QP: Snide asides and Harder drama

Another sweltering day, but all of the party leaders were present today, so it promised to be a better day for exchanges. Andrew Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk, reading his standard alarmist questions about the proposed tax changes and how they will devastate “local businesses.” Justin Trudeau responded with his usual points about how the system currently incentivises the wealthy to use corporations to avoid taxes. Scheer tried to use the framing device that that this was a revenue generator, but Trudeau didn’t give him a dollar figure. Scheer quipped that the Liberals were so incompetent that they couldn’t even raise taxes properly, and then threw out the straw men about the PM’s family fortunes. Trudeau responded that the report Scheer mentioned and noted that it ignored the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit. Scheer retorted about Trudeau’s nannies, and returned to the point about the changes as revenue generator to deal with his spending problem. Trudeau responded that they raised taxes on the wealthiest and the Conservatives voted against it. Thomas Mulcair was up next, and raised the new ministerial directive that would allow use of information possibly obtained by torture under limited circumstances. Trudeau reminded him that torture is prohibited and abhorrent, and it was why the strengthened ministerial directive made that more clear. Mulcair asked again in English, got the same answer, before he moved onto the delays in appointing new officers of Parliament, insinuating that the government is looking for lapdogs. Trudeau reminded him that they put in a new process that better reflects diversity, and then they went another round of the same in English, Trudeau getting in a few digs about the opposition not opening up their fundraising books along the way.

Round two, and Alain Rayes, Lisa Raitt, and Poilievre returned to scripted questions about the tax changes (Morneau: The current system encourages incorporation to avoid tax; you’re looking to protect the wealthy). Pierre-Luc Dusseault asked about whistleblowers from a tax evasion scheme (Lebouthillier: We are committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance), and Alexandre Bourlerice yelled about the government protecting the big guys on Bay Street (Morneau: We took a look at the tax code and found where the wealthiest were using incorporation to avoid taxes). Sylvie Boucher, John Barlow, Luc Berthold and Mark Strahl worried about the tax changes affecting the family farms (MacAulay and Morneau: We will protect family farms). Pierre Nantel worried about cultural protections in NAFTA (Freeland: Cultural exemptions are a priority), and Tracey Ramsey was concerned about labour standards in NAFTA talks (Freeland: We are committed to advancing the cause of workers’ rights).

Round three saw questions on the safe third country agreement, criminals crossing the border with child pornography, cleaning up shipwrecks, the First Nations child welfare special advocate, Omar Khadr, pension safety, saving Sears Canada, aluminium exports, and protecting Supply Management.

Overall, it was not a good day, with some outbursts that were childish and unbecoming of the exercise (and this is coming from me, and I have a pretty high tolerance for this stuff). This tactic of asking questions of own-party committee vice-chairs is problematic and should be clamped down upon, and the way that the Conservatives bellowed and clapped to drown out the response was galling. I found it curious that Andrew Scheer stuck entirely to English today, which is an odd choice for the Leader of the Opposition, but it could also be that he didn’t think that his lame quips and jabs would translate well (not that they translate well with his lack of an ability to keep a straight face). We also saw a return to questions about the asylum seekers at the border, but I do find the lack of substantive questions on trade coming from the Conservatives to be an interesting choice given the current situation, and instead we have these ongoing childish doomsaying over tax changes that won’t actually do most of the terrifying things that they keep insisting.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Jennifer O’Connell for a sleeveless black-and-white checkerboard dress, and to Maxime Bernier for a tailored medium-blue suit with a white shirt and light blue striped tie. Style citations go out to Mark Holland for a navy suit with a faded cranberry shirt with white collar and cuffs and a crooked navy tie revealing that the button panel was also white, and to Diane Lebouthillier for a black dress with a grey, moss and pumpkin patchwork long sweater. Dishonourable mention to Alexandra Mendès for a yellow and black pattern d top with black slacks.