QP: Not the debunking they were looking for

MPs were almost all wearing jerseys to pay tribute to the Humboldt Broncos on a day where the city was wrecked by an ice storm, while Justin Trudeau was on a official visit in Paris. After a moment of silence for the Broncos, Andrew Scheer led off, mini-lectern on desk and read some hyperbolic doom about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Jim Carr first offered condolences to the people of Humboldt, and then said that the PM has given instructions and that the pipeline would be built. Scheer then listed some cherry-picked “evidence” about how the government has apparently shaken investor confidence in energy projects, to which Carr listed the approved projects. Scheer then switched topics to demand the government repeat the “debunked conspiracy theory” around the Atwal Affair™, and Ralph Goodale first gave his own tribute to the Humboldt Broncos. Scheer repeated the question, demanding that the government apologise to the Indian government, to which Goodale reminded him that the PM previously said he supported what Jean had to say. When Scheer tried to insist that there was a discrepancy — playing cute that he was the one who created that particular narrative and not the PM — to which Goodale reminded him again that he has not yet taken up the briefing that had been offered to him, and that he was remaining deliberately ignorant of the facts in the case. Guy Caron was up next for the NDP, raising Trans Mountain and jurisdictional issues, and Marc Garneau stood up to insist that they had federal jurisdiction as asserted by the Supreme Court of Canada. Caron switched to English to demand a Supreme Court reference on the question, and Carr reminded him that the BC government did approve it, they did not use the same approval process as the Harper government, and that they did unprecedented consultations with Indigenous communities. Charlie Angus then got up to rail that the Indigenous consultations were colonial, and Carr noted that the project was divisive, even within political parties. Angus gave it another go around, and Carr reminded him that they did undertake unprecedented consultations, and that 44 Indigenous communities do have benefit sharing agreements, and also raised the Indigenous-led monitoring committee.

Round two, and Shannon Stubbs, Gérard Deltell, and Candice Bergen demanded a date for the pipeline to be built (Carr: You have a narrative free of facts; Garneau: We have stated it’s in the national interest and you can’t get more clear than that). Sheila Malcolmson and Nathan Cullen decried the Trans Mountain approval process (Carr: It wasn’t the Harper process — we changed it; You didn’t mention our oceans protection plan). Jamie Schmale, Stephanie Kusie, and Arnold Viersen worried that the pipeline “crisis” wasn’t being taken seriously (Carr: We are alert to attempts to delay and we will not tolerate unnecessary delays). Linda Duncan and Alexandre Boulerice demanded that the environmental assessment bill be split (Wilkinson: This is an important bill).

Round three saw questions on the Atwal Affair™ (Goodale: You were proffering the notion there is a conspiracy theory because you refuse to get a full briefing), a solution to the Syrian crisis (DeCourcey: We have condemned chemical weapons attack, and we are working with allies to monitor and investigate, and have invested in helping civilians), the rail grain crisis (Garneau: There has been progress, and regarding Senate amendments, we are considering them), the Arctic surf clam contracts (Cormier: We have increased participation of Indigenous communities in the fishery), attacks in Mali (Sajjan: We will ensure that our forces have the right tools and rules of engagement), a fire on a wrecked vessel, Syria chairing a UN conference on disarmament (DeCourcey: We condemn the use of chemical weapons, and work with our allies), and provincial jurisdiction over pipelines (Garneau: Trans Mountain is federal jurisdiction). 

Overall, the day was a bit ridiculous with Andrew Scheer trying to prop up his own previous torque and distortions of the Atwal Affair™ and claiming that there were contradictions in what the prime minister had said, when the PM had studiously said precious little before, only affirming that he supported whatever it was that Jean said. And as a reminder, Trudeau stuck to a script in those previous answers, so it wasn’t even a verbal slip. As to whether or not that was a conspiracy is up to interpretation, given that Jean said today it’s not what he said (despite some dispute on this by the journalists involved) but he did point to malicious actors trying to spread misinformation. How ironic that Scheer and company seized on the opportunity to create misinformation of their own as a result, and Ralph Goodale made pointed reference to this as well, particularly the fact that the Conservatives last week spread misinformation about a cancelled bilateral between Canada and India that had never been scheduled to begin with. As for the Kinder Morgan drama, I was relieved to find that Jim Carr (and Marc Garneau in French) were much more willing to be frank both in QP and out in the Foyer in their responses (where Carr took the time to correct some of the Conservative misinformation being tossed around — finally), but one suspects that it will be a sustained campaign of calling put the false narratives that the Conservatives have been spinning on this file.

No sartorially commentary today because of all the jerseys, and any commentary I make will be interpreted as sports partisanship.

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