The Big Issue
The main point of debate was once again the economy as the Cons pushed to ram their budget bill through Parliament. And once again, there was plenty of strong clash between the opposition parties and the Cons on the point - best exemplified in Paul Dewar's criticism of an economic policy directed at funneling money to those who need it least, which was met with Pierre Lemieux' response that the Cons aren't much interested in helping the lot of the poor other than through the jobs that haven't materialized from their tax slashing.
Mathieu Ravignat and Eve Peclet both pointed out that more equal societies experience more stable growth than one which buy into trickle-down rhetoric. Randall Garrison highlighted the $10/hr gap between B.C.'s minimum wage and the cost of basic food, shelter, clothing and transportation, and observed that it was the Cons' market-first model that caused the bubble and crash that have left the global economy reeling. Peter Stoffer noted that food bank use is up by roughly 50% since the Cons took office, while Kirsty Duncan pointed out the glaring need for improved child nutrition programs. Rosane Dore Lefebvre called for the Cons to ensure that Canadians can rely on secure pensions, rather than instructing workers to gamble their savings in the stock market if they want to have any hope of retiring, and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet highlighted just how insecure stocks have been as an investment over the past quarter. And Ted Hsu recognized that his own success is made up of equal parts hard work and luck in noting that he doesn't object to funding opportunities for everybody.
Meanwhile, Pierre Poilievre made it clear in response to questions about the Champlain Bridge that the Cons are happy to apply a P3 toll model to any new infrastructure development. And he naturally had nothing more to offer even in response to Jamie Nicholls' entirely justified followup as to why the Cons haven't accounted for transit needs in their bridge announcement. But perhaps the most remarkable scripted response from Poilievre was his joint argument with Dean Del Mastro from a lack of evidence in pretending that a country can't have both effective government and economic development.
While Poilievre would normally be the favourite, though, the award for the most creative (if completely detached from reality) Con spin of the day goes to Paul Calandra:
To make matters worse, when the NDP had an opportunity to stop a Liberal government from slashing funding for health care, for social programs and education what did it do? It cut a deal with that same Liberal government to keep it in office as opposed to throwing it out.For those paying attention at home, the one time the NDP "cut a deal with (the) Liberal government" was in 2005, a decade after the Libs' earlier cuts. That agreement was to secure additional funding for education and infrastructure investments in education and social programs - money added on top of a budget which Calandra's party had previously supported in full, while the NDP rejected it as insufficient. And the Libs' government then fell only when it refused to make improvements to health care requested by the NDP. But aside from those entirely minor quibbles, the historical accuracy of Calandra's criticism is above reproach.
Meanwhile, the other major topic of discussion was accountability in light of the Cons' moves to shut down debate in the House of Commons and investigations in Parliamentary committees. Wayne Easter noted that the Cons had refused to allow any questions about the U.S.' "buy American" policy in committee, while Guy Caron similarly criticized the Cons' choice to shut down any accountability through committees. Lise St. Denis called for the Cons to respect the need for normal public and Parliamentary debate rather than slashing per-vote funding. And Pat Martin pointed out that it's an interim Auditor General with experience investigating the Libs' sponsorship scandal who saw the Cons' G8 cover-up as unprecedented.
Jasbir Sandhu called out Stephen Harper for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. Dan Albas highlighted his private members' bill to permit wine to cross provincial borders. Thomas Mulcair pointed out Quebec's expectation of being reimbursed for the costs the Cons are downloading through their dumb-on-crime policies. Marc Garneau noted that as a result of tendering its jet purchase, Japan was able to secure better terms for assembly than the Cons are going to get in their F-35 debacle. Both Megan Leslie and Kirsty Duncan asked the Cons to list the "responsible journalists" who are permitted to speak to Environment Canada scientists. And Robert Aubin's question about French-language rights in Quebec workplaces was met with a remarkably positive response from Jacques Gourde.