The Commons: Rest assured, your vote is appreciated

A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for Tony Clement to buy whatever he wants

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. Bob Rae rose with provocation in rhyme.

“Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the President of the Treasury Board, we know very well that he can Twitter. We know very well that he can tweet,” he informed the House. “What we also know is that he cannot get up on his feet.”

After the interim Liberal leader had expounded on the “absurd situation” before us—a cabinet minister unable or unwilling to stand in the House and explain his actions in helping divvy up millions in “border infrastructure” funds for bike racks and gazebos in his riding—the Prime Minister stood and restated the script about this having been “thoroughly aired” and there being “process improvements” to be made and so forth.

Then though, feeling charitable or chuffed or some combination thereof, the Prime Minister decided to impart his analysis of the spring election’s meaning and lessons.

“I would think the Liberal party,” he mused, “having run an entire campaign, the worst in its history, on this issue and having been dropped so badly, would decide that now is probably not the time to keep talking about politics in this way.”

This is, for sure, one way to look at it. In re-electing the Conservatives, the population writ large has absolved the government of the contempts against Parliament and the sooner the Liberals stop insisting on such stuff, the better for them and all of us. Put another way: so long as a sufficient number of voters are willing to cast their lot with the Conservative party, Tony Clement can do with the public accounts what he likes with no responsibility to stand in his place in the House of Commons and explain himself.

Or perhaps that’s a cynical reading of the Prime Minister’s insinuation. Perhaps he just means to advise the Liberals that such a tone—so negative and accusatory—has not served them well over the last few years. This is possibly reasonable advice.

Alas, for the NDP or Tony Clement or some combination thereof, the new official opposition seems eager to ignore the Prime Minister’s desired lesson of the 2011 general election campaign. Indeed, they seem quite dogged in their pursuit.

“When the media starting asking about how he was trying to pass off a $21 million Olympic hockey arena, complete with a swimming pool, as a media centre, he intervened with the local mayor and said: ‘Do not talk to the media until we get our lines converged,’ ” Charlie Angus explained this afternoon. “To which the mayor responded: ‘Done. Call me. I will be waiting. Fran loves it when you use that term.’ ”

This was getting a bit weird now, but Mr. Angus did have a question here. “When,” he asked, “will they stop trying to get their story straight and come clean with Canadians?”

If the government does indeed have a date in mind at which point they plan on explaining themselves, they weren’t telling. ”It is this kind of muckraking that Canadians rejected in the last election campaign,” moaned John Baird, standing in once again for the standing-impaired Mr. Clement. “What they sent all of us here to do is to fight for Canadians, to fight for jobs, to fight for more opportunity, and that is exactly what the government is doing.”

Mr. Angus was unimpressed. “Mr. Speaker, it has been 110 days since the Muskoka minister was put in the doghouse and that is the best the government can come up with?” he wondered aloud.

And, in fact, it was not, because next Mr. Baird stood to boast of the jobs created by Mr. Clement’s spending.

Mostly though, Mr. Baird was full of disappointment. “Mr. Speaker, that kind of muckraking is exactly what Canadians rejected at the last election,” he sighed in the direction of the NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice. “What they wanted from their elected representatives was a team of men and women who would fight for jobs, who would fight for more opportunities, for more hope, and that is exactly what this government is doing each and every day.”

When Ralph Goodale stood, recounted Mr. Clement’s actions on this file and observed that “this looks like the behaviour of a coward,” Mr. Baird pronounced himself positively besmirched. “I would have expected better from him,” he lamented, “and I will not dignify his question with a response.”

When Marc Garneau next informed the House that he “entered politics to counter the public’s perception that politicians are on the take” and that “regrettably, the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka is making that extremely difficult,” there was much grumbling from the government members and the Speaker stood to call for order.

“There is a long-standing tradition that you cannot do indirectly what you are not allowed to do directly,” Speaker Scheer observed. “This is the second time I have heard an indirect way of making an unparliamentary remark so I think we will move on to the honourable member for Windsor—Tecumseh.”

The Conservative side—champions one and all of the sanctity and principles of this chamber—applauded the Speaker’s ruling enthusiastically.

The Stats. The G8 Legacy Fund, nine questions. The environment, seven questions. Infrastructure and crime, four questions each. Oil sands development, trade and the environment, three questions each. Science, two questions. Political fundraising and cigarettes, one question each.

Stephen Harper and John Baird, six answers each. Joe Oliver and Rob Nicholson, four answers each. Jim Flaherty and Denis Lebel, three answers each. Christian Paradis, Colin Carrie, Ed Fast and Gary Goodyear, two answers each. Peter Kent, Dean Del Mastro, Kellie Leitch and Gerald Keddy, one answer each.

The Commons: Rest assured, your vote is appreciated

  1. Short version:  Move along folks, nothing to see here.

  2. Sanctimonious twaddle from everyone. 

    PM Harper is right – for at least 10-15 years, pols do whatever they want and take absolutely no responsibility for their actions. 

    When was the last minister to fall on sword for incompetence? Cabinet Ministers stay around like barnacles, can’t get rid of them, no matter how dodgy their behaviour. Public don’t like it but we don’t have a lot of choice when pols from all parties behave exact same way. 

    I think NDP focusing on Clement/G8 because it is easy to embarrass Cons while NDP are leaderless. Easy for NDP types to focus on corruption and unaccountability and next leader will tighten up message presumably. 

    • So to be clear TonyAdams – you don’t think there should be a focus on corruption and unaccountably?

    • “When was the last minister to fall on sword for incompetence?”
       
      Mad Max Bernier, for forgetting his secret documents at his biker girlfriend’s place.

  3. Several times during today’s QP, Jeff Watson (CPC-Some Riding or Other) was visible in the camera shot during the government’s response (usual Deepak Obhrai, for some reason.)

    I swear, there is more self-satisfied smug on Jeff Watson’s face in thirty seconds of a non-answer, than there was on that of Brian Mulroney to the power of the entire 1993-2006 federal Liberal caucus.

  4. Since the opposition parties have nothing to lose at this point, this might be a good time for them to make the point that the Harper regime is in it for themselves by getting tossed out of QP by the Speaker for making unparliamentary remarks, sort of like civil disobedience in the House.  They could designate a different volunteer to be ‘arrested’ for each day the House is sitting.  It could get them some press coverage for the issues that matter to the general public rather than the non-issues the Harper regime wants front and centre.

  5. Shorter Harper: Accountability is for losers…
     
    This from the man who  howled about liberals [ the whole LPC] as being criminals, at the time of adscam. There are days when i wonder if our PM is entirely sane. 
     
    “The Conservative side—champions one and all of the sanctity and principles of this chamber—applauded the Speaker’s ruling enthusiastically”
     
    I guess assasinating the character of MI was the mere over enthusiasm on their part…just some harmless sport…after all it is just politics. At least it is now.

  6. Flaherty caption: “He’s rhyming. O’migod, he’s rhyming. What are we going to do now?”

    • Clement response: “It’s not so bad if you put your fingers in your ears.”

  7. What the hell just happened? The Speaker intervened? and no election was called? weird.

  8. So now the Tories think they got elected because they are corrupt? That’s the message I get from Baird’s and the PM’s comments. Silly me; I thought they got voted in despite the corruption.

    This doesn’t bode well for us taxpayers. I guess now they feel beholden to hand out serious quantities of pork in all their ridings…

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