A brand-new question period?
Much media ink has been spilled over the young MPs elected in the NDP orange wave. But age wasn’t a problem for Alexander the Great, the king of Macedon and pharaoh of Egypt, who ruled the Greeks and had conquered Persia by age 25. The NDP say they now have both seasoned people and youthful enthusiasm. Since they have always been an opposition party (though now with a huge increase in resources), NDPers have fine-tuned every trick in the book to force delays and fight procedural wars on issues dear to them. Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow says her party, over the last four years, helped delay the free trade deal with Colombia and a transportation bill. However, NDP deputy leader Libby Davies says watch for the Conservatives to work hard to erode their ability to challenge bills within the current system. NDPers also say to watch for a different kind of question period. After the G20 in Toronto, the Liberals hammered the government over items such as the infamous “fake lake,” while the NDP went after the Conservatives on the trampling of civil rights. Re-elected NDP MP Don Davies, who was his party’s public safety critic last session, says he expects there will be more focus on substantive issues in QP rather than simply a bunch of scandal questions, a strategy the Liberals had turned into an art form. Former Liberal MPs told Capital Diary in the past they were literally harassed by their own party to help when mud throwing was needed.
May called Harper but Harper…
As of last week, Green Leader Elizabeth May’s voice was still shot. The problem stemmed from the end of the campaign that launched her to victory. She says she had nine events in a row at which the sound system was missing in action. Technically, May will be an independent MP since one seat does not provide the Greens with official party status in the Commons. She is now trying to make sure she is listed as representing the Green party when she is filmed in the House and when she appears on CPAC. May is looking into the situation when the Progressive Conservatives were reduced to two seats and the branding courtesies were extended to the two surviving members at the time, Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne.
After May’s win she called the PM to congratulate him, but it was Conservative John Baird who called her back. Jack Layton took her call. As of last week, May said, Michael Ignatieff had not called her back, but she did speak to Liberals Stéphane Dion and Bob Rae. One of her first congratulatory calls was from Gary Lunn, the cabinet minister she defeated. May says only two polls had closed and that no media had even come close to declaring her the winner. All of a sudden there was a call from Lunn. She says he must have had amazing people working the exit polls. May noted Lunn was very gracious on the phone and that he also showed up to all 10 debates that were held in the riding.
Saskatchewan experience wanted
The NDP’s orange wave skipped over Saskatchewan, but look for that province to have a huge influence in Her Majesty’s official Opposition. There are lots of jobs now for NDP staffers, and Saskatchewan, notes one NDP insider, has a lot of qualified people who served under former premier Lorne Calvert between 2001 and 2007. Manitoba, which currently has an NDP government, is another province from which the federal NDP is hoping to tempt some talent.
Why Laureen’s so happy
The Conservative majority put smiles on many people’s faces, none more so than Laureen Harper: “After 9½ years of uncertainty, I can now plan more than a week ahead. The feeling is unbelievable.”