QP: Morneau’s five new themes

While the prime minister was off meeting with the premiers and Indigenous leaders, it was also a Supply Day where the Conservatives were demanding an extension of the consultation period for the proposed tax changes. Andrew Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk, and read his concerns about “local businesses” in French, and how tax changes would doom them. Bill Morneau reminded him that they were listening to Canadians and would ensure that their concerns were being heard. Scheer switched to English to demand that the government vote for their opposition motion on extending the consultation period. Morneau instead listed the five things they’ve heard that they plan to address. After another round of the same from Scheer and Morneau, Gérard Deltell got up to ask in French about the verification of the plans, and Morneau reminded him that they were looking for a fairer system that would encourage investment. Deltell railed that the measures would kill small businesses, but Morneau repeated that they were listening to the consultations. Alexandre Boulerice led for the NDP, railing about Netflix and tax avoidance by big corporations and tax havens, and Diane Lebouthillier reminded him that they were indeed going after tax evaders. Boulerice asked again in English, and Morneau deployed his worn tax fairness talking points. Linda Duncan was up next and raised the concerns laid out in the Environment Commissioner’s reports, and Catherine McKenna listed a number of measures that they were taking. Robert Aubin repeated the question in French, and McKenna reiterated her response in French.

Round two, and Lisa Raitt, Maxime Bernier, and Pierre Poilievre demanded the government extend their consultations (Morneau: We have heard their concerns and we will continue with the insight gained and will have changes to reflect them). Pierre Nantel railed about the Netflix deal (Joly: I met with Québec cultural stakeholders and we will work together), and Karine Trudel worried about EI with seasonal workers (Duclos: We are ensuring that EI works for everyone). Ed Fast, Joël Godin, and John Barlow railed yet more about tax changes by way of some pretty big straw man arguments (Morneau: Tax fairness, encouraging investment). Don Davies worried about the lack of action on edible cannabis (Petitpas Taylor: Edibles are come complex regulations so we need more time to come up with them), and Anne Quach asked about pardons for pot possession (Goodale: We have been consulting on reforming pardons and will table a report soon).

Round three saw questions on the proposed tax changes, the Native Women’s Association not being included in the First Minister’s meeting (Bennett: Today’s meeting was with rights holders, and they will be consulted at other times), court actions involving residential schools survivors (Bennett: The process was agreed to by all parties), pipeline assessments, the PM’s plaque on the Holocaust memorial not mentioning Jews or anti-Semitism (Joly: The plaque has been removed and will be replaced), CRA delaying Child Benefit payments, the Netflix deal, tax fairness, and the lack of ice breakers on the St. Lawrence.

Overall, while I expected a long stream of demands for votes in favour of the Supply Day motion, it was only a couple of demands and yet more howls about the Morneau-Shepell conspiracy theory. Because of course there were. Add to that, there were fewer questions on other topics today, which remains frustrating because there are a lot of other things going on, not that you would know it. I would also add that we seemed to get a few more actual answers from ministers today, be it with Morneau laying out the five planned changes to the tax proposals (and more on that in Senate QP), or the reasons why cannabis edibles are not in the current bill, or responses around First Nations issues. Granted, some of those responses remain pretty vague, but part of that has to do with the 35 second time limit (again, more on that with Senate QP), but I will say that it was nice to get some better responses to many questions (mostly from the NDP, given that they are the only ones really asking questions lately), more than we’ve seen in recent months. I would hope that this is a trend that we’re going to see more of.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Frank Baylis for a tailored light grey suit with a pink shirt and tie, and to Shannon Stubbs for a black dress with dark grey geometric patterns and a medium grey jacket. Style citations go out to Anju Dhillon for a fuchsia top with black lace shoulders, and to Arif Virani for a tan jacket with a light blue shirt with a white collar and cuffs and a black skinny tie.