With the news that Madeleine Meilleur had withdrawn her name from consideration for Language Commissioner just before QP, you could almost hear the furious rewriting of question scripts. In fact, I saw pages deliver new scripts to MPs just before everything got underway. Andrew Scheer led off, raising her withdrawal, and wanted an assurance that future appointments would have cross-party support. Justin Trudeau responded with praise for his new open and transparent process. Scheer shifted topics to the risk profile of the Infrastructure Bank, and Trudeau praised the commitment to $180 billion in new Infrastructure that the Bank would leverage private sector dollars to help with. Scheer repeated the question in French, insinuating that this was about Liberal millionaire friends, and Trudeau reiterated his points on the need for the Bank. Scheer then moved to the issue of a public sex offender registry, and Trudeau insisted that they took the protection of families seriously, and it was up to police to advise the public. Scheer demanded that Trudeau reject the advice of bureaucrats to not make a registry public, but Trudeau stuck to his points. Thomas Mulcair was up next, noting the presence of a Hiroshima survivor and demanded the government join nuclear disarmament talks in New York. Trudeau said that they were taking meaningful steps which included rallying states for the support of a fissile material cut-off treaty and getting tangible results. Mulcair pressed, and Trudeau noted that the treaty Mulcair demanded we sign onto didn’t include nuclear states, so it was somewhat useless. Mulcair moved onto criminal records for simple possession while marijuana legalisation in the pipeline, and Trudeau returned to his well-worn talking points about decriminalisation not protecting children or taking profits away from the black market. Mulcair asked again, louder, and Trudeau held firm.
Round two, and Sylvie Boucher demanded an apolitical process for the next Languages Commissioner (Trudeau: We have an open, transparent, merit-based process), John Nater insinuated that a “McGuinty-Wynne Liberal” would be the next Ethics Commissioner (Trudeau: You botched your Supreme Court appointments and we found a great one), and Candice Bergen demanded Trudeau show humility for appointments (Trudeau: We didn’t politicise this, you did). Jenny Kwan demanded funds for inland refugee NGOs (Trudeau: Our generosity for refugee wouldn’t have been possible without community groups), and Brigitte Sanscouy demanded assistance for communities hit by seasonal EI problems (Trudeau: We always help communities in need). Blaine Calkins, Jacques Gourde and Marilyn Gladu demanded consultation on the Ethics and Lobbying Commissioners (Trudeau: I recused myself from the Ethics Commissioner process; We are making qualified and diverse appointments). Pierre Nantel demanded a new process for CBC board appointments (Trudeau: We need to make the right choices for an independent media), and Linda Duncan asked about the Wood Buffalo losing its UNESCO designation (Trudeau: We look forward to working with local communities and stakeholders).
Sylvie Boucher is angrily reading her newly scripted questions on the next languages commissioner. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) June 7, 2017
Partisans talking about how partisans can't be trusted.
— Aaron Wherry (@AaronWherry) June 7, 2017
John Nater quips that Trudeau is "all socks, no action." #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) June 7, 2017
Round three saw questions on the public sex offender registry, airline competition, Internet copyright trolls (Trudeau: We are working with partners), defence policy promises (Trudeau: Your government used them as props without funding them), the Infrastructure Bank, autism funding (Trudeau: We have made federal investment in the network of stakeholders), plastic in oceans (Trudeau: We have an oceans protection plan), and Quebec’s constitutional demands (Trudeau: I’ve heard Quebec’s priorities and it’s not the Constitution).
There is a lot of talk from CPC about this "tool" of a public high risk sex offender registry but just to be clear…it never materialized.
— Alison Crawford (@alisoncrawford5) June 7, 2017
Overall, it was a relatively decent day on the face of it, but the fact that the opposition was left scrambling to deal with the breaking news of Meilleur’s withdrawal and trying to wedge it into the tail end of the current outrage cycle continues to demonstrate the weakness of the way in which QP happens these days. That nobody can come up with new real questions on the fly, but rather had to rely on hastily rewritten scripts that tries to prolong the outrage was a bit sad. Meanwhile, the growing number of questions on the issue of a public sex offender registry is not only a crass bit of unsavoury politicking on the part of the Conservatives (with a disingenuous framing of the questions as cancelling a registry that never was actually established), but the government has a really good point that they have failed to deploy, which is that public sex offender registries have been the vehicles of vigilante justice in the past, and deaths have resulted in the States as a result of some of their public registries, in one case of someone who was on the registry because that state didn’t have a close-in-age exemption for when he and his partner at the time were both minors. Those are materially relevant facts that the government could deploy but haven’t. Finally, the fact that it took until the third round to get questions on the defence policy review – the government’s major announcement of the day – just like they didn’t really ask about the foreign policy speech yesterday – is pretty pathetic on the part of the opposition who is supposed to be holding the government to account for these sorts of things. If they’re waiting to see how it plays on the front page of tomorrow’s Globe and Mail before they ask questions would be a damning indictment of the state of opposition politics in this country.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Raj Grewal for a tailored black three-piece suit with a light blue shirt with white collar and cuffs, and a red tie and navy turban, and to Chrystia Freeland for a white short-sleeved dress). Style citations go out to Bardish Chagger for a pleated dusky rose blouse with black slacks, and to David Lametti for a dark grey suit with a pale cranberry shirt and a red and navy striped tie. Dishonourable mention goes out to Rachael Harder for a mustard top with a black and grey jacket and black slacks.