QP: A promise that action is being taken

While the Prime Minister was off to the APEC Summit, the rest of the leaders were present in the Commons for what was likely to be a repeat of yesterday’s gong show. Andrew Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk, and in French, he read a condemnation of the prime minister’s silence on tax havens, demanding to know when he knew about his fundraiser’s offshore holdings (which said fundraiser disputed). Diane Lebouthillier listed off the measures that the government has taken to combat tax evasion — a billion dollar investment in the CRA, which has led to 980 investigations, 42 criminal investigations of structures abroad, a list of pending criminal charges, and billions in potential recoveries. Scheer reiterated it in English, got the same answer, and when Scheer gave his standard disingenuous talking points about the government going after small businesses while leaving their wealthy friends alone, Lebouthillier reminded them that when they were in power, they didn’t treat tax evasion as a priority. Alain Rayes took over, gave some hand-waving about the Sponsorship Scandal (no, seriously), and Lebouthillier reiterated her list. Rayes complained that CRA wouldn’t publish the tax gap data, and Lebouthillier listed even more facts about combatting tax evasion. Guy Caron was up next, demanding the government stop defending the CRA. Lebouthillier made a quip that she had more expertise than Caron did about fishing (which I’m not sure translated as well in English), and gave her usual rebuttal. Alexandre Boulerice demanded action against tax havens, and Lebouthillier reminded him that it was a priority in her mandate letter, which is why they hired auditors to tackle four jurisdictions per year. Boulerice demanded renegotiated tax treaties, and Lebouthillier listed more actions yielding results. Caron got back up to repeat the demand for renegotiations in English, and Lebouthillier stuck to her guns — and talking points.

Round two, and Lisa Raitt, and Luc Berthold offered some generic sanctimony (Lebouthillier: We have convictions! We are working on this unlike your party for ten years), while Pierre Poilievre took shots at Paul Martin (Chagger: We are engaging with Canadians!) Hélène Laverdière and Randall Garrison demanded to know the details of the forthcoming apology to LGBT Canadians (Chagger: We are engaging to be sure we get this right; Goodale: The PM appointed an MP to engage on this, and ensure that we get it right). Alex Nuttall,Jacques Gourde, and Marilyn Gladu returned to tax haven sanctimony (Chagger: We are lowering the small business tax rate; Lebouthillier: The eligibility for disability tax credits have not changed). Ruth Ellen Brosseau railed about the TPP affecting dairy farmers (Goldsmith-Jones: We are discussing this and are pressing for a better deal), and Karine Trudel railed about softwood duties (Leslie: We will take this decision to court and we will win).

Round three saw questions on Bill Morneau’s numbered companies (Morneau: I had and will continued to disclose my assets to the Commissioner), tax havens, infrastructure investments abroad versus at home (Miller: We pay projects when they submit invoices to us), investing in the Asian Infrastructure Bank versus spending on the opioid crisis (Blair: Here is what we are spending to support national measures with the crisis), Asian infrastructure versus veterans spending (Romanado: We saw an increase in claims, which means that more veterans are getting the help they need), housing as a human right (Duclos: We have a forthcoming announcement), and human rights engagement with Sri Lanka.

Overall, it was much the same as yesterday, minus the bizarre storyline about Jim Carr and the White House state dinner. That said, it was still a day full of disingenuous questions about the Paradise Papers (seriously, the government was not going after small businesses and farmers, nor did it call them tax cheats – that term came from the Conservatives), so trying to make this a question of hypocrisy a giant reach. Also, the claim that the government was using the Paradise Papers as a distraction from (already answered) questions about Bill Morneau was incredulous at best. I also note that the sudden concern about the Asian Infrastructure Bank and how money going to it could be better spent in Canada is one of those really lame kinds of questions that insists that governments can’t walk an chew gun at the same time.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Pamela Goldsmith-Jones for a short-sleeved back dress with white polka dots, and to James Bezan for a light grey suit with a white shirt and purple tie and pocket square. Style citations go out to Stéphane Lauzon for a taupe suit with a pale green shirt and a gold and black striped tie, and to Kirsty Duncan for a dusky rose jacket with a black top.

One thought on “QP: A promise that action is being taken

  1. Great admiration for those who follow the Q and A periods.Oppose, yes, but try to shed the negative, fear-inducing images that we suffered through during the dark Harper decade.So far, very few signs.

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