QP: Tired jabs and deficit questions

Nearly all the desks were filled on what was possibly the final QP of the spring. Andrew Scheer led off, concerned about the “astronomical” debt the Liberals were leaving behind (which, in absolute terms, is one of the envies of the world because it’s quite low). Justin Trudeau reminded him that they won the election on promises to invest. Scheer tried again, giving a lame “budgets don’t balance themselves” quip, and Trudeau again reminded him that they needed to invest after the previous government didn’t and hey, lower taxes for the middle class and the Canada Child Benefit. Scheer railed about all of the new taxes being levied (most of which were not new taxes but cancelled tax credits that had little efficacy), and the PM reiterated that he lowered taxes. Scheer jabbed that Trudeau had never been part of the middle class, and Trudeau hit back that boutique tax credits and lower taxes on the wealthiest didn’t help those who needed it the most. Scheer then turned to the new national security bill, saying it removed needed tools for law enforcement agencies. Trudeau noted that they were balancing community safety with rights and freedoms, and that they welcomed recommendations for amendments. Thomas Mulcair was up next, grousing that the government broke their promise on allowing Access to Information requests to ministers offices and the PMO. Trudeau simply noted that they made the biggest reforms to the bills and increased proactive disclosure. Mulcair tried again with added mocking, but Trudeau didn’t budge, and Mulcair then railed that they kicked journalists out of a party fundraiser. Trudeau reminded him that they have raised the bar on transparency and that other parties weren’t doing. Mulcair tried again in French, but Trudeau’s answer didn’t change.

Round two, and Denis Lebel reminisced about his time in politics but didn’t really ask a question (Trudeau: Thanks for your service) and asked about infrastructure spending in smaller communities (Sohi: We have dedicated funds to small communities), Shannon Stubbs demanded a balanced budget (Morneau: Our growth record is the best in many years), and Gérard Deltell concern trolled about taxing marijuana (Morneau: We want to price criminals out of the market so we need a low taxation level). Matthew Dubé worried that the new national security bill didn’t curtail CSIS enough (Goodale: We listened to consultations), and CSIS retaining metadata (Goodale: After the Federal Court judgment we ensured that the rules were tightened). Kelly Block, John Brassard, Luc Berthold and Blaine Calkins worried about Dwight Duncan behaving like a partisan (Sohi: We apologised for his comments and we accept that; Chagger: We have an open, transparent, merit-based process). Jenny Kwan worried a refugee NGO didn’t get funding (Hussen: We are providing all kinds of resources), and Hélène Laverdière demanded changes to refugee rules (Hussen: Same answer).

Round three saw questions on the Norsat sale, softwood lumber, the shipbuilding leaks, the privately sponsored refugee backlog, ferry services in Newfoundland, hybrid minivans, veterans suffering from problems with anti-malaria drugs, Energy East, and the Infrastructure Bank.

Overall, despite the huge glut of news over the past couple of days with Access to Information and national security legislation, the fact that there were so few questions on those or any of the other announcements was pretty disappointing. That the Official Opposition had zero questions on Access to Information, and a single question on national security legislation, and yet a handful of questions on the Globe and Mail story on Dwight Duncan taking partisan shots over social media is actually concerning about the state of opposition politics in this country. There is a massive amount of substantive government legislation that should very well be criticized in the Commons in a forum like QP, and what are they focused on instead? The same tired defeat questions that they already know they’re not getting answers to, and penny ante cheap outrage from the Newspaper of Record™. It’s beyond that they’re just getting tired and need to go home for the summer, it’s a sign that they’re not able to take their jobs seriously, and that is a problem.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Justin Trudeau for a tailored medium grey suit with a crisp white shirt and a light purple tie, and to Pam Goldsmith-Jones for a black short-sleeved dress with a mandarin collar. Style citations go out to Kelly Leitch for an indigo dress with a hot pink jacket with blue piping, and to Scott Reid for a black and white check jacket with a black and white patterned shirt and black tie.