The QP Clip: Mulcair and Fantino spar on service cuts

The exchange you can’t miss from this afternoon’s Question Period
Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday December 6, 2012 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Tom Mulcair and Julian Fantino disagree about some basic facts. Today, the NDP Leader stood in the House of Commons and, facing the Conservative side, informed his colleagues that a road trip from Corner Brook, NL, to St. John’s would last about eight hours. The government is closing a veterans’ affairs service office in Corner Brook. Mulcair was, apparently, inferring that veterans would face a 16-hour round trip in order to access the services they require.

Part of Fantino’s defence of the service centre closures has always been that veterans can receive the same care at Service Canada locations, of which there are more than 600. Mulcair didn’t seem to know that Service Canada maintains an office in Corner Brook. Agree or disagree about the value of service under the new arrangement, but don’t deny the existence of a real-life office.

Mulcair also claimed, by way of a leading question, that house calls for vulnerable vets—another plank of Fantino’s defence—won’t be as plentiful as promised. Perhaps the NDP Leader knows something Fantino doesn’t, but that didn’t stop the veterans affairs minister from insisting that such house calls are part of the government plan.

Disagreement about basic facts has never dissuaded parliamentarians from arguing, and there seems no end in sight to this particular squabble—even if the underlying arguments are, at times, based on imaginary premises.