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Question period is back. Here’s what you missed.

The new House is an awkward, beautiful expression of democracy


 
Adrian Wyld/CP

Adrian Wyld/CP

Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is question period. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer. Today, QP ran from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We livestreamed and liveblogged all the action.

The must-see moments

Canada got a look this afternoon at the faces, some new and some old, of the cabinet front-benchers who have promised the sort of “real change” that comes with high expectations. Canada also witnessed the opposition’s first attempt at nailing the government to the wall. Question period saw ex-cabinet ministers try to pin down rookie Liberals, first-time MPs go after Chrétien-era veterans, and lots of people getting comfortable in their new office. Moments always stick out. Several exchanges previewed the Trudeau years to come.

Justin Trudeau & Rona Ambrose

One thing that interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose didn’t do, as she asked question period’s first question, was scream across the aisle, arms aflutter. One thing Trudeau didn’t do was blame the former government for the challenges in front of him. These two might even smile at each other once in a while.


Bill Morneau & Lisa Raitt

Lisa Raitt, the Tory finance critic and ex-Transport minister, barely consulted notes while on the government side—and continued that tradition this afternoon. Finance Minister Bill Morneau copied that style in his every answer. There might be meaty policy exchanges in their future.


John McCallum & Michelle Rempel

Immigration Minister John McCallum is a 15-year veteran of question period, including a long stint in government. He exudes confidence, sans notes. Tory MP Michelle Rempel is already proving relentless, asking detailed, pointed questions. Fireworks may lie ahead.


Carolyn Bennett & Charlie Angus

On question period’s first day back, nobody was more respectful to each other than the Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and NDP MP Charlie Angus. Both gave each other kudos and pledged to work together to improve the lives of Indigenous people in Canada. And they sounded sincere.

The blog

QP’s context

The first question period after a change in government is an awkward, beautiful expression of democracy: rookie cabinet ministers who have powerful jobs for the first time answer to former cabinet ministers who are now reduced to barking out complaints about the newbs who took their jobs. Everyone’s parliamentary life is flipped, turned upside down. The new Speaker, Geoff Regan, might not know where everyone sits. The interpreters, so practiced at translating the last bunch of MPs, have never heard from 197 first-timers. The teenaged pages haven’t yet realized they’ll soon be the most mature inhabitants of the House.

Yes, everything in the big, old room in that big, old building on Parliament Hill feels so refreshed. The traditional pledge for improved decorum, doomed to fail, hasn’t yet vanished, nor has the promise of more answers in question period. Let’s watch this crop, the 42nd collection of elected commoners, try not to screw it up.

Need a quick primer on who Canada just elected? Check our interactives on the 42nd Parliament and all the connections between cabinet ministers. You might also want to consult the House’s seating plan.


 
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