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New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Monday, October 26, 2009. (CHRIS WATTIE)
New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Monday, October 26, 2009. (CHRIS WATTIE)

Question Period

Did Jack Layton know? Add to ...

With the Liberals clapping and nodding in agreement, Government House Leader Jay Hill asked the Speaker to investigate New Democratic Party involvement in the protest that disrupted Question Period yesterday.

Mr. Hill also wants NDP Leader Jack Layton charged with contempt because the "people who disrupted the proceedings of this House were guests of the leader of the NDP."

The House Leader said Mr. Layton booked the Centre Block room in which the protesters gathered. They were overheard by some Tory MPs practising their chants "very loudly," Mr. Hill said.

House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken is taking this under advisement.

This is the second straight day the Commons has been consumed by the climate-change disruption. More than 100 protesters stood up in the gallery of the chamber on Monday, chanting and yelling for the passage of an NDP private-members bill on greenhouse-gas emissions reduction.

They were dragged out by Commons security guards. Mr. Hill said two constables had to go to hospital for treatment. They have since recovered.

Some MPs felt intimidated and scared by the protesters, he said. Six protesters have been banned from Parliament Hill for a year.

Mr. Hill's request was made as Question Period wrapped up for the day.

A bizarre 45-minute session had preceded. The Liberals led off again by accusing the government of spending taxpayers' money on partisan advertising for their so-called economic action plan while ignoring communications around the H1N1 flue vaccination program.

It didn't sit well with the Tories, who heckled Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett when she rose to ask a question about the confusion around the vaccine, especially for pregnant women.

The heckling provoked this emotional response from her: "This isn't funny," she shouted across the floor, her voice shaking and her lips pursed.

And then there was the controversy around consulting and lobbying firm Navigator Inc.

The Globe and Mail reported today that the Prime Minister's Office is cutting off communications with the firm as the federal Commissioner of Lobbying investigates its practices.

Liberal MP Paul Szabo characterized the firm as a "an arm of the Conservative Party." One of its principals, Jamie Watt, worked at Queen's Park with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff Guy Giorno and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

But the Tories were unimpressed.

Transport Minister John Baird replied that a former NDP strategist - Robin Sears, who once worked for Bob Rae when he was premier of Ontario - works for the firm as did a key Liberal war-room general.

"It is kind of interesting to note that there is a fellow who used to work at this company. What was his name? Warren Kinsella," he said. "There is another arch neo-con working at this firm and he used to work for the member of Toronto Centre. His name is Robin Sears. I do not think this is any sort of secret Conservative organization."

Mr. Kinsella was in the gallery, watching the proceedings. He quickly typed a letter on his BlackBerry to Mr. Baird, calling his answer "lame" and inviting him to appear on television to "talk candidly about the firm and your relationship - and your party's - relationship with it. What say?"

And then who can forget the exchange between two Prince Edward Islanders, Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, over herring stocks?

Although it's an important issue in PEI, it was the source of much derision in the House with MPs from both sides making jokes about having trouble "herring" and "herring problems."

Even the Prime Minister was even laughing. And Speaker Peter Milliken, who tried to calm down the troops, couldn't resist quoting the President of the Treasury Board who had yelled out something about the issue being a "red herring."

It was that kind of day.

* * * * *

Update Karl Belanger, Mr. Layton's press secretary, writes in with the following information:

The activitsts wanted a few of them to meet with Layton as part of their three-day lobby. My understanding is that they meet with MPs from every party - including Prentice.

We suggested that the NDP Leader could speak to a bigger group instead and so we booked a room accordingly because his office was obvisouly too small to host such a large gathering.

As for getting them into the House, the NDP Leader's office was not involved.

Follow on Twitter: @janetaber1

 

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