Is this civil?

by Aaron Wherry

The 15 minutes immediately preceding Question Period each day are set aside for “statements by members.” These statements generally involve members saluting recently passed constituents, championing dearly held causes or making note of momentous sporting events.

In the last two parliaments, the Conservative side also took the opportunity to take free shots at whoever happened to be Liberal leader at the time. And now, however much cross words make the Foreign Affairs Minister cry, the Conservative side has taken to sending up backbenchers with scripted harangues. Here, for instance, is Scott Armstrong. And here is Jacques Gourde. And here, from Wednesday, is the newly elected David Wilks.

Mr. Speaker, the NDP of the radical hard left do not know the first thing about governing. Ask a British Columbian or Ontarian who had to put up with its members in power. While Canadians remain concerned about jobs and the economy, the NDP is having a gut-wrenching debate about whether or not it should remain committed to its reckless, hard left, high tax, socialist principles. The NDP radical left remains committed to pro-drug policies and anti-trade policies. The NDP opposes Canada’s leadership as a clean energy superpower. It even questions its commitment to federalism, with calls to repeal the Clarity Act. The NDP proposed child care from birth to age 12, a 45-day work year and a 50% hike in the pension plan, policies that would cost billions. The radical hard left NDPers should stop and think about the real priorities of Canadians: jobs and the economy.




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Is this civil?

  1. Of course not.  It’s 15 minutes of BS that’s overblown even for a campaign much less the HOC. 

  2. When did the NDP propose “a 45 day work year?”

    Is outright lying permitted under House rules?

      • ““It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be plausible”- Tom Flanagan

        In this case it’s neither, so I guess it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to have some ridiculous justification that can be parroted by a soulless flak.

        • Agreed….the comment stands out like a sore thumb…nobody believes it, but it’s repeated anyway.

        • That’s last year.  This year, they’ve discovered it doesn’t even have to be plausible–I direct your attention to Muskoka and Baird’s defence of the spending–as Andrew Potter has an interesting post over at Canadian Business about how advertisers can put an idea into your head, just like the movie I watched the other night, Inception.  http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/29448–advert-inception

  3. I think the saving grace is that statements by members is not published by the media in any serious manner. I suspect that this will be the media piece covering this statement by David Wilks; with the exception of Hansard and CPAC.

    I find implausible statements make me disregard the entire attack. I can’t possibly imagine any political party proposing that everyone should only work for 45 days a year.

    Is the phrase “Clean Energy Superpower” credible in any way? I suppose the massive hydroelectric projects in Quebec are clean energy. Though considering Canada an “energy superpower” must include reference to Alberta’s dirty tarsands projects. This seems to be a case that if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it.

  4. THIS is where the Speaker needs to step up. This kind of crap needs to stop. I’m curious if any Conservative partisans have anything to add here. You need to own this one- it’s your issue. This kind of crap makes the House look really stupid. 

    PS- for mindless conservative partisans, for your convenience I’ve included in my comment a quick cut and paste response in case you’re tired after a lovely weekend. 

    “I would much rather see members make a few harmless rhetorical points than steal money from the taxpayers of Canada to line the pockets of your Quebec ad agency friends”

  5. I’m very proud of you David Wilks. Another great accomplishment for Puppet-Canadians.

  6. The Tories think they are clever doing this. I think it makes them look and sound like a bunch of douches.

  7. No it’s not civil, but I don’t really buy into the new civility anyway.  I’d like to see questions in question time that didn’t involve insulting other members of the house, and more that were actual questions.  Here are a couple of recent examples:

    ” Mr. Speaker, there are 150-plus Conservatives sitting behind the President of the Treasury Board and I am sure all of them would love to siphon taxpayers’ dollars off for their own personal pork barrel projects. However, that is why we have rules and that is why we have Treasury Board.

    What message is the government sending by putting him in charge of Treasury Board: that it is open season on the taxpayers’ trust? Otherwise, why would the Prime Minister put the Muskoka fox in charge of the taxpayers’ henhouse?”

    or

    “Mr. Speaker, Canadians are demanding to know why the government is continuing to push the reckless northern gateway pipeline project. It is not only a significant danger to the environment and the economy, but B.C.’s mayors, first nations and businesses are all lined up against it.

