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'Minister of Muskoka moneybags' quip spurs Speaker to slap NDP wrist

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons Sept. 20, 2011.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

MPs seem to have got the memo about civility.

Tuesday's Question Period in the House of Commons was a relatively quiet affair, one that focused primarily on jobs and the economy rather than scandal and voiced rarely rose above a modulated pitch.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus did manage to call Treasury Board President the "minister of Muskoka moneybags" for the $50-million in G8 legacy fund cash that was spent in Tony Clement's riding – a quip that prompted a rebuke from Speaker Andrew Scheer.

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And Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did respond to two questions from the Interim Liberal Leader by making reference to the unfortunate economic performance of the Ontario government when Bob Rae was premier between 1990 and 1995. Ontario ran deficits of about $10-billion a year during that period.

"Year after year he was in denial and continued raising the deficit accumulating a massive public debt in the province of Ontario. We are not going to go that route," said Mr. Flaherty, whose government came to office in a surplus situation, ran a deficit of $40-billion last year, and is predicted to run another deficit of nearly $30-billion this year.

But, for the most part, civility reigned.

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel used Conference Board of Canada data to suggest that income equality is dropping. Mr. Flaherty returned with a forecast from the International Monetary Fund that says Canada's economic growth will lead the G7 over the next two years.

When NDP MP Peggy Nash referred to a Scotiabank prediction that Canada will likely be the first country to go back into a recession, Mr. Flaherty responded by saying: "There the member goes again, bad mouthing our country and trying to reduce confidence in our economy."

Interestingly, the Bloc Québecois (which is reduced to one question a day at the very end of the 45-minute session because it has just four members in the House) was the only party to directly criticize an omnibus piece of crime legislation tabled by the government. Several of its measures have previously been hot buttons for opposition outrage.

The New Democrats opted instead to send out justice critic Joe Comartin just before Question Period began to explain to reporters the failings his party sees in the bill.

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But that doesn't mean the New Democrats will be giving the legislation an easy ride, one official explained. They are simply going to wait until Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who was in Brampton, Ont., to announce the tabling of the crime bill, to return to answer questions about it.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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