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The Commons: Thomas Mulcair does his Stephen Harper impression

Unfortunately, no silly wig was used


 

The Scene. Furrowing his brow and shaking his head, Thomas Mulcair performed what is apparently his impression of Stephen Harper circa 1994.

“I would argue that the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles,” Mr. Mulcair read aloud in a slightly different voice than the one he usually uses.

As a piece of performance art this perhaps left something to be desired—a silly wig might’ve aided the illusion—but as a general reminder that Stephen Harper used to oppose legislation of the sort Stephen Harper now employs, this at least seemed to accomplish Mr. Mulcair’s goal.

“What happened to those principles?” Mr. Mulcair wondered, switching to his own baritone to level the question.

Faced with the prospect of what he used to believe, Mr. Harper would use his quiet voice and beg for reason. “Mr. Speaker, the government’s economic action plan is indeed comprehensive,” he offered. “We are operating in a world with a very fragile global economy. The government is determined to take a range of actions necessary to create jobs and growth and to secure our prosperity in the long term.”

Here, then, an attempt to reclaim the high road.

“We have set aside a record amount of time for debate,” the Prime Minister declared. “I would urge the NDP to actually debate the legislation, rather than just trying to obstruct and delay.”

Mr. Mulcair seemed momentarily willing to take Mr. Harper up on the challenge. How much, he wondered, would the government save by pushing back the age of eligibility for Old Age Security? The Prime Minister stood and explained the government’s intention without answering the question asked.

“For the stability and viability of long-term funds, we will make changes, but these will not begin until 2023,” Mr. Harper allowed.

“Mr. Speaker, they will never start because we will replace them long before,” Mr. Mulcair shot back, winning applause from the New Democrat benches. “That’s the problem,” Mr. Mulcair continued, “the Prime Minister claims to want to save money and he cannot even answer one specific question.”

The NDP leader then produced a specific number: $56 million, the amount by which the budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was apparently to be reduced. This, Mr. Mulcair ventured, would result in less inspection of food.

Hands folded, voice quiet, Mr. Harper asserted otherwise. “Mr. Speaker, again, as we have said repeatedly, there are no reductions in services,” the Prime Minister assured. “In this, as in so many cases, what the government has done is found modest administrative savings by eliminating duplication, and doing that over a significant period of time. Certainly, in the area of food inspection, we have no intention of cutting the inspection of our food.”

Thus will everything be fine. Unless, of course, everything is doomed. “It is frustrating when the opposition plays games with Canadians’ future,” Ted Menzies was later sent up to lament of the budget bill’s treatment so far.

The discussion eventually came back to the man this Prime Minister used to be.

“There is so much in the bill that would give additional powers to the cabinet, which effectively means giving additional powers to the Prime Minister, particularly with respect to the issues around environment, environmental assessment and environmental regulations,” Bob Rae ventured. “The Prime Minister’s reaction in opposition was so completely different when all of these powers were being accumulated around the office and person of the prime minister. What is the government going to do to resist the inevitable dictatorial tendencies to give power to one person and one person only with respect to public policy issues?”

Mr. Harper’s understanding of the situation was decidedly different. “Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party should actually read the sections of the bill in question,” he scolded. “They cannot be adequately categorized in that way whatsoever.”

Taking advantage of the loophole that allows one to use a prop provided that the prop in question is a legislative bill, Mr. Rae stood and theatrically dropped, one-by-one, several stacks of paper to his desk. “Mr. Speaker, yes, I read the law, which is here, and still there,” he reported. Mr. Rae then repeated his analysis. Mr. Harper deemed this reading to be untrue.

“I totally reject the analysis of the Liberal leader,” he said.

On this sentiment at least, the Mr. Harper of 1994 and the Mr. Harper of 2012 likely sound identical.

