Question period, Ebola top week

Last week in Ottawa, New Democrats tried to fix question period but were prevented from doing so by the Conservatives.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, meanwhile, garnered more media attention with the first case being brought to North America.
You may not have seen or heard of the incident that led us to table a motion to reform how the government answers questions in question period, but it involved an exchange between NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Prime Minister Harper’s personal parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra.
Tom stood and asked: “Will the Conservative government confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will, indeed, end on Oct. 4?”
Since the prime minister was out of town, Mr. Calandra was the person who stood to answer, and he began: “There is a great degree of confusion about the NDP position on Israel. . . .”
Mr. Calandra then went to explain how a young contract worker in NDP headquarters posted something negative about Israel’s mission in Gaza to his Facebook page.
Tom ask the question three more times but the response was the same each time.
Tom then appealed to the Speaker, a Conservative MP elected by a majority of Conservative MPs, but he said he has no such power and that the government can answer as they wish, no matter how irrelevant the response may be.
As such, New Democrats thought the only logical thing was to table a motion that would compel the government to answer questions with relevant responses while giving the Speaker the power to compel them to do so if they do not.
But our motion was defeated by the Conservative majority, who believe that we—and by definition, you—do not deserve relevant answers to questions we may have about serious issues like Iraq and the federal budget, as well as public health and safety issues like the spread of Ebola and influenza.
Another big piece of news last week was the continued spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa and the first case found in a person in North America.
While Ebola is dangerous and contagious, it also is important to note that the likelihood of it spreading in North America is very low.
With that being said, however, it always is smart to inform ourselves and be prepared. Here is what the Public Health Agency of Canada says about Ebola on its website:
“Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe disease that causes haemorrhagic fever in humans and animals. Diseases that cause haemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola, often are fatal as they affect the body’s vascular system (how blood moves through the body).
This can lead to significant internal bleeding and organ failure.
The current outbreak of Ebola is in Central and West Africa. There have not been any cases of Ebola in Canada.
The Ebola virus can spread through:
•contact with infected animals;
•contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues of infected persons; or
•contact with medical equipment, such as needles, contaminated with infected body fluids.
Exposure can occur in health-care settings when staff do not wear appropriate protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.
As long as precautions are taken, there is low risk of contracting EVD in a country where the disease is present.”
New Democrats will keep asking and trying to get the Conservative government to provide relevant answers to important questions, and we will continue to monitor the situation in West Africa.
I will keep you updated on both situations as we move forward.

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