It was certainly the first time in almost nine years of covering the Hill that I saw the Prime Minister attend Friday QP. Granted, this was owing to the rather urgent circumstances of the missile strikes on Syria, and in all fairness to the PM, he could have just marched down to the Foyer, made his statement with a backdrop of a smattering of MPs who are present and not on House Duty, and then march back up to his office without taking questions, but he didn’t. While the plan had been for him to make the statement in the Commons, he instead incorporated it into QP so that the opposition could ask him questions about it, and he did answer what he could. And after QP, Harjit Sajjan used the Ministerial Statements portion of the Order Paper to reiterate the message, and allow opposition parties to make their replies, all in the House of Commons. This matters.
It’s also done in the backdrop of the debate on whether or not to eliminate Friday sittings, and of opposition MPs howling daily that it would be unconscionable for to eliminate the day because it meant that the government would be shielding itself from accountability, and people demand MPs to be in Ottawa, and this was all an attempt by the PM to get an extra day off, and so on. As far as apocalyptic talking points go, it’s terrible, but what gets me is that in the midst of all of these protestations about how important Friday is, the opposition ranks were mighty thin today, and not one other leader was present – not even Elizabeth May.
For an opposition so worried about Friday sittings, their ranks are really thin today. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) April 7, 2017
My headcount is LPC 87, CPC 40, NDP 10, BQ 1 + Hunter Tootoo. 14 ministers + Trudeau. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) April 7, 2017
You would think that while they are wailing and gnashing their teeth about Friday sittings that the opposition could at least have the gumption to make a better show of attending on Fridays, to at least pretend that they care about how important Fridays are. But they didn’t.
And don’t get me wrong – I think they should keep Friday sittings. I’m even fine with it staying a half-day because I get that MPs have some distance to travel to get home to their ridings. And you can, theoretically, get plenty of work done on a half-day, especially if they’re abiding by proper Westminster debate formatting and not just speechifying into the void. And today proved that sometimes, circumstances intervene and it’s a good way to address the public while respecting the importance of Parliament. I’m just disappointed that the very MPs who keep protesting how important it is can’t be bothered to demonstrate it with actions instead of hollow words.
- If you missed it, here is Justin Trudeau’s very carefully worded statement on supporting limited strikes on Syria in response to the sarin gas attack.
- The big interprovincial trade deal was announced, whose biggest feature is the “negative list” of barriers that can be negotiated. Here are five issues of the deal.
- Here’s a look at the reasons why someone is possibly spying on Parliament Hill with those cell phone catchers.
- The government has loosened some of the travel and expense rules for civil servants, citing that the old system caused a huge administrative burden.
- Boeing says they’re “working on” the problem of Super Hornets losing oxygen pressure.
- Before laying out his economic platform, Kevin O’Leary described a harrowing incident from his childhood that informed his thinking on financial freedom.
- Kady O’Malley recaps the week in filibuster/procedural shenanigans.
- On the Trump strike on Syria, we have comments by Stephanie Carvin, Colby Cosh, Terry Glavin (in both the National Post and Maclean’s), and Paul Wells.
- Andrew Coyne is not a fan of the new interprovincial trade deal.
Odds and ends:
Here’s a look at the commemorative sesquicentennial $10 banknote.
This shows how effective the 'negative list' structure is. It is all there explicitly laid out. Tell us where we should aim to chop it down. https://t.co/hp1EYit1GC
— Kevin Milligan (@kevinmilligan) April 7, 2017