Two competing dynamics played out in the Commons today — because Parliament is not sitting tomorrow out of courtesy for the NDP’s policy convention, it was Friday on a Thursday, only slightly better attended, but there weren’t any leaders (save Elizabeth May) present. It was also a Conservative Supply Day, where the motion demanded an apology to veterans for the alleged “insult” by the prime minister during that Edmonton town hall regarding his response to why the court action against the Equitas group was still ongoing. Candice Bergen led off, reading concerns about veterans and demanding action from the prime minister. Dominic LeBlanc got up to answer, saying that they do support veterans and have put in place a pension-for-life option as well as other investments. Bergen concern trolled that the government voted down a veterans-themed private member’s bill yesterday, and LeBlanc listed the sins of the previous government when it came to respecting veterans. Alain Rayes took over in French, quoting the prime minister’s election promise, not that LeBlanc was having any of it. Rayes tried again, and LeBlanc raised the spectre of Julian Fantino when it came to how the Conservatives had respect. Rayes listed examples of the government’s profligacy except for veterans, but LeBlanc called out his contradiction before reiterating their respect. Ruth Ellen Brosseau led off for the NDP, reading questions on the same topic in English, and LeBlanc gave a less punchy response about how much they have done to date. Brosseau switched to French to read about the documents provided to the PBO around the tax gap, and Marie-Claude Bibeau got up to insist that they would study the tax gap, unlike the previous government. Pierre-Luc Dusseault heaped some condemnation on new tax treaties, and Bibeau read points about international information exchanges to fighting tax evasion. Peter Julian got up to rail about tax havens that are funding cannabis operations, but Bibeau reiterated the points about combatting tax evasion.
Round two, and Phil McColeman, Cathy Wagantall, Alupa Clarke, Erin O’Toole, and John Brassard demanded an apology for the government breaking their promise to veterans (Romanado: We have delivered on a pension for life and made millions in investments after veterans were disillusioned by the previous government). Tracey Ramsey and Karine Trudel railed about the TPP (Champagne: For the first time, we have an enforceable chapter on labour and the environment). Luc Berthold, Sylvie Boucher, and Pat Kelly concern trolled about the haste at which the marijuana legalization bill is passed, and the source of producer funds (Petitpas Taylor: We are legalizing to regulate and protect youth; Holland: Anyone who owns more than a 25% stake in an operation needs to undergo a background check). Hélène Laverdière and Randall Garrison asked about the impending criminalisation of homosexuality in Indonesia (DeCourcey: We support LGBT rights and will condemn persecution).
The Conservatives are making a concerted effort to get media clips for their social media campaigns today. Same question, over and over, with a different face every time. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) February 15, 2018
Round three saw questions on the Trans Mountain pipeline (Carr: We have been unwavering in our support), immigration laws discriminating against people with disabilities (Hussen: We are conducting a fundamental review of the policy), court challenges around West Coast Indigenous fisheries (LeBlanc: The work has already begun, I extended an offer to the five First Nations of licences), a balanced budget plan (Lightbound: We have helped the middle class and economic growth), an earthquake in Taiwan (DeCourcey: We extend our sympathies but are building a stronger relationship with China), getting icebreakers from Davie Shipyard (Qualtrough: We are negotiating), the Phoenix pay system (Qualtrough: We’re doing the work that your government should have done), and marijuana investment transparency (Petitpas Taylor: Regulation! Children!), and investment in media (Joly: We have invested in CBC and the Canada Periodical Fund).
Holland reminds the Conservatives that Julian Fantino is also in the marijuana trade. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) February 15, 2018
Overall, it was a pretty quiet day, but great Cyllenian Hermes, was it ever repetitive. In fact, it was a transparent attempt to get as many MPs as possible asking the “tough” questions on veterans so that they can flood their social media feeds with those clips. It’s not good politics or the practice of accountability, but hey, who cares about that when you can score points instead? There was one positive exchange, where Gord Johns demanded action on the Indigenous fisheries on the West Coast, and the minister responded that he sent letters of invitation earlier this morning, prompting Johns to stand up and applaud loudly (which the cameras wouldn’t have seen). A non-planted question with a real answer and government action. Always nice to see.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Kirsty Duncan for a tailored black suit with a black top beneath, and to Marc Garneau for a dark grey suit with a light pink shirt and a dark pink tie. Style citations go out to Robert Sopuck for his hateful brown corduroy jacket with a grey shirt and a dark blue tie, and to Mélanie Joly for a belted brown sport coat over a light blue collared shirt. Dishonourable mention goes out to Maxime Bernier for a dark grey suit with a black shirt and yellow striped tie.