The Commons: ‘How do we repair the irreparable?’

‘Jacques Parizeau!’ Mr. Harper yelped. ‘Weaken this country!’


The Prime Minister's young men glowed

The Scene. Stéphane Dion wanted to talk about the economy. Stephen Harper wanted to yell.

“Why,” Mr. Dion asked, “has the Prime Minister refused to act to stimulate our economy?”

Mr. Harper came up talking fast and mad and glib. “Un pacte avec les souverainistes!” he cried.

His minions jumped to their feet and cheered, not at all looking like a bunch whose livelihoods depended on him.

“This is nonsense,” Mr. Dion sighed, “and I will not respond to it.”

So he didn’t. Not that the Prime Minister seemed to notice either way.

“Jacques Parizeau!” Mr. Harper yelped. “Weaken this country!”

Mr. Dion did not seem impressed—or daunted—looking around the chamber with little regard for the bellowing Prime Minister standing two sword-lengths in front of him.

“Why,” the Liberal leader asked, “does the Prime Minister care more about his own job than allowing Parliament to save the jobs of Canadians?”

“Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the Liberal Party wants to save the jobs of Canadians, he can put on the table specific proposals that will save those jobs,” Mr. Harper responded, rhyming off all of the options he has so far left unexplored. “He can reach across the aisle and work with this government.”

The Prime Minister’s aides, huddled together in the gallery’s front row, appeared delighted.

The studious Ralph Goodale came up and reminded Mr. Harper of all the support he has received from les souverainistes—140 votes with this government, including 14 confidence votes.

Ever ready to insult the intelligence of all within reach of his voice, the Prime Minister stood then and expanded on his falsehood of yesterday. “Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party sat down with the leader of the separatist party on national television. Those pictures are all there,” he said. “They will show those flags put way off to the side where they are out of the camera angles. If the Liberal Party continues down this path, those images will never be forgotten by the Canadian people. If they want to help the Canadian economy, they should sit down with us in front of the flag and do it now.”

The Prime Minister’s young men glowed. The country defamed, our democracy degraded, our flag demeaned? No matter, their man was speaking in a loud tone of voice. Huzzah. Victory.

Gilles Duceppe stood next and harkened back to his co-operative talks with Mr. Harper in 2004. What also, he wondered, of the Canadian Alliance’s dealings with the Bloc Quebecois in 2000?

Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance at the time, pleaded ignorance. Quite convincingly, it must be said.

Shortly thereafter, an aide to Mr. Duceppe appeared in the press gallery, handing out a stapled, four-page document entitled “Consensus Leadership For a New Century.”

“We, the leaders of the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc Quebecois and the Progressive Conservative Party, have met and agree that Canadians have delivered a clear message in the election held on November 27, 2000,” the opening paragraph read. “Canadians do not want a Member of Parliament from the Liberal Party to be Prime Minister.”

A little bit further down the page, under the heading of “leadership,” this sentence: “We agree that we will support Stockwell Day as Prime Minister of Canada.”

Day, apparently unaware of this massive conspiracy to make him Prime Minister, appealed to his DNA and heart. The opposition laughed and waved their own copies of the document in the air.

“Try to sue your way out of that one!” yelped a Liberal.

A little later, the Bloc official was back, this time with a new piece of paper, on which was printed a newspaper clip from July 2000, headlined “Canadian Alliance could court Bloc Quebecois.”

“There have been informal discussions,” Rahim Jaffer, the recently unelected chair of Conservative caucus, was reported to have said. “A few [Bloc MPs] were very responsive to what our agenda was, so we’re excited about that.”

“The Canadian Alliance position is to be open to anybody who is interested in a truly conservative form of government,” Mr. Day was quoted as explaining.

So having attempted to bankrupt their rivals and failed, having taped the proceedings of another party’s caucus discussions and had that matter turned over to law enforcement, having falsely claimed the opposition’s denigration of the flag and having slurred his opponents as complicit in an unprecedented deal with separatists, Stephen Harper’s rivals now found themselves with nothing left upon which to claim their own legitimacy.

And with nothing left to say, they just fumed.

John Baird, Jim Flaherty, Pierre Poilievre and Lawrence Cannon each took a turn or two—the opposition parties delighting in each new Conservative to rise.

Lisa Raitt tried to keep pace, but found herself loudly dismissed by the other side. “You’re better than that Lisa,” heckled Liberal Carolyn Bennett. “Don’t stoop to that level.”

