When cabinet ministers show up at committees, they are expected to be able to answer questions about their portfolio. If the question is complex or requires data not readily on hand, a minister will often promise to get back to the committee and the member asking the question.
What is shocking here is that Catherine McKenna, Justin Trudeau’s environment minister, was unable to answer a simple question about a key part of her portfolio, the impact of a carbon tax on reducing emissions.
Conservative MP Robert Sopuck asked what the impact on greenhouse gas emissions would be with the government’s proposed price of $50 a tonne on carbon dioxide.
Watch as McKenna can’t answer what should be a basic question for her.
Some people might look at this and shrug and compare it to Question Period which is nothing but political theatre for the cameras. Committee appearances though are supposed to be something different and for the most part they are.
Long-time observers of Parliament Hill will tell you that Commons Committees are the places where the heart of Parliament beats, where the real work is done.
In the clip above, and in the full appearance before committee, Minister McKenna resorted to spewing nothing but partisan talking points. If those talking points were interspersed with serious attempts to answer questions from the opposition in an open and honest format then she could be forgiven for being a politician.
You don’t blame a scorpion for stinging you, it is what they do.
In the same way, you don’t blame a politician for being partisan. Unless they are so partisan that basic facts, facts pertinent to their portfolio, escape their notice.
In not being able to answer what the reduction in emissions from a $50 a tonne carbon tax will be, Ms. McKenna embarrassed herself and showed herself to not take Parliament, or perhaps her portfolio, as seriously as she should.