The Commons: A salute to cognitive dissonance

NDP governments and Pierre Trudeau have unlikely fans in the Conservative cabinet


The Scene. Shortly before the start of Question Period this afternoon, Conservative backbencher Patrick Brown rose to repeat his side’s line that the NDP is too “disunited” to govern. A moment later, Conservative backbencher Greg Rickford rose to lament that the NDP, in punishing two MPs who defied the party’s decision to whip a vote on the gun registry, was also too committed to enforcing unity.

Presumably this was Mr. Rickford’s way of protesting his own government’s decision to whip this week’s vote on asbestos exports. Hopefully his caucus leadership won’t too severely punish him for so bravely asserting the independence of individual MPs.

Immediately thereafter, the Speaker then called for oral questions and the official opposition sent up Joe Comartin, Mr. Comartin having apparently discovered an example of irony that he was eager to share with everyone.

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Public Safety launched a full frontal attack on defence lawyers in this country,” he recalled. “The irony is that the government’s misguided prison agenda will see provinces shelling out for more prisons, more already overworked prosecutors and yes, for more defence lawyers. The only thing we will not see is more police officers on the street to prevent crime.”

In the game of musical ministers that the government has been playing in the Prime Minister’s absence, it was apparently Jason Kenney’s turn to lead the Conservative side and so the Immigration Minister stood and noted that the NDP government of Manitoba was quite supportive of the Conservative crime agenda. Mr. Kenney then launched into a sermon about Mr. Comartin’s “full frontal attack on the integrity and credibility of a member of the Supreme Court of Canada,” one which had been “repudiated by Mr. Justice Rothstein.”

Happily and loudly, the Conservatives leapt up to cheer Mr. Kenney’s demand that Mr. Comartin apologize and retract forthwith. Presumably this was Mr. Kenney’s way of apologizing for his own attack of some months ago on the judiciary, one which earned him his own rebuke from a sitting Supreme Court justice.

Mr. Comartin was unmoved. “I will just ignore that, Mr. Speaker,” he sniffed.

He reminded Mr. Kenney that Ontario and Quebec were not interested in picking up the tab for the federal government’s policies. Mr. Kenney responded that New Brunswick was only too happy to do so. Mr. Comartin noted that British Columbia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island were equally enthused. Mr. Kenney noted that a poll of Quebeckers showed strong support for more severe penalties for those who commit crimes.

It seemed increasingly clear that the only answer would be to split the country in two.

Over then to Jack Harris, who referred the government side to the Conservative justice minister in Newfoundland. “Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice minister says he has never seen a study favouring more jail time as a way to improve public safety,” Mr. Harris reported.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews duly referred Mr. Harris to the mayor of Winnipeg. “Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Toews declared, “today we heard from the mayor of Winnipeg, who indicated that naysayers of Bill C-10 are sitting idly by while more innocent people are murdered.”

Ignoring Sam Katz‘s constitutional precedence in this regard, Mr. Harris returned to the provincial level. “Mr. Speaker, the provinces are not buying what the minister says about costs,” he ventured. “Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice minister says past social transfers are not sufficient to cover the costs of these megaprisons and Premier Ghiz in P.E.I. says if the federal government wants to increase costs for the provinces, it should pay the bill.”

Ignoring whatever Mr. Kenney had said a few moments ago about the NDP in Manitoba, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson responded here with a general condemnation of all who operate under the New Democrat banner. “Mr. Speaker, let us be clear with respect to the NDP,” he clarified. “Even spending $1 on fighting crime would be too much for the members of the NDP party.”

A moment later, on another matter entirely, Jason Kenney was back on his feet, this time to praise the wisdom and judgment of Pierre Trudeau.

The Stats. The economy, seven questions. The G8 Legacy Fund, six questions. Crime and the auditor general, five questions each. Military procurement, four questions. Veterans, three questions. Prisons, two questions. The judiciary, the seal hunt, salmon, democratic reform, employment and parliamentary debate, one question each.

Shelly Glover, seven answers. Jason Kenney and John Baird, six answers each. Julian Fantino, four answers. Vic Toews, Steven Blaney and Tony Clement, three answers each. Randy Kamp, two answers. Rob Nicholson, James Moore, Tim Uppal, Kellie Leitch and Peter Van Loan, one answer each.


