QP: Howling denunciations

With the budget lock-up going on down the street, procedural warfare taking place at committee, and news from the attacks on Westminster filtering through, there was a lot to distract from QP. Rona Ambrose led off, asking about the Westminster attack, and Trudeau offered both condemnation for the attacker, and condolences for the victims. Ambrose then moved onto the topic of immigration policy and those who follow the rules. Trudeau said that they are ensuring that all Canadian laws are being followed and police and border agencies have the resources they need. Ambrose then moved onto the proposed changes to the Standing Orders, and Trudeau said that they were pleased to put forward a broad discussion paper, with a number of platitudes. Ambrose pressed on changes to Question Period, and Trudeau insisted he was pleased to answer questions but he was open to improvements. Ambrose wondered how Trudeau would respond if Stephen Harper proposed showing up in QP just once a week — never mind that once a week was Harper’s average. Trudeau hit back that Harper would never put forward a paper or have a discussion about it. Mulcair was up next and asked the same thing, and Trudeau instead admonished the opposition for their heckling with all of the school children in the gallery. Mulcair went another round, and got much the same admonishment. Mulcair then turned to a question about what should happen if a minister should break the Conflict of Interest Act, and Trudeau said that they follow the rules. Mulcair accused Trudeau of taking illegal gifts and breaking the law, and railed about how little Trudeau repaid for his vacation. Trudeau noted that they put a policy into place for reimbursement, and that the RCMP makes determinations about his safety.

Round two, and Scott Reid, Blake Richards, Joël Godin, Mark Strahl and Candice Bergen railed about Standing Order changes (Chagger: We welcome debate on these proposals for modernizing this place). Alistair MacGregor worried about charges dropped in an anti-Mafia case (Wilson-Raybould: This was a decision of the independent public prosecution service), and Karine Trudel worried about softwood lumber (Carr: We are working with the Americans). Blaine Calkins, Alupa Clarke and Marilyn Gladu asked about the costs of the PM’s vacation (Chagger: The RCMP determines his security). Sheri Benson worried about the Canada Child Benefit (Duclos: We are helping families), and Anne Quach asked about use of food banks (Duclos: We will put forward more measures in the budget).

Round three saw questions on danger pay for troops in Kuwait, cardboard cut-outs of the PM, Olympic park expansion in Banff, cargo washing up on BC shores, the Standing Orders, Canada 150 projects, clean tech jobs, bilingual officers in airports, and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

Overall, this was the loudest day in months, and also one of the most juvenile and puerile in at least as long. The constant howling denunciations that this government was just a Chinese dictatorship because it proposes to end Friday sittings and only have the PM show up in Question Period one day a week was probably not the best tactic to go about raising concerns, and only served to make their otherwise legitimate arguments look ridiculous. As well, one could list the many, many ways in which the Conservatives curtailed the opportunities for Parliament to hold the government to account when they were in charge, but those are now forgotten as Trudeau is the new Great Satan. Never mind that by his last mandate, you were lucky if Harper showed up in QP one day a week (and there were several weeks where he didn’t bother at all), Trudeau’s proposal (albeit misguided if you ask me) for a UK-style PMQ was treasonous. Even more ridiculous was the tactic of the Conservatives asking their own committee vice-chair a softball question in order for him to get up and attack the government was a lame tactic that is ripe for abuse. It was eye-rollingly bad theatre, and I’m not surprised that the Speaker was ready to lose his patience.

I also want to single out the loud cries that Trudeau apparently heckled Candice Bergen. Michelle Rempel got up to denounce it as Trudeau somehow betraying his feminist credentials. No, seriously. And if by feminism one means that men and women deserve equal treatment, wouldn’t not heckling a woman because she’s a woman (read: too delicate to handle it) be even more sexist? Screaming “I’m telling!” to the Speaker because the exchanges got heated was ridiculous, and MPs need to stop being so sanctimonious all the time.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Candice Bergen for a red plaid dress with half-sleeve, and to Terry Beech for a navy suit with a crisp white shirt and a black and white cross-hatched tie. Style citations go out to Randall Garrison for a taupe suit with a light brown shirt and yellow tie, and to Maryam Monsef for a black smock dress with large florals and a black long sweater.