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The Commons: Smirking towards the future

Baird slams the Liberals’ “thinking, spending, taxing conference”


 

The Scene. John Baird could barely contain his glee. Over the weekend, in response to the Liberal gathering in Montreal, the Transport Minister had apparently convened his own conference aimed at deciding on the absolute right joke to deliver Monday afternoon. Over two days at some undisclosed location, great minds of stand-up and clowning dealt frankly and, at times, contentiously with the concepts of sarcasm, pun, slapstick and mockery. Various one-liners were proposed, debated and amended. For awhile the conference nearly broke up over a proposal that Mr. Baird merely hand Michael Ignatieff one of those cans that, when opened, sprays a number of cloth snakes. But finally, in the wee hours of Sunday night, a consensus was achieved. And so here, just after 2:15pm today, Mr. Baird stood to reveal what had been accomplished.

“Mr. Speaker,” he said, struggling to withhold a smile, “the Liberal Party certainly had a taxing weekend.”

The very foundation of the House seemed to buckle under the weight of such wit.

His political career, perhaps even his entire existence, thus discredited, Mr. Ignatieff might’ve been expected to excuse himself, bid this place adieu and flee, never to be heard from again. Instead, summoning all his courage, he stood to repeat the query that had elicited this withering jest.

“Mr. Speaker, only a Conservative would call pushing the pause button on corporate tax breaks a tax hike,” he said, pointing his finger at the other side dismissively. “It is just not so.”

Steadying himself he went on. “Already Canada’s corporate tax rate is exceedingly competitive,” he said to applause from Conservatives before it became clear he was referring to measures taken by the previous Liberal government.

“Corporate Canada needs much more than tax breaks to get competitive. They need a skilled labour force and we need to make investments in them now,” the Liberal leader concluded. “I repeat the question. Why is the government pushing ahead with corporate tax rate cuts this country cannot afford?”

Mr. Baird was ready for this. For not only had he convened a symposium on hilarity, but within that gathering he had a struck a sub-committee dedicated to digging up things Liberal MPs had said that might be read aloud for the purposes of asserting a contradiction or change-of-mind on the part of the Liberal party.

“Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer that question very directly,” the Transport Minister began, a sure sign that he intended to do no such thing. “‘Our leader has stressed the importance of deeper corporate tax cuts as a primary means of achieving the investment, the rising living standards and the jobs, jobs, jobs that we all want for ourselves and our future.’ Do you know who said that, Mr. Speaker? It was the official spokesman on tax matters for the Liberal Party, the member for Markham-Unionville.”

A joyous government side stood to applaud Mr. Baird’s researchers.

John McCallum, the aforementioned member for Markham-Unionville, was eventually sent up to explain himself for himself. Or, at the very least, make accusations of his own. “Only a Conservative could criticize a plan to delay corporate tax cuts until they are affordable while at the same time slamming small business with job-killing EI premium hikes,” he ventured in his nasally way. “Under the minister’s own plan a small business with 10 workers will pay $9,000 more for the privilege of keeping its employees. Will the minister finally admit that his job-killing payroll tax hike will kill 200,000 Canadian jobs?”

The Finance Minister would not take this sitting down and so he stood. “Mr. Speaker, let me try to understand the oxymoronically-named thinkers’ conference,” he said, struggling apparently to understand what constitutes an oxymoron.

He proceeded to accuse the Liberal side of wanting to raise the GST and introduce a carbon tax—across the way Michael Ignatieff audibly objected—and then to act quite frightened by it all. “It is just shocking,” Mr. Flaherty shuddered, “the insensitivity of the Liberal Party, the tax and spend party, to the needs of Canadians, especially small business people in Canada.”

After an intervention from the Bloc Quebecois it was Jack Layton’s turn to stand and take credit for the Liberal party’s position on corporate tax rates. And here it was Mr. Baird’s turn to stand and endorse, and perhaps even pledge himself to, the Liberal-NDP coalition. “Mr. Speaker, my friend, the leader of the third party, the leader of the New Democratic Party, has made quite the conversion. It was not 15 months ago that he signed a coalition agreement to support each and every one of these tax cuts,” the Transport Minister observed. “He was prepared to serve in a government that saw jobs, hope and opportunity as the primary goals, and to do everything we can to ensure more investment in Canada, that we have a Canadian advantage that will allow jobs to come back to this great country.”

It was unclear if Mr. Baird was, by this point, still joking or merely confused and over-tired after what was obviously a productive and fruitful weekend.

The Stats. Taxation, 13 questions. Afghanistan, accountability and foreign affairs, four questions each. Pensions and veterans, three questions each. Immigration, water and agriculture, two questions each. Senate reform and employment, one question each.

John Baird, six answers. Diane Finley, Rob Nicholson, Christian Paradis, Jim Flaherty and Jean-Pierre Blackburn, four answers each. Peter Kent, three answers. Jason Kenney, Jim Prentice, Tony Clement and Gerry Ritz, two answers each. Peter MacKay and Steven Fletcher, one answer each.


