Thursday, April 5 was the final sitting day in the House of Commons before a two-week Easter break. And the debate was much less sharp than in previous days, as the primary bill up for discussion was supported by all parties.
The Big Issue
That bill was S-4, a bill on railway and transportation issues which had already been substantially debate in early 2011. And Francois Choquette, Kevin Lamoureux and Elizabeth May each confirmed that their respective parties were entirely willing to co-operate on bills which didn't raise as many red flags as, say, the Cons' omnibus budget-and-environment-gutting legislation.
Which isn't to say that the official opposition couldn't find some obvious room for improvement in both the legislation and the process used to pass it. Andrew Cash lamented the fact that the Cons were merely dealing with piecemeal rail legislation rather than development a national transit strategy. Matthew Dube linked transit issues to the problem of urban sprawl. And Pat Martin went into full outrage mode over the introduction of the bill through the Senate.
Having apparently learned nothing about the dangers of contradicting one's own message and playing on a governing party's home turf, Geoff Regan and Massimo Pacetti delivered questions encouraging the Cons...to lower the GST on fuel prices and slash taxes on diesel fuel.
In the midst of heavy questioning about the F-35 procurement debacle, Malcolm Allen raised a particularly telling point - as the Cons claimed to have "accepted and acted upon" the Auditor General's 2010 report identifying similar issues in helicopter purchasing even as they misled Parliament and the public about the cost of F-35s. Marie-Claude Morin criticized the Cons' $102 million in cuts to the CMHC, while Charmaine Borg followed up on the harm done to young Canadians who had planned to participated in Katimavik. Bob Rae raised the point of privilege discussed by Don Lenihan here, featuring a remarkable disconnect between what the Cons claimed to be departmental and government positions in addition to concerns about misleading Parliament. Jean Crowder's order paper question on a "federal action plan with specific goals and timetables to reduce poverty" was met with the response that the Cons think their austerity budget is close enough. And the Cons went from initially suggesting that their only problem with the NDP's bill protecting against discriminating based on gender identity and gender expression was a matter of clarifying definitions, to Dean Allison's full-on "OMG manly men in the girls' bathroom!!!" hysteria.