The lobbying activities of former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer are a source of seemingly endless fascination for the Liberals, who opened Question Period on Monday with more queries about potential consequences for government officials who were treated to Mr. Jaffer's proposals.
"Will the Prime Minister admit that his ministers contravened this [Conflict of Interest]Act when they granted privileged access to their friend, Rahim Jaffer, allowing him to waltz from one ministry to the next where they expedited his applications and they simply called him Rahim?" Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who often gives the grilling sessions a miss on Mondays, was in the House for this one - possibly because he departs for Europe on Tuesday morning.
"The Liberal Party gets more and more ridiculous in the reaches it makes on this question," he replied. "The fact of the matter of course is that Mr. Jaffer received no contracts from the government. The fact of the matter is that it has been ministers and the government who have revealed virtually all of the information that is available here because it has been turned over to the Lobbyist Commissioner. This government has acted absolutely correctly and quite frankly the Liberal Party can take some lessons."
The Bloc Québécois at first seemed willing to move on to other issues. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe made a nod to International Press Freedom Day saying the Conservative government spends more energy trying to block Access to Information requests than it does trying to respond to them.
But then he too went back to Mr. Jaffer and his wife, Helena Guergis, who has not been seen around Parliament since she was removed from cabinet and booted from the Tory caucus by Mr. Harper four weeks ago for reasons that have never been made public.
"The file relating to the former minister of the state for the status of women and her husband Rahim Jaffer is an good example of the lack of transparency," Mr. Duceppe said. "We still do not know the basis for the decision."
Mr. Harper replied that the matter was not related to government business. "All of the information has been given to the authorities," he said. "This is the transparent thing, the correct thing, to do and this government has done it."
NDP Leader Jack Layton wanted to know about the massive oil spill that is threatening the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico - and whether a similar catastrophe could happen in this country.
"People all around the world are very concerned," Mr. Layton said as Randy Holback, the Conservative MP from Prince Albert in Saskatchewan, repeatedly tried to cut him off by yelling "Time!"
The NDP Leader urged the government to call a meeting of G8 environment ministers to discuss the situation prior to the G8 leaders' meeting that will be held in Ontario's cottage country in June.
The Prime Minister replied that the situation in the Gulf is "truly horrific. It is an environmental catastrophe unlike anything we have seen in quite a long time." But in Canada, he said, the National Energy Board does not allow drilling unless it is convinced that the safety of the environment and the safety of workers can be assured. Mr. Harper didn't say what he thinks about holding a G8 environment ministers' meeting.
After the first round, the Liberals went back at the Jaffer affair. The Bloc wanted to know about documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees. And there were additional questions on the oil spill. But the rest of Question Period was really a hodge podge of different issues. It almost seemed like a Friday when MPs get a chance to raise local matters that will score points in their ridings.
James Moore, the Heritage Minister from Vancouver who tweeted this weekend that the Canucks are " Canada's team" in the Stanley Cup playoffs, was asked a soft lob-ball question by a Conservative MP about a new prize for the arts. When he stood to answer, he was heckled by Thomas Mulcair, a Montreal MP and deputy NDP leader, who shouted "Go Habs go."