The Commons: Down with inequality, up with the price of cheese

MPs agree: in Canada, you can never pay too much for dairy

The Scene. It began with a rousing cheer for Nycole Turmel. The official opposition was perhaps behooved to loudly endorse their interim leader after a Conservative backbencher had used the House’s preceding minute to read aloud some scripted bit about how disgraceful Turmel had behaved on some matter or another.

“Mr. Speaker, over the past few months we have witnessed a protest movement on a scale never seen before,” she ventured. “The Occupy movement is denouncing economic disparity.”

There were grumbles and groans from the government side.

“People are fed up and they decided to act,” Ms. Turmel continued. “The parks might be cleaned up, people may have to go home, but the economic problems will not go away. Unemployment is too high, especially for youth. The economic gap is growing. Has the Prime Minister heard the cry for help?”

The Prime Minister didn’t much like this question and so he substituted his own. “The real question, Mr. Speaker, is whether the NDP has heard any such cry,” Mr. Harper sighed.

Soon enough he was wagging his finger and moaning about how a couple of NDP MPs, taken with apparent concerns for the environment, had gotten on a plane and flown to Washington to express an opinion about the Keystone pipeline that was not unquestionably supportive. “This government does not go to another country to argue against job creation in Canada, but that is what the NDP did,” he complained,  “a party that is totally unfit to govern or even comment on the creation of jobs.”

Ms. Turmel went on about how the government wasn’t doing enough about jobs and Mr. Harper went on about how the opposition was opposed to jobs. “The fact that the NDP has focused on the Occupy protest rather than on job creations tells us everything we need to know about the NDP,” Mr. Harper huffed, “a party that is totally unfit to govern or even comment on job creation.”

Having repeated this line for the cameras twice, Mr. Harper returned to his seat to await the Liberal leader’s questions. In the meantime, Peter Julian and Ted Menzies engaged in a debate over responsibility. It is the NDP’s stance that the government is to blame for the 72,000 jobs lost last month. It is the government’s stance, conversely, that it is to credit for the 600,000 jobs created since the end of the recession. You might say both are right. You might say both are wrong. But neither would agree with you either way.

“Mr. Speaker, it is sad,” Mr. Julian sighed. “Canadians are struggling with lost jobs and the Conservatives are struggling with bogus job numbers.”

The NDP critic tabled his preferred statistics. “We have seen, under this government, that the jobs that are created are low-wage jobs,” he reported. “One in five Canadian men and one in three Canadian woman now make less than two-thirds of the average wage and the jobs they get make $10,000 less than the jobs the Conservatives lost.”

Mr. Menzies countered with his preferred big-sounding number. “Mr. Speaker, I can say what a $10 billion tax hike would do to jobs,” he warned. “That is what the NDP wants to load on us. It was in its campaign platform. It wants to download that onto Canadians.”

But if you were to conclude from this that the governing side and the official opposition agree on nothing, you would be terribly wrong. Because for all the fury and indignation, however little each side seems to think of the other, there is one thing on which they are absolutely and loudly unified: the need to artificially inflate the price of cheese through government intervention.

“Farming families are asking for a simple answer to a simple question,” NDP MP Malcolm Allen declared this afternoon. “Is the government dismantling supply management, yes or no?”

“Yes,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz confirmed, answering in the positive where he actually meant the negative, “we are with the supply management sector.”

So let them—Occupiers and non-Occupiers, New Democrats and Conservatives—eat Canadian cheese. Presuming they can afford a block.

The Stats. Military procurement, six questions. The economy and energy, five questions each. Ethics, four questions. Supply management, three questions. Infrastructure, Service Canada, the environment and the Internet, two questions each. Seniors, Syria, crime, human rights, Iran, water safety and immigration, one question each.

Stephen Harper, six answers. Joe Oliver, five answers. Julian Fantino, four answers. Ted Menzies, three answers. Denis Lebel, Ed Fast, Diane Finley, Pierre Poilievre, John Baird, James Moore, Christian Paradis and Peter Kent, two answers each. Gerry Ritz, Rob Nicholson, John Duncan and Jason Kenney, one answer each.

The Commons: Down with inequality, up with the price of cheese

  1. I’m starting to feel sorry for Fantino. 

    • We are getting to feel sorry for the poor excuse that call themselves opposition parties. Rae running around trying to excite the ever disappearing Liberals and Turmel who struggles to get word out in English and by that time she does we have lost interest in what she has to say. Sorry, Jan your friends are going to have to do better.

      • don’t forget…. CPC 2 seats…..

        • Oh I will never forget. Because of that we had 13 years of Liberal darkness.

          That’s what the PC’s got for trying to be Liberal lite.

