QP: A sweater and an overnight bag

With all leaders in the House, and all hands on deck, we were ready to see just what fireworks would transpire. Andrew Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk, concerned about the “inappropriate gift” that the PM received from the Aga Khan that was not disclosed. Justin Trudeau stood up to reiterate well-worn talking points about the previous Ethics Commissioner’s report and how they worked to strengthen future disclosures. When Scheer pressed, Trudeau assured him that during the holidays, family friends exchange gifts and he gave the Aga Khan a sweater, and got an overnight bag in return. Scheer changed topics, and demanded the briefing from Daniel Jean for the committee. Trudeau retorted that a briefing was offered to Scheer and he refused, and after a second round of the same, Scheer thundered that he was only offered a classified briefing so that he could stop asking questions. Trudeau gave the riposte that only a Harper Conservative would think that giving information to the media was hiding the truth. Guy Caron was up next, and he returned to the question of the “unacceptable” gift, insisting that it had to be worth over $1000 to be deemed such, and it couldn’t have been an overnight bag (Really? What if it was a Louis Vuitton bag?). Trudeau reiterated that he disclosed the gift to the Commissioner as part of the investigation. Caron was not mollified, and he railed that this was not open or transparent. Trudeau disagreed, and insisted that they were delivering on their promises. Charlie Angus got up next to deliver some sanctimony — and some swipes at the Aga Khan along the way — and Trudeau reminded him that the system is to disclose to the Commissioner. Angus went for a second round, and got the same in return.

Round two, and Candice Bergen, Pierre Paul-Hus, and Erin O’Toole returned to the demands that Jean appear before committee (Goodale: The media did not get classified information, and the information was all published). Linda Duncan and Alexandre Boulerice noted the Environment Commissioner’s report on provincial emissions targets (Wilkinson: Most of these audits were done before the Pan-Canadian framework had been agreed to, and said it was a good plan). Alain Rayes and Michelle Rempel returned to the very same Atwal questions (Goodale: We offered Scheer a full briefing so that he can get the complete context, and you risk putting yourself as pawns of other interests). Brigitte Sansoucy and Peter Julian were concerned about the Infrastructure Bank’s board appointments (Miller: The board has wide-ranging experience in this field and political affiliation was not a criteria).

Round three saw yet more demands for Jean to appear at committee, Morneau’s comments at committee (Lightbound: You made personal attacks), the plan to create a “reserve fund” at Treasury Board (Brison: We are increasing the transparency and accountability of the Estimates process, and here’s the table in the budget that outlines it), housing funding applications (Duclos: We are working with partners over the next ten years), housing shortages on First Nations reserves (Rusnak: We are co-developing housing strategies with First Nations), the Canada Summer Jobs grants attestations (Cuzner: Our government is defending the rights of women and LGBT Canadians), the promised passengers bill of rights (Garneau: The CTA will oversee that bill of rights when the bill passes), capital gains on BC victims of wildfires selling salvaged wood (Lebouthillier: We are aware of the difficulties), and icebreakers from Davie shipyard (Qualtrough: We are negotiating).

Overall, it wasn’t a single-issue day for the Conservatives (but almost), and this time the government did give some more definitive responses than they did yesterday (which again, follows their usual pattern of being a day late with their responses), so there was that. And if it wasn’t for Michelle Rempel’s exchange with Ralph Goodale by round three, it would have been a completely mechanical recitation on either side. I will note that Goodale’s dark warning that relying on snippits of news and information makes the opposition vulnerable to becoming pawns of some other interests was interesting, but it’s something we likely won’t get any public details on given how hush-hush the government is being about this.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Frank Baylis for a tailored black suit with a light pink shirt and a dark pink tie, and to  Kamal Khera for a maroon top, striped skirt and chocolate brown jacket. Style citations go out to Linda Duncan for a multicoloured dress with a bright orange jacket, and to Ramesh Sangha for a brownish patchwork jacket with a white shirt and maroon tie.