Without a weekly edition of Monday Morning Sanctimony to set the tone, we waited anxiously to see just how the Official Opposition were going to be holding the government to account. And when the appointed hour came, Thomas Mulcair stood up to denounce the omnibus budget bill and wondered what happened to those principles that Harper once espoused about these kinds of things. John Baird, acting as Back-up PM du jour responded that they were “focused like a laser” on jobs and growth, while the NDP was busy playing procedural games. (Could we please ban “focused like a laser”? It’s not cool or clever). When Mulcair asked about the environmental and EI provisions in the bill that gave the ministers an inordinate amount of power, Baird reminded him of Peter Julian’s 11-hour filibuster on the original budget. Peggy Nash was up next to wonder about the savings that the OAS changes will deliver, but Diane Finely was ready with her talking points about future sustainability. Bob Rae got up and listed off the number of organisations being slashed in the omnibus budget – the Inspector General of CSIS, Rights and Democracy, the National Round Table on Environment and Environment, the First Nations institute, the National Council of Welfare, and so on. Baird insisted that if they didn’t make these changes then the country would become the “Welfare capital of the world,” as Ontario was under Rae’s leadership. Not only that, but NRTEE advocated instituting a carbon tax, which the Liberals obviously were in favour of, which is why they wanted NRTEE kept intact. No, really, he said that. When Rae called him on that, Baird repeated it. Remember that the original reason why NRTEE was being cut was because it was from an era when there weren’t other such research organisations, but there are apparently plenty of them out there now. Now Baird seems to be indicating that the reason they were being cut was over a policy disagreement. Uh oh. (In the scrums after QP, Baird started combining both reasons, for the record). For Rae’s final question, he asked about the growing number of bungled military procurement contracts and wondered if we weren’t headed for a “Decade of Doofus.” Baird returned to an old talking point about how the Liberals oversaw a “decade of darkness.”
Round two kicked off with Jack Harris and Christine Moore wondering why Peter MacKay was now blaming the media over the reporting of the Libya mission costs (MacKay: I clearly was talking about the costs-to-date in that interview), Moore and Matthew Kellway then turned to the topic of the tabled planning documents that indicated that the F-35 was still the plane the government was going to buy (Fantino: We have a Seven-Step Plan™ everybody! And a secretariat!), and Robert Aubin and Charlie Angus asked about an incident where someone was agreed to donate to the Shriners but found the envelope was addressed to Conservative headquarters, and that they used the same calling firm that was bought out by RMG, whom the Conservatives also use (Poilievre: We’re not aware of this case, but it could have been an administrative error, but why are you changing the channel on your leader’s reprehensible comments on the western economy?). John McKay and Marc Garneau wondered why Peter MacKay was constantly low-balling his procurement figures (MacKay: I’ve been “upfront and honest on this file”), and Judy Sgro gave a comparison between F-35 cost over-runs and how that money could be used for pensions (Finley: We’re making them sustainable!). Malcolm Allen wondered about the apple crop failure in Ontario (Ritz: We’re working with our provincial partners), and Pat Martin wondered about the pasta plant outside of Regina that was touted during the election but has since been shelved (Ritz: They’re delayed because of European market instability, but they will eventually open up).
Round three saw questions on fake jobs offers for immigrants to get to the head of the queue, consumer codes of conduct for the banks, the suicide crisis among First Nations and why the government was cutting the prevention strategy funding (Aglukkaq: We’re “working collaboratively” with our partners), whether the minister was still reading over that court ruling on veteran clawbacks (MacKay: Still reading), cuts to scientists, cuts to NGOs like the Canadian Nursing Association delivering foreign aid (Oda: We want to ensure our moneys are used effectively, to which Carolyn Bennett heckle-roared “Are you saying they’re not?!”), provisions that will allow the minister to override product safety regulations, a rail crossing in Verchères, and the costs to Quebec over the omnibus crime bill.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Maximum Bernier for his tailored grey suit, white shirt and pocket square and blue tie, and to Michelle Rempel for a fitted fuchsia dress with a black jacket. Style citations go out to Diane Ablonczy for a yellowy-orange jacket with a black top and trousers, and to Jean Rousseau for a black suit with a yellow shirt and brown tie.