“The one thing I’m not going to do is air the many grievances I have with the Prime Minister when I’m on a foreign visit.” —Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, on a trip to Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, Tom Mulcair had a field day in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper had a respectable day. The two men traded attacks during Question Period, zeroing in on the Wright-Duffy affair, which has more or less preoccupied their exchanges since the spring. The Liberals, tucked away in the far corner of the Commons, barely mattered. Ralph Goodale and Dominic LeBlanc*, a pair of hardened political hands who understand the cut and thrust of Parliament, were nevertheless helpless to the main event.
The prevailing consensus: Mulcair looked good. He was smiling, pouncing, confident. He managed to catch the Prime Minister changing his story ever so slightly on the Wright-Duffy cheque exchange. The old line was that Nigel Wright, the PM’s former chief of staff, acted alone when he covered Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses with a $90,000 cheque. Yesterday, ears perked when Harper said Wright told “very few” people. Mulcair continues to build his case, day after day, perfecting his lauded prosecutorial style.
Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau was in Washington, D.C.
The Liberal chief, who spent the first few days of the week in Ottawa, was nowhere near the madness yesterday. He ceded ground to Mulcair, and the NDP won a bloodless victory. No question about it, the New Democrats relished the opportunity.
If all the attention in the Commons pays off for the Official Opposition, good for them. But the Liberals know well that for all Mulcair’s dominance in the House during the spring session, his polling numbers were perfectly middling. Mulcair didn’t emerge a hero. Trudeau, who’s spent plenty of time away from the Commons and suffered partisan attacks because of it, spent the summer at the top of the polls. His crew is well aware that part of former leader Michael Ignatieff’s downfall was his absence from the chamber, which Jack Layton masterfully used to his advantage during a crucial election debate in 2011. But, nevertheless, Trudeau went to D.C.
While he was there, the Liberal leader shared a stage with a former Australian prime minister and a former U.S. secretary of state: Julia Gillard and Madeleine Albright, respected leaders in their own right. His staff tweeted photos of him being interviewed by reporters. He refused to trash Harper from afar. This morning, The Globe and Mail‘s photo played it just right: Trudeau, buttoning up his suit, gazing into the distance, the White House shining in the sunny background.
As the Senate eats itself alive, and our elected politicians bicker about it in the Commons, Trudeau’s doing his best impression of a future prime minister. That image could do wonders. If anyone notices.
CORRECTION: This post fell victim to bleary eyes in the early morning. With a single typo, I inadvertently elected Globe and Mail journalist Daniel Leblanc to the House of Commons. Of course, the object of my fascination was actually veteran Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc. For my next trick, I’ll appoint Aaron Wherry to the Senate. Seriously, though: I regret the error.
What’s above the fold
|The Globe and Mail||Embattled senators are receiving support from Conservative colleagues.|
|National Post||Reporters trusted Sen. Mike Duffy after he broke his months-long silence.|
|Toronto Star||Ontario is doling out more money for animal protection.|
|Ottawa Citizen||Sen. Don Plett opposed a motion to suspend three colleagues.|
|CBC News||Stephen Harper‘s story on the Wright-Duffy cheque changed slightly.|
|CTV News||The PM now claims “very few” people—not none—were aware of the cheque.|
|National Newswatch||Some senators are nervous that suspending colleagues sets bad precedent.|
What you might have missed
|THE NATIONAL||Emissions. A new report released by Environment Canada increased its estimate of 2020 emissions by two per cent over last year. The report says oilsands emissions will triple between 2005 and 2020, but also that emissions will drop in other sectors. The feds could still meet a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.|
|THE GLOBAL||Kim Jong-un. HELP University, a private school in Malaysia, decided to bestow an honourary doctorate on the leader of one of the world’s poorest and most isolated nations. School president Paul Chan said the degree was an attempt at “building a bridge to reach the people.” he hoped the gesture would “contribute to peace and prosperity for all.”|
|THE QUIRKY||Mink killers. After animal-rights activists freed 500 mink in British Columbia, nearby farmers were horrified to find dozens of ducks slaughtered by the roaming animals. The duck carcasses exhibited telltale signs of mink attacks—the animals suck the blood of their prey and move on, neglecting to eat the victims. Local chicken farmers are on the lookout.|