          I am not writing the Libs off quite yet but with Copps running for President and the fix is in for Rae to be appointed leader the message to Canadians is same old, same old.

      • And you’re not feeling sorry for a government that even with a majority can’t do anything but attack the other guys?

        That’s probably what annoys me most. Every question gets responded to with a variation of “I know you are but what am I?”

        I left that behavior behind in early grade school. Why is it then that this government, even with a majority, can’t simply defend their policies?  For Nicole’s first question, wouldn’t a much better answer have been, “Yes, we have, and the best way to fight income disparity is to make sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to get employed, which is what we’re working hard to bring about.”

        Regardless of the truth content of that statement, isn’t it a better response than “Well you guys suck worse..”

        • Then you should run for parliament and change the system. After all those that hate Harper and all that he and they stand for sit on the sidelines and bitch. Take up the fight where in counts in Parliament where change can be affected.

          They are running the government and playing politics just like the Liberals did for 13 long years. Now it is the Conservatives turn to run the country. I know its hard to accept there is a new majority Conservative government who is in control of the agenda. Bitching about how they do politics really is a pretty sterile discussion and accomplishes little.

          In four years time you can mark your ballot based on how the government ran the country. That is all that matters in the scheme of things.

          • They are running the government and playing politics just like the
            Liberals did for 13 long years.

            For some folks that is exactly the problem!  :-)

            Also, folks are obviously free to restrict their involvement in influencing public policy decision to either getting elected to Parliament or marking a ballot on election day.

            But there is no reason that everyone needs to limit themselves to just those two options.  Others may wish to write letters to the editor, or letters to their MP, or meet their MP once a month or post comments and questions on blogs or…….or any combination of those activities.

            And of course the former group is then free to criticize the latter group for not following their lead – although technically, by interacting with the more involved group, they themselves are straying away from the restricted involvement group.

            Isn’t it great to live in a country where we have all these choices?   ;-)

          • You are right there are choices each of us can make to be involved in some way with the politics.

            However, to argue constantly over the process versus the substance to my mind is a waste of time. Name calling is not productive at all and in some of these comments on this blog that is what you see. If the opposition disagree with some specific legislation then say what the objection is and tell us what they would do. Calling the government names or swearing is not going to get anybody anywhere.

            Its interesting that the media only report on how many times the government has invoked closure but do little if anything to report what the opposition parties are doing to delay and actually hold up the government from enacting its legislation.

            The fact is Canadians elected a Conservative majority government and the Libs and the NDP will never agree with how the Conservatives want to govern the country. So they will try any tactic to stop the government.

            People need to remember that the government is elected every four years which is not a long time. If the Libs or the NDP are elected government they can change whatever they do not like. However, this continual sniping is not getting us anywhere. They all look like a bunch of spoiled brats.

          • Process vs substance: To me, both have importance, although the relative importance does vary from issue to issue. Showing respect for Parliament and its traditions is a process matter, and I am very uncomfortable saying that those process issues don’t matter – which isn’t saying that we should just blindly do things the same way they have always been done. For example, time allocation concerns me to a moderate extent, and I’m interested to hear from both sides.

            Name calling: Agreed. Not helpful in Parliament and not helpful on the comment boards. Let you and I, between ourselves, agree to not go there.

            Libs and NDP will never agree: Not an outlandish assumption, although I would suggest that the CPC should try testing that assumption, to see if it is still valid.

            And to close, do you happen to know what the alternatives to time allocation and closure are? Ie, if the government did not use either of those two techniques to move legislation along, is it really possible to stall legislation forever? Or is their a natural course of debate within Parliament that would actually bring itself to an endpoint without those other two techniques?

  2. Boy it was a slow day in Question Period. Wherry couldn’t even get excited!

  3. You might say both are right. You might say both are wrong. But neither would agree with you either way…

    But if you were to conclude from this that the governing side and the official opposition agree on nothing, you would be terribly wrong. Because for all the fury and indignation, however little each side seems to think of the other, there is one thing on which they are absolutely and loudly unified: the need to artificially inflate the price of cheese through government intervention.

    LOL.  

    Ladies and gentlemen, the 41st Parliament of Canada!

    • I’d say your assertion is full of holes –  but - it isn’t.  :-)

      • A Swiss cheese joke?

        SWISS cheese?!?!?!

        Traitor.

  4. One in five Canadian men and one in three Canadian woman now make less than two-thirds of the average wage….

    Well that certainly sets a new standard for “not so helpful use of statistics”.   :-)

  5. Once again the photo cries out for a Feschuk caption contest.

    Where are you in our nation’s time of need, oh Scott Feschuk?

    • as in

      “is this the end the cheese comes from?”

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