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Pierre Poilievre, an Ottawa Tory MP and parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, speaks in the House of Commons on May 29, 2009. (FRED CHARTRAND/The Canadian Press)
Pierre Poilievre, an Ottawa Tory MP and parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, speaks in the House of Commons on May 29, 2009. (FRED CHARTRAND/The Canadian Press)

Hot and Not

At least Pierre Poilievre didn't throw a shoe at Mounties Add to ...

Not: Pierre Poilievre. On Parliament Hill, the young Tory MP from Ottawa who also serves as the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary is known for his aggressively partisan ways. He is often trotted out by the PMO to stonewall on an issue or defend the government.

This means he is not always popular with his opposition colleagues. So, there was a certain amount of interest (glee?) in the fact that he was forced to eat humble pie Thursday as a result of a security breach on Parliament Hill.

The breach stems from an incident on Tuesday when Mr. Poilievre reportedly became impatient while waiting in his car to pass through a security gate on Parliament Hill. Instead of waiting for his turn, he pressed the button on the gate to let himself through - before the RCMP had a chance to figure out who he was or check his car. This provoked an argument with the police.

Mr. Poilievre has since apologized.

Not: Denis Coderre. Stephen Harper's team went on the offensive Thursday, trying to shut down stories that Conservative supporters were involved in a $9-million Parliament Hill renovation contract that's now being investigated by the RCMP.

To do this they put Montreal Liberal MP Denis Coderre in their sights: "Today Ignatieff Liberal Denis Coderre asked questions about Gilles Varin's influence," the Tories say in a memo circulated to MPs and the party faithful Thursday night. "This, it seems is Michael Ignatieff's priority today."

The memo is titled: "Liberals Throw Stones from a Glass House."

A Globe and Mail report identified Gilles Varin as a Conservative supporter who was paid $140,000 between 2007 and 2009 to help Quebec construction firm LM Sauvé win the contract to renovate the West Block. This doesn't sit well with the Tories, who have denied that Mr. Varin has ever been a "CPC member or a CPC organizer."

And after having done some investigating themselves, they turned up the fact that Mr. Varin contributed $400 to Mr. Coderre when he served as a cabinet minister. "There is nothing to do but leave Mr. Coderre with his manufactured outrage," the Tories say. "He cannot, after all, retroactively call for his own resignation."

Hot: Veterans. Senior Harper cabinet ministers are livid about the treatment of Canada's veterans by bureaucrats at Veterans Affairs - and they want changes.

There are different ideas being considered to make the officials less ignorant to the plight of the veterans, many of whom are wounded or face psychological issues as a result of their service to the country. High-ranking ministers are considering having wounded veterans come to speak to the bureaucrats, who are headquartered in Prince Edward Island, in an effort to show them first-hand what it is like to try to survive back in Canada.

This comes after Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart's devastating report Thursday in which she called out the department for serious breaches after private medical records were circulated among top bureaucrats as a way to discredit Gulf War veteran Sean Bruyea, who was advocating for veterans rights. Even the Prime Minister called it "unacceptable."

There is also some consideration of hauling Veterans Affairs bureaucrats before parliamentary committees for a thorough grilling by MPs and senators. One senior cabinet minister, who is appalled at the treatment of Mr. Bruyea, characterized the officials as "insurance agents" lacking compassion.

Hot (as in under the collar): Stephen Harper. A question by Globe and Mail parliamentary bureau chief John Ibbitson Thursday about the sole-sourcing of the new fighter jet contract drew some rare passion from the Prime Minister.

The query that provoked prime ministerial ire was in reference to recent testimony before a Commons committee by Alan Williams. The former assistant deputy minister of defence told MPs it was a mistake to sole source the jet contracts.

Mr. Harper said that wasn't the advice Mr. Williams had given at the time he was paid to give it and then he launched into an angry tirade against Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who has criticized the sole-source contract. He wants it reviewed, suggesting it should be open to competition.

The Prime Minister was speaking in Winnipeg to aerospace workers, who appreciated his strong defence of the jet purchase. Back in Ottawa, Tory and Liberal strategists were busy spinning reporters.

The Liberals issued an exchange between Mr. Williams and Liberal MP Ken Dryden, who had asked about the Prime Minister's comments. Mr. Williams denied he had changed his mind about the sole-sourcing, calling the Prime Minister's reaction a "lie."

The Tories sent out their own take on the Williams' testimony - but it was from his appearance before the defence committee in 2003 when he was explaining the program under which the jets were being purchased. And the Tories highlighted the passages they believe prove that Mr. Williams was in favour of the way in which the program was being run

Here is one of those passages from Mr. Williams: "Canadian defence industry could not survive on the basis of DND procurement alone. Our privileged access to the U.S. market affords Canada the ability to have many more sources of supply, critical to our national security, than could economically be maintained through National Defence acquisitions alone."

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