The Commons: A fish story, in verse

The PM rejects the ‘so-called facts’ used against his government


The Scene. “Is that all you’ve got?” moaned James Moore, as he is wont to do.

“Is that all you’ve got?” he cried again a second later, in case Alexandre Boulerice hadn’t heard him the first time.

The Heritage Minister did not clarify what precisely he found lacking in news that, as The Globe and Mail put it this morning, “the RCMP is probing allegations that members of the Quebec construction industry tried to use Conservative contacts all the way up to the Prime Minister’s Office in a bid to influence the choice of a new president of the Montreal Port Authority.” But if Mr. Moore didn’t think that much was worth a query or several, he was no doubt mollified as the range of the opposition’s concerns this day became clear: everything from ethical lapses to alleged failures by this government in regards to conditions on native reserves, firearms licensing, international climate talks, asbestos exports, employment insurance, food safety and poverty.

Foremost among concerns this afternoon was Peter MacKay’s fish story.

In the interests of keeping things interesting, Nycole Turmel explained her disappointment in verse, waving her hand in the air as if relating to a class of kindergarteners the least-heartwarming Christmas story ever composed.

Once upon a time, there was a minister
He woke up one morning,
went fishing to Gander
But he had to come back,
had to do a newser.
To leave the fishing camp,
he called a helicopter
In the basket he climbed,
got up in the chopper.
Made up a fairy tale to provide some cover
How will this story end,
all Canadians wonder?
Perhaps now is the time
for the Prime Minister
To show some leadership,
and fire his minister?

The Prime Minister was unimpressed, or at least unmoved.

“Mr. Speaker, of course I have already answered this question,” he said, apparently mystified as to why his say so had failed to appease the opposition. “The minister said that his use of the government aircraft was for government business and that clearly was the case.”

Ms. Turmel rose and used the word “embarrassment” four times to describe Mr. MacKay. Mr. Harper rose and repeated his reassurance. “Mr. Speaker, there was an allegation from the opposition that this plane was used for personal reasons,” he said, “but it is clear that it was for government business.”

For the sake of specificity, the allegation in question has to do with a helicopter, not a plane. The government seems content to ignore the distinction. “Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, I was on personal time on a trip I paid for myself. I was scheduled to be away for four days. I came back after the third day to go back to work,” Mr. MacKay explained for David Christopherson’s benefit when the New Democrat pressed the minister to explain himself. “That is what happened.”

Indeed, even when Bob Rae asked directly about the search-and-rescue demonstration Mr. MacKay had once claimed to have taken part in, the minister avoided any acknowledgement of his previous excuse. “I left time off to go back to work,” Mr. MacKay said.

So perhaps two possibilities present themselves. Either the government intends for everyone to forget the minister ever went for a helicopter ride or, as considered yesterday, it intends to imply that the use of search-and-rescue helicopters by ministers of the crown for the purposes of returning from holiday is within its understanding of proper behaviour and prudent expense. The former is at least premised on a reasonable understanding of human behaviour and the public’s general interest in the affairs of this Parliament. The latter at least raises any number of fun lines of inquiry.

Mr. Rae was persuaded only to lament, wrapping together Mr. MacKay’s air travel habits and the Conservative campaign against Liberal MP Irwin Cotler into a sort of omnibus complaint.

“Mr. Speaker, it is very clear the government has a real problem with admitting it made a mistake and has a real problem with simply telling the truth. In the case of the campaign against my colleague from Mount Royal, the government opposite allowed a campaign to take place when it knew things were being said, in directly attacking the member for Mount Royal, that were in fact false and completely untrue,” he cried. “I ask the Prime Minister when he will stand in his place, take some responsibility for the things that are going on around here and tell his ministers and his friends that morality and truth start right in this place?”

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper came back, “I utterly reject the premise and the so-called facts in that question.”

Of course, that would seem to have been precisely Mr. Rae’s concern.

The Stats. Ethics, 15 questions. Aboriginal affairs, four questions. Employment and firearms, three questions each. The environment, crime, security, asbestos and the RCMP, two questions each. Veterans, Syria, food safety and poverty, one question each.

