While it was a Monday with the Prime Minister present, the other major leaders weren’t, curiously enough. Alain Rayes led off for the Conservatives, demanding to know when the budget would be balanced. Justin Trudeau reminded him that they had a lot of priorities that they got elected on that they were delivering on after ten years of underinvestment by the previous government. Rayes then wondered why the government wouldn’t split out the Infrastructure Bank out of the budget bill, and Trudeau insisted that it was a centrepiece of the campaign and that there was a need for the Bank and its investments in infrastructure. Rayes tried again, got much the same answer, and then Candice Bergen tried again in English, calling it a slush fund. Trudeau repeated his same points about the need for investment in English, and when Bergen demanded a date for a balanced budget, Trudeau listed the ways in which voters repudiated them in the last election. Ruth Ellen Brosseau led off for the NDP, railing about NAFTA negotiations — including Supply Management, because it wouldn’t be a question from her without Supply Management — and Trudeau insisted that they were looking forward to sitting down with the Americans once negotiations start, but they would defend Canadian interests. After Brosseau asked the same in English and got the same answer, Matthew Dubé demanded that the Infrastructure Bank provisions be split out of the budget bill, and Trudeau noted that it was still a budgetary measure so it wasn’t an abuse of omnibus legislation and that he expected the Senate to pass budget bills passed by the Commons. Dubé switched to French to concern troll about how the Bank affects Quebec, and Trudeau responded that at some point, they needed to deliver on promises, and that was what the Bank was doing for Quebec and Canada.
Round two, and Gérard Deltell, Shannon Stubbs and Erin O’Toole turned to the Norsat sale (Lametti: We followed the process under the law and it was determined there was no risk), and O’Toole tried to conspiracy theorize conflicts of interest between the PM and dealings with China (Lametti: Ibid.). Alexandre Boulerice and Nathan Cullen asked about tax agreements and secrecy (Lebouthillier: We are taking a leadership role on the global stage). John Brassard worried about those senior care facilities sold to a Chinese company (Lametti: The operator won’t change and they are still subject to provincial regulations), and Rob Nicholson and Michael Cooper worried about judicial appointments (Wilson-Raybould: I am proud of the appointments we’ve made). François Choquette worried that the acting Language Commissioner didn’t get extended (Joly: I will make an announcement shortly), and Pierre-Luc Dusseault asked about the Saudi blogger sentenced to flogging (Alghabra: We have raised this at the highest level and have been appealing for his clemency).
Stands up, looks at the prime minister directly, stares him down. Not just standing there, reading.
— Aaron Wherry (@AaronWherry) June 19, 2017
Jody Wilson-Raybould is incredibly proud, everyone!
If there was a JWR drinking game, it would be "proud." #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) June 19, 2017
Round three saw questions on replacement fighter jets, a peacekeeping mission, veteran suicides, domestic violence shelters, taxes on beer and wine, limits around credit unions using the term “banking,” the Infrastructure Bank, and softwood lumber.
I'm really not sure that the centrepiece of a bill is a "poison pill hidden" in it. Cripes. #QP
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) June 19, 2017
Overall, it was not one of the better days, but it was also far from the worst. While it wasn’t quite as repetitive as it has been over the past couple of weeks with the Norsat issue, the fact that the torque is ramping up to absurd levels shows just how tired the file has become. The fact that the questions today were largely framed in the context of some kind of conspiracy theory about the PM being some kind of communist China fanboy and hence having an intrinsic conflict of interest on any China file were ridiculous, and I can’t imagine this gets them any kind of traction outside of fringe groups on Facebook, but maybe that’s the base they’re targeting. Maybe. Meanwhile, the questions on the date for a balanced budget directly came from the headline produced from yesterday’s interview on The West Block, which again goes to show that the opposition has apparently lost all ability to do their own research and set their own agenda, and it’s now about capitalizing on whatever the headline of the day is, no matter how weak the actual issue behind it may be.
Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Pablo Rodriguez for a black suit with a white shirt and pocket square with a purple tie with white polka dots, and to Mélanie Joly for a cream jacket with three-quarter sleeves and grey slacks. Style citations go out to Cathy McLeod for a white three-quarter sleeved wrap top with red and black swirling patterns across it along with a black skirt, and to Larry Bagnell for a khaki suit with a white shirt and a red patterned tie.