Dismissiveness and disappointment

Thursday’s Members’ Statements began with a couple of subtle digs. First, Bloc MP Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac talked about International Day of the Child Soldier – and we all know that child soldiers have become a sore point under this government with the whole Omar Khadr affair. Shortly after, Liberal Joyce Murray (of the flawlessly tailored jackets) rose to note the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, which she rather cleverly segued into his theories on evolution fit social patterns, and that applied to criminal behaviours. Which of course segued into the gang wars in Vancouver, and she called for an “evolution” of Conservative policy.

Well, I thought it was clever anyway – or at least, more clever than some of the usual unsubtle rhetoric that passes for debate in this House.

When Question Period began a few minutes later, Harper was his usual dismissive self. For example, when Ignatieff asked about the thickening Canada-US border, Harper blamed the previous Liberal government for the problem, even though his government has been asleep at the switch when it came to new passport regulations. And when David McGuinty asked about how we could possibly negotiate with the US on climate change policies when we have no framework of our own, Harper said that Obama’s targets were closer to his government’s than the oppositions, and on the follow-up, Environment Minister Jim Prentice deflected the question by laying accusations against McGuinty for his calling the ecoTrust programme “ecoFraud” because its results had no accountability measures. Really guys?

(Incidentally, I am rather disappointed in my “boyfriend” George Stroumboulopoulos for his interview with Prentice the other night. George should have called Prentice on all kinds of bullshit talking points, but he softballed it. George – you were the only interviewer to trip up then-US ambassador Paul Celucci. You can do this! Why softball it now?)

A short while later, Jack Layton asked why Public Works wasn’t letting Canadian firms bid on contracts – Harper said that 80-90% of contracts were won by Canadian firms. Scott Brison later followed up on that train of thought by asking US firms were getting Canadian defence contracts when we couldn’t bid on theirs for “national security reasons.” The answer was more obfuscation, but there is a bit of a sad revelation that we sometimes simply don’t have the capacity in this country.

Most disappointing, however, was the way that the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Deepak Obhrai, couldn’t even keep a straight face as he read out the same talking points on four successive questions about Omar Khadr, not answering some pretty straight-forward questions on the file.

Even more disappointing was the fact that when Bill Siksay brought up the Cadman affair, and how journalist Tom Zytaruk’s reputation has been sullied by the allegations of a doctored tape – since proven unfounded – the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Poilievre stood up to say that it was clear the tapes were tampered with and that the matter was now settled. Seriously?


After Question Period, the budget implementation bill passed second reading by a vote of 211 to 84, and it now goes off to committee.

Elsewhere on the Hill yesterday, Rob Oliphant’s dealing with the issue of Tasers indeed went before the Public Safety committee, and Scott Brison brought forward a few serious motions in the International Trade committee.

Sartorial snaps for Thursday go to Liberal MP Alexandra Mendes, who pulled off a zebra-print shirt beneath a cream jacket without looking trashy, or like a cougar. Way to go!

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