QP: Conspiracy vs pabulum

There was no Justin Trudeau today, as he was busy with “private engagements” (which later turned out to be visiting the new Stanley Cup monument on Sparks Street), nor Andrew Scheer. Before QP got started, there was a moment of silence for the third anniversary of the Parliament Hill shooting and the deaths of Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo. Moment over, Pierre Poilievre led off, railing that the government was taking away the disability tax credits for diabetics. Diane Lebouthillier read a statement in English that stated that her husband had died from diabetes, and that nothing had changed and that CRA was hiring nurses to help with the application process as well as improve data collection to ensure there were no problems going forward. Poilievre then turned to the Morneau Shepell/Bill C-27 conspiracy theory, demanding to know if Morneau got written permission from the Ethics Commissioner to table the bill. Morneau said that while the opposition was focused on his finance, he was working for the nation. After another round of the same, Gérard Deltell repeated the diabetes question in French, got the same answer from Lebouthillier, and then repeated the C-27 question in French — and got the same response from Morneau in French. Guy Caron was up next, leading for the NDP, and after trying to infantalise Morneau, he demanded to know where his higher ethical standards were. Morneau reiterated that he was focusing on Canadian families and touted the growth rate, and Caron demanded an acknowledgment of wrongdoing in English. Morneau’s answer didn’t change. (Mmm, pabulum). Alexandre Boulerice was up next, reiterating the C-27 conspiracy theory, and Morneau offered more pabulum in response. Boulerice reiterated in French, and got some francophone pabulum.

Round two, and Shannon Stubbs, Maxime Bernier, and Mark Strahl returned to the Bill C-27 conspiracy theory (Morneau:  More pabulum!) Scott Duvall and Charlie Angus asked a variation of the very same question with a Sears twist (Bains: We are working with Sears representatives to help employees, but other processes are before the courts). John Brassard, Sylvie Boucher, and Candice Bergen raised the Morneau Shepell/Barbados tax treaty conspiracy theory (Morneau: MOAR PABULUM!). Christine Moore and Irene Mathyssen asked about the low conviction rates for sexual assault in military court martials (Sajjan: We are taking more action and investigators have better training to help us stamp this out).

Round three saw questions on Morneau’s assets, Ukrainian visa rejections, Phoenix payroll problems, diabetics and the tax credit (Lebouthillier: You guys cut services within CRA and we are hiring nurses), the cancellation of other tax credits, a local shipwreck issue, Bill 62 in Quebec, and navigable waters legislation.

Overall, it was a dreadfully annoying day, between the cartoonish questions alleging conspiracies around Morenau Shepell, met with the same repetitive pabulum from Bill Morneau, trying to change the channel to how great the economy was doing in advance of tomorrow’s economic update. Of course, when he praised the “virtuous circle” of economic growth and how great it was for the middle class, his opposition critics all decided to wedge in “virtuous circle” digs into their questions, and my eyes kept rolling over it all. I will add my usual admonitions that asking the very same questions in English and French for the sake of TV clips is a poor practice, and giving lengthy preambles to the eleventieth variation of the very same question is also really, really tiresome (even though I get that they’re doing it to generate a media clip). This is not debate – this is marketing. Knock it off.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Sukh Dhaliwal for a dark grey suit with a white shirt and a mint green tie and pocket square, and to Bardish Chagger for a grey dress with a black lace overlay and a black jacket. Style citations go out to Diane Lebouthillier for a grey, pumpkin and moss patchwork sweater with a white top, and to Martin Shields for a tan brown jacket with a bluish green shirt and yellow leaf-patterned tie. Dishonourable mention goes out to Cheryl Gallant for a mustard yellow dress with a black long jacket.