Question Period began innocently enough. Thomas Mulcair read out his trio of questions around an admission that Peter MacKay had made that cabinet knew of the alleged two sets of books on the F-35s, and Harper chided him about comparing apples and oranges, and Jack Harris and Peter MacKay had two more rounds of the very same, MacKay asserting that he was talking about the process of decisions flowing through cabinet, but since they AG’s report, they’ve taken “decisive action.” Bob Rae, a bit hoarse, got up to ask about the Deputy Minister of Defence telling the Public Accounts committee that the AG “got it wrong,” and the lingering question about how deputy ministers can disagree with a report that the government says it agrees with, but Harper insisted that Rae was the one getting it wrong, and talked up about how they were proceeding with an oversight committee on the acquisition. Stéphane Dion closed the round by asking the government to withdraw its unconstitutional Senate “reform” bill, but Harper got up and instead of answering the substance of the question, touted the latest Senate “consultation election” in Alberta. Because who needs to worry about the constitution?
Round two kicked off with Peggy Nash asking about the impacts of the public service cuts (Clement: We’ve consulted, and we’ll inform the public as things progress), Megan Leslie asked about cuts to Parks Canada (Kent: We’ve done more for parks than any other government in history!), Robert Chisholm asked about the changes to the Fisheries Act (Ashfield: We don’t want to regulate farmers’ fields and cottage docks!), Hélène LeBlanc asked about the cuts to Statistics Canada (Paradis: They identified savings), and Randall Garrison asked about cuts to the Joint Emergency Preparedness Programme (Toews: We’re not putting safety at risk). Scott Brison asked about what savings the government expected to achieve by rolling back OAS benefits (Finley: We’re ensuring the sustainability of the system!), and Mauril Bélanger asked about the Language Commissioner’s report that the government broke its own rules in hiring a unilingual Auditor General (Moore: You guys like his work, so why are you complaining?). Hoang Mai asked about those three CRA employees facing charges (Shea: I can’t comment but I can assure you of the integrity of our tax system!), and Charlie Angus asked a subdued question about Bev Oda’s spending – without resorting to name-calling! Go Team Decorum! (Van Loan: She repaid them and we’re keeping our costs down).
Round three saw questions on Aveos workers, EI changes, and there was an exchange between Thomas Mulcair and Jason Kenney about the possibility of “convicted British criminal” Conrad Black coming back to Canada when Gary Freeman, who has children in Canada, couldn’t (Kenney: Why are you defending a cop killer? Only he later had to recant and instead call Freeman a “cop shooter”), and then there were cries of “Shame!” when Mulcair basically accused the government of racism. There were questions on the government’s “War on Information” via cuts to Statistics Canada, closures of Veterans Affairs offices and outsourcing their phone lines to a private call centre, a court ruling on veterans pensions being subjected to clawbacks, the appointment on the Auditor General, and cuts to economic development in Northern Ontario.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Maxime Bernier for a tailored grey pinstripe suit with a white shirt and pocket square, and a black-and-grey striped tie, and to Lisa Raitt for her purple top and fitted black leather jacket. Style citations go out to Blaine Calkins for a black suit with a yellow shirt and silver tie, and to Candice Hoeppner, whose button-up dress not only looked too much like an overgrown collared shirt, but the black-and-green pattern looked a little too much like someone had stitched together three cheap Navajo-themed rugs purchased along an Arizona roadside.