Stephen Harper and Denis Lebel, six answers each. Peter MacKay and Diane Finley, four answers each. Greg Rickford, three answers. Candice Hoeppner, Bob Dechert, Michelle Rempel, Christian Paradis and Vic Toews, two answers each. Rob Nicholson, Eve Adams, Diane Ablonczy, Pierre Lemieux, Rona Ambrose and Maxime Bernier, one answer each.


The Commons: A fish story, in verse

  1. The fish is getting bigger all the time too…but I’m sure they’ll just try and ride out the uproar.

  2. Considering they have admitted to the facts as outlined by Mr. Rae, the PM`s answer is jejune at best.

    • Is this the same Mr. Rae who used an OPP chopter to go to his cabin because he hadn’t seen his family in 8 days?  Pot meet kettle.

  3. Something to raise, I wonder if anyone has thought of this yet…

    July 17 2010, 4 men were lost at sea from Twillingate, NL.


    This article identifies a Cormorant chopper was used in the search and rescue activities.

    July 9 2010, Peter MacKay commandeers a Cormorant as we all now know for dubious purposes.

    My question: was the same Cormorant used to search for the men from Twillingate as used to pick up the minister? (to my understanding, there are only 3 Cormorants – odds are decent it was)

  4. You know the opposition is really really hard up for serious material when they throw all they can muster at such a petty issue.

    • Yeah, it would have been way worse if Mckay had stolen the chopper, right? 

    • A minster lying to the House of Commons is, actually, serious material. That said, I think Canadians have such a dim view of politicians, this isn’t worth more than a shrug of the shoulders. Sadly.

      • He told people the ride was a part of a search and rescue training mission.  The retired major in charge of search and rescue at the time said the ride was part of search and rescue training mission and they just happened to work it around a ride to the airport.   According to the major, it was a win-win situation….the opposition wants to believe the worst and won’t accept that ride was work-related.  Bob Rae did not disclose his own OPP chopter ride before deriding McKay.  Everyone says he is lying and now expect apologies, he refuses because he says, he isn’t.

    • The Libs and Dippers and media do the vulture circle and try to pick off a Minister…. (Canadians yawn), again and again they do this.

      The Minister of Defence hopping on a military asset for a ride home, not even on Canadians radar.
      Minister McKay is an exceptional Defence Minister, waaaaaay better than anyone Liberals put in Defence.  PMSH stands by his guy, so do the troops and his constituents.
      Give it up guys.

      • Actually the reason he’s in trouble is because the troops, or at least the brass, left him hanging out there. Sounds like their sick of covering his ass. As for best DM ever, you’re delusional. What hasn’t he bungled? From potato patches and dogs to this farce and the grand finale of us losing camp  mirage. The guy’s a serial bungler. He makes Baird look and sound like Einstein.

        • The retired head of search and rescue hasn’t left him hanging.

      • Really?

        I always consider McKay to be the ironic choice as defence Minister.

        I mean he is the traitor who sold out the CPC name for trinkets and helicopter joy rides.

        Certainly not my choice to lead a “nation of wariors”

        • Okay, before you start in about the “helicopter joy rides”, let’s remember when Bob Rae was premier of Ontario, he used an OPP helicopter and pilot to take him to his cottage because he “hadn’t seen [his] family in 8 days’. 
          That is fine but the hypocrisy of him belittling Peter McKay for riding along on a helicopter training flight to the airport is truly sickening.
          When are you people going to understand that everyone standing in the house of commons is in a “glass” booth.

      • No pride here. I often wonder why normally rational people will say and do whatever to shill for Harper. Lie, cheat, steal…. What does that man have over you? For instance, why would a renowned pediatrician run for office only to spend her time lying for Steve? What is wrong with this picture.

  5. Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arella cheese,where it’s dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the “fresh pasta”advertieshed on another meau tumed out to be frozen.–Agedate. ℃⊙M–a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact with each other.

  6. ‘,,,,alleged failures by this government in regards to conditions on native reserves,..”

    Elder Martha Sutherland, in a phone interview with CTV, said they need the 3rd party manager back.
    She said the Chief and Council were spending alot of money……
    Chief Spence declined comment.

