QP: The most pressing business of the nation

After a morning of speeches and a whole lot of self-congratulation all around, the NDP decided that the most pressing business of the nation, the one topic to lead off Question Period, for which they are holding the government to account, was that of Conrad Black’s return to Canada. Or rather, as the framing device that they employ says, “notorious British criminal” Conrad Black, or “British citizen Lord Black of Crossharbour” in their subsequent press releases. While this is factually true, it’s still a framing device that they’re employing. And while Mulcair didn’t play the race card today, Harper still called him on yesterday’s usage, and chastised Mulcair for denigrating the work of public servants. Mulcair then moved onto the report about the big bill for the overtime paid to cabinet ministers’ limo drivers, but Harper dodged and touted the country’s economic performance instead. Charlie Angus picked up from here, and yes, Team Decorum still employs the epithets of “Muskoka Minister” when he goes after Tony Clement. Clement, by the way, cited that they were living within the rules and paying out the overtime owed to their drivers per their collective agreement, and hey, these cabinet ministers work long hours. So there. Bob Rae closed off the leaders’ round with a trio of questions about the contradiction in how the Deputy Minister of Defence can dispute the Auditor General’s findings but the government agreeing with the report, but Harper parsed and equivocated, and insisted that Rae was mistaken as to who said what.

Round two kicked off with Alexandre Boulerice returning to the question of limo drivers (Clement: We’re keeping our costs reasonable), Mathieu Ravignat asked about giving Elections Canada more investigative powers (Poilievre: These are false allegations), Niki Ashton brought up the abortion debate bogeyman and Conservative cuts to women’s programmes – although seriously, we’ve disproven enough times now that the government isn’t secretly trying to reopen the abortion debate (Truppe: We’ve increased funding to women’s programmes!), and Jinny Sims and Sadia Groguhé once again returned to the issue of Conrad Black (Kenney listed off why it was George Galloway was denied entry into the country). Wayne Easter and Marc Garneau wondered about the ethical and spending lapses of Conservative ministers seeing as this was an anniversary of their last election (Van Loan: Sponsorship!) and Kirsty Duncan asked for the government to hive off the environmental portions of the budget omnibus bill so that it can be debated separately (Kent: You only paid lip service to the environment but look at all the great things we’re doing to protect it). Jack Harris, Christine Moore and Matthew Kellway closed off the round each asking about the F-35 costs and cabinet’s knowledge thereof (Peter MacKay: We have a comprehensive response to the AG’s recommendations!).

Round three saw questions on cuts to Parks Canada, changes to the Fisheries, the Cohen Commission on salmon, whether the Conservatives used their voter database – CIMS – for any other purposes than just voter identification, like uploading constituency files to it (Poilievre went on a rant about Frank Valeriote’s questionable robocall as deflection), changes to OAS, cuts made in the Cape Breton area, the ruling on clawbacks to veterans benefits, and extending language laws in Quebec to federally-regulated banks.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Candice Hoeppner for her grey and red drape-necked top, and to James Bezan for his chocolate brown suit with a pink shirt and pocket square and pale blue tie. Style citations go out to Charlie Angus for a repeat fluorescent blue shirt-grey suit violation, and to Megan Leslie for a pumpkin wrap dress with navy blue tights.