Cannon stepped to the edge of the aisle, leaned forward, pointed and screamed unintelligible bleatings at Mr. Dion. Sitting across the way, the Liberal leader feigned like he might charge Mr. Cannon, then fell back in his chair and burst out laughing.

The Foreign Affairs Minister kept up his show, but with each successive performance even his Conservative allies appeared to grow more reluctant to applaud.

It fell to Ken Dryden, blustery and earnest and full of terribly deep and meaningful emotions, to demonstrate how one might both speak loudly and say something.

“Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who sets the tone of the House,” the great goalie said. “Respect gets respect. Disrespect breeds disrespect. The Prime Minister now fights to stay on to win a battle that never need have been fought in the first place to preside over a Parliament whose dynamics, whose very relationships he has poisoned and destroyed. Too late, he has broken it. How could this Parliament work with this Prime Minister?”

The Conservatives sent up Lil’ Pierre Poilievre. They might not have bothered.

Back came Dryden.

“Mr. Speaker, the biggest economic crisis in decades—as a country, as a world, as parliamentarians it was time to come together, but the Prime Minister just could not resist. He cannot stop himself. He has this pathological inability to put aside politics. Too bad for him and for all of us,” Dryden lamented. “Now how do we repair the irreparable? To the Prime Minister to help him with his answer: No, sorry, it is over; cannot trust him any more. We need a new Prime Minister.”

The Liberals cheered.

Mr. Harper deigned to stand, but offered nothing of consequence in response.


The Stats. Government, 19 questions. The economy, 11 questions. Brian Mulroney and women’s equity, two questions each.

Stephen Harper, 11 answers. Lawrence Cannon, five answers. Stockwell Day and Jim Flaherty, four answers each. Pierre Poilievre, three answers. Lisa Raitt, Vic Toews and John Baird, two answers each. Leona Aglukkaq, one answer.


The Commons: ‘How do we repair the irreparable?’

  1. Progess. We have progress. Stockwell Day now, eight years later, believes in DNA.

  2. I’m impressed that Stock Day knows about DNA.
    Did they have that before 6,000 years ago – I’m never sure of that fine point of biblical history?
    As for your primary question – well – my answer could be termed strictly academic – since it will never happen!
    The Prime Minister could fall on his sword – just two sword lengths away from Stephane Dion – and pass his mantle to someone who hasn’t appeared to spit invective, lies and bobast on his side of the House these last few days…
    BTW – where DOES Bill Casey sit these days?

  3. The irony of Jacques Parzeau helping Stephen Harper is not going unremarked.

  4. Stockwell Day has capitalist and federalist DNA. I feel ripped off. I only have human DNA

  5. “The irony of Jacques Parzeau helping Stephen Harper is not going unremarked.”

    yeah eventually we’ll probably hear he used to have summer vacations with Rene Levesque

  6. “He cannot stop himself. He has this pathological inability to put aside politics.”

    Could Mr. Harper really be emotionally unstable? Hare’s Checklist (copied from Wikipedia) is a tool used to assess antisocial personality disorder — try it yourself:

    Factor1: Aggressive narcissism

    1. Glibness / superficial charm
    2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
    3. Pathological lying
    4. Cunning / manipulative
    5. Lack of remorse or guilt
    6. Shallow
    7. Callous / lack of empathy
    8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    9. Promiscuous sexual behavior

    Factor2: Socially deviant lifestyle

    1. Need for stimulation / proneness to boredom
    2. Parasitic lifestyle
    3. Poor behavioral control
    4. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
    5. Impulsivity
    6. Irresponsibility
    7. Juvenile delinquency
    8. Early behavior problems
    9. Revocation of conditional release

  7. No opportunity for Maclean’s to show M. Jean with the backdrop of the Union Jack. The Dec. 8th issue is off the presses it seems all this news will be wearing crutches before Maclean’s ‘makes sense of it all”.

  8. Bahahaha the Stockwell Day DNA bit was pretty hilarious. Oh Stock.

    Question for you Aaron: Do the PM’s little aides sit across from him, glancing down in blind admiration or do they sit “on top of him”?
    Just wondering.

  9. The current prime minister is still blathering about the flag? After he was proven to have lied yesterday?

    Yikes, he’s become unravelled.

