QP: The Philpott connection

On a cold and blustery morning in Ottawa, MPs were raring to go with another go-around of QP. And true to form, Andrew Scheer got up, mini-lectern on desk, decrying that the PM didn’t take responsibility for his “illegal luxury trip” and he had taxpayers foot the bill to boot. Justin Trudeau insisted that he did take responsibility and would clear future trips with the Commissioner. Scheer railed that taking responsibility meant paying it back, and replayed the cheap outrage around a sedan that Jane Philpott hired back in 2016, deeming it a “luxury limousine.” Trudeau reiterated his previous response. Scheer wailed about the standard that Philpott was held to, and Trudeau didn’t engage, keeping to his points. Scheer demanded repayment, but Trudeau didn’t vary his answer. Scheer then brought up Trudeau’s speaking fees to charities several years ago, for some reason, but Trudeau stuck to his points about accepting the Commissioner’s recommendations. Guy Caron was up next, and demanded to know what concessions were made with signing the new TPP. Trudeau said that once the documents were translated, they would be made public. Caron switched to English to demand the same thing, and Trudeau repeated his answer. Ruth Ellen Brosseau demanded a plan to elect more women, and Trudeau stated that it was part of engaging women during the nomination process. Brosseau demanded proportional representation, but Trudeau wouldn’t bite on the notion.

Andrew Scheer was back up to once again try to litigate points in the Commissioner’s report and to demand repayment (Chagger: He accepted the findings, and the PM, and there are costs to any PM’s travel). Anne Quach read concerns about Supply Management from a constituent who claimed that CETA had devastated their business (Leslie: We have completed several chapters in NAFTA talks and will soon complete others), and Tracey Ramsey railed about NAFTA chapter 11 (Leslie: We will only sign a good deal). Lisa Raitt tried to bait Jane Philpott into responding on why she had to repay when the PM didn’t, and then tried to frame it as a sexist double standard (Chagger: He accepted the findings), and Alain Rayes insisted that the PM not paying Canadians back was a double standard (Chagger: We’ve answered this). Scott Duvall demanded legislation around pension protection (Bains: We share the concerns, and are assessing all options), and Charlie Angus rhymed off about “hedge fund bandits” (Bains: We are evaluating our options).

Round three saw yet more demands to repay the trip, and questions on Parks Canada moving artefacts to Ottawa (McKenna: We are trying to protect and preserve them, and they are currently not being conserved in a sustainable way), Canadian weapons used in Saudi Arabia (DeCourcey: We are committed to an export control system that is transparent), the preservation of Ojibway Shores (Garneau: These are federal properties under protection of the Windsor Port Authority), Supply Management mitigation measures (MacAulay: We will protect Supply Management), and marijuana industry transparency (Petitpas Taylor: We will implement a fair process to grant licences).

Overall, if it was possible to be even worse than Monday, then they succeeded. The decision to try and use the Jane Philpott “limousine” cheap outrage as the counterpoint to Trudeau refusing to repay any of his vacation to Barbados was yet another example of the kind of disingenuous nonsense that we’ve come to expect from Scheer and his leadership. To wit: that “luxury limousine” trip that Philpott took was a sedan car service hired to transport her and staff for three meetings between Toronto and Hamilton plus a riding event, which the Ethics Commissioner later found not to have contravened any rules, despite accusations that the car service owner was a riding volunteer. She repaid the expenses because of the weeks of cheap outrage that the opposition howled at the moon over. She didn’t do anything wrong other than it looked like a large dollar figure out of context, and she’s not the prime minister and doesn’t require secure travel arrangements (where the costs of the Challenger and the likes include a lot of baked-in costs that media reports fail to cite properly). Trying to compare her experience with the PM’s vacation, whether it broke Conflict of Interest rules or not, is not analogous in the slightly and is yet more of the kinds of mendacious framing that the Conservatives love to engage in. Add to that, Lisa Raitt trying to suggest that there was a gendered double-standard by which Philpott was forced to repay but Trudeau was not was eye-rolling in the extreme, not to mention utterly shameless. The whole exercise is farcical, while actual issues that the government should be held to account on are yet again left to the wayside.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Maryam Monsef for a black top and slacks with a black and grey plaid long jacket, and to Terry Beech for a navy suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and a black tie. Style citations go out to Robert Sopuck for that hateful brown corduroy jacket with a dark blue shirt and a navy tie, and to Mélanie Joly for a navy and burgundy striped blouse with a pussy bow and black slacks.

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