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Must-see QP: When security trumped the economy

Your daily dose of political theatre


 
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 runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We livestream and liveblog all the action.

The must-see moment

Twenty minutes of questions and answers came and went this afternoon before David McGuinty took his turn. The Tories had ready-made responses to every opposition complaint until McGuinty had the floor to himself. Then, the Liberal MP referenced documents that, he said, proved the government broke Treasury Board rules when it approved payments after the fact to Guy Giorno, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ex-chief of staff, for a pair of speeches he penned for then-natural resources minister Joe Oliver.

Paul Calandra, the PM’s parliamentary secretary, rose in response. That seemed a hint of the government’s readiness, or lack thereof.

Indeed, Calandra was up to his old tricks. The MP famous for pizza-delivery anecdotes and tearful apologies for parliamentary irrelevance deflected McGuinty’s question with all his might. He assured the House that the government expects everybody to follow the rules, and then quickly drew upon a reliable old well of mockery so treasured by an era of Conservatives.


The MP for Oak Ridges-Markham’s strung together punchlines: MP Eve Adams, a colleague in his troupe of parliamentary secretaries until she popped up as a Liberal last week; Justin Trudeau’s paid speeches of yore, which he rhymed off with the help of a chorus of caucusmates. In short, Calandra threw everything at the wall until he ran out of things.

Then, during his second answer to McGuinty, when Calandra had finished hurling insults, an interesting thing happened. He outlined his government’s basic priorities: “We’re going to focus on what matters to Canadians: safety, and security, and the economy.” The economy, today, settled for the bronze medal. You might not be surprised by that ordering, if you followed our live chat earlier on with Paul Wells. A reader asked if security would be the ballot question. Wells responded.

Some advice to endure the next few months: get used to hearing things like soft on terror ad nauseum.

The recap

The context

Lines in the sand can suddenly appear on Parliament Hill. Thomas Mulcair drew a thick one today, decisively so, as the Canadian Press reported: “The NDP will oppose the Conservative government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill, saying it endangers Canadian liberties while failing to improve security.”

Conservatives salivate over any chance to call an opposition politician soft on terror. Now, they have a chance to dismiss the Leader of the Opposition as such. Mulcair, apparently, thinks more people will side with his view, which he usefully captured in a couple of sentences. “We cannot protect our freedoms by sacrificing. New Democrats have a different vision,” he said. “Freedom and public safety have to go hand-in-hand. We will hold true to our principles and oppose this dangerous, over-reaching legislation.”

This will be ugly, no doubt.


 
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