QP: Trudeau starts hitting back

With a storm on the horizon, the House of Commons assembled after caucus meetings, ready for another day of baying at the moon over proposed tax changes. Just before QP, Andrew Scheer have a member’s statement about the emergency debate on the plight of the Rohingya, after which he crossed the floor to have a quick chat with Justin Trudeau. When QP got underway, Scheer led off by noting that he would be at the dedication for the National Holocaust Memorial and invited the PM to discuss why it’s important. Trudeau got up to make a statement on just that, and he read a statement on the horrors of the Holocaust and to offer the statement of “Never again.” Scheer then switched to French and back to his tax change straw men, wanting confirmation that Trudeau’s family fortune would not be affected. Trudeau note the issue of ensuring that the wealthiest Canadians pay their share of taxes. Scheer asked the same again in English, and got the same answer, with Trudeau stressing that this was not about people not following the rules, but that the rules favoured the wealthy. Scheer insisted that the litany of cancelled tax credits amounted to tax hikes as his condemnation of these changes, Trudeau noted that Scheer was trying to re-fight the 2015 election. Scheer insisted that they were the voice of the “millions” that would be hurt by these changes and then kicked at the PM for meeting Chinese Billionaires™, to which Trudeau listed all of the businesses who were looking for access to the Chinese market. Thomas Mulcair was up next, worried about the duties the US placed on Bombardier, and demanded that those jobs be saved. Trudeau noted that Chrystia Freeland raised that with her American counterpart earlier this morning, and that they would fight for those jobs. Mulcair groused about Trudeau’s inability to deal with Trump, and got much the same response. Mulcair then railed that the government was failing on Access to Information, and Trudeau read a list of ways that they were making things more transparent, before they went for another round of the very same in French.

Round two, and Alain Rayes railed about how terrible the proposed tax changes were (Trudeau: We will always support the middle class but we want the system to be fair), Candice Bergen and Mark Strahl deployed straw men about family fortunes (Trudeau: You stay focused on me while I remain focused on the middle class). Thomas Mulcair was back up to rail about about tax havens (Trudeau: We invested in the CRA to go after these issues). Pierre Poilievre deployed the 73 percent tax rate talking point (Trudeau: Do you actually believe your own lines?) raised the Fraser Institute report (Trudeau: That report ignored the Canada Child Benefit), and gave another jumble of dubious numbers (Trudeau: You shouldn’t be able to just make stuff up). Mulcair was back up again to demand accountability on GHG emissions (Trudeau: You think we’re doing too much for the economy, the Conservatives think we’re doing too much on the environment, and we are moving forward with our plan).

Round three saw questions on the tax changes (Trudeau: We are proud of our low corporate tax rates and if they want to raise them, they can do so in their next mandate), First Nations child welfare funding (Trudeau: We have significantly increased support but we have a long way to go), the pay for the First Nations child welfare special representative (Trudeau: Here is what she did and we look forward to), the Omar Khadr payment (Trudeau: I’m outraged too because Canadian governments violated a Canadian’s fundamental rights), Scheer read a condemnation of how the tax changes affect Atlantic Canadians (Trudeau: Creating growth in the region is a priority), home mail delivery (Trudeau: There is a lot of thought that needs to be put into the issue of how to make Canada Post meet our expectations), and Hunter Tootoo asked about the Inuit suicide crisis (Trudeau: We are committed to closing the gap on health and mental health outcomes).

Overall, it was as raucous as we have come to expect on a pseudo-PMQ day where Trudeau took all of the questions, but there were a few notable things. First of all, Andrew Scheer’s breathy, smirky delivery isn’t penetrating Trudeau’s ability to shrug off these kinds of questions and get to him. And while Pierre Poilievre was able to get a rise out of Trudeau, it’s also where we saw Trudeau start to punch back at the distorted narrative that has been put forward, with things like that “73 percent tax rate” line (which applies if you make over $150,000 in Ontario, which are precisely not the middle-class small-business tax owners their questions are describing), and it was good that Trudeau called it out and just sat down rather than only repeat the worn-out talking points about the Middle Class™ and tax fairness. I’d like to see more of that because maybe it will mean that we’ll approach some more substantive debate rather than an exchange of talking points. Maybe. I will also say that the Poilievre vs Trudeau punch-up was not particularly great theatre because Poilievre is not a very effective questioner, so Trudeau was able to bat away those questions pretty easily – probably not something you want in a finance critic. Trudeau’s answer on the Khadr settlement was also a bit of passion in a response that we should have seen months ago, but good that he’s keeping up the fire and not limiting his condemnation solely to the Conservative government, but to previous governments plural, and in hoping that there was enough building outrage that this doesn’t happen again in the future. I also found it curious that Thomas Mulcair was asking all NDP questions today, especially considering that the whole point of Trudeau implementing these pseudo-PMQ days is for backbenchers to get to ask him questions and not just party leaders. Maybe Mulcair didn’t get that memo (or more likely he wants to be the only one getting any media clips).

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Catherine McKenna for a black dress top and slacks a white jacket with black lapels, and to Terry Beech for a light grey suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and blue tie. Style citations go out to Robert Sopuck for his terrible brown corduroy jacket with a grey waistcoat, blue short and busy blue patterned tie, and to Sylvie Boucher for a billowy pink and grey wavey-striped top.

3 thoughts on “QP: Trudeau starts hitting back

  1. Maybe Thomas Mulcair is getting as many questions as possible before he resigns after the party leadership vote? His legacy with the NDP seems like pretty low, but might go even further in the toilet when his seat is lost in the by-election?

  2. GAWD! These people trying to oppose are so tedious and juvenile. Agree with you 110% (:-)) on talking points. About bambi vs godzilla–I recalled that the mammals won that fight with the dinosaurs. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your comments every day.

  3. From the Harper days until now the “Conservatives” have lived off the ad hominum attacks which were rampant in the last election which gives proof the adage that when you stoop to this tactic you have no legitimate argument.

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