While some MPs may have been a bit bleary-eyed from the previous late night, it certainly didn’t make for a dull Question Period. Or perhaps, that’s why it took such a turn for the worse the longer it continued. Thomas Mulcair was up first, reciting his carefully prepared questions on why the government still hadn’t provided any figures for the planned changes to OAS, to which Harper assured him that there weren’t going to be any actual cuts to benefits. Mulcair then turned to the issue of Chinese telecom company Huawei being granted Canadian contracts after the US and Austraila barred them as security risks. Harper insisted that the US doesn’t dictate our policies. When Randall Garrison rose to keep asking about the same questions, Vic Toews said that the CBC story only told half the tale, and that his officials weren’t in opposition, while Conservative backbenchers chirped about people wearing tinfoil hats. Bob Rae got up to ask about the changes to EI and how worker protections were eroding as their rights would no longer be enshrined in legislation, but rather in regulation. But when he demanded that Harper produce said regulation now, Harper dodged and insisted that the appeals process would remain in place. When Rae turned to the issue that the government wouldn’t produce the data on how much would be saved in the OAS changes, Harper reminded him that the measures wouldn’t be coming into effect until 2023.
Round two kicked off with Peggy Nash, Anne-Marie Day and Chris Charlton asked about the EI changes and Jim Flaherty’s “no bad jobs” comments (Menzies: Here are some of your leader’s comments), Megan Leslie asked about NRTEE (Kent: Why do you hate Canada?), and Mulcair got up again to ask for the figures on how much it would cost us to implement the Copenhagen plans as opposed to the Kyoto ones (Kent: You’re obsessed with taxing carbon; Harper: We’re not interested in identifying industries to call “diseases” and shutting them down, but rather are focused on jobs and growth). Scott Brison asked for the dollar figures in OAS savings achieved by the changes (Wong: These aren’t savings but sustainability), and Judy Foote and Dominic LeBlanc asked about those EI changes and the criteria for “suitable” employment (Menzies: We’re facing unprecedented labour shortages). Hélène LeBlanc and Dan Harris asked about the spectre of the menace of foreign telecom companies (Toews: There’s no threat), and Kennedy Stewart and Laurin Liu about layoffs at MDA while the RADARSAT contract remains unsigned (Paradis: We’re committed to RADARSAT, making it cost-effective, and you guys voted against it – and yet nobody has asked him just why he’s saying it’s not cost-effective).
Round three saw a number of questions on the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur for Food (Aglukkaq: He was ill-informed, patronising and academic – and the Conservative benches were downright irate about the whole issue), the Territorial borrowing limit, programme-by-programme details on the cuts, the Human Rights report of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the warnings about the current Senate “reform” plans (Uppal: Canadians say they want reform and we’re on the right side of the issue. Err, except vanishingly few Canadians are actually informed on the issue), Quebec artefacts being impacted by Parks Canada cuts, and cuts to First Nations mental health programming.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Scott Brison for a tailored dark grey suit with a shit shirt and a light grey tie, and to Kirsty Duncan for a white jacket with a black abstract line pattern across it. Style citations go out to Niki Ashton for an orange dress with a quasi-spiderweb black pattern across it and a black jacket, and to the Honourable Member for Warhammer for his linen suit with a teal shirt and tie. Dishonourable mention to Leona Aglukkaq for a black dress and mustard sweater.