QP: Poetry and cheap theatre

While both Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer were present, in advance of the government’s apology to persecuted LGBT Canadians, Bill Morneau held a brief press conference an hour before Question Period to say that he couldn’t be in attendance that day, but he refuted the Conservative insinuations being made that he was engaged in insider trading, and suggested that they make the allegations in a forum not protected by parliamentary privilege.

Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk, and read some propaganda about CSIS warnings that ISIS was training operatives to come back to Canada, and railed about the government paying for reintegration rather than focusing on security. Trudeau assured him that they took security seriously, and had a broad range of tools to do so. Scheer listed the tough measures the previous government took while accusing the current one of relying on “poetry and podcasts,” which set Trudeau off, and he listed off the Islamophobia and rhetoric that lost the Conservatives the last election. When Scheer tried again, angrier in tone (but still not rid of his smirk or breathy delivery), Trudeau said that it was clear that Stephen Harper’s Conservative parties was alive and well, and he wished them luck with that plan. Scheer then pivoted to whether the PM had trust in Bill Morneau, and Trudeau listed off the great things that Morneau had done. When Scheer listed off the disingenuous items he was attempting to brand Morneau with — including the insinuations of insider trading — to which Trudeau went into lecture mode, saying that they expect the opposition to raise substantive issues but are only getting personal attacks, and the way to judge if there was any substance to them is whether they would repeat them outside the Chamber. Guy Caron was up next for the NDP, and raised the possibility of another Ethics Commissioner investigation, to which Trudeau reiterated that it was too bad they were resorting to personal attacks. After another round of the same, Nathan Cullen got up and laid out a charge of insider trading, uttering the words themselves, but Trudeau basically tut-tutted the exchange and listed accomplishments. Cullen amped up his sanctimony, and Trudeau reminded him that the Ethics Commissioner exists to keep these issues out of the political fray.

Round two, and Alain Rayes, and Pierre Poilievre returned to reiterating the insider trading allegations, complete with theatrics, (Lightbound: We grew the economy when you couldn’t). Rachel Blaney and Pierre Nantel railed that the government was doing nothing about the closures of those community papers (Joly: These were cynical business decisions and it’s up to the companies to explain them). Gérard Deltell and Candice Bergen returned to the insider trading allegations (Lightbound: Usual lines). Brigitte Sansoucy and Don Davies demanded emergency measures for the opioid crisis (Petitpas Taylor: A declaration won’t give any new powers, and we are rolling out measures to help).

Round three returned to the insider trading insinuations — including Scheer making another attempt, tracking veterans hiring (O’Regan: We are working on it), the Phoenix pay system, the CRA demanding separation agreements from single mothers (Lebouthillier: People affected should contact the Agency), demanding a new naval supply ship (Sajjan: We will have capabilities over the long term), the Parliament Hill rink, compensation for pyrrhotite victims, and the Davie Shipyard.

Overall, I’m not sure what I was more appalled by – Andrew Scheer’s ludicrous accusations that the government’s tool for dealing with returning foreign fighters is poetry, or Pierre Poilievre’s cheap theatrics. On the former, nobody I’ve seen has suggested that poetry, podcasts, or haikus were de-radicalization tools, which makes the accusations all the more ridiculous to make, not that this stops Scheer in the slightest as he tries to work himself into a righteous anger that will hopefully translate for the cameras. (I didn’t really to watch it live). On the latter, my Twitter feed was full of Conservative supporters who suggested that Poilievre “had the balls” to go out to the Foyer to repeat his questions while Morneau didn’t, never mind that Poilievre’s “brave” theatrics depended on Morneau being absent, and the fact that he repeated very carefully worded questions and statements that didn’t directly allege insider trading, but did so in an oblique enough way that it likely wouldn’t get him sued. In other words, he was playing the whole thing too-cute-by-half, which is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from him. And once again, virtually no issues of substance got mentioned, until nearly the end of QP.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Seamus O’Regan for a tailored navy suit with a crisp white shirt and black tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a black dress with grey panels and sleeves. Style citations go out to Erin Weir for a taupe suit with a light blue shirt and a bright orange tie, and go Celina Caesar-Chavannes for a grey blouse with black polkadots and a pussy bow with a black overall dress. Dishonourable mention goes out to Fiomena Tassi for a bright yellow jacket with three-quarter sleeves and a black dress.