bankruptcy impacting the Quebec record industry, government polling, government interference in a by-election, aid for Ukraine, Southern Resident killer whales, the Super Hornet acquisition, the court case on Quebec’s Bill 99, and healthcare funding.

Overall, much of the day was pretty standard, with some terribly repetitive talking points from the government in advance of the budget, but this is not unexpected with two days to go before the budget is released. I suspect we’ll find more of the same tomorrow. As for the sudden concern for changes to the standing orders, I was surprised both by Trudeau suddenly making the suggestion that they turn Fridays into full days (which goes against everything they’ve been pushing for so far) and Bardish Chagger throwing shade against her opponents questioning her discussion paper, which is uncharacteristic for her responses to date. It was also a bit curious that the Conservatives were going after the committee chair on that issue to try and force some kind of response on what the plans are, which they know is not the chair’s prerogative.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Justin Trudeau for a well tailored dark grey suit with a crisp white shirt and a red striped tie, and to Alexandra Mendès for a black jacket with a white lattice pattern over a black dress. Style citations go out to Karen Ludwig for a very eighties white windowpane jacket with big shoulders and three-quarter sleeves and matching dress beneath, and to Robert-Falcon Ouellette for a three-button jacket with a somewhat blinding black-and-white tiny square pattern and black shoulder patches, and between the cut of the jacket and the fabric, it was a bit of an eyesore all over.