Federal discourse in the toilet?



Conservative speed-dating/debating, and Singh speaks about rising anger

This week started with an MP bringing the House of Commons into the washroom— camera on and all— and ended with a discussion around the state of federal political discourse. Plus, the Liberals announced gun control policy changes and a small amount of new abortion access funding on the same day the Conservative leadership candidates debated in Edmonton, where a 'sad trombone' buzzer was overshadowed by an entire section on the candidates' hobbies.  


The week that was

One Liberal MP had a particularly bad case of the Mondays. Liberal MP Shafqat Ali started his week with an apology after being called out by the Conservatives for participating in House of Commons proceedings virtually from a washroom stall last Friday.  

That's right, probably around the time you were reading last week's wrap-up newsletter, the Liberal MP for Brampton Centre entered the men's washroom inside West Block, and apparently mounted his device on the wall behind the toilet. 

"The member of Parliament was literally using the washroom while participating in a sitting of the House of Commons, the cathedral of Canadian democracy. I can't believe I actually just said those words, madame speaker," Conservative House Leader John Brassard said in the House on Monday, after rising on a question of privilege, expressing dismay there was no immediate consequence for this occurring. 

The series of events unfolded rapidly from there. After a virtual mea-culpa from the offending MP, Deputy House Speaker Chris d'Entremont said that he considered the matter closed, not before offering some evergreen advice: "Always be vigilant when participating remotely in proceedings of the House. If you don't have to have the camera on, turn it off."

On Tuesday, back on Parliament Hill after his visit to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflected on what he witnessed, and tried to explain away why the Canadian flag was raised on the Canadian embassy in Kyiv even though consular services remain inaccessible.      

Wednesday was an interesting day for sure. It started with the Liberals making a gun law reworking announcement and touting old money going to new abortion access projects; the timing of which they swore up and down was unrelated to the evening's debate.  


Then it was the main event: The first official Conservative leadership debate, in Edmonton. I'm going to go out on a limb and presume you don't need a full retelling here, and instead note that colleague Sarah Turnbull and I compiled the key moments: from Pierre Poilievre's cryptocurrency commentary being roundly condemned by his opponents, to the somewhat strange section of the evening dedicated to going through what was on the candidates' entertainment rotation. 

Of course the one moment that's garnered the most attention was Poilievre's pledge to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada if he became prime minister. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau really went in on it, questioning whether the man who could one day be his main opponents, understands or cares about Canada's economic reputation.  

Trudeau made this comment during a joint press conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, following a bilateral meeting. The outcome of their tete-a-tete was that Canada will send a Canadian Armed Forces general officer and six staff officers to NATO's Multinational Division North Headquarters, based in Adazi, Latvia. 

On the eve of their meeting, Karins told CTV News Channel's Power Play that Latvia and other Baltic states would like to see NATO's presence there move from a "tripwire" to an "active, forward" defence posture.  

Lastly, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's recent encounter with protesters at an Ontario election campaign stop, where he was verbally harassed, cast a renewed spotlight on politicians' security this week, with Singh telling CTV News that he's witnessing a level of anger he hasn't seen before. 

What I'm noticing is true is that there is more of a polarization and an aggression and an anger that I haven't seen before," he said while visiting a pro-choice counter protest to the March for Life demonstrations on Parliament Hill on Thursday. 

Not to be missed
  • A push from the NDP to see the Liberals follow through "without delay" on their promise to implement a new federal disability benefit got unanimous backing in the House of Commons on Tuesday.   
  • Conservative Party members on a special committee studying the limitations of Canada's medical assistance in dying (MAID) regime want dedicated time to hear from those who have suffered because of medical non-compliance with its procedural safeguards.  
  • And, after Quebec Premier Francois Legault called for Trudeau to shut down the Roxham Road unofficial border crossing in Quebec, the prime minister said doing so wouldn't stop the arrival of asylum seekers.  

Quote of the week

"The independence of the Bank of Canada from the government of the day is a really important principle that ensures the stability and the good reputation of Canada in international economic circles. It is something that is a source of pride and stability not just for Canadians, but for Canadian businesses, for Canadian investors and investments, for investors coming into Canada, to know that we have a robust and rigorous central bank that is independent from political machinations or interference. The fact that one of the leading candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada… seems to profoundly either misunderstand that or not care about the facts at all is somewhat disappointing in an era where we need more responsible leadership not less. But, that is a decision obviously for members of the Conservative party to weigh in on, not for me."

-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reacting to Poilievre's debate night remarks.

On notice

One more week to go before MPs get their last constituency week of the spring sitting. After a week with a few midnight sittings and movement on some key budget bills, it didn't seem Conservative House Leader John Brassard was overly enthusiastic in asking this week's 'Thursday Question.'

"It has been quite a week around here. I already know the answer to this question, but I have an obligation to ask… What price have he and his Liberal Party paid in selling their collective souls to their partners in the NDP to determine this week's schedule?" 

In response, Government House Leader Mark Holland outlined that on Monday MPs will be dealing with Bill C-14, which is the bill to lock in the number of seats Quebec has federally. Tuesday and Thursday will be opposition days; here's hoping they go over better than the Bloc Quebecois' attempt to axe the daily prayer.

Wednesday, MPs will be debating Bill C-18, regarding online news remunerations, and then on Thursday there will also be a committee of the whole focused on the main estimates for the Department of Public Works and Government Services. 

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