Oh c’mon, it’ll be fun! They can get awfully feisty over there in the Red Chamber, after all.
Well, I’m in — in the Senate chamber that is; I decided to head over a few minutes early, just in case there was any confusion on the part of the security guards on the admissibility of a dual-berry-wielding member of the press. Much to ITQ’s surprise, there wasn’t — the gatekeeper on duty just wanted to make sure that both were on vibrate, and was assured that was the case – and I’m now ensconced in the gallery, which is considerably closer to the action than its counterpart in the Commons.
Anyway, as I type this, Senator Serge Joyal has just wrapped up an impassioned diatribe against the sale of silverware from Rideau Hall. Which is all well and good, but we’ve come to that moment that we’ve all been waiting for — Question Period!
The plight of the lobster fishery? Really? That’s going to be the lead question for the very first Senate QP to be liveblogged ever?
Okay, Senator Callbeck — dazzle me.
Or at least, make me less likely to begin the process of self recrimination for picking today of all days to show up.
Marjorie LeBreton – who, as government leader in the Senate, is on the hook for every question – eat your heart out, PVL-of-the-past – assures her that the Conservatives take the plight of Canada’s lobster fishers very, very seriously, for considerably longer than her counterpart in the House would have the luxury of doing; I don’t think there are time limits on questions *or* answers in the Senate.
Next up, Senator Cordy, who boggles over the newly revealed $50 billion dollar deficit, which prompts LeBreton to blame the opposition for forcing the poor finance minister’s hand with their constant demand for more spending – more stimulus! More infrastructure money! More employment insurance payments. Another difference between House and Senate protocol: Senators, it seems, are permitted to refer to each other by name.
LeBreton is now quoting the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom, who – at least, according to this excerpt, agrees completely that it is all the fault of those graspy, greedy opposition parties.
LeBreton is *still* answering the question — at least, ostensibly — and has now moved from quoting approvingly from the press to complaining about how unfair certain Ottawa journalists are by claiming – wrongly – that this would be the largest deficit in Canadian history.
After LeBreton sits down, apparently having temporarily run out of breath, or talking points, Cordy – who has an oddly contrived style of posing her questions, and appears to be afflicted by the dreaded Model Parliamentarian Syndrome, as far as syntax – wonders if she – LeBreton, that is – will bow to the opposition’s surely unassailable logic, and demand that the finance minister resign. What will she say? Gosh, the suspense is killing m– oh. It’s a no, guys.
And now, a brief interlude of employment insurance reform demand debunking, courtesy of Conservative Senator Trevor Eyton.
Senator Charlie Watt – a Liberal – notes that Inuit youth are deeply unsettled by the current uncertainty surrounding land claims and Arctic sovereignty, and wonders if the government has any plans to consult with the next generation in developing its Arctic strategy, and LeBreton points out that the government is always mindful of the views of First Nations and Inuit communities; she reminds him that the last budget promised a northern development agency, and promises to provide a detailed, department- by department response to his question in future.
Over to Lucie Pepin – also a Quebec Liberal – who fears that this government don’t know nuthin’ — or not nearly enough, anyway – about birthin’ babies; specifically, she’s worried that the shortage of nurses and doctors in the OB/GYN field will put lives at risk. LeBreton notes that delivery is, of course, a provincial matter, but does her best to sound similarly concerned.
Senator Ringuette wonders if the Hon. Leader of the Government in the Senate might want to “clarify” her earlier musings — wow, someone listened to the whole thing? Way to make ITQ feel like a piker — specifically, can she tell the rest of us just how much will be pumped into General Motors? No, “of course” she cannot, because the negotiations are still underway. Check back next week.
Oh, a message from the House of Commons — I love those! What does the Other Place have to say? Something about a bill – S-2, I believe – passing without amendment, but what this really means is that Senate QP is over, which means that ITQ has to tiptoe out of range of all this sober second thinking, lest her mere presence mar the sacrosanctity. We wouldn’t want that, right?
So – this was fun! I may have to make a habit of it.