QP: Refusing an answer

On a busy caucus day, with most of the benches full, it was a question as to how much cheap outrage would be wrought in QP. Rona Ambrose led off, railing about the Infrastructure Bank, to which Justin Trudeau insisted that people were eager for infrastructure investment. Ambrose moved onto Bombardier and the loan given to them despite the misgivings about their governance. Trudeau noted that they gave a repayable loan I order to guarantee good paying jobs. Ambrose changed topics again, denouncing government plans to gut a private member’s bill on bail reform (which, I will note, the legal community is against), and Trudeau insisted that he felt for ten widow of the constable the bill was named after, which was why he was pleased the committee took the study of the bill seriously. Ambrose was outraged, but Trudeau reiterated his response. Ambrose gave it an angry third try, but didn’t get a different response. Thomas Mulcair was up next, worrying about media reports that a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister was going to be named as the new Official Languages Commissioner. Trudeau noted that there was an independent process, but didn’t confirm or deny the story, only that there would be an announcement in the coming days and weeks. Mulcair tried again, got the same answer, and then moved onto the job postings for the Infrastructure Bank, which has not yet been created. Trudeau simply talked about the need for new infrastructure, but didn’t address the concerns. Mulcair railed about the problem, and Trudeau noted the broad consultations that they undertook with the design of the Bank.

Round two, and Jacques Gourde, Candice Bergen and John Brassard asked how many times the PM had met with the Ethics Commissioner (Trudeau: I am happy to answer any questions she may have). Thomas Mulcair took a crack at it as well (Trudeau: Ibid), and Alexandre Boulerice took another crack at the Infrastructure Bank board question (Trudeau: Canadians expect this government to build infrastructure). Alex Nuttall, Gérard Deltell, Alain Rayes and Pierre Poilievre (Trudeau: You ask the same question, and I’ll give you the same answer). Tracey Ramsey and Karine Trudel worried about softwood lumber plans (Trudeau: We’re working with premiers, industry and the Americans).

Round three saw questions on Wynn’s Law (Trudeau: The committee heard evidence and made their decision), more questions about the Ethics Commissioner (Trudeau: We’re delivering for Canadians), withdrawing from international treaties regarding marijuana (Trudeau: We are legalising because the war on drugs failed), ending solitary confinement in prisons (Trudeau: We will continue to take steps to implement the Ashley Smith inquiry recommendations), an aborted question on Russian corruption in Canadian banks which turned back into an Ethics Commissioner question (Trudeau: We are focused on things that matter to Canadians), the ethnic cleansing in Burma (Trudeau: We are extremely concerned, and are working out connections in the region), the Ethics Commissioner once again (Trudeau: Same points as before), the $2 million stolen in Russia ending up in Canadian banks (Trudeau: We are considering the report of the standing committee on sanctions), and navigable waters protections (Trudeau: We are committed to protecting waterways).

Overall, it was a day of dubious tactics, where nearly every Conservative question was the very same, and Trudeau refused to answer for whatever reason – it certainly sounds like he hasn’t actually met with the Commissioner, but he wouldn’t say it (possibly because when she does an investigation, she asks that everything be kept confidential). But when they made their point, they kept asking regardless, and at certain points during the afternoon, the Conservative hecklers started to sound like toddlers having a meltdown. If anything else, this is yet another reminder why this idea of Trudeau doing PMQs is turning out to be a bit of a dud, and just because anyone can ask the PM a question, it doesn’t mean that there’s going to be any kind of a meaningful response. Meanwhile, the actual changes that need to happen (like eliminating scripts and speaking lists) remain off the table. Naturally.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Frank Baylis for a black suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and a fuchsia tie, and to Hélène Laverdière for a medium grey suit with a white collared shirt). Style citations go out to Candice Bergen for a black dress with pink and red florals, and to Bev Shipley for a taupe suit with a light blue shirt and an orange and black striped tie.