As a lame anti-M-103 protest was taking place on the steps of the Centre Block, and procedural warfare happening in committee, MPs filed into the Commons for the grand inquest of the nation, pre-budget edition. Rona Ambrose led off, lamenting that the PM was looking to engage in a once-a-week only QP. Trudeau insisted that he was happy to be here, and took a dig at the previous government by saying his front bench was strong and he was demonstrating government by cabinet. Ambrose pressed, laying into Trudeau’s admiration for Chinese dictatorship and his fascination with Fidel Castro, but Trudeau noted that it was just a discussion paper that included a U.K.-style PMQ idea. On a third go-around, Trudeau shifted his response to the great things his government was doing for the middle class. Ambrose moved onto the size of the deficit, and Trudeau was able to retreat to his well-worn points about their middle-class tax cut. Ambrose lamented the possibility of cancelled tax breaks, and Trudeau responded with praise for his tax cuts and the Canada Child Benefit. Thomas Mulcair was up next, demanding lower taxes for small businesses, and Trudeau gave his usual points about helping the middle class. Mulcair railed about privatization, and Trudeau noted that he campaigned on investing in infrastructure while Mulcair committed only to balancing the books. Mulcair demanded that the loophole for stock option taxes be loophole, and Trudeau retreated behind his points about lowering taxes for the middle class. For his final question, Mulcair asked why charges were abandoned in a gangsterism trial, but Trudeau only offered generalities about confidence in the justice system.
We want Cabinet government, execpt during QP.
— Philippe Lagassé (@pmlagasse) March 21, 2017
#QP is a bit chippier than usual today.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) March 21, 2017
Round two, and Denis Lebel worried about tax credits for seniors (Petitpas Taylor: We put in measures to help seniors), Pierre Poilievre worried about the deficit (Petitpas Taylor: We’re investing in growth), and carbon taxes (McKenna: Investments in clean power will grow the economy), and Gérard Deltell worried about the effectiveness of the tax cuts (Petitpas Taylor: Middle class!). Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet and Nathan Cullen worried about the proposed Standing Order changes (Chagger: This was a discussion paper and a conversation). Candice Bergen, Joël Godin, and Mark Strahl raised the Elbowing to rail about those proposed changes (Chagger: We work hard in the House and the riding, and we made a commitment to modernize this place). Romeo Saganash asked about a Human Rights Tribunal judgment being enforced (Bennett: It is our opinion we are complying), and Hélène Laverdière asked about sanctions against a Russian official (Freeland: The previous government didn’t sanction him and he is no longer in power).
It was The Elbowing, *not* "elbow-gate."
STOP USING -GATE SUFFIXES. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) March 21, 2017
Round three saw questions on asylum seekers, danger pay for troops in Kuwait, small business taxes, the PM’s travel, Great Lakes funding, Canada 150 plans, the MMIW inquiry, airport bilingualism, finding jobs for veterans, and softwood lumber.
Overall, it was a chippier day than usual, and usually the Commons needs to be sitting for a few weeks before tempers start to get this flared, but the Standing Order changes debate has brought this on. That said, Bardish Chagger is getting feisty around this, and has been unafraid to slam her opponents across the way rather than her usual game of happily repeating talking points, which is a change of tone, but also perhaps a reflection of her impatience with the situation, to whatever end. While I think the proposed changes are almost all terrible, I’m also unsympathetic to the wails of doom for the health of our parliamentary democracy considering the behaviour of both the previous government and the NDP when it comes to those very same rules. Basically everyone is wrong on this file to one extent or another, and howling denunciations don’t help matters.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Scott Brison for a tailored dark grey three-piece suit with a light blue shirt and dark blue tie, and to Chrystia Freeland for a short-sleeved black dress with lattice cut-outs. Style citations go out to Wayne Long for a grey jacket with a pink shirt and a dark blue bow tie, and to Ginette Petitpas Taylor for a short-sleeved cream patterned top with a black continental tie under. Special mention to Candice Bergen for a black top with wizard sleeves, which she should probably reconsider.