QP: Bitching about Broadway

While it was attempting to snow outside in Ottawa, and while the business of the day in the Chamber was an unconstitutional Supply Day motion, it was a pretty grim day in the capital. When Question Period came about, Rona Ambrose led off, mentioning the flooding in Quebec and elsewhere, and asked for an update on the assistance that the government was providing. Justin Trudeau noted that their thoughts are with those affected, and that to date, 1,650 troops have been deployed to assist. Ambrose then returned to the issue of Harjit Sajjan and the lack of explanation for his embellishment. Trudeau noted that he has full confidence in Sajjan, and that he was proud of Sajjan’s work, then got a dig in about Conservative under-funding that was a challenge for him. Ambrose ladled on some fairly smarmy sanctimony about how she was sure the Minister would never embellish while he was in uniform, and Trudeau brushed this concern off. Ambrose switched topics — finally — and brought up the Infrastructure Bank and the connection to companies like Blackrock. Trudeau noted previous underinvestment in infrastructure, and that they were going to lead to good jobs with their plans. Ambrose railed that there were obvious conflicts of interests with the Infrastructure Bank, but Trudeau stuck to his good news talking points. Thomas Mulcair was up next, giving a slow-talking, serious-sounding question about calling an inquiry into Afghan detainees. Trudeau noted that six separate inquiries had been conducted and the NDP ducked out on one of them. Mulcair switched to French to ask again, and got much the same answer. Mulcair switched to the flooding, and Trudeau noted that he went to sites to help fill sandbags. Mulcair demanded federal support, and Trudeau noted that they already had it.

Round two, and Denis Lebel railed about softwood lumber (Freeland: We are trying to get a good deal for Canadians), Blaine Calkins gave some penny-ante cheap outrage bullshit about tickets for “Come From Away” on Broadway (Freeland: We are proud to see Canadian values on stage), and Diane Watts and Alain Rayes worried about the Infrastructure Bank (Sohi: The Bank is accountable to parliament and we consulted widely on its design). Rachel Blaney and Matthew Dubé picked up on the Infrastructure Bank worries (Sohi: This is part of long-term growth of our economy). James Bezan, Pierre Paul-Hus, Alupa Clarke and John Brassard returned to the Sajjan sanctimony (Rioux: The minister made a mistake and apologised). Murray Rankin and Alexandre Boulerice worried about the Parliamentary Budget Officer (Chagger: Pass it to committee so that we can discuss amendments).

Round three saw questions on the PBO, waves that destroyed a community’s dock, the Phoenix pay system, illegal border crossings, internal free trade on beer, home mail delivery, extradition talks with China, softwood lumber, and the Infrastructure Bank.

Overall, it was not a terribly enlightening day, but at least the Conservatives have started moving off of the constant Sajjan sanctimony. Sadly, it was to more petty cheap outrage, this time over those Broadway tickets which were pennies in public spending for fairly great diplomatic purpose. This constant bellyaching about things like these make us look like a bunch of rubes. As for the Sajjan issue, there was some really eyebrow-raising questions being asked, from Ambrose’s concern trolling that Sajjan would never have made embellishments when he was in uniform but only did once he was a Liberal politician, to the lamentations about the Canadian Forces code of honour from a couple of the MPs who had served in the Forces. This fetishism of the troops in contrast to Liberal politicians is both gross and hugely problematic from the civil-military relations front. Meanwhile, we had journalists who were not in the Chamber chirping over Twitter about how loud QP was. Except it wasn’t. As someone who was there, this was a mild day in terms of heckles and catcalls, with only a few eruptions and most of them fairly brief. That it translates as a dull roar over the TV is indicative of why we need more journos actually covering it in the Chamber rather than from their desks.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out Justin Trudeau for a tailored black suit with a light blue shirt and an indigo tie, and to Jody Wilson-Raybould for a black dress with a cream white jacket with three-quarter sleeves. Style citations go out to Alice Wong for a black patterned jacket with fuchsia bars that faded in and out, and to Andrew Leslie for a black suit with a grey shirt with a white collar and cuffs, and a burgundy tie.