The Backbench Top Ten -

The Backbench Top Ten


Our weekly, and wholly arbitrary, ranking of the ten most worthy, or at least entertaining, MPs, excluding the Prime Minister, cabinet members and party leaders. A celebration of all that is great and ridiculous about the House of Commons. Last week’s rankings appear in parentheses.

1. Maxime Bernier (1)
2. Jack Harris (2)
3. Michael Chong (-)
He laments for the backbencher. He acknowledges government fallibility. He asks profound questions. He thinks Omar Khadr should be repatriated. And now he wants to reform Question Period.
4. Pat Martin (6)
He was caught stealing tea. Fair enough. But then he explains himself with historical reference. It’s that extra effort that separates him from the competition.
5. Francine Lalonde (4)
6. Helena Guergis (5)
7. Derek Lee (3)
What are we to do if Parliament’s leading authority on the rule book has, in some way, breached the rules? Would there be any shame in calling it a day for Canadian democracy at that point?
8. Shelly Glover (7)
Still the leading government backbencher, but she mustn’t get complacent. In a ten-minute span on May 5, Stephen Woodworth managed to post six messages to his Twitter account criticizing the Liberal leader. A day later, Mr. Woodworth got up in QP and lobbed a perfectly partisan query at the President of the Treasury Board. Ms. Glover edges him here only because of her previous theorizing that the Liberal approach to crime had something to do with some history of winning the prisoner vote.
9. Daniel Paille (8)
If the next election doesn’t somehow result in a full debate between Mr. Paille and Jim Flaherty, we’ll all be the poorer for it.
10. Dominic LeBlanc (9)
When do we start making seat projections for a 2016 vote featuring party leaders Dominic LeBlanc, Diane Finley, Thomas Mulcair and Daniel Paille?

Previous rankings: March 12March 19April 3April 10April 25. May 1.


The Backbench Top Ten

  1. Re: Lee at #7: haha, picked a bad week last week to add him to your list, eh? There's no "if" here, he clearly advertised himself as a lobbyist – for foreign entities, no less – for many years on his company's webpage while serving as an MP and while serving on parliamentary committees; any suggestion he was "unaware" of this is viciously insulting to the intelligence of the people. And hey: how is it possible that this wasn't previously reported in the news? Thirty three million people in this country and nobody bothered checking this high profile MP's web page for four years where he was openly advertising his lobbying services? That's the thing about Canada: nobody's looking, nobody is watching, nobody really cares.

    • How does it happen?

      Read this story about the new video circulating of racist Seattle cops beating up an innocent Mexican. Read the last few lines. "Morris" is Jud Morris, the guy who shot the video of the cops beating up the innocent person.

      Morris told KIRO TV that when showed the video to that station, he was told, "We're definitely not going to run this."

      Morris told KIRO 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne he believes the station declined to run the video to protect police.

      "The station has a close relationship with police agencies because it airs Washington's Most Wanted," Morris said.

      "Washington's Most Wanted is their money-maker," he said.

      A few days after he shot the video, he was fired, Morris said.

      Now ask yourself how often this kind of thing happens in a Canadian news room. I'll bet it happens a lot more than we'll ever know.

      • Happy to have an opportunity to agree with you, unhappy about the reason why.


    Why does this feel anti-climatic ?

    Word is that this issue is dead. Harper has won, opposition scared off by recent polls, no stomach for an election.

    They need more cat power.

      • That's a good poll for the gov't.

        39% of people believe torture didn't happen ? 39% is a majority Conservative gov't.

        Making matters worse for the opposition is that this is a poll of adults, not voters. Only 60% of adults actually vote and those that do tend to lean more to the right.

        We could have a pool of 45-50% of voters next election who believe the gov't. Anything over 38% gets Harper a majority.

        The cats in the bag!

        • This was a poll on the detainee issue – not on "who would you vote for". I think you're jumping to conclusions to suggest that the 39% who don't believe torture happened will necessarily vote Conservative – this is not the only issue on which voters would make their decisions. But this poll does suggest people have been paying attention to the issue and do care about whether or not detainees were tortured.

          On what empirical evidence are you basing the claim "…and those that do tend to lean more to the right"?

          • Sure! Some of the people who do think torture happened and don't like it will be CPC voters too.

            You're asking a cat for empirical evidence ?

            Really ?

            Anyways its common knowledge that older people are more reliable voters (hence all the youth GOTV campaigns). EKOS polling does a breakdown by demographic that shows the CPC leads amongst older voters. So when you adjust for turnout there are a couple hidden percentage points for the right.

            The cat remains firmly in the bag!

          • The EKOS poll bases its percentages on decided voters only – undecided and ineligible voters are not included. I don't think it's "common sense" to suggest older decided voters are somehow more reliable than younger decided voters… the "common sense" I think you refer to is that younger voters are more undecided/indifferent than older voters… an issue the EKOS polls avoid given its methodology.

            And yes, 65+ does still tend to favour the Tories according to EKOS. But if you look at the polls over the last few months, 65+ support for the CPC has been falling. Compare these two reports:

            Jan 7th:
            May 6th:

            In both, overall CPC support is identical at 33.1%. However, you'll note 65+ support has fallen from 48.8% to 39.5% – it would seem this vote has moved to the NDP. Indeed, the CPC is losing support among older voters.