The Stats. The budget, eight questions. Ethics, five questions. Government spending and search-and-rescue, four questions each. Satellite technology, arts funding, housing, employment and the RCMP, two questions each. France, prisons, the environment, trade, agriculture, aboriginal affairs and the Canadian Forces, one question each.

Stephen Harper, six responses. Tony Clement, Diane Finley and Keith Ashfield, four responses each. Peter Van Loan and Candice Hoeppner, three responses each. Christian Paradis and James Moore, two responses each. Joe Oliver, Pierre Poilievre, Peter Kent, Ed Fast, Gerry Ritz, John Baird, Ted Menzies, John Duncan and Peter MacKay, one response each.


 

The Commons: Thomas Mulcair does his Stephen Harper impression

  1. Mulcair quoting Harper: “’I would argue that the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles.’ What happened to those principles?”

    Harper: “Mr. Speaker, the government’s economic action plan is indeed comprehensive. We are operating in a world with a very fragile global economy. The government is determined to take a range of actions necessary to create jobs and growth and to secure our prosperity in the long term.”

    Does Harper even listen to the questions the opposition asks? Why does he mindlessly parrot Con propaganda that’s completely irrelevant to the issue at hand? One has to wonder if there is any Canadian democratic institution or tradition that Harper hasn’t treated with contempt and deemed beneath himself…

    • Because it is all about the economy. Today’s CBC headlines – I know which country I would rather live in.
      “Canada adds a surprise 58,200 jobs in April”
      “Greek unemployment hits new record
      Youth jobless rate hits 54% as 900 Greeks lose their jobs every day, on average”
      PS to Aaron: Harper’s hair do voted #1 on New York Times’ Sunday Magazine on its Well-Coiffed World Leaders list.

      • Yeah right. Whenever there is positive news about the economy the Cons take credit. Whenever there is negative news the Cons say government has no influence over the economy. The reality is that Harper’s plan to turn Canada into a resource super-power is backwards and shortsighted to say the least. A country in this century needs a strong value-added sector to maintain a high standard of living and weather the resource booms and busts.

        • everyone’s an expert. why dont you run for PM

          • ummm…because no one can “run for PM” since the PM is (in theory at least) selected by the majority of the elected members of the house?

  2. Stepford Steve – the mechanical dummy.

  3. this is no longer a democracy and we have reporters to thank. let them know that when you see them in public

  4. It is too bad that the Speaker cannot insist that questions actually be answered.

    • Well, as Milliken used to note, it is called Question Period – not Answer Period. but i do agree with you in principle.

  5. Herr Harper hasn’t learned too much from Stephen of ’94, has He?

    • Long live Our Great and Glorious Leader. Long live Harpanistan.

      • Yes I agree. I would love to see him in power for the next 7 years at least.

  6. “One has to wonder if there is any Canadian democratic institution or tradition that Harper hasn’t treated with contempt and deemed beneath himself… ”
    No, Mr. Waller, there is NO Canadian democratic institution or tradition that the Leader of the Tea Party of Canada has treated with respect.
    Mr. Harper is the ONLY Canadian Prime Minister to have been found in CONTEMPT of Parliamentary Democracy.
    Let’s hope he finds some much-deserved shame, and decides to stop sending Canadian UN missions to teach Congolians and Zimbabweians about “Democratic elections”!!
    Mr. Diefenbaber, Mr. Davis, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Stanfield, Tommy Douglas…..all men of PRINCIPLES and VISION for Canada. They must be turning in their graves at what’s become of our Parliamentary Democracy now!!
    Unfortunately, this worthy land of ours has been occupied by Barbarians who are now inside the Gates. But it’s only another 2-1/2 years to suffer the neanderthals’ tea party poison…..
    God Save Canada from the most unCanadian govenrment in its History. We hope we survive as a Nation, but with this bunch of hateful, uncivil and uncivilized partisan bullies that use our Parliament as their schoolyard punching bag, it’s doubtful….

  7. mr harper is not a leader
    he is a dictator

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