The Commons: Good help is hard to find


The Scene. Seated almost directly across the aisle from his opposition critic, Jason Kenney shook his head as the NDP’s Don Davies read the indictment.

“Mr. Speaker, just last month the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism told Canadians how solemn he thought our citizenship ceremonies are, and they are indeed serious occasions,” Mr. Davies recalled. “Now, however, we learn that his office is fine just faking it. It was his office that arranged to have employees pose as fake new citizens in a made-up ceremony for a misleading news conference. Can the minister explain why he forced government employees to pose as fake new citizens and mislead Canadians?”

However fake the display, Mr. Kenney was quite sure his responsibility had been overstated here.

“Mr. Speaker, that is completely untrue. The only misleading going on is coming from that member,” the Immigration Minister scolded. “Every year CIC officials do a good job organizing special citizenship and reaffirmation ceremonies across the country including sometimes in studio televised ceremonies to raise the profile of citizenship. Today, I became aware that one small reaffirmation ceremony last year had logistical problems that were poorly dealt with—”

The opposition side descended into laughter and even a little desk thumping (it being hard, one supposes, to slap one’s knee when seated at a desk).

“Mr. Speaker, today I became aware that in a reaffirmation ceremony last year following logistical problems that the situation was poorly handled,” Mr. Kenney continued after the Speaker had restored order. “I regret that, but that in no way should undermine the importance and value of special reaffirmation ceremonies which we encourage all Canadians to participate in.”

A minister’s life is full of regret. Or, more specifically, a minister’s life is full of occasions to express regret for all of the ways the people you’re in charge of have let you down. Like allowing a cartoon puffin to be depicted defecating on a political rival. Or questioning the motivations of a deceased soldier’s father. Or plagiarizing a case for war. Or misplacing secret government documents. Or meddling in an access to information release. Or leaking a confidential committee report. Or asking people to show up to a news conference in “national folklore costumes.” Or mailing out inappropriate fundraising letters.

As luck would have it, it was the underling responsible for that last incident, never mind his resignation a year ago, whose job it was now to explain this latest example that good help is hard to find. “A civil servant made a well intentioned mistake,” he tweeted.

Whatever the government has asserted about ministerial accountability, that is supposed to be that. Except this was apparently not enough for Mr. Davies, who returned to his feet to dabble in both journalistic ethics and topical humour.

“Mr. Speaker, what the minister’s office should have done is tell any news outlet that wants help faking a story to go jump in a fake lake,” he snapped. “Instead officials played along, once again putting Conservative photo ops ahead of getting things done for new Canadians. It took an investigative reporter to get the truth out. Is the minister really that far out of the loop with his department? Can the minister tell the House when his government learned about this stunt and why they kept it a secret?”

Mr. Kenney stood again and explained that only yesterday had his office become aware of the matter and only today, while reading the day’s news, did he learn of anything. “It turns out that in the ceremony in question for reaffirmation, some of the people invited did not arrive,” the minister conveyed. “I think the response to that was poorly handled.”

Once more he expressed “regret.”

Out in the foyer afterwards, Mr. Davies was asked if he thought he’d heard an apology. “No, he didn’t apologize,” the New Democrat ventured. “You know, I think Canadians recognize an apology when they hear one and I didn’t hear the word sorry, I didn’t hear a sincerity to it. There was a little bit of an acknowledgement that what happened was wrong but I don’t see Minister Kenney taking responsibility in acknowledging the seriousness of what happened here.”

So far the word “sorry” seems only to have been uttered by a member of Mr. Kenney’s staff.

The Stats. Pensions, 10 questions. Crime, four questions. Citizenship and the environment, three questions each. Statistics Canada, Service Canada, equality, asbestos, search-and-rescue, the seal hunt and fisheries, two questions each. Employment, abortion, food safety and the oil industry, one question each.

Diane Finley, nine answers. Rob Nicholson, five answers. Stephen Harper, Christian Paradis, Joe Oliver and Keith Ashfield, four answers each. Jason Kenney, three answers. Denis Lebel, two answers. Vic Toews, Deepak Obhrai, Julian Fantino and Leona Aglukkaq, one answer each.


The Commons: Good help is hard to find

  1. Much ado, etc.

    • Fox News North carrying on like Pravda is much ado.  Good to know.

  2. Wasn’t there a Southpark episode about our Immigration Minister not long ago?

  3. It’s always somebody else’s fault.  No matter what happens, this is a given …ahead of time.

    • It’s always somebody else’s fault.
      There’s always somebody else to blame.
      Somebody else is always responsible.
      It’s: “I’m not the one responsible game.”

      This is truly government by the people,
      They are always the ones who did it!
      They elected us! It’s not our fault!
      So suck it up buttercup, set, match and game.

  4. Woah woah.. wait.. the guy who sent out inappropriate fundraising letters was re-hired?

    And this just slides under the radar of everyone?

    •  ummm thats how harper governement rolls.

      If you do what you are told we put you back on the gravy train.

      If you do what you want, you will be tarred and feathered by a pack of rabid reformers ala Helena Gurgis.

  5. I love how the bureaucrats are virtually intimidated by this crew of hyper-partisan jerks to do what they indicated they felt uncomfortable with, and which required too many resources to do properly, and then both Sun News and their head office, the PMO, blame the bureaucrats for the whole shmozzle. What a bunch of pathetic weasels these ideologues are.

  6. “Ministerial Accountability” ring any bells?

    • Yes, but unfortunately they get the hired help to answer the door.

  7. Good help is hard to keep.
    According to David Aikin, the producer and writter of the ‘fake oath’, Dayna Gourley,
    now works for the CBC.