          • Oh, ye'll tak' the young votes, and I'll tak' the old votes, and I'll be in majority land afore ye…

          • Um ok who cares, CPC is still doing better amongst older voters than younger voters. The fact that they are falling is irrelevent…

            And its common sense that younger voters are less reliable.
            Compare every Green poll to every Green election day result.
            Listen to every election newscast complaining about youth apathy, witness every youth turnout drive, and look up the countless studies.

            Elections Canada is even talking about internet voting because young people are such unreliable voters for goodness sakes.

            That's a 100% commonsense fact.

            Stop being contrarian for its own sake, only cats are allowed to do that.

    • "They need more cat power."
      "The cats in the bag!"
      "You're asking a cat for empirical evidence?"
      "Stop being contrarian for its own sake, only cats are allowed to do that."

      Please, for the love of god, stop.

      • Agreed.

        • You just got your cat handed to you, that's the only reason you're being this snarky.

  3. I thought our votes were a private matter. How can Shelley Glover say that prisoners vote Liberal? Is she lying? Is she trying via Harper to scare Canadians into thinking anyone Liberal is a criminal.

    I think she should be investigated – where did she get her info and is it true?

    • "where did she get her info and is it true?"

      Same place she gets her crime statistics, and it's just as truthy.

    • Volunteer at an election and you will discover that polling stations post vote totals…whoda' thunk…I'm guessing that most prisons don't have members of the public dropping by to vote and the staff would vote where they live, so gross prison polling results will reflect the preference of the prison population, not the individuals choices. Just like mice are disinclined to vote "cat" for sherriff, criminals are disinclined to vote Conservative. While there may be exceptions, discrete populations tend to vote for self-interest. Personally I tend to not favor criminalizing "victimless" crimes, but that is more of a libertarian-ethical position, not so much a political one. With so many clamoring about crying "there oughta' be a law", don't be surprised if parliament acts.

  4. If Daniel Paillé wants to debate Jim Flaherty I suggest he do some research into Jim's handling of the Income Trust fiasco of October 2006. Flaherty in his effort to stamp out alleged tax leakage for Income Trusts actually caused several Income Trusts to be taken over by Private pension plans (who pay no Canadian corp tax), foreign private equity firms (who pay no Canadian corp tax) and caused real Canadian investors (who do pay personal tax on Income Trust distributions) to go elsewhere to seek income. To make matters more opaque Jim won't release his "proof of tax leakage" because he does not have any. All he has is this: which is only proof of Flaherty's incompetence and arrogance.

  5. I have been wondering this for a while and I am curious if anybody else wondering why Michael Chong just doens't cross the floor to the Liberals? It seems that he has more in common with them than his own party…….

  6. If you call the leader of the opposition making indefensible statements in his question then I guess he did talk about the economy. I suspect given enough time the Conservatives could have counted the points raised. However, the Libs aren't interested in answers they just want to make outrageous statements posed as a question.

    • "I suspect given enough time the Conservatives could have counted the points raised."

      Given enough time, you're probably correct. But rumour is that Baird has to take his pants off to count to 21, so that's really sort of an upper limit to their ability to enumerate opposition points.

  7. We're still looking for the more than $39 BILLION that went missing in the form of an instant deficit last year. Prime suspect is a GST cut no one noticed, but perhaps abetted by corporate tax cuts for Canada's most profitable corporations (i.e. the banks). Might be able to follow more down the hidey-hole once the Auditor General looks into the slush, I mean stimulus funding.

    • 39 billion $? Really? Then why don't the Liberals propose an increase in the GST? Why bother with a paltry 3 billion $ in business tax cuts when there are bigger fish to fry?

  8. There we go with the so-called "culture war".
    Ignatieff is 100% correct on the CPC riding on the success of others, but again, people don't care about the past.

    The LPC needs a new startegy here….

  9. "When we introduced fiscal prudence into the budget, he opposed it. When we paid down debt, he opposed it. The Prime Minister and the Conservative Party opposed every step the Liberal Party took to get our house in order in the 1990s…"

    I think we all wish MP's would answer questions honestly, but on the other hand it would be nice if questioners didn't make false accusations in the questions. It would also be nice if journalists included a critique of both the question and the answer in order to give both sides of the story.

    • It would also be nice if those making comments on blogs would be specific with their accusations.

    • So…uhm…what exactly are those "false accusations in the questions" to which you refer…?

      I mean, it couldn't be that you yourself are engaging in "false accusations" of the presence of "false accusations"….that would just be…well…ironic?

  10. There are some politicians that want the federal government to spend less money. In that regard, it makes sense to lower taxes. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have only one foot in this ideology, and one foot out. They haven't really coupled lower taxes with reduced spending. But someday, maybe they'll try combining the two.

  11. You're right. That's a silly notion. But cutting the GST when we still haven't paid off last season's (read decade or two) credit card bill is silly, also.

    I can't say I'm totally against governments spending less money. In fact, I do think there should be no new program without the retirement of some older program and no new money in the same program areas without some old money taken out of other program areas. And yes that will eventually get us down to spending on nothing but health care and the military. And that won't be pretty. But it is ridiculous to earn less on the PROMISE of spending less. First spend less, THEN cut. And debt counts!

  12. Fair point. And as I said up the thread a bit, I am against 'new' spending without a reduction in 'old' spending. Somewhere. If we can't cut spending somewhere, we oughtn't introduce new spending. And we ought to be paying off the debt. That said, there are a lot of things we desperately need to spend money on. So it isn't easy or simple–and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.