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Trudeau's first question period "not so much answer period"

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/12/2015 (1287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on the defence over his plans for fighting the Islamic State as he took to the floor of the House of Commons Monday for his first question period since the Liberals won government.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan, MP for Selkirk-Interlake, was among several MPs who rose to criticize Trudeau’s plan to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from Iraq by next spring, and instead beef up Canada’s role training Kurdish and possibly Iraqi forces on the ground.

“In the past few days, we have watched the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States announce that they are stepping up in the fight against ISIS,” Bezan said. “Back here, the Liberal government is stepping back. Canada is back all right, way back behind our allies in the fight against ISIS.”

Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan fielded most of the defence questions, reiterating their belief that Canada’s limited resources are best used in training, rather than on bombing.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/12/2015 (1287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on the defence over his plans for fighting the Islamic State as he took to the floor of the House of Commons Monday for his first question period since the Liberals won government.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan, MP for Selkirk-Interlake, was among several MPs who rose to criticize Trudeau’s plan to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from Iraq by next spring, and instead beef up Canada’s role training Kurdish and possibly Iraqi forces on the ground.

"In the past few days, we have watched the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States announce that they are stepping up in the fight against ISIS," Bezan said. "Back here, the Liberal government is stepping back. Canada is back all right, way back behind our allies in the fight against ISIS."

Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan fielded most of the defence questions, reiterating their belief that Canada’s limited resources are best used in training, rather than on bombing.

Trudeau seemed a little nervous as he tripped over one of his first answers to call ISIS "a group of terrible terrorists," but went on to say the question is what is the best way for Canada to engage in the battle against them.

"Canada continues to be a strong supporter of the coalition against ISIL, and continues to be engaged on a humanitarian level, on a refugee level, and indeed on a military level. Right now, we are in discussions with our allies about how best Canada can continue to participate and to help in the fight against ISIL since we are withdrawing our CF-18 aircraft."

Many questions, few answers

Generally, MPs from all parties seemed to think there was a bit of a softer tone to the afternoon. By the end of the last Parliament, the animosity between MPs of various parties was extreme and the Liberals under Trudeau have promised a more co-operative atmosphere, something Trudeau nicknamed "sunny ways."

Rookie Manitoba NDP MP Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona) said he thought it was nice there wasn’t the "overwhelming, belligerent heckling that we’re sometimes used to seeing."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question in Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question in Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

But Blaikie, and many others, were not thrilled at the lack of answers forthcoming from ministers.

Trudeau wouldn’t answer whether the government will seek to cut carbon emissions next year nor give a timeline for addressing a campaign pledge to save home delivery for Canada Post.

Immigration Minister John McCallum dodged a question about how many exit permits governments in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have given to refugees seeking to come to Canada since Nov. 4. Instead, he took the opportunity to give a somewhat backhanded compliment to Conservative Michelle Rempel for being a critic now instead of a cabinet minister.

"I congratulate my colleague for her re-election and her rise to the noble post of immigration critic in the opposition," McCallum said.

Rempel tried a second time to get an answer, this time about how many Canadian permanent residence visas have been issued to Syrian refugees since Nov. 4, noting there are only 24 days until the Liberals say the first 10,000 Syrian refugees will be in Canada. Again, McCallum dodged the question, speaking instead about how many refugees the provinces collectively said they could take in.

Blaikie said he thought the Liberals had a good training program for ministers in the art of not answering a question, and both NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose also expressed dismay some questions were avoided.

"I am disappointed to find out that question period is still question period and not so much answer period, but I did think that questions were tough, but respectful," Ambrose said.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s desk appeared to be the only one empty for the first question period Monday.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

 

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