QP: Numbered company vs numbered company

With it being Hallowe’en, we all braced ourselves for terrible themed references and questions. All of the leaders were present, as was Bill Morneau, so it was likely to be another repetitive day. Andrew Scheer led off in French, mini-lectern on desk, raising the comments of the former Commons law clerk about Bill Morneau’s affairs, and Justin Trudeau first noted that the rules were followed, and then reminded them that previous ministers in the former government had similar arrangements. Scheer tried again in English, and got the same response with a more pointed dig at his Scheer’s own financial arrangements. Scheer returned to French to first say that he disclosed his holdings (as did Morneau — seriously), and tried again, and this time Trudeau was far more pointed about the Conservatives attacking the integrity of the Commissioner, and listed the other officers and judges that they attacked while in office. Scheer raised Morneau’s numbered companies, and Trudeau reiterated his previous answer in English. Scheer tried to land a blow about how this was not about the Commissioner but about Morneau himself, but Trudeau decided to go all the way to reminding his opposites that they were the only party to have been found in contempt of Parliament. Guy Caron was up next for the NDP, and raised their demand for the Ethics Commissioner to come before committee, to which Trudeau said that he welcomed any attempt to tighten rules. Linda Duncan was up next, and demanded that the “loopholes” be tightened, for which Trudeau said that the two ministers who held assets indirectly no longer did — pointing to Morneau and Jody Wilson-Raybould. Duncan turned to the issue of methane emissions, and Trudeau pointed out that they were making progress while still growing the economy. Caron tried again in French, and got much the same answer.

Round two, and Alain Rayes, Lisa Raitt, and Pierre Poilievre demanded the contents of Morneau’s numbered companies — Poilievre noting that his numbered company was a rental property (Morneau: Everything has been disclosed, and did the 22 members other side disclose theirs?) Rachel Blaney and Pierre Nantel worried about lobbyists from tech companies (Joly: We have consulted with the creative sector more than anyone). Mark Strahl and Gérard Deltell returned to the numbered companies (Morneau: Two can play this game). Sheila Malcolmson and Charlie Angus demanded the government pass the Senate amendments to Bill S-3 (Jones: We are committed to working with First Nations communities to removing all sex discrimination from registration in the Act).

Round three saw questions on the disability tax credit, tracking workplace fatalities (Hajdu: We are taking action on workplace safety), harassment in the Edmonton federal correctional institution (Goodale: There are investigations underway, but we are concerned), immigration levels (Hussen: We’ll take no lessons from you), irregular border crossings (Hussen: We shifted resources and worked to eliminate pressure on provincial assistance), the opioid crisis, the Phoenix pay system, meetings with Internet giants, and a demand that Morneau resign.

Overall, this was one of the worst QPs I’ve seen in ages — not because of any MPs behaving like jeering, hooting baboons (and it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those days), but because of the pathetic exchange of numbered companies across the floor, both as the opposition listed off Morneau’s companies and he listed Conservative-held companies right back. Morneau was also punchier than usual, and hit back with insinuations that those numbered companies were why Conservatives opposed tax changes, which I will note was better than the usual pabulum he offers. But honestly, this whole Morneau issue has exhausted itself and we’re on outrage fumes at this point, and it’s time to move on. The only saving grace today? That nobody wedged a “trick or treat” or “so scary” reference into their questions. But otherwise, this was a low point.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Mona Fortier for a black dress with a white diamond grid pattern and a black jacket, and to Blake Richards for a tailored dark grey suit with a light blue shirt and a purple tie. Style citations go out to Larry Bagnell for a black suit with an orange-gold shirt and matching striped tie, and to Celina Caesar-Chavannes for a floral jacket with a black top. Special citation goes out to Robert-Falcon Ouellette for a white suit and tie with a red blood splatter pattern — a Hallowe’en costume gone awry. In other Hallowe’en sartorial news, Justin Trudeau was dressed as Clark Kent — with a Superman shirt underneath — which a different hairstyle to go with it, and Mark Holland went for the Ron Burgundy look, which was a little too close to his regular attire that it did confuse me for a moment.