QP: Rona Ambrose’s swan song

With the news that Rona Ambrose was stepping down now confirmed, and Justin Trudeau present for what was likely the only day this week, QP was off and running. Ambrose led off, asking about the report calling to scrap and replace the National Energy Board. Trudeau noted that they have been consulting, and reiterated that they are serious about ensuring that the economy and the environment go together. Ambrose took exception to the report recommendation that its headquarters be moved to Ottawa from Calgary, and Trudeau took a few shots at the previous government politicising the Board while he was working to restore trust in the process. Ambrose worried that Trudeau was trying to choke out the oilsands in red tape, but Trudeau insisted that a responsible approach would mean growing the economy. Ambrose switched to French to demand that the House appoint a new Ethics Commissioner without any Liberal interference. Trudeau jabbed back about political appointments the Conservatives made while touting his own merit-based process. Ambrose noted that the last question would likely be her final one as leader of the opposition, and said she would call off her attack dogs if he answered how many times he met with the Ethics Commissioner. Trudeau reminded her that she asks them not to talk about investigations and he has met with her several times over his time as an MP, and was going to pay Ambrose a compliment before he was drowned out. Thomas Mulcair was up next, raising the reach of a CBC news story about the ownership of the Aga Khan’s island. Trudeau retreated to the talking point that it was a private family vacation. Mulcair railed about the helicopter ride, but Trudeau noted that he would answer any questions the Ethics Commissioner may have. Mulcair then moved onto the story about someone from KPMG working for the Liberal Party, in the context of a committee study of the firm being voted down, and Trudeau noted that the committee is independent. Mulcair pressed, and Trudeau launched into a spiel about ethics and openness.

Round two, and Denis Lebel lamented the softwood lumber file (Leslie: We continue to engage with the Americans; Vaughan: We stand ready to respond to community needs), and Blaine Calkins, Jacques and Candice Bergen railed about the appointment of a new Ethics Commissioner (Chagger: We have an open process and it’s available online; Joly: The proposed Language Commissioner is qualified). Pierre Luc Dusseault conspiracy theorised about links between KPMG and the Liberal Party (Lebouthillier: We are committed to fighting in tax evasion), and Nathan Cullen returned to trolling about the Ethics Commissioner appointment process (Chagger: There is a process and no short list unless you have information I don’t). Gérard Deltell worried that the government didn’t turn over information on fossil fuel subsidies to the AG (Petitpas Taylor: We are on track to eliminate these subsidies by 2025), and Diane Watts and Alan Rayes were concerned about the Infrastructure Bank (Sohi: Yay Infrastructure). Brigiette Sansoucy worried about Supply Management at the border per the AG report (MacAulay: Those importers lost their licences), and David Christopherson thundered about the AG not getting info (Petitpas Taylor: We will provide that information going forward).

Round three saw more questions on the NEB report, the terrorism watch list, Venezuela, the opioid crisis, youth employment, the Languages Commissioner, the PM’s summer plans, the state of the MMIW inquiry, palliative care, KPMG, and fossil fuel subsidies.

Overall, it was a mediocre day for Ambrose’s swan song, with all manner of bad questions that boggled the mind in just how bone-headed they were. I get that the opposition was trying to cast aspersions on the process to find a new Ethics Commissioner, but as Kady O’Malley has repeatedly stated, the criteria for such an appointment is both very difficult to achieve, and that the process began under the previous government and they didn’t have any success in finding someone either. While they think that there are points to be scored with the appointment of the Official Languages Commissioner (and no doubt we’ll get the application made public sooner than later), the Languages Commissioner is not the Ethics Commissioner, and trying to draw lines between them is disingenuous in the extreme. Meanwhile, I have to shake my head at Ginette Petitpas Taylor for not giving the reply the first time about the AG not getting documents that the government already signed an Order-in-Council to ensure that would happen, and instead she insisted on reading happy-clappy talking points, not giving the actual response (which was a good response) until asked a third time. Why this cannot penetrate into their heads I cannot fathom.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Mélanie Joly for a cream-coloured dress with a navy single-button jacket with three-quarter sleeves, and to Raj Grewal for a tailored black three-piece suit with a light blue shirt and a navy tie and turban. Style citations go out to Blaine Calkins for a khaki suit with a light pink shirt and multicoloured tie, and to Linda Duncan for an orange and black striped dress with florals across it.