QP: Absent Harper, enter Ritz

While Stephen Harper had a conveniently-timed press engagement with the President of Tanzania, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was indeed back in the Commons today, and Thomas Mulcair started right out by reading out a short question about whether Ritz is responsible for the system of self-regulation that got into this mess. Ritz didn’t take the bait and explained that self-regulation doesn’t exist in Canada, that CFIA is always involved and uses the CVS or “Compliance Verification System” that was brought in under the Liberals in 2005. Mulcair then asked three more questions to hammer away at Ritz’s credibility before in his fifth and final question, he demanded Ritz’s resignation. Ritz again, didn’t take the bait. Bob Rae was then up and asked detailed questions based on the timeline provided by CFIA, regarding delays and actions on which dates, to which Ritz kept assuring him that they were working based on evidence, and so on.

Round two featured yet more tainted meat questions – nine from the NDP (Malcolm Allen, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Philip Toone, Claude Gravelle, Linda Duncan and Peggy Nash) and three more from the Liberals (Marc Garneau, Frank Valeriote, and Wayne Easter), but Ritz not only defended the system, but urged the opposition MPs to pass bill S-11 once it arrives in the House, which should be within a few sitting days. The round closed off with Jean Crowder and Francine Raynault asking about educational funding for First Nations children on reserves (John Duncan: We’ve met with the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and are consulting on new legislation), and Niki Ashton and Nathan Cullen why the government isn’t at a summit on missing and murdered aboriginal women (Findlay: We’ve invested resources in law enforcement and have culturally-sensitive police officers on reserves).

Round three saw numerous questions from Alexandre Boulerice on that failed Port of Montreal appointment, which degenerated into a show of Pierre Poilievre attacking his patriotism for his continued donations to Quebec Solidaire, plus questions on EI clawbacks, airport fees (Lebel: We have a user-pay system in Canada, and we don’t want to subsidize them with tax dollars), cuts to Fisheries and Oceans (Ashfield: People in business should be responsible for their own costs), a labour lockout and those affected being unable to get EI (Leitch: EI is neutral in labour disputes), one woman’s “orphan drug” case, and the Canada-China FIPA.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Olivia Chow for her sleeveless grey and white tailored dress, and to Tarik Brahmi for a grey check-patterned suit with a blue shirt and tie with a crosshatch pattern. Style citations go out to Mike Wallace for a brown suit and tie with a mustard shirt, and to Megan Leslie for a somewhat bizarrely constructed light grey long top with small polka dots, puffy sleeves, accessorised with a thin pink belt. Thankfully, there were no leg warmers in the Chamber today.