    Now we learn that the government’s own officials at Natural Resources Canada have told the Conservative government that there is already enough capacity in the pipeline system for exports.

    Will the natural resources minister from Toronto finally stand in his place and tell the people of British Columbia why he is willing to put our way of life and our environment at risk for his friends in the oil sector?”

    You may agree with the sentiments expressed in these questions but I wouldn’t call either of them civil since the first suggests that all Conservative MPs are corrupt and the second ends with unnecessary hyperbole.

    • Hear hear! Ask real, honest questions, not ones that are (poorly) designed to entrap, then the Government will have no excuse whatsoever to not provide honest answers. 

      • Completely agree, the questions they ask make it so easy for the government to say nothing substantive in return.  If they asked respectful, thoughtful question and got boorish non-answers back the contrast would be obvious to everyone.

        • Bob Rae’s been asking respectful, thoughtful questions and so far he’s gotten nothing that would be considered a genuine response back. 

          • Here’s the first Bob Rae question I found:

            “Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that, without a doubt, the public interest is important. However, in the public interest, people must also have access to pensions to live on in the future. This is the issue that is at the heart of negotiations, not only those that are currently under way but also future negotiations. This is the gap that the government is creating: it is leaving people to fend for themselves without its support.

            How can it tolerate this situation?”

            It’s nicely phrased and not overtly rude, but it’s not much of a question – the shorter version would be “you are evil, how can you stand being evil?”

            Also, to be fair this is part of a longer exchange so it is somewhat out of context.  But the subject (Air Canada negotiations) is both involved and important.  It also touches on a number of what I think are important issues.  Pretty much none of these are debated except in the most trivial way.

            By the way I’m not defending the government here, just bemoaning the fact that I’d prefer more (any) substance and less theatre.

          • I think your paraphrasing makes the question much more uncivil. His preamble is discussing whether government should ensure that every Canadian has an adequate pension. Though Rae thinks this is vital; I do not believe the Conservatives would agree. This is an attempt to address a substantive difference between the parties; which makes me chartible to the question of “ How can it tolerate this situation?”I agree that QP has too much of “The gov’t is being evil, can the Minister responsible apologize and then resign?” Which does not further the debate of substantial issues. I think that the questions should allow that the government can provide answers that would share information or express an opinion.

            The above question I can imagine could be answered by a Conservative arguing “Individuals are best suited for deciding how much they should save for retirement and it should not be mandated by Ottawa. This is why the RRSP program is one of the biggest tax credits in order to encourage people to save for their pension; but it allows flexibility so people can save more or less one year to the next as opposed to the CPP. It is not the role of government to be telling businesses how they need to compensate their employees, this is best negotiated between employer and employee including any pension benefits.”

    • I agree that the first question is merely insulting and shows the NDP’s disgust at Tony Clement being in charge of Treasury Board after being caught red-handed misappropriating government funds. The tone is insulting and there is no plausible answer to the “question”.

      The second question I think is entirely appropriate; except how “Toronto” is used as a curse word. The “unnecessary hyperbole” provides context for the concern over this project. “Putting our way of life and our environment at risk” may seem excessive; but if the pipeline leaks thousands of barrels onto a farmer’s land it could make their way of life farming the land impossible and destroy the environment there. It is necessary for the Minister to assure Canadians that the benefits outweigh the risks involved in the project. This question exposes several concerns over the project and then asks the Minister to defend his support of the project.

      • I missed the Toronto curse word :)

        I also agree that the second example is not particularly egregious, but I was trying hard not to cherry-pick just the really uncivil questions (of which there are very many).  I thought the second question was OK, except for the actual question (the last sentence) which was unanswerable since it assumes that the minister is “ is willing to put our way of life and our environment at risk for his friends in the oil sector”.  

        If the question had been similar your comment (“It is necessary for the Minister to assure Canadians that the benefits outweigh the risks involved in the project”) it would have been much better.

  8. Apparently the governing party sees member’s statements as a playpen where the puppet-poppets can let off steam before going back to their meaningless backbench positions.

    • It’s unlikely that the statements are actually written by the puppet-poppets so, as an outlet for steam, it is probably quite limited.

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