Must-see QP: Harper faces Mulcair on Iraq

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

After a protracted absence from the House, Prime Minister Stephen Harper returned to face off against NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. The NDP leader asked 14 questions about Canada’s mission in Iraq, a stat the New Democrats trumpeted as their leader wrapped up, and Harper answered all of them. He responded directly, not once attacking the opposition—and sounding solemn throughout. Mulcair’s questions resembled those at the height of the Wright-Duffy affair: brief, little or no preamble, simple phrasing. The PM’s responses bore little resemblance to his Wright-Duffy defence. In those days, he was busy isolating himself from scandal. Today, the Prime Minister stated his case for future commitments, even if he wasn’t willing to make those commitments or even describe what’s happened on the ground so far. This was miles away from last week’s attempted repartee on the same file.

The recap

The context

We were pleasantly surprised by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s short, direct answers to questions about the government’s intentions in Iraq. The opposition, not expecting this, continued to ask nearly identical questions about the ongoing military effort in the Persian Gulf. That barrage had the effect of making a cabinet minister look good in the House of Commons, as Baird responded again and again with the same fairly direct responses. The post-Calandra era may not be so universally collegial, but the foreign minister served up a glimmer.