No sketch today on account of other responsibilities. In lieu, here’s today’s exchange of ironies between Jack Layton and John Baird.
Jack Layton: Mr. Speaker, we understand that the Prime Minister is involved in secret back room talks with the leader of the Bloc Québécois on the parole system. Is this the same Bloc Québécois that we see in the Conservatives’ nasty ads. Imagine this. We have the Prime Minister and the leader of the Bloc working together to design Canadian public policy and yet officials from both parties say the talks are going well. Is this some kind of a new coalition? Is he making the bloquistes the driving force behind government policy? How is it possible?
John Baird: Mr. Speaker, I hope the coalition over there is not coming apart at the seams. Let me say this. We are very concerned that so much important legislation, written by the hand of the Minister of Public Safety, has been stuck in committee for more than 18 months. This government will work with anyone who wants to finally get tough on crime and on criminals.
Jack Layton: Monsieur le Président, la réalité c’est que les députés du Bloc sont ici légitimement. Ils sont ici en raison des votes des Québécois et, malgré les attaques partisanes, les conservateurs, qui cherchent à diviser, qui cherchent à faire peur, qui cherchent à mettre de l’huile sur le feu, négocient avec le Bloc québécois quand cela fait leur affaire. C’est la réalité. Le Bloc a appuyé deux budgets conservateurs et les libéraux le reste. Il me semble que c’est le temps de mettre du NPD dans vos programmes…
John Baird: Mr. Speaker, we believe we have an important responsibility to make this Parliament work and that is exactly what we have been doing. What we have been incredibly frustrated with is that the NDP and its coalition partners have been standing in the way of so much important legislation to get tough on crime, to get tough on violent criminals, to keep our communities safe. We can only hope when the time comes that New Democrats will stand up, do the right thing and join the crime fighting efforts of this government.
Jack Layton: Mr. Speaker, who is dancing with whom? The Conservatives had no problem counting on the Bloc to pass their first two budgets and then counting on the Liberals for all of the rest of them. What are the results? No job recovery, pensions at risk, the cost of heating, the cost of the HST, the cost of living going up. That is what happens with these kinds of dances that go on. We have offered practical solutions to make life more affordable. Why do Conservatives dance with the Bloc instead of working with us to make life more affordable for the Canadian people?
John Baird: Mr. Speaker, I can say the first thing I did in this Parliament was to work with the NDP to pass the Federal Accountability Act. We wanted to eliminate the role of big money in politics and we did so. We did a lot of good and that is great for Canada. What I can say about this is the budget that the Minister of Finance will present in a short while will be focused on jobs, it will be focused on the economy, it will be focused on our efforts to make Canada a magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity, and the very last thing that we should do when we have seen some difficult economic times in recent years is to bring in a whopping tax increase, something that the NDP is too excited about.