QP: Variations on EI questions and non-answers

It being a Wednesday, the Commons was a pretty packed chamber, and MPs were riled up from their morning caucus meetings. Thomas Mulcair took advantage of this frisson in the air to read a series of questions listing off Canada’s mediocre economic performance – trade deficit, billions of dollars in “dead money,” tax cuts for businesses not reinvesting it, and so on – and wondering why Harper wasn’t listening to Canadians about the economy. Harper acknowledged that there were great challenges facing the economy, but jobs, exports and growth were up. Peggy Nash brought up the Nexen deal and wondered why they weren’t paying attention to the hollowing out of the resources sector or the concerns of Canadian entrepreneurs. Christian Paradis reassured her about the Investment Canada Act’s criteria, and that those entrepreneurs don’t want a carbon tax either. Joyce Murray was up for the Liberals, and she brought up the Conservatives’ unwillingness to hand over to the Parliamentary Budget Officer data on cuts, to which Tony Clement assured her that they are accountable to Parliament by the regular channels. For her last question, Murray asked about what percentage of foreign ownership of the oil sands the government would allow, not that she got an actual answer from Paradis.

Round two was dominated with the NDP asking variations on questions about changes to EI – Anne-Marie Day, Philip Toone, Yvon Godin, Ryan Cleary, Jonathan Tremblay, Andrew Cash, Kennedy Steward, Alex Atamanenko and Chris Charlton each asked, while Diane Finely gave them each a version of the same answer about people being better off when they work.  Ralph Goodale asked about the definition of “net benefit” for foreign takeovers (Paradis: Rigorous process!), and Gerry Byrne and Denis Coderre returned to the question of EI clawbacks, not that they got a different answer from Finley. Malcolm Allen and Ruth Ellen Brosseau asked question on CFIA cuts that were based entirely in unsubstantiated claims and speculation about what may or may not have been affected (Ritz: We hired new inspectors!), and Irene Mathyssen and Lysane Blanchette- Lamothe asked about the potential for “two-tiered” public servants as pension changes are made (Clement: We’re bringing their pensions into line and aren’t beholden to the “big union bosses” like you are).

Round three saw questions on consultations around changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, ignoring residents with regards to an ethanol plant in Oshawa, pension security, why Stephen Harper isn’t dictating his caucus’ private members’ business – oh, sorry, why he hasn’t stomped on the M-312 debate in an autocratic and iron-fisted fashion, the Canadian Forces ombudsman’s role, anti-spam legislation, and why we still haven’t seen the plans for the reconstruction of the Quebec City armoury.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Michelle Rempel for a Conservative-blue wrap dress, and to Jonathan Genest-Jourdain for a grey pinstripe suit, white shirt and navy and light-blue tie. Style citations go out to the Honourable Member for Warhammer for a bright fluorescent blue shirt and tie with a black suit, and to Sadia Groguhé for a white jacket with black and gold florals. Plenty of dishonourable mentions to go around today too – Bal Gosal and Joe Daniel for black suits with yellow shirts, and Lysane Blanchette-Lamonthe for a yellow jacket with a black long-sleeved dress, where she again rolled the jacket sleeves to make her arms looks disproportionately long.