Posts Tagged ‘question period

Bev Oda backtracks on travel expenses

- May 31st, 2012

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda appears to have  paid taxpayers back for more than a $16 orange juice and her stay at the Savoy.

But she’s keeping her lips zipped over the details.

In the House Thursday, opposition MPs peppered Oda with questions over why her publicly available past travel expenses have been amended online, including trips to East Africa and Haiti.

From NDP MP Charlie Angus in Question Period – (Oda) was caught hiding outrageous limo expenses. She has been caught and had to pay back for her rock star trip to London. Now we find she has been changing the travel claims for her latest round of trips.

Canadians play by the rules, but the government seems to think it is above it. My simple question is, what is the minister trying to hide this time?

Oda’s stock response (aided in later questions by House Leader Peter Van Loan):  Mr. Speaker, all incremental costs that should not have been expensed, including extraneous car service, et cetera, have been repaid. Only appropriate expenses, eligible expenses have been paid by the government.

That’s good to know.



Harper’s parting jab to Turmel

- March 15th, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper  couldn’t resist a parting jab.

Thursday was Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel’s last day leading the official opposition’s queries during  question period.

(On a side note, last night when she walked into a local pub often filled with NDP MPs and staff, she got a cheer and a round of applause.)

“This is my last question to the Prime Minister as leader,” Turmel told the House, before asking when Harper would call an inquiry into the robocall affair.

“Why will he not show leadership? What is he afraid of?” she asked.

Read more…

The Conservatives turn their guns to the socialist hordes

- June 16th, 2011

During the last Parliament, the Conservatives adopted a rather noxious strategy of trying to derail then Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff in Question Period by putting up one of their MPs to deliver a variety of personal or harsh partisan attacks just before Ignatieff’s first question. They did this using what is known on the Hill as an “S.O. 31″, short for Standing Order 31 or “Members Statement”, a 15-minute period just before daily Question Period during which MPs are free to stand up and say just about anything they want on any subject so long as they don’t speak for longer than 1 minute. Very often, MPs use an S.O. 31 Members Statement to acknowledge important events or people in their riding; point out anniversaries, celebrations, memorials or simply make a point about policy. They can be quite touching. Conservative MP Harold Albrecht used an S.O. 31 to pay tribute to his wife who collapsed as they were to head out to an election celebration party on May 2 and would die days later. Liberal MP Bob Rae was teary-eyed himself in this tribute to Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers, who passed away earlier this year.

But the Conservatives, alone among the parties in Parliament, often used the 15-minutes of Members Statements to systematically attack their opponents. More specifically, they would use the final Members Statement prior to the beginning of the Question Period — and the first speaker in Question Period is always the Leader of the Official Opposition — to attack the Leader of the Official Opposition and/or the Official Opposition with over-the-top verbiage. And remember: SO 31s are not debates. You cannot respond to one if you or your party is attacked. That’s one of the reasons I find this tactic to be particularly un-Parliamentary.

Here’s a good example delivered on March 24, the second to last day of the last Parliament by Conservative MP Terence Young; here’s a hit by Conservative backbencher Robert Sopuk on March 21; Dean Del Mastro did the honours on March 9; Randy Hoback on March 8;  James Lunney here … I could go on. The themes were monotonously similar: The Liberals lie; they have a secret plan; Ignatieff is just visiting, it’s all part of a Liberal culture of deceit. Etc. Etc.

Now, though, with the Liberals largely vanquished, the Tories need new enemies apparently. We, the media, continue to be a chief target. And so now is the “NDP radical left”. So, despite a commitment to a new spirit of civility in the House of Commons,  the Conservatives lined up a backbench hitter to rail away at Jack Layton and the NDP just before Layton’s first question in the Question Period. The hit — the first S.O. 31 of its kind in this Parliament I’m aware of — was delivered by Kootenay-Columbia rookie MP David Wilks who, as it turns out, is one of a handful of Conservative MPs that, because the majority Conservative government overflows with members, has had to find a seat next to the NDP. And so as Wilks railed away (See below), we could see the NDP caucus and Layton turn and look at Wilks with a great deal of amusement. Here’s the hit as recorded by Hansard:

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, the NDP of the radical hard left do not know the first thing about governing. Ask a British Columbian or Ontarian who had to put up with its members in power. While Canadians remain concerned about jobs and the economy, the NDP is having a gut-wrenching debate about whether or not it should remain committed to its reckless, hard left, high tax, socialist principles. The NDP radical left remains committed to pro-drug policies and anti-trade policies. The NDP opposes Canada’s leadership as a clean energy superpower. It even questions its commitment to federalism, with calls to repeal the Clarity Act.  The NDP proposed child care from birth to age 12, a 45-day work year and a 50% hike in the pension plan, policies that would cost billions. The radical hard left NDPers should stop and think about the real priorities of Canadians: jobs and the economy.


Michael Ignatieff on making Question Period work better

- September 20th, 2010

In less than an hour, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will rise in the House of Commons and kick off the fall session of Question Period in the House of Commons. MP Michael Chong and others have been getting an increasing amount of attention for their argument that QP is broke and needs fixing. About an hour ago, Ignatieff, standing in front of of his Liberal Express Bus (left) on Parliament Hill was asked what he thought of Chong’s proposals for reforms. Here’s what he said:

“We’re going to go back to the House and ask real questions seeking real answers. We’re going back to the House of Commons to try and make our Parliamentary committees work with civility. But it takes two to tango. It’s just that simple. We’ll do what we can to raise the tone. I can’t give any guarantees because it depends on what John Baird and that team decides to do. “