    And to think, as we were told this week, CBC employees can get paid 3 or 4 times more in the private sector,
    makes yah wonder why she left SunTV for a pay cut to work at the CBC. ha

    • Integrity?

    •  Perhaps so she wouldn’t have to participate in cynical, unethical journalism?

      • She PRODUCED the fake oath story,
        then took her talents to the CBC

        • Do you know what a producer is?

          • Do you know what an email is?
            She wrote the email Ditchburn refers to, that calls it the ‘fake oath’ story.

          • Actually Jason said it was a civil servant, and fired him

          • Any idea what she does at CBC?  I mean to say, can you keep an eye on her there, and report back when she tries another such bone-headed move?

          • Jenn, read somewhere that she produced Evan Solomon’s show, but don’t know for sure what she does.
            Couldn’t careless what she does at CBC, she’s amongst many boneheads there so she’s a good fit, eh.

            No Emily, David Akin published the email, it was

        • And all the more credit to her for leaving, recognizing the error of her ways.

  8. Other than apologizing to SunTV for for the stand-ins, what else is there to apologize for and to whom?
    It’s not like the Harper Govt stole millions of taxpayer dollars, stuffed it into brown envelopes…

    zip on the CBC porn programing?

    • There was no porn….and it was addressed on another thread.

      Harp is making fake news stories for Sun TV….that’s serious.

      • No porn says CBC? Seriously.
        Did you watch the clips ?

        • LoraineLamontagne

          Well you have internet so you can watch it on TOU-TV. Porn?  Well, it’s about a very catholic lady whose husband dies, leaving her alone and penniless to look after her family.  She finds out that he was in the porn business and she decides to continue in his tradition. More soap than porn, and the picture posted by SUN is definitely about as porn as you’ll get on HARD. It reminds me of the series WEEDS, same premisce.  I’ve seen Monty Python and Benny Hill do worse, on BBC and CBC.

          A Like
          Reply 6 hours ago in reply to TonyAdams 6 Likes F

          TonyAdams, throw em all into a Taiwanese buggery WEEDS?  That’s not very tantalizing show than. Maybe CBC should ask for refund, sounds like they were ripped off.

          Where are you Wilson….in a convent???

        • That’s not porn.. trust me.. I’ve watched enough to know. :)

        • No porn says CBC? Seriously.  Did you watch the clips ? 

          Is your problem more with the show being broadcast on network T.V., or what is arguably a government subsidy, or both equally?  

          ‘Cause that show’s only rated 16+, so if you think it’s porn you should presumably be screaming at the rating body.  Also, the federal government subsidizes content from Canadian television and film producers that’s every bit as racy as “Hard”, at a level well beyond this CBC investment in this one show.  Some of that is on cable stations like TMN, and Showtime, so perhaps you have less of a problem with that, but it’s nonetheless government money funding what you apparently consider to be “porn”.

      • BTW, for years now FOX News has been referred to in French as FAUX News.   FAUX News North.  So totally appropriate, isn’t it?

        • Heh….perfect name for it!

    • If you’re not already working for Sun TV, I’m sure they would welcome you. Feel free to use me as a reference. I’d be happy to tell them you’d be a good fit.

      • Gee, thanks. 

        • “Gee, thanks”, he responded, without a hint of irony.

          Yup…good fit.

      • Yes, wilson could be a “writter.” 

    • Hey Wilson, remember when the CBC reporter was caught feeding questions to a Liberal MP to ask in committee?

      Weren’t you one of those folks screaming for her head, & his head, and the death of the CBC and the final vindication of good over evil? I think you were.

      • And if my memory is correct, the reporter in question was Krista Erickson – who is now at Sun TV.

        • You are correct Kay, and she is now at SunNN.

        • Who was conservative MP Lee Richardson’s “significant other” so that she could travel with him on taxpayer dime…yeah, the krista who doesn’t own any blouses with sleeves.

      • Oh, more than likely I did Igarvin.
        I think CBC is a total waste of $1.1 Billion in taxpayer money and unfair competition to private broadcasters.
        And I haven’t changed my mind about that.

        And didn’t Krista have to take a change in jobs for awhile,
        but she showed them, eh,
        she now works for SunNN.

    • Fox News North runs a segment that would make Pravda proud, and you focus on the CBC?  Your deflections need some work.

    • Again, that show is rated 16+ and the federal government gives subsidies to film and television companies for material every bit as raunchy as that program through agencies outside of the CBC.  The CBC WISHES it could spend as much money on racy programming as the feds do through other programs.

      If you think that show is porn, and therefore unworthy of government subsidy, you’ve got much bigger fish to go after than the CBC, starting, presumably, with how “porn” gets a 16+ TV rating.

  9. I haven’t watched Question Period in a while, although I always read your wonderful recaps, Mr. Wherry. I’m surprised that you made no mention of Rob Nicholson’s histrionics. I can’t be bothered to look into the specifics of what had made him so unhappy, but I have never seen any male over the age of five put on such a display of whiney victimhood. Over and over he wailed and weeped and put on such a display of grief I almost started crying along in sympathy.

    Can we get you a crying towel, Mr. Nicholson?

    • Oh great, the Wherryites now want to send tips to their agent so he never misses an opportunity for more bashing.

      • I wonder how much of a discount we can get on those crying towels if we buy them in bulk at Costco?

    • Steve’s bench is full of victims.

  10. This is highlarious bunglery of the first order. Well, it would be if some careerist weren’t thrown under a Greyhound in service of the Minister’s over-zealous penchant for seein’ it, knowing what it is, then obdurately steppin’ in it.

    It will make a stirring fundraising letter though: ” AlerteInfoAlert – ‘UN’-Canadian Press and State Broadcaster fellow travelers in cabal to smear citizens!”

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