With Stephen Harper back in the House after nearly two weeks away, it remained to be seen how the drama would play out. And, well, there really wasn’t a lot of drama. Thomas Mulcair asked a couple of rote questions on getting Harper to justify the environmental changes in the omnibus budget bill, and Harper responded calmly that there was still going to be a rigorous process for environmental assessment that included timelines for investors. For his final question, Mulcair asked why Harper had such a change of heart when it came to his opposition to omnibus bills. Harper gave a recitation about how it was a bill full of comprehensive measures for jobs and growth, and the economy, and sunshine and rainbows (well, okay, maybe not those last two). Libby Davies was up next to decry the cuts to health transfers to the provinces, and Ted Menzies bet Leona Aglukkaq to the punch and talked about how the transfers were still increasing and included a floor should the economy not grow, though Aglukkaq did respond to the supplemental question, during which she called Davies’ questions misleading. Bob Rae was up next, and wondered if Harper’s change of heart when it comes to omnibus bills meant that he had been corrupted by power. While Harper gave pretty rote responses about the comprehensive measures for his first two responses, on his final response he noted that Rae had promised not to run for permanent leader and now seemed to be changing his mind, which must mean that it’s a lack of power that corrupts. Oh, snap!
Round two kicked off with Philip Toone and Robert Chisholm asking about the Fisheries Act changes (Ashfield: Look at the great things these changes will do!), Randall Garrison and Rosane Doré Lefebvre asked why the government was cutting the Inspector General’s office from CSIS (Toews: We’re eliminating $800,000 in needless administrative costs!), Christine Moore and Matthew Kellway asked about the delays in getting new F-35 cost estimates (Ambrose: We’re waiting for independent verification, and by the way, we have a Seven-Point Plan™!), and Jack Harris wondered if there was a cover-up when it comes investigating the suicide of a soldier (MacKay: I’ve met with the family, and how dare you score political points). Scott Andrews wondered about the investigation into Dean Del Mastro, and when Poilievre responded, reminded Poilievre about his promise to only serve two terms in Parliament, given that he’s on his fourth (Poilievre: Del Mastro’s expenses were audited four years ago, and hey, good on you for reading my old university essays), and Carolyn Bennett asked about the problems with the Nutrition North programme (John Duncan: We’ve invested $60 million). Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and Irene Mathyssen closed off the round asking about OAS changes (Leitch: We’re making this sustainable; Menzies: Canadians don’t contribute to OAS on an individual basis like they do CPP, so stop insisting they do).
Round three saw questions on Del Mastro, the F-35 cost estimates, the delays in signing ship-building contracts, cuts to cultural programmes in Manitoba as well as to Riel House, rural post offices in Quebec, moving artefacts from around the country to be stored in Ottawa (Kent: They’re already in storage where they are), and the cuts faced by Quebec in the omnibus budget bill.
As for a note on decorum for the day, yes the Speaker did call out Carolyn Bennett for heckling during the response to her own question, as Bennett is wont to do – especially when she asked a question to Aglukkaq and Duncan answered instead, and she lets her displeasure be known. But for Nathan Cullen and Charlie Angus to be on their feet applauding vigorously to the Speaker for naming Bennett is a lot of pot and kettle, considering that Angus continues his name calling and using such parliamentary language as “partisan ankle-biters” when referring to Poilievre. I’m glad that decorum only applies to other parties and not their own.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Rona Ambrose for her maroon jacket with the three-quarter sleeves and matching skirt – which is a nice change from her grey or black uniform – and to Maxime Bernier for his tan suit with a pinkish shirt and pocket square, with a pink and brown striped tie. Style citations go out to Gordon O’Connor for his tan suit with a yellow shirt and yellow-and-brown tie, and to Chris Charlton for a black jacket with green, blue and purple squares randomly across it.