    Her side kick Chief told Evan Solomon there was no Elders calling for the Federal 3rd party manager to come back.  Not true.

    So while Charlie Angus and Chief Atleo side with the Chiefs…….. the Natives on the reserve want the Harper Governments guy back on scene.

    The Stats
    1 question, Chief Spence, no answer

    • “So while Charlie Angus and Chief Atleo side with the Chiefs…….. the Natives on the reserve want the Harper Governments guy back on scene”

      You’re on the wrong blog. Being hit on the head lessons is next door.

      So, you point out some hyperbole from the present chief and you finish with a piece of absurd hyperbole of your own + a cheap attempt to characterize this as Harper and the good regular folks against the bad corrupt chiefs and the badder opposition. Take a break Wilson. You seem to be immune to irony.

      You are aware this is one of the few bands that do put their financial records online, right?

      • I don/t care if they project their financial records up into the Northern Lights and broadcast them across the Northern Hemisphere. Their money management skills at that Reserve stink and if they are offered a money manager, along with more immediate practical aid, then take both gladly.

        What we don/t need now is Liberal apologists like you and Jenn from another thread pouncing on every opportunity to bash government actions, even if it means suppressing the voice of the Natives who are suffering.

        The status quo is not working. If Martha Sutherland or John Geddes or Stephen Harper are identifying real systemic problems and offering real solutions, it would be best for the rest of us to either offer encouragement or get out of the way.

        • Harper didn’t identify any systemic problems. He merely reacted to them by playing the blame game.

          • A systemic problem for many, many years has been the poor management of funds that pour through the Native Affairs Dep/t. Harper sent in a Third Party Advisor to help identify the sources of these problems.

            If people like yourself choose this time to Harper-bash,and you succeed, then you will quickly find out that the old solutions to old problems still don/t work. Now might be a good time for the Angus/s and Bennett/s to just get out of the way.

        • “I reject the premise of your assertion.”

          Baird, Clement…et al

        • Ooh, I feel almost famous now!  I’m not actually bashing government actions, I’m bashing government (and CPC supporters) spin, mostly.  But now that you mention it, I Will bash government actions.  In November of 2005, an historic accord was reached between the government and First Nation, Metis, and Inuit of Canada.  It was called the Kelowna Accord and would have addressed all kinds of things, including housing on reserve.  Sadly just a few weeks later we got a new government and they ignored it—in spite of the fact that a private members bill was passed to implement the Kelowna Accord.  Private members bills cannot compel the government in the spending of money, so it was a symbolic action, but still a valid reflection on the Will of the House.

          Instead, the Harper Government decided it would be more fun to do nothing and then play the blame game.  Of course, that is their favourite game and they play it every chance they get, and who cares that we are now blaming five year old children for living in unsafe conditions, or their younger siblings for having the effrontery of being born.

  7. Approximately $130,000 spent at tax payers expense is the sticking point for me. That a government that has professed over and over how responsible and fiscally accountable they are find it ok that a minister used government transportation for a one day, seemingly average presentation, to the tune of approx $130,000 in travel finds that not in the least wasteful. Specially in these economic times.
    This behaviour has, at times, been seen out of all ruling parties and proves to me that the sense of entitlement and disredard for the average Canadian is systemic.

  8. Until the Opposition is hammering away on the economy everyday for an extended period of time, the Harper government is basically scot free.

    The only way the NDP or Liberals can defeat the Conservatives in the next election will be to build credibility on economic issues.  

    As long as they and the media are pounding away on silly petty issues, Harper is #winning.  Brian Topp stealing lines from Jeffrey Sachs is evidence of intelligent laziness and plagiary, not intelligence.

    The economy is hard work, and the opposition, the media, and arguably, the government are all pretty clueless on economic issues and really don’t have the work ethic to get down and study and learn.

  9. With  stories like this, you wonder why Macleans Magazine is a ward of the State? Pathetic picayune drivel, IMHO.

  10. There once was a gal named Turmel,
    Who wanted to give MacKay hell,
    And although I agree,
    with her main point or three,
    Her verse doesn’t rhyme all that well.

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