    And Dion pretended to charge Cannon and then laughed? I’d like to see some video of that. Actually I’m glad because he looked so angry and upset in QP yesterday that I was worried about him — and I don’t want anything to happen to our next prime minister!

    Also, Aaron, I think in the paragraph beginning “So having attempted…”, you refer to Harper’s Conservative MPs as his “rivals” — I think you meant allies?

  10. Everyone’s colours are showing in the media this week, so it seems.

    The text may as well be red on this article.

    Most articles I’m reading begin with disclaimers of neutrality that sound incredibly similar to a sentence that starts with “I’m not racist, but…”

    Can people calm down a bit and parse the arguments on both sides, not make them?

  11. archangel, that is freaking frightening. The thought of harper being sexually promiscuous, I mean…

  12. parse [parz]
    [parsing, parsed] to analyse (a sentence or the words in a sentence) grammatically [Latin pars (orationis) part (of speech)]

    You want us to examine the arguments grammatically?

  13. To be fair, archangel, most of the character’s in Aaron’s daily sketch would probably be checking off 15 or 16 of those qualities…

    Should sitting in the House of Commons be considered a socially deviant lifestyle?

  14. I just got polled! Sounded like a Tory poll as the questions were a bit “Yikes, what do you think about the Bloc supporting the Coalition?” Interesting that they’re polling already, and heavily enough to reach poor little me. First poll of my life!

  15. You’ve never been polled before Jack?

    So how was it for you? Ideally they are supposed to identify who they are polling for.

  16. They said who they were at the beginning but I was too excited to listen. “Ideas Something” or “Something Ideas,” IIRC.

    Man, I wish I got polled every day. What a shot in the arm! To think I’m personally helping to keep the margin or error down.

    Yeah, no, first time. But I’ve lived abroad for a while (never got polled their either, though). In Grade 5, for a school project, I tried creating the “Jack Mitchell Poll” in which I called up random people and asked them their opinions, but clearly I sounded like a kid as nobody agreed to answer.

  17. Andrew, your Liberal bias is obvious and quite pathetic for a journalist. At least try for some of that old fashioned journalistic fairness and integrity. If the coalition was really about putting the economy first, which we ALL know is not the case, they would take the PM up on his offer and put together SPECIFIC ways to help the economy and try to make ammendments to the fiscal update and vote on this modified version Monday. They will not because this is not about the economy but a pathetic power grab through back door politics. And I thought voters elected a Prime Minister in a democracy? As Liberal Keith Martin likes to remind us here in BC, whenever the NDP get in power they drive the economy into the ground. Now they will be in government during a worldwide financial crises and a looming recession, so how is that good for the economy??

  18. What Jack doesn’t mention is that they hung up on him twenty minutes deep into a lecture about parliamentary democracy and relevant precedents for the GG… :)

    (And I’m very proud of myself for resisting any puns about getting polled for the first time…)

  19. Don’t listen to him Aaron (referring to C. Riess)
    That is not bias.
    What is bias is Bob Fife on CTV!!

  20. In the midst of all this excitement, I would like to pose a question. Some of the same individuals in Mr. Harper’s cabinet holding important positions were also in the Harris government in Ontario. That government mismanaged the economy in what can now be regarded as “good times” and left a substantial deficit upon leaving office, one that they failed to disclose and never accounted for. It being the case that the disastrous policies of Mr. Flaherty et al appear to have been transported from the Harris government to that of Mr. Harper, has anyone considered that the government, particularly Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty, might be terrified of the opposition opening the books? Mr. Flaherty sheepishly admitted before the election that they in fact had dipped into the red, momentarily. The “closed door” style of Mr. harper and his cabinet and the zeal with which they gave away the surplus to buy votes before the election, the rather substantial loss of revenue from tax cutting and general reduction in tax revenue from the economic situation lead me to suspect that they are concealing something. Franky, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the public has been lied to. I for one would like to see an open book account of the government’s finances. If it turned out that Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Harper have been lying about the state of our finances, I suspect that would equal the final nail in the coffin. Of course I am only posing the question here, curious if anyone else considered it.

  21. LOL, Sean, you’re half right — when she asked “What is the most important issue facing Canada today?” I had to bite my tongue not to say, “Whether or not prorogation is justified, given that the SFT was passed, expressing confidence at the time.” But I just said “world economy.” Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and find that in fact 34% of Canadians are concerned about the constitutionality of prorogation.

