One of the interesting events of the weekend was the accountability session where the Prime Minister fielded questions from the floor and then picked on a lucky Cabinet Minister to answer the question. After a few laughable questions early on of the variety “I love what you’ve done Paul, Canadians adore this program but, if it were possible to be any greater, how could you achieve this greatness?”. But then we saw some very tough questions on the fiscal imbalance, asymmetrical federalism, private clinics in Quebec, and the Arar Inquiry. These questions were completely dodged, leaving the session as nothing more than a glorified question period. It’s no wonder that I swear a caught Reg Alcock snoozing on one of the camera shots on him.
As he was for much of the weekend, Ralph Goodale was the star of the show, with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet heaping as much praise as humanly possible on Ralph and his budget. This was a little surprising due to the amount of criticism we heard from Martin’s people that John Manley’s one budget had no vision and was too back loaded. If there is anyone out there who can tell me the theme of Ralph Goodale’s budget, please let me know.
During one of the questions to Goodale, he came very close to breaking the one major taboo of the convention. When talking about the string of balanced budgets, he gushed something along the lines of “Paul Martin as finance minister yada yada yada, because Paul Martin and (pause) the former Prime Minister yada yada yada”. You could tell Ralph had come about 2 seconds from saying the name of “he who is not allowed to be named” at this convention.