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The Commons: Our government’s weight issues

BY AARON WHERRY


 

What does this mean?

The Scene. Stephane Dion rose first, up with a downer of an announcement.

“Mr. Speaker,” he lamented, “tomorrow will be a sad day for Canadians.”

How so exactly? Because, Mr. Dion explained, tomorrow the government will reveal its intentions for our increasingly dizzy and frequently dizzying economy. And with that, Mr. Dion warned, the government will make clear its plans to set the country back no less than twenty years. “Au temps Mulroney,” he cried.

Happy news no doubt for the mysterious German arms dealers among us.

Perhaps missing the Liberal leader’s point, Ted Menzies jumped up quick in celebration. “Thank goodness,” he said, “it was the Conservatives that won the election!”

Here, at least, was a sentiment no doubt shared by some on the Liberal side. Indeed, if there is a good time to be in opposition it is surely in these moments of profound economic chaos. All the more so when the government side is only managing to forcefully remind the citizenry how unable they are to impose order on the global financial system.

“Is the reason that the government has offered no plan for struggling sectors of our economy,” Dion asked with his supplementary, “because his budget is out of control, because his cabinet is bloated, or is it simply that he does not care?”

At this bloated bit, John Baird rubbed his belly defensively. Gary Lunn, Gordon O’Connor, Rona Ambrose and Bev Oda—combined ministerial salary, $297,600—merely did their best to blend in with the crushed velvet upholstery.

“Mr. Speaker, the answer would be none of the above,” Menzies corrected. “In fact, this Prime Minister cares dearly.”

Dion, obstinate as usual, would not take Ted’s word for it.

“Where is the plan to get our economy back on track?” he begged.

Tony Clement stood up then, quick to rhyme off all the initiatives his government had implemented before he became Minister of Industry. Asked later to name which members of the American administration he had so far consulted with since taking on his new job, Clement appeared stumped.

Wayne Easter was given the Liberals’ second spot, his folksy Eastern twang perfectly suited to populist outrage. “Mr. Speaker,” he cried, “the Prime Minister’s propaganda machine was out in full force last night trying to divert attention away from his responsibility for the deficit. The Prime Minister expanded cabinet from an original 26 to a new 37 four weeks ago, full ministers, inflated salaries, personal cars and drivers, bloated staffs, bigger and more offices and millions in contingency funds. Will the Prime Minister reduce his cabinet to a sensible level, cut the 37 limo service and cut the bloated staffing?”

“Cut the fat!” cried a Liberal backbencher.

“So much for the new decorum, Mr. Speaker,” huffed Jay Hill, the government’s dapper house leader. “The facts are that the size of our cabinet has not increased but what we have done is add ministers of state.”

“How many more chauffeurs have you hired?” yelped another Liberal.

When Easter persisted, Hill turned threatening. “I urge the member to wait until tomorrow,” he said, “and we will see who wants to lead by example.”

And when the NDP picked up the questioning, Mr. Menzies turned pouty. “If we could have a little help in this House,” he whined, “we may actually instill some enthusiasm in Canadians that the end is not near.”

As one observer noted, in those last five words the parliamentary secretary had stumbled upon one heck of a campaign slogan.

Some time later, John McCallum stood up with a parting shot. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “if the government House leader cannot even count cabinet spots, it is not surprising these Conservatives cannot balance their budget.”

Solace then perhaps in knowing that no matter how sad tomorrow and every day after it, there will still be time and place for sarcasm.

The Stats. The economy, 20 questions. The forestry industry, six questions. The environment, three questions. Employment, two questions. Energy efficiency, violence against women, Omar Khadr and credit cards, one question each.

Jim Flaherty, seven answers. Tony Clement and Lisa Raitt, six answers each. Ted Menzies and Jim Prentice, four answers each. Jay Hill and John Baird, two answers each. Christian Paradis, Peter MacKay, Helena Guergis and Deepak Obhrai, one answer each.


 

The Commons: Our government’s weight issues

  1. Anyone else feel that the plan to cut party subsidies as hinted at above may actually be a recipe for Prime Minister Dion if the Conservatives are truly dumb enough to make it a confidence motion? I can’t see the Bloc or the NDP willing to take the cut in subsidy, either.

  2. Are the tories going to cut their absurd spending on polling?

  3. This will be the test… if it is a confidence motion.

    If the Liberals help pass this one, they will be finished financially. So, sadly, will all other options. If they don’t allow it to pass it’s back to the polls (for at least half of us).

    Another push for a majority? Or a wish to make it someone elses problem?
    It’s a tough call.

    Mr. Dion doesn’t have anything to lose, so it could go either way.

  4. The libs dont have the guts to thwart the Conservatives.CUT THE SUSIDIES and make it a confidence vote.Let the people of Canada again see the Liberals are all mouth and lust only for money and dont give a crap about Canada.Bring on another election if they dare so we can wipe them out completely.

  5. Yes indeed, make it a confidence vote. I’m certain the case to prevent another election, as presented by the opposition, will help the GG choose the right option.
    The CONs want to play chicken while the country’s on the verge of economic earthquake? Against a weakened opponent, with all the wheels of gov’t in their favour (10-percenters ad infinitum, pre-election gimmees, election gimmicks and a compliant media) six weeks ago they still only managed 37% of the vote. This is either about a gov’t trying to deal with a crisis that it has a handle on, or about a sly, evil closed shop of bitter, grown-up geeks whose only tools of choice are lie, deny, attack and desecrate on our democracy.
    As a concept, I’m not against eliminating or more likely reducing the subsidy. But you can’t do it overnight, without seriously compromising the stability of our democracy. But as proven in words and action, Harper could care less about the Canada we know or the democracy that he is a part of.

  6. The opposition should tread very carefully about showing lack of confidence in the government. An election based on the Liberals not wanting to give up their tax subsidies and also going into the election with Dion as leader is simply too good a target for the Harper Conservatives. One poster said it is the Liberals who would benefit from such an election. Well, I have news for him/her most Canadians did not agree with the government subsidy in the first place. The idea that they would have to support a Separatist party and other parties who they do not support with their hard earned tax money is objectionable in the extreme.
    So the next few days will be very interesting in parliament. I suspect the opposition and the Senate will huff and puff but in the end the changes which everybody acknowledges are symbolic will be passed.
    Another election which paralizes the government for 37 days during an economic recession will not be looked on favourably by Canadians.
    However, anything is possible with the nutty professor in charge of the official opposition.

  7. Poor Lisa Raitt.  She looked so nervous and uncomfortable.  Her handlers need to get her to stop fidgeting.

  8. I’m getting tired of the Libs complaining about the size of Harper’s cabinet (37 members).

    I’m surprised that nobody in the media seems to have pointed out the size of the last Liberal cabinet under Paul Martin: 39.

  9. This is hilarious and it’s rather pathetic to see Dion still trying to act like he is relevant. I can see it now the LPC actually have the cojonas to vote against a confidence mortion and plunge us into an election around xmas – the next sound you hear would be the cry of valkyrie coming to take the last remaining souls of the LPC to perdition with both the Igster and Bobby dropping thier timbits in a ruch to hire a hit man agisnt Stephan. I hope like carzy that the CPC does manage to pass a bill removing taxpayer subsidies to political parties the concept is ridiculous and only leads to scams like the Green Party after all that’s the real reason Ms. May is involved a nice little scam on the taxpayer and that’s for sure a handul of greenbacks and not a seat in sight – good grief! There should be a new rule no seats no money or better yet … no money for everyone as if you have a political party it should be supported by the membership … case closed period …

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