  22. I wonder if the GG will watch any footage of QP this week as she ponders her decision.

    Jack: worst poll I ever was asked was all about nuclear power — waste, storage, you name it — and I kept laughing and saying I didn’t know anything about it and they should poll someone else. I felt silly knowing I was one of those ignorant people who, when others read the poll results, just shake their heads.

    I think once they poll you, they keep coming back because I get polled frequently — especially last fall just before stevo called his first illegal election. And a lot of polling about my then-MP Batters, who stepped down hours before the election call.

  23. Creiss, the article’s about the happenings in today’s house. I’m certain if you ‘parse’ through the blogsphere even here you’ll find something to your liking. That your chosen One has asked the Bloc to dance, and even danced with them, kind of takes the air out of the ‘its breaking up Canada!’ balloon.
    If anything, Harper’s disrespecting the decision of the voters — who elected a minority house — should have you more miffed at the Conservatives than anything. If he was big enough to step down and hand the leadership to Prentice, this Parliament would likely move on.

  24. I only have human DNA

    I’m not a geneticist, but I’m quite sure plain old human DNA is for communists and separatists.

  25. Vince L,

    I wonder if Aaron’s purportedly partisan writing stems from the fact that he’s spent more than a year in Ottawa and actually covers the goings-on of parliament while people on all fronts hurl ridiculous insults at one another in between attempts to actually get anything done.

    Have you ever watched CPAC? It’s pretty disheartening. And I’ve read enough of Mr. Wherry’s postings to recognize that it’s probably exponentially more disheartening to actually watch it happen. I’d be fascinated to see what the camera’s NOT covering. Who’s doing the heckling, for example? I know it comes from all angles and I’d love to know which of our panoply of MPs are such children that they cannot wait their turn to speak. I have faith that Glen Pearson is not among them given his call for increased (or any measure of) decorum in the house. I want to know who the rabble rousers are.

    Anyway, back to my point (I had one). I wonder just how much parliamentarians’ behaviour affects Mr. Wherry’s opinions of various political parties (and indeed the opinions that other members of the media have towards the federal parties). I think it’s kind of unfair to blithely label him a Liberal instead of a thinking, rational human who has an informed opinion about what’s happening in parliament.

  26. To Roy Patterson: I lived through the Harris debacle here in Ontario and your points sure do make me pause for concern.

  27. MJ Patchouli,

    “archangel, that is freaking frightening. The thought of harper being sexually promiscuous, I mean…”

    Yeah, I know. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

  28. The dollar dropped today and traders are beginning to factor political uncertainty into the mix.The markets are just getting a tiny sniff of what’s to come.

    Layton and his fellow conspirators have triggered off a national unity crisis. They never considered for a single second that the West would be highly offended over their little game of,” We’re doing this in the best interests of Canadians” Spare us the sanctimonious b.s. please. Now, many Albertans, and many others are so pissed of they’re ready to pull the plug on good old Canada, where the interests of Quebec seems to be all that matters.

    Canadians should look back to the day after Renee Levesque was elected-the dollar dropped by 5 cents in less than 48 hours. Confidence regained to a certain level because of one remarkably strong prime Minister- Pierre Trudeau

    Today we have Jack Layton who is akin to Neville Chamberlain making a pact with Adolph Hitler-no problems people, sleep well tonight ,said Neville after signing the pact. And the rest is history. and we will be too if the unholy alliance becomes the government.

  29. Sounds like Bob Rae to me-and most of the others.

    Factor1: Aggressive narcissism

    1. Glibness / superficial charm
    2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
    3. Pathological lying
    4. Cunning / manipulative
    5. Lack of remorse or guilt
    6. Shallow
    7. Callous / lack of empathy
    8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    9. Promiscuous sexual behavior

    You actually forgot one other very important trait-an incredible difficulty in stimulating the central nervous system. This is one reason why psycopaths tend to do the outrageous. The psycho has an impaired lymbic system.

  30. Did anybody notice our illustrious new Health Minister who said, not once but twice, the “Coalition with the Specialists” and the “Specialist Coalition”? Her colleagues can be clearly heard saying “Separatists! Separatists!” behind her.

  31. How to fix thsi mess? Put it to a vote. Have the coalition on one side and the conservatives on the other. Then the people can see clearly what they are voting for, rather than having and old switcheroo pulled after the fact.