The Commons: A salute to cognitive dissonance

  1. ‘It seemed increasingly clear that the only answer would be to split the country in two.’

    I’m in.

    • Not something to say, even in jest.

      • Pas de jest, I’m quite serious.

  2. I have no idea what type of conflicting ideas roll through the heads of the NDP, and I cannot understand how they can criticize the weak French of a civil servant like the new Auditor General when one observes the incompetence and incomprehensive English of their own interim leader.
    I know she was appointed as a reward for the 59 Quebec MP`s, but c`mon, what were you thinking?  The next few months will feel like forever.

    Another bit of confusion that seems to be spreading in the NDP caucus is their differing views about the Bill proposing an increase in seats in some Provinces. Some dipper MP`s seem to support the new MP numbers, some want Proportional Rep., and some want not 3 more seats for Quebec, but 10 more—now why would the NDP suddenly be all about Quebec ?
    Those NDP members who want PR should pull out a calculator and see that if PR was the law now there would be 94 dippers in Ottawa—not 103.

    • Conservatives lies, it’s what they do
      They lie to me, they lie to you
      They lie when they say they don’t understand
      They laugh at voters behind their hand.

    • Thanks for the demo – you have really mastered this. 

    • Did you ever complain that Preston Manning didn’t speak French well enough to be leader of the official opposition?  

    • Calvin,

      if you don’t already work for the CPC they should hire you based on incompetence.

      public posistion at the head of a federal organization which reports to
      a BILINGUAL parliament must follow the official languages act.

      What if a major scandal errupts in Quebec? The AG will not be able to review the documents and emails!

      an MP is selected by the people. Thier mastery of lingustics is
      completely irrelevant in as they are appointed by the people they

      • If, in 3 years time we look back at Ferguson`s performance and judge that he was diligent and competent, the language issue will be secondary.
        In the meantime, if those who would cook the books in Quebec believe that they will be safe if they keep their emails in French,— well that would be incompetent of you to even suggest that.

        • Really? High level financial terminology is completely different in french. Lastly, how can someone who is a french representative of the Canadian people even meet with this guy? Do we hire a CPC translator?

          “L’arget a ete vole!” will change quickly to “All the money is accounted for”

  3. yesterday the Minister of Public Safety launched a full frontal attack on defence lawyers in this country

    Perhaps the Honourable Member would like to learn the definition of “full frontal attack.”  It was a dismissive retort against a parliamentary opponent, and at best(worst) a “sideswipe” of defence lawyers in this country.

    • It was a totally stupid remark that reflects this government’s disrespect for due process. 

      • You were doing well with the first part of the sentence.  Then you joyfully jump in the partisan cesspool with a “totally stupid” sweeping generalization of your own.  Oh, well, at least it started well.

        • Partisan cesspool my eye.  A lawyer, former prosecutor and minister of justice who purposely paints all accused as criminals is acting stupid.. 

          • Did you miss my point on purpose?  “This government disrespects due process” because ONE GUY said something dumb?  Is a totally stupid sweeping generalization on your part.

          • Have you ever listened to Vic Toews – seriously? 

          • You obviously meant your comment to go to someone else because I never wrote that ‘this government disrespects dues process’. However, you are totally wrong in saying that Toews is ONE GUY.  He is a cabinet minister, not just ONE GUY drinking a mug at Timmy’s.  When a cabinet minister publicly opens his mouth he speaks on behalf of the government.  Unless Mr. Toews is asked by his boss, the pm, to retract or correct his position, Mr. Toews’ position is government’s position, and a very stupid one that disregards due process. 

            Of course I think it’s only another sign of poor leadership of Mr.Harper’s part. 

        • Excuse me? Partisan? Here’s a mirror Mr. Toews.

  4. The Tories are the only ones listening to their own nonsense.

    • Yup.

       “Mr. Speaker, let us be clear with respect to the NDP,” he clarified. “Even spending $1 on fighting crime would be too much for the members of the NDP party.”

      The Conservative Party of Canada: no statement is too stupid for a Cabinet minister to sneer in the HoC.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • A more immediate concern for Russell would be that creep who is crawling into his tent while he sleeps away in the park.

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