 

The Commons: Smirking towards the future

  1. Bloody CON's…they are Ignorant and Stupid! Start Clicking your heels Flaherty…you will need to look for that illusive pot of Gold to come up with some better, more intelligent answers in the House! Or get the Hell Out!

    • Bloody libs, so ignorant and stupid. Start kicking your heels iggo, you are gonzo, even your own party is looking for ways to get rid of you.

  2. This "Only a Conservative could say [some idiotic thing]" line seems to be used a lot. Did the Liberals come up with that turn of phrase at the Thinker's Conference and decide to use it as often as possible?

    • I think the original quote came from John Stuart MIll. However, like the bumper stickers "In _______ country, if you listen carefully, you can hear the _________'s rusting. The car you drove determined how you filled in the blanks.

      JSM also said "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it." However, that was back when a party label actually meant something with respect to philosophical ideas. These days, you might just as well name the party after its current leader.

      • Yup, you are so right. Nowadays the dummies are all liberals, and all liberals are dummies.

        • how do you explain yourself then genius?

  3. In the Stats Section there should be a space for Questions answered clearly……..I know, I know it would always be empty. It seems that question period should be renamed -Spin Time. A total waste of time.

    • Maybe there should be a space for questions asked with presumption of nefarious intent on the government's every motivation or action.

  4. Only Mcleans could look at this immature performance by the cons and think that it was funny and a win. Canadians are sick of this policy-free, solution-free, deficit rich government that will do anything to stay in power except actually be responsive to parliament. At least the Liberals are talking openly and honestly about the issues. What are the cons doing? No one knows because it's all being done in a private Stephen Harper ritual.

    • I found it hilarious!

    • Canadians are sick of the Conservative government? Really? They are six points up on the Liberals.

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Wherry's obviously visceral dislike for Mr. Baird.

    I fondly recall the days when Mr. Harper would grace the House. He would listen intently to an Opposition question with a quiet confidence, as if he knew the answer before the question was ever uttered. Then he would stand, reluctantly, like one raised from a blissful slumber. The response would be eloquent in it's simplicity, beginning always with the familiar, somehow comforting refrain "Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear." His next sentence would simultaneously acknowledge and dismiss the substance of the impertinent question before flowing smoothly to the latest Conservative talking point.

    Mr. Harper, where did you go? You read a Conservative talking point like no one else can. Mr. Baird's one-liner leadership style simply doesn't compare with your clear, fluent, often moving recititation of Conservative talking points.

    • Perhaps if the opposition offered someone who can articulate an idea, Harpo would be around more.

      • such a shakespearean response… did it take you 3 seconds to come up with it?

      • And his mother wears combat boots!!!! Snicker…..

    • Harper hardly ever goes to QP Mondays or Fridays.

  6. Awesome, Aaron. You managed to convey nicely how utterly absurd this whole business is. I wonder why anyone even bothers to write down what is said here.

  7. You know, Wherry, you make QP so much more fun than it actually is. I've actually tried to watch one of these things on rerun on CPAC, and boy, is it ever hard.

    It is a mystery to me how grown men and women can act like this, in full view of the cameras no less, and I do truly empathise with the hapless souls in the press whose duty it is to cover this drivel.

    Was it always like this, even in the days of Trudeau, Mulroney, or even earlier, or has it become worse? I've watched the British PM's Question Time, Scottish parliament and French parliament proceedings on CPAC. Yes, there are partisan shots, but it is civil, and there is actual content. There is some evidence of thought.

    Why is it so bad here? Is it the process or the people or both?

    • Did you know that the use and understanding of satire requires some deeper thinking than is apparent? It is so true.

    • I've wondered this myself. Can anyone trace when it was that QP hit the gutter? Has no writer tackled an analysis if the degradation of QP? Seems like a worthwhile study.

      • I remember a story from a guy who I think was in Joe Clark's short-lived government, who basically said that the situation got so much worse when the cameras got in there. When the potential for a show for the public began, the campaign-style rhetoric moved to the Commons.

        • But most Parliament proceedings these days are televised. You'd think that cameras would make politicians more reluctant, not less, to act like jackasses, wouldn't you?

          • You'd think. But somehow, somewhere, things shifted to the bizzaro world.

  8. The liberal conference was a fabulous chance to listen to intelligent discourse on a wide range of subjects, with a leader who apparently understands the value of listening to Canadians, brings me back to an old thought of mine, Stephen Harper, too small for Canada.
    I strongly recommend that anyone who has not yet had a chance to view some of the great panel discussion go and hear the future for yourself.

    • I strongly recommend that you ignore the nonsense spewed at the liberal navel gazing session. No one said anything new, except iggo himself. He said he thinks he is taking the country into a new style of democracy. Well, iggo, we can see that. This new style is: iggo puts forward a motion, his party defeats it. Pretty new style of democracy, yep.

      • beats the conservative form of dictatorship but then again you seem like a cheerleader for a one party state. You should check out China or Cuba. Strong leaders there.

