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 a.m. until just past 3. We livestream and liveblog all the action.
The must-see moment
There will be much adoing and harrumphing about the continued barrage of questions—and the at least somewhat straightforward responses—about Iraq. Stephen Harper gave some new information—noting that 22 Canadian advisers were on the ground in Iraq, a number that could fluctuate to no more than 69—and Thomas Mulcair refused to let up on this front. We got questions about CETA; we got answers about which doomed Franklin expedition ship we found in the Arctic (it was the HMS Erebus, which is to say, the less nightmarishly named of the two ships). But one of the more interesting exchanges came toward the end, when NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie asked, en français, a question about a quietly tabled report by the Minister of Natural Resources about the forestry sector and the impact of climate change. Parliamentary secretary Kelly Block was assigned to reply, and did little to hide the fact that her answer had been on a list of printed talking points pulled directly from a three-ring binder, hawking clean energy and saying that the opposition “should be ashamed for not supporting these initiatives.” Maybe something was lost in translation, Leslie said, because she did not hear even an allusion to the word forestry. In exchange, Block thanked her for her question, and talked about the Conservative government’s success with forest pests, which if intentional, may yet be the most passive-aggressive thing I’ve ever heard in a political chamber. An age of transparency, indeed.
We were watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper build his case for a combat mission in Iraq. Harper took his seat in the Commons and responded to 14 questions from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair on the file. The PM wouldn’t divulge a single detail related to Canada’s initial 30-day mission in Iraq, nor would he entertain questions about the possible length of any engagement in Iraq (though he did reassure the House that Canada would steer clear of any drawn-out quagmires). But as Harper continues to praise the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and that initial mission comes to an end, expect the NDP leader to insist that the government bring whatever’s next in the Persian Gulf to the House for a vote.