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‘No one ever tells me what to say, what to speak, I write my own’

What would happen if MPs were truly free?


 

That’s Conservative MP Costas Menegakis, speaking with reporters yesterday, apparently on the subject of Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.

Another Conservative MP, Costas Menegakis, said he has never been told by the Prime Minister’s Office what he can and cannot say in Commons. “No one ever tells me what to say, what to speak, I write my own,” he told reporters while heading into what was likely to be a tense caucus meeting.

Here is a member’s statement Mr. Menegakis delivered in January. Each of the links I’ve embedded will take you to similar uses of the same phrases.

Mr. Speaker, over the past six weeks I have had the opportunity to speak and consult with hundreds of constituents and hard-working Canadians. One thing is very clear. They do not want to see the NDP’s $21 billion carbon tax. We all know that the NDP leader is planning to generate billions through a carbon tax that would increase the price of everything for Canadian families, including gas, groceries and electricity. It is written in black and white in their election platform, and the NDP leader actually promised to go beyond the NDP’s carbon tax scheme to win the party’s leadership. Last March he also clearly stated that of course he had a cap-and-trade program that would produce billions. Canadians can count on our government to lower taxes so they can keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets. We will continue to oppose the NDP leader’s $21 billion carbon tax scheme.

This is not to pick on Mr. Menegakis in particular. It is entirely possible he wrote that statement on his own. (Perhaps he has been ghostwriting all Conservative statement on this subject.) He is not the only Conservative MP to repeat what seem to be talking points. And talking points are not the creation, nor the sole property, of the Conservative party of Canada—Nathan Cullen acknowledged that the NDP leadership might “work with” the MP who delivers the official opposition’s last statement each afternoon. (You might even mount a defence of the talking point as a useful addition to the practice of conveying politics to the general public.)

But it seems unlikely, from where I sit, that Mr. Menegakis just happened to stand that day, immediately before Question Period, and say those things without the knowledge of anyone on the government side as to what he might say with his minute.

Mr. Menegakis’ views are not fundamentally illegitimate (however ridiculous the government’s argument is on this point). And if he truly desires to use his time in the House to convey these sentiments, he should be entirely free to do so. It should be his right. But it should be his right. And given the amount of control the parties seem to exert over what MPs say in the House of Commons, it is to wonder what those 15 minutes each day might be used for if the MPs called on to speak were not being called on at the agreement of their party whips. We know at the very least that one minute last Thursday would have been used by Mark Warawa to talk about his motion on sex-selective abortion.

It is to wonder what sort of questions Conservative and opposition backbenchers might ask during Question Period—would they still ask questions like this and this?—if those 45 minutes were not entirely controlled by party whips. It is to wonder what the debates and votes that otherwise fill the days and evenings of the House might be like if the party whips and party leaders were of less power and influence.

We can know what our House of Commons is like now. If we are satisfied with that, then we can carry on with it. But if we should find our parliamentary democracy to be a bit less than inspiring in its present state—if we should feel that perhaps the talking point, repeated ad nauseum, has become the defining characteristic of our politics and a corrosive, stifling one at that—then we might start changing some of the rules and seeing what happens.


 

‘No one ever tells me what to say, what to speak, I write my own’

  1. Surely someone must check out Wherry`s eyes on a yearly basis and that someone must like what they see, because as far as I can tell, Wherry sees only Conservative MP`s walking the hallways, being readied for interviews and what have you.

    I`m beginning to think that non-Conservatives members of parliament are too shy to talk or perhaps too shy to talk to Wherry.

    Aaron Wherry: such a mature man. No wonder the opposition parties are acting shy in his presence

    • Do you realize just how f***in’ stupid you sound?

      • In what way……………………….in the way that I would like to read a more mature publication in which objectivity is spread across the pages baring insights to all political parties…………………………..in that way……..yes, I would love to have read in detail how, at the time Ignatieff said this or that, or when or why , in regards to the gun registries, for instance. Just to find out how many of Ignatieff`s loyal or not soldiers kept up the pace for walking the line, up and down, and so forth.

        What about you……………………..you ever wonder about any of that.

        • Because obviously what we need is complete coverage balance between the party that is in control of our government and so makes the laws and legislation that we live under, and the other parties who can’t do squat about it.

          And while we’re at it, we should also be getting full coverage of that hobo down the street, who knows what inconsistencies he’s guilty of, because his decisions matter just as much as those of the opposition parties, which as we’ve already said, are equal to that of the governing party.

          Dammit! We need reporting on absolutely everybody around, because our current government’s faults must be minimized.. oh wait.. is that too on the nose?

          • Relax, Thwim (or whoever you are).

            Harper is bad. Justin is good. NDP is soso.

            And that is how the election will be won. The campaign has started. Just sit back and relax.

          • Why? Are you tired of me making it bleedingly obvious how you’re wrong?

          • Relax Thwim, relax!

      • You sound like a f***in’ real genius yourself. Typical leftist, resorting to name calling when you don’t have a point to make. Get a f***in’ grip, ya troll.

        • Left-wing name calling is progressive, eminently justified and speaks Truth to Power. Right-wing name calling is venal, small-minded and immature.

          • You said it, Buster.

    • Oh look. Mr. Menegakis is a liar.

  2. Lippy, belligerent, ‘tude……

    • Immature!

      • Probably going a bit far. I don’t see much evidence that Mr. Menegakis is immature as well.

        • I was talking about EmilyOne…………..again because she likes it when I follow her, because then she can have her friends follow me around. LOL

  3. ”No one ever tells me what to say, what to speak, I write my own,”

    The members of the Con caucus are such habitual liars, why would anyone have reason to believe their denials on this score. Unless, of course, by “writing [his] own” he means he literally transcribed them from the script sent down from Central Lying (the PMO).

    • The original script had him speaking to his constituents for five(5) weeks, Mr. Menegakis – entirely on his own initiative – changed that to six(6) weeks and he was never chastized for it.

      Why do all you people have to be so cynical? You’ve been reading too much Aaron Wherry, I think. He’s poisoning your minds and lowering your maturity.

      • One has to deliberately assume a state of reduced maturity to begin to understand the juvenile stunts pulled by the frat boys in the PMO.

    • Have you ever thought that the reason you see so many MP’s “lying” is because you’ve prejudged them? You assume that CPC MPs lie, and you assume that NDP MPs are always telling the pure honest truth. You don’t analyse the content of their statements based on reality, you judge them based on your own pre-determined world view.

      • No, the reason I assume that CPC MPs lie is because so much of what they say blatantly defies most rational people’s consensual validity – even when they’re confronted with stark evidence betraying their lies, they repeat them shamelessly.

        And I hold the NDP (and Libs) to the same standard of consensual validity and evidence. When I believe I see similar examples of egregious mendacity, I have and will call them on it too.

        Another red herring.

        • Yes, you’re scrupulously and utterly objective and non-partisan. You’re like a respected newspaper of record.

          • No argument there. Thanks for noticing.

  4. I am reminded of the episode of Friends, when Joey claimed in an interview that he wrote his own dialogue on Days of Our Lives, because he occasionally changed a word to two in the delivery. The next day, his character fell down an open elevator shaft.

    I think Mr. Menegakis should keep that in mind. There’s a metaphorical bus that roams the hill with the careers of more than a few CPC staffers and former MPs under it. You don’t want to annoy your writers, especially if they work for The Party.

    Unless, of course, his statement was written by the PMO as well. Which is kinda what I assume whenever any Conservative speaks.

  5. “There’s no whore like an old whore.”

    — Our previous Conservative Prime Minster

    • None more so like a reformed one.

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