QP: Crown prerogatives and non-binding votes

It was all hands on deck for QP today, but as Wednesday is caucus day, this is usually the day when nearly everybody is in attendance. Thomas Mulcair was up first, and read off a trio of questions regarding why Gerry Ritz hasn’t taken responsibility for the tainted meat issue, and Harper repeated that CFIA is the responsible authority, since they conduct the inspections. Mulcair then switched topics for the final two questions, asking about that handful of troops over in Afghanistan in combat operations as part of officer exchange programmes. Mulcair wanted them withdrawn immediately because of that non-binding vote in the Commons – never mind that matters of national defence are a Crown prerogative and that the vote was non-binding and really only useful to Harper as a smokescreen for when thins got difficult during the mission, and it allowed him to fob off responsibility to the House rather than be accountable as he should be. Regardless, Harper wasn’t going to bite on this one, and reminded him that the exchange was for less than a dozen people, and it’s standard operating practice. Bob Rae was up next, and first asked about changing the incoming Bill S-11 so that it’s the Auditor General who audits CFIA and not the minister’s office, but Harper responded with bland assurances about how great our food inspection system is. Rae then turned to the issue of the revelations around Peter Penashue overspending during the election, declaring “rather than buying elections, why not a by-election?” Harper declared that the official agent responsible for the spending was no longer on the job, and that the Liberals fired a staffer who then later rehired – because non-sequiturs like that is great cover.

Round two started off with Malcolm Allen and Ruth Ellen Brosseau returning to the issue of XL Foods and the layoffs there, but Gerry Ritz was mostly only willing to talk about how they were rebuilding consumer confidence in the beef industry. Nathan Cullen wondered if the omnibus budget bill coming later this week was going to be another “Trojan Horse” (even though the previous bill was explicitly NOT a Trojan Horse), but Flaherty reminded him that all of the measures were in the budget. Alexandre Boulerice and Jack Harris then went on about Penashue (Poilievre: The official agent has been replaced). Scott Andrews also went after Penashue, but when he called him a “cheater,” the Speaker cut him off and went to the next question, which was Gerry Byrne asking about specific Treasury Board guidelines when it comes to that terminated ACOA appointee (Keddy: There was no political interference! This is before the courts!). Hélène LeBlanc and Peter Julian asked about the CNOOC-Nexen deal (Goodyear: the Act already has national security provisions), and Jinny Sims asked about temporary foreign workers in BC coal mines (Finley: The company has to prove there aren’t any Canadians who can fill the jobs first).

Round three saw questions on the EI changes, what local project standards were for Economic Action Plan™ funds, Why the Chief Public Health Officer wasn’t also in the public eye during the E. Coli issue (Bennett accusing Aglukkaq of playing “Angry Birds” on her iPad instead of answering questions along the way), the contract for screeners in the Montreal airport, the “Toronto jobs crisis,” family businesses and EI in the fisheries, tomorrow’s Persons Day forum, and Library and Archives being cut while the Museum of Civilisation was getting new funding for rebranding (Moore: Archives funding is part of that package).

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Stella Ambler for a smart light brown suit with a tan top, and to Blake Richards for a dark grey suit with a white shirt and purple tie and pocket square. Style citations go out to Nathan Cullen for a light grey suit with a bright red shirt and black tie, and to Niki Ashton for a purple skirt with a white top and a bright orange jacket and pumps. Dishonourable mentions to Olivia Chow for a Dijon mustard jacket with a black dress, Kerry-Lynne Findlay for a black jacket with a lemon yellow top, and Dany Morin for a fluorescent blue shirt with a grey suit.