The worst 'conversation' in the House?

When two House leaders passive aggressively sniped at each other, because why not?

Nathan Cullen and Peter Van Loan are supposed to spend a couple of minutes each week having a brief conversation—a question, followed by a response—about the government’s plans for future business in the House of Commons. Cullen’s the House Leader of the Official Opposition, and Van Loan’s the Government House Leader. The weekly tradition, which follows Question Period on Thursdays, is known as the Thursday Question.Watch how long it takes the NDP’s House Leader, Nathan Cullen, to ask his question. It’s in bold, in case you have trouble tracking it down.

Mr. Speaker, I know you look forward to this with some expectations.

I am honoured to rise on behalf of the official opposition to ask the government what it has planned for the House for the rest of this week and for next week.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government House leader appealed to you to reject the idea of allowing separate votes on separate questions facing this House. He did so on the grounds that the amendments would not be accepted by the government anyway. What is the point of us trying to fix bad Conservative bills? According to the Conservative government, reviewing and amending bills is some sort of annoyance that it wants to do away with entirely.

However, the truth is that the government has had a terrible record of getting its own legislation right. It is a bit like trying to unpack a Russian Matryoshka nesting doll. Let us review.

Bill C-4 was panned by so many critics that we lost count. It was left to die on the order paper by the Conservatives.

Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, was panned by the opposition. We tried to amend it but the Conservatives rejected the amendments. They then tried to make those very same changes later on, which you, Mr. Speaker, had to reject. The changes finally got made in the unelected and unaccountable Senate down the way.

Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill, was so bad that, once explained by the Minister of Public Safety to Canadians, the Conservatives refused to even acknowledge that it was ever in existence. That was some bit of political spin, “You’re either with us or you’re with the other folks”.

Bill C-31 was panned by the opposition and others. The Conservatives had to amend it at the committee themselves.

Bill C-45, the monster budget bill and the second omnibus bill, actually includes many provisions to fix the first monster omnibus bill in the spring.

This would all be funny if it were not so serious and would have such an impact on the lives of Canadians.

Lastly, I want to say how disappointing it is that the government chose to be partisan instead of saving lives in the developing world, when it voted against Bill C-388 yesterday. This bill would have made it easier for Canada to send generic medications to those who need them most. What an unacceptable decision on the part of the Conservative government.

What does the undemocratic leaning Conservative government have in store for Canadians next?

The House Leader of that “undemocratic leaning” governing party, Peter Van Loan, stood to reply. But note how he never really responds to Cullen, and barely refers to the NDP. Van Loan mostly just talks to, and about, the Liberals. Eventually, he does address Cullen’s question, explaining which legislation will see the light of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I will first wish my former Liberal counterpart, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, well on his newest mission.

Yesterday was probably an auspicious day for the former astronaut to launch a Liberal leadership campaign. A member of my staff has told me that November 28 was Red Planet Day. While the member’s ideas and proposals will no doubt be well suited for the red party, it is yet to be determined whether they will actually be better suited for Mars or for Earth. We will wait and see.

The hon. member for Papineau might want to be aware of the House leader bump. My first NDP counterpart after the election now resides in Stornoway. Meanwhile, I want to welcome and congratulate the new Liberal House leader, the hon. member for Beauséjour. I look forward to continuing the very positive relationship that I enjoyed working together with his predecessor. I genuinely and sincerely wish his predecessor the best of luck.

I am sure that the new House leader will be keen to hear that we will resume the report stage debate on Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012, this afternoon.

After almost 4,600 votes in the House and committee on our 2012 economic action plan, I am pleased to say that we are in the home stretch of implementing our budget for this year.

Canadians will soon see important measures such the hiring credit for small business extended, greater tax relief for investing in clean energy, and strengthened registered disability savings plan rules.

To the great chagrin of the New Democrats no doubt, Canadians will still not see within that budget a $21.5 billion job killing carbon tax or the $6 billion GST tax grab that I know they wish to see implemented. It does not matter how many hundreds of amendments they put forward, we simply will not accede to their tax and spend initiatives.

The House will consider Bill C-45 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

We will resume second reading debate on Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, tomorrow. We will get back to second reading of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act, if we have time.

On Thursday and Friday next week, we will work through a number of bills before the House, including: Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, which was reported back from committee this morning; Bill C-37, the Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act; Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, should it be reported back from committee; and the other bills I have mentioned, if we have not had a chance to wrap up those debates.

Finally, for the benefit of the House and particularly committees meeting on the supplementary estimates, I am planning for the last supply day of this fall to be on Monday, December 10. I expect that I will get back to the House next week at some point to designate that date formally.

Great talk, guys. It’d be really fun to have you at the same dinner table.

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