  9. The Finance Minister would not take this sitting down and so he stood. “Mr. Speaker, let me try to understand the oxymoronically-named thinkers' conference,” he said, struggling apparently to understand what constitutes an oxymoron.

    Hard to believe he went to Princeton.

    • Jim Flaherty was in Risky Business? Who da thunk it.

    • Hard to believe he's our Finance Minister

      • He went to Princeton?

        Is he our Finance Minister, or is he just visiting?

  10. Over the weekend, in response to the Liberal gathering in Montreal, the Transport Minister had apparently convened his own conference aimed at deciding on the absolute right joke to deliver Monday afternoon.

    What I find depressing is the fact I'm not sure if this is sarcasm or the truth. What I find even more depressing is that I'm leaning more towards "true"…

  11. Aaron was ready for this. For not only had he convened a symposium on hilarity, but within that gathering he had a struck a sub-committee dedicated to digging up things Conservative MPs had said that might be read aloud for the purposes of asserting a contradiction or change-of-mind on the part of the Conservative party.

  12. I think it is great fun, Aaron's piece and the bits coming out of QP. Lighten up people. Sometimes a little bit of playing around with words can bring the truth home just as well.

    That "taxing" weekend is splendid double meaning.

    I wish we would have more debaters in the House who could give and take a joke once in a while.

    • I wish we had more elected MPs in Question Period who could ask and answer serious questions once in a while.

      There's lots of time for jokes in the media once the actual work is done.

      • Are you kidding?

        See, I don't get it.

        I think work and having fun can easily co-exist together. Often people are more productive and much more motivated if the place is lightened up!

        And besides, it's a full moon. That would explain a lot.

        • No, I'm completely serious. Fun and work can easily co-exist, but when you are paid to be there work should be the priority.

          Why do the Conservatives think we need futher corporate tax cuts? Do you know? I don't.

          • A pie in the face will silence your serious questions! Waka-waka-waka!

          • "Why do the Conservatives think we need futher corporate tax cuts? Do you know? I don't. "

            I really don't have good answers to financial questions but I came upon this and it's worth reading, methinks

            http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/st

  13. For the 70th time, why is John Baird answering questions for the government?

    • Presumably, he's articulate enough not to put his foot too badly in his mouth, and low enough in the food chain that he can be tossed under the bus if he says anything damaging.

    • Because Peter Mackay's nose keeps poking out opposition MP's eyes

    • Because he's the defacto Deputy Prime Minister.

      • It's 5:33 in the morning, and this statement has already ruined my day.

  14. Perish the thought that anyone might make mock of the way Sweet Johnny holds his wrist when he's making his point…
    Well – at least most of my friends who are gay have had the cohones to come out – but – when you are elected by a segment of the population that doesn't totally approve of your sexual preferences – you have to practice this kind of hypocrisy…
    'Scuse me Mr. Baird – that was just a joke! About as pathetic as yours!

  15. But they are not working.

  16. Small people making small talk about big issues.

    Be careful Mr Wherry. Yours is the kind of job that makes for slow, steady drinkers

    • I thought this was a very good bit of reporting and commentary. So was Mr. Wherry's coverage of the Liberal's weekend festivities, especially his account of the Fowler speech. Worthwhile reading.

      • Don't get me wrong. I think that Mr Wherry does a splendid job and is a very good read.
        I'm just concerned for his health; following QP day after day would turn anyone to excessive drink .

  17. You know, Anon 001, the exact same thought has crossed my mind on a few occasions and I have made similar conclusions. Why is it so bad here in Ottawa? Because, sad to say, the majority of Canadians are dumb, ignorant Tim Horton swilling peasants, with about as much elegance as aged beached walruses, and as much class as watermelon-head, beer-bellied, ATV riding, Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, and as for Canadian politicians, they are unfortunately, for the most part, the ultimate representatives of that mainstream mass.

  18. The very foundation of the House seemed to buckle under the weight of such wit.
    You sure Duffy wasn't just passing by?

    Sometimes I wonder if the way to get MPs to be able to handle question period wouldn't be to lock them each up in a small closet with only their files to keep them company. No talking points, no TV spots, nothing else, just their work..

    ..of course, I suppose the reason we don't do that is because the temptation becomes to not let them back out.

    • I think you just made a joke !

  19. Both Baird and Flaherty made multiple false statements in the House. They said Ignatieff proposed raising the GST, raising corporate taxes, increasing the payroll tax, etc.

    Let's set aside the analysis of which side scored the most zingers in the House for a moment. These are Ministers of the Crown, lying … not implying, not stretching the truth, not spinning … flat out lying. And they do it quite a bit.

  20. Reading about QP behaviour here is always more entertaining (and informative) than watching on CPAC.

  21. it's enough to want to make you "gag" towards the future. Even Lady Gaga does a better job if one understands the innuendo. gaaaaa …

  22. I'm at work and I simply couldn't stop from laughing at that "taxing weekend remark".

    The joke was rather ptitiful, but the buildup was phenomenal!

  23. Is this what we pay the ministers to do – make a joke of parliamentary questions?

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