Nathan Cullen and Nycole Turmel hold a press conference to discuss the piorities of the NDP in the next parliamentary session, Monday, September 17, 2012 in Ottawa.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - The fall sitting of the House of Commons got underway at 11 a.m. here Monday but not before Conservatives and New Democrats traded some sharp verbal jabs.
In a preview of the major themes of this autumn's political contest in the nation's capital, the Conservatives will try to hold on to the confidence polls show many Canadians have in them as the stewards of the Canadian economy while the New Democrats try to show Canadians they are indeed ready to sit on the government side of the Commons.
"We're not waiting until 2015 (the date of the next general election) to show Canadians we have a dynamic, experienced, cabinet-ready team," NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said. "In the months to come, you will see us putting forward more proposition, not just opposition."
As for the Liberals, they'll spend the fall trying to find someone to lead them out of the political wilderness.
For Monday, then, the chief spat was between the Conservatives and New Democrats.
Government House leader Peter Van Loan, speaking to reporters outside the oak doors of the Commons, fired first, saying Thomas Mulcair and the NDP favour a carbon tax that would cost Canadians billions and kill thousands
"The NDP, of course, are philosophically opposed to what we want," Van Loan said. "They want to see higher taxes and bigger government. A carbon tax would hit families in every way possible."
Cullen, who is Van Loan's NDP counterpart, immediately called Van Loan's claims "lies" and said the NDP had advocated no such policy.
"Conservatives are entitled to their opinions but not their own facts," Cullen said.
Meanwhile, despite the insistence from Van Loan and other government ministers that Conservatives are focused on Canada's economy, a government MP put a lie to that claim by holding a Parliament Hill press conference to demand that the Commons open up a debate on the definition of a human being, a debate widely seen as a proxy for politicians to bring up the abortion debate.
Van Loan was unable to say why Stephen Woodworth was being allowed to stray from his government's economic focus.
And, in any event, Van Loan promised more than just more arguments in the House of Commons over the government's economic action plan. He said the government also plans to bring in new legislation to force new accountability and transparency at the RCMP and will introduce another aspect of the Conservatives' so-called tough-on-crime agenda with new rules that will force offenders to pay a higher victim surcharge when convicted of a crime.