QP: Deflect to the economy

In the lead-up to the fall economic update, Bill Morneau was absent, instead in the lock-ups to do the media rounds there. Justin Trudeau was present, however, and that meant he got to take the fire that has been sent Morneau’s way for the past few days, but hopefully he wouldn’t just do as Morneau did and respond with pabulum. Andrew Scheer  led off, mini-lectern on desk, and raised about the concerns around diabetics being denied the disability tax credit, alleging that it was only to pay for out of control spending (as though the rounding error of dollars it would bring in would do that). Trudeau reminded him that they wanted to ensure that all Canadians have access to the credits that they are entitled to, and that they were rehiring nurses that the previous government fired in order to better process claims from the beginning. Scheer repeated in English, got the same question, and Scheer asked if raising taxes on vulnerable diabetics was fair. Trudeau reminded him what people voted for in the last election, and that the upcoming economic statement would demonstrate their success. Scheer lamented the cancellation of their assorted tax credits, and Trudeau reminded him that the by-election results in Lac Saint-Jean demonstrated who Canadians believe on the economic. Scheer switched to English to conspicuously read a Morneau Shepell question, but Trudeau listed all of their kept promises on the economy. Guy Caron was up next for the NDP, and railed about the Morneau Shepell/Bill C-27 conspiracy theory. Trudeau insisted that the accusation was false and that there was no conflict, as all the rules were followed. Caron listed previous resignations as proof that Morneau was in the wrong ethically, and Trudeau said that the opposition was torquing up accusations with no basis. Alexandre Boulerice asked the same again, got the same answer, and then some blanket condemnation. Trudeau retorted with the Lac-Saint Jean results.

Round two, and Alain Rayes, Lisa Raitt, and John Brassard returned to the various Morneau Shepell conspiracy theories (Lightbound: Not only did he follow the rules, but he also grew our economy). Karine Trudel and demanded protection for Supply Management (Freeland: Supply Management and cultural exemptions are a priority), and Tracey Ramsey demanded a stronger approach against the Americans (Freeland: I stand up for Canada at the negotiating table, and we say no with a smile). Maxime Bernier and Candice Bergen raised the new Morneau Shepell/Bombardier reach of a conspiracy theory (Lightbound: Ethics screen, and you had a terrible economic record). Romeo Saganash and Charlie Angus asked about the ongoing discrimination of funding for First Nations children (Philpott: We have allocated funds and been getting it out).

Round three saw questions on the tax credits for diabetics, the Naylor Report (Duncan: We’re putting people at the heart of how with think about science), abandoned vessels (Garneau: We have new legislation on the way), the Morneau Shepell/Barbados conspiracy theory, sexist comments, Criminal Code protection for clergy, Bill 62 in Quebec (Joly: We will study the application of the law), and taxing Netflix (Joly: I hear the sector’s concerns, which is why we are investing).


Overall, this was a much better day than the past couple, if only because Trudeau was able to respond with something more than a bland talking point. In fact, it was completely refreshing to see him calling out torque around some of these real stretches of questions that have morphed into conspiracy theories around the many tentacles of Morneau Shepell, instead of just shovelling more pabulum. Now, to be fair, he was still doing the work of deflecting attention to the upcoming economic statement, and the big of bragging on last night’s by-election results, but that’s pretty standard and the fact that he did at least address the substance of those questions and the nature of the accusations being made. As well, Morneau’s parliamentary secretary, Joël Lightbound, was doing better than Morneau was when it came to his responses, varying the points enough and doing a bit of pushback rather than just mouthing the same platitudes. Also, I’d like to pay special mention to Michelle Rempel for coming up with a question off-the-cuff that hit back at the answer that Maryam Monsef gave in response to a backbench softball question, and this is the kind of extemporaneous exchange that we need to see a lot more of in the Commons.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Catherine McKenna for a short-sleeved grey dress with a white crosshatched pattern, and to Joël Lightbound for a finely tailored black suit with a crisp white shirt and a thin green tie. Style citations go out to Omar Alghabra for a red and blue tartan jacket with a light blue shirt and red tie, and to Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet for an oversized, boxy orange jacket with huge sleeves and a black top underneath.