That’s “virtually” as in, through the magic of television, not almost, but not quite doing so, although if the networks don’t cooperate by running the whole thing live, that may end up being what happens.
Anyway, check back at 12:30 for what ITQ fully expects to be full coverage of the sporadic split screen images of an empty stage on the Hot Room flat screen, as increasingly frantic segment producers rediscover the mercurial magic of prime ministerial scheduling. Or maybe he’ll be on time for once. Who knows? In any case, stay for the show — or as much of it as makes it to broadcast — as well as reaction from the Hill.
Greetings, armchair stimulus spending analysts and/or ordinary Canadians, and welcome to what ITQ feels fairly secure describing as the biggest media circus to hit the Southern Railway mechanical shop in Saint John history: the latest installment in the long-running serial, How I Spent
My Your Taxpayer Dollars, starring the one and only prime minister of all of Canada, Stephen Harper. Is everyone excited? ITQ hopes so, since there was some concern expressed yesterthread that we-the-media were focusing far too much attention on the process — why New Brunswick? Why today? What’s the angle? — and not on the substance of the report itself, which has made her even more determined to follow every last carefully-framed moment of today’s announcement.
One minute to go! Oddly, the networks don’t seem to have switched to the live feed yet. Y’all have played this game before, haven’t you?
Incidentally, ITQ actually has a copy of the report, which was deposited with the gallery under strict embargo earlier this morning. I don’t think it’s violating any parliamentary procedure to note that the covers features a stylized ‘STAYING ON COURSE’ action! sign. The fork logo doesn’t look any better in print, in case anyone was wondering.
Five minutes late! Which is practically early by PMO standards.
And here we go! Hey, who’s that? Is that Jim Flaherty? What on earth is *he* doing there? Shouldn’t he be tabling a report in the House?
Okay, he’s now going through the introductions — the whole NB contingent is there, apparently, including MPs, senators and – good heavens, Elsie Wayne? Doesn’t the party have a standing security alert to keep her out of camera range?
That Flaherty character is still going on and on, talking about the Action! Plan like it’s *his* initiative or something. Spotlight hog.
And here he is — the prime minister we’ve all been waiting for, looking — pretty much like he always does, with a tie that, for a horrifying moment, reminds me of the Action! logo. He discusses how glad he is to have successfully lured Flaherty into federal politics, notes that it’s “always great to be back in New Brunswick,” his “ancestral home”, and then swings into the stump speech: He’s spent most of the last few months travelling from coast to coast to coast, doing what he can to help the economy — and, just like he told the G20 last week, the most important thing right now is to Stay The Course.
Ooh, now fully 90 percent of the funding has been committed and/or implemented! Projects are up and running, jobs are being created, and people — like you and you and you (but not *you*, you slacker — are feeling the effects.
Especially, it seems, if by “people”, you mean “Irvings and employees of Irving-owned companies,” because there also seems to be more money on the way for the New Brunswick Southern Railway, which – you’d think would have earned some applause from the crowd, but no. There *is* a crowd, right? Oh, there they are — they liked hearing about the 7,500 projects going on across the country. Yay!
More numbers — numbers that are “increasing every week,” the PM tells us, and no, he doesn’t mean the deficit.
Don’t worry — I’m going to throw in a link to the PM’s speech when it goes online, so you’ll be able to relive the magic and perhaps even reenact the moment with friends and family, provided you have access to a train yard.
Hey, you know what still rocks? Canada’s banks!
We’re seeing the early stages of what could be the recovery, the PM says — it’s fragile, and we’re “not out of the woods yet” – except for Michael Ignatieff, of course, although some members of his party may start dropping breadcrumbs leading back to into its tree-y depths.
Wait, this speech is starting to get partisan. Is that allowed? The PM points out that the Liberals voted for the budget last spring, and insists that it’s not the time to force an election, apparently. Wait, is that in the official update? Because that sounds more like an opinion.
Okay, this is weird: the PM just wrapped up his speech, and handed the floor over to Rodney Weston, the rookie Conservative MP who beat out Paul Zed by a mere sliver of voteshare last time around, and who is now delivering a vaguely embarrassing paeon to the prime minister’s brilliant leadership. That was — sort of painful to watch, although he really seemed to mean it.
Oh, and now it’s time for the media advisory, starting with — hey, Andrew Mayeda made the last flight to Saint John! He asks the PM about the Liberals’ entirely unsurprising move to table a non-confidence motion, and Harper points out that Ignatieff made up his mind “a month ago” on a report he hadn’t seen; it’s “unfortunate”, and Canadians “expect better” — they want parliament to focus on the economy, and — oh for heaven’s sake, he just interrupted his own staffer/moderator to add, “Did I mention nobody wants an election?”
You’ve taken out *ads* to that effect, sir — and no, I’m not even talking about ‘stay the course.’ It’s fair to say that particular message has gotten through the media fog, such as it is. Or isn’t.
A question on the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor — long story short, the province wants money from the feds for the refurbishment, Ottawa will “respect its obligations” as far as the previous agreement with the previous government, but isn’t ready to pitch in more. Not yet, that is. (Actually, there were two questions, one in English and one in French, but the answer didn’t change.
In response to a question on whether some of the money may be flowing to projects that aren’t ‘appropriate’, the PM raises, then exorcises the spectre of the sponsorship scandal, at least as far as the potential for lack of oversight to lead to misspending. Don’t worry, that isn’t happening here, he says.
Okay, so there are 4,000 projects in the construction “or pre-construction” phase. That last one sounds awfully broad, doesn’t it?
And that’s it for the Q&A! So far, there’s no word on when the opposition parties will respond, but ITQ will keep her eye on the inbox, so don’t go far.
Still no sign of life from the opposition parties — perhaps they’re waiting until the post-QP scrums to react to the report. Or, in the case of the Liberals, are inarticulate with grief over the loss of their beloved Quebec lieutenant. In the meantime, it — the report, that is — is now online over at the Action! Plan website, and as soon as the PM’s speech goes up, I’ll add the link.
For the all the post-QP scrum antics, click here.