QP: Never mind the PBO, check the Public Accounts

The first Question Period of the last sitting week of the spring semester of the Commons kicked off with Thomas Mulcair inquiring about the legal challenge that the Parliamentary Budget Officer was bringing forward since he wasn’t getting the answers that were due to him on the government’s cuts. Conservative backbenchers scoffed as Kevin Page’s legal experts were referenced, and John Baird, acting as today’s back-up PM du jour, studiously avoided referencing the PBO at all as he talked about how financial data was continuing to be released as it always has been, through the Quarterly Reports and the Public Accounts. Peggy Nash reiterated the questions, for which Tony Clement reiterated the answer, before Nash moved onto how the omnibus budge bill was going to punish seniors, to which Diane Finley assured her that seniors were better off under their government than they had been previously. Bob Rae then got up to not only restate the case for the PBO to get those numbers, but to remind the Conservatives that they had previously been found in contempt of parliament because of their refusal to turn over the necessary figures. Baird insisted that they were elected on a plan that they were following through on, which again studiously avoided the issue entirely.

Round two kicked off with Don Davies and Hélène Laverdière mentioned that Nigel Wright was taking the lead on the TPP file, and wondered what it would mean for prescription drug costs and supply management (Keddy: Trade meetings are great!), Randall Garrison and Rosane Doré Lefebvre asked about the new surveillance that CBSA is going to be rolling out in airports (Toews: We’ll assure that privacy is respected, and hey, Air India Report!), and Alexandre Boulerice and Charlie Angus asked after the latest Dean Del Mastro allegations (Poilievre: He submitted his documents four years ago, and hey, what about your own illegal union donations?). Scott Andrews and Lise St-Denis continued to hammer away on the Del Mastro issue (Poilievre: Take it outside!), and Wayne Easter mused that ministers are supposed to be responsible under our system, so why is Nigel Wright taking over the TPP file (Keddy: Nonsense!). Megan Leslie and Anne Minh-Thu Quach closed off the round alternating questions on Enbridge Pipeline safety and fossil fuel subsidies (Oliver: We’re legislating more inspections! Kent: We’re negotiating at Rio+20 in good faith).

Round three saw questions about the refusal to release information about a soldier’s suicide, refugee health care cuts, CBSA surveillance, the failing “Action Plan” for F-35 fighters, immigrants to the Laval region, EI changes, and cuts to embassies affecting visas and foreign adoptions.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Greg Rickford for his tailored black suit with a white shirt and pocket square with a light blue tie, and to Nycole Turmel for her white dress with the large grey scale patterns, with a white sweater with a grey border. Style citations go out to Megan Leslie for her yellow skirt, black-and-white speckled top and oddly cut grey jacket, and to Dany Morin for a black suit with a bright yellow shirt. Also a note that Carolyn Bennett was wearing a white lab coat in the House today (with coloured scarf) to mark her solidarity with healthcare workers protesting the cuts to benefits for refugee claimants.