The sketch: Are you smarter and more ethical than Paul Calandra's daughters? -

The sketch: Are you smarter and more ethical than Paul Calandra’s daughters?

The similar standards of childhood and professional politics


Ralph Goodale stood and Stephen Harper apparently decided the Liberal did not require a prime ministerial answer and so, after a couple less instructive responses, the House proceeded once again to Story Time with Paul Calandra. Coming soon, presumably, to CBC radio.

“Mr. Speaker, this would be a good time to give another story. I know how fond the House is of stories,” the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary joked. “I have two daughters, a seven-year-old and a five-year-old, two beautiful girls, Natalie and Olivia, and each week I give them an allowance. Part of that allowance might be for cleaning their rooms. Both Natalie and Olivia know that sometimes their mother might clean their rooms. They both know that they should not ask for an allowance because they did not actually do the work. If my five-year-old and seven-year-old can figure this out, how is it that these senators cannot figure it out and how is it that the opposition supports that type of activity from our senators?”

The Conservatives stood and cheered.

In fairness, were there a dispute over their entitlement to said allowance, Natalie and Olivia would still be entitled to due process.

Awhile later, it was time for another story.

“One of the first things I taught my daughters when they could speak was their address, so that if they got lost they would know to tell the police or anybody where they live,” Mr. Calandra related. “Only the Liberals and the New Democrats are standing up for people who clearly do not even know where they live.”

So here we have a useful standard for future senate appointments: Are you smarter and more ethical than Paul Calandra’s daughters? Perhaps after Mr. Harper has made Eugene the pizza delivery guy his new chief of staff, he can go ahead and appoint Natalie and Olivia to the Senate. It is a pity only that Mr. Harper didn’t think to make such moves in 2008. If he had we might’ve avoided all this.

In the meantime, Mr. Calandra might explain to his daughters how he figures that the Liberals and New Democrats are “standing up” for the Senate’s infamous trio and why he didn’t mention Don Plett or Don Meredith or Peter Kent or Peter Goldring.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to give the Prime Minister a chance to be crystal clear and to give a straight answer,” Thomas Mulcair offered at the outset this afternoon. “Did his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resign or was he dismissed by the Prime Minister?”

Mr. Harper now seemed to split the difference between a resignation and a dismissal.

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright and I both agreed that his actions are completely inappropriate,” Mr. Harper explained. “That is why he is no longer working for us.”

The leader of the opposition did not think this was sufficiently clear and so he restated his question en francais. And then the NDP leader returned to the matter of the cheques.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Mulcair asked, “how many checks have been issued by the Prime Minister’s lawyers to buy the silence of Mike Duffy?”

Mr. Harper did not appreciate Mr. Mulcair’s insinuation. “Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister complained, “this claim is false. It is the case, as I said yesterday, that all political parties do provide legal assistance to their members. I believe that is done in his party as well.”

Mr. Harper was actually building to something here, but it was not yet apparent.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Mulcair wondered, “is negotiating a $90,000 backroom deal to buy the silence of a senator a valid legal expense?”

Mr. Harper now assured the House that he thought Mr. Duffy should repay his expenses (never you mind that statement from the PMO of May 15). As for Mr. Mulcair’s question, Mr. Harper insisted that “the fact of the matter is that parties do assist their members in good standing from time to time with legal expenses.” “The member can confirm it is the case that his political party has on a number of occasions provided him with substantial legal assistance,” Mr. Harper added.

“Ohhh!” the Conservatives exclaimed, John Baird seeming particularly delighted with this tidbit.

Mr. Mulcair carried on. “Exactly what work was done by the law firm Nelligan O’Brien Payne on behalf of the Prime Minister to merit seeing members of the Conservative Party pay $13,000 to that firm?” he asked, chopping both hands in Mr. Harper’s direction. “How is that possible? What real work was done if it were a valid legal expense?”

Mr. Harper repeated his assurance that political parties provide legal assistances to their members of Parliament. And then he made his big reveal.

“In the case of the leader of the NDP, it is my understanding and he can confirm not only has his party in the past paid for certain legal expenses, it even paid findings of wrongdoing against him by a court of law that the party paid almost $100,000 in damages on his behalf,” Mr. Harper reported. “Can he confirm that?”

“Ohhh!” the Conservatives cried as they stood to cheer their man.

Natalie and Olivia might recognize this move: when accused of wrongdoing by a parent, point to the nearest sibling and allege misconduct on their part. In the (oddly similar) histories of both childhood and professional politics, this move has perhaps never actually resulted in absolution for the original accused. But it has at least confused the discussion for a moment and ensured that one is not the only individual tarnished.

The incident in question involves Mr. Mulcair saying something rather unflattering about another individual in 2002. The resulting lawsuit was settled in 2005 at a cost of $95,000, to the Quebec Liberal party, the party to which Mr. Mulcair belonged at the time.

After Story Time with Mr. Calandra, Mr. Mulcair picked up the questioning.

“Mr. Speaker,” the NDP leader asked, “if, as the Prime Minister says, he does not defend the actions of Mr. Duffy, why then is he literally paying to defend the actions of Mr. Duffy?”

Mr. Harper repeated his assurance about the natural paying of legal expenses by political parties and then returned to the attack. “If the Leader of the Opposition thinks this is a problem, why would he have his party not only pay his legal expenses but even pay nearly $100,000 of wrongdoing damages imposed by a court of law? Why?” the Prime Minister wondered, apparently tired of hearing questions and now wishing to ask them.

Here though Mr. Harper stumbled slightly—”That is something the Conservative Party certainly does—does not do. Why did he do it?”—and so Mr. Mulcair took the opportunity to poke fun. “Mr. Speaker,” the NDP leader mocked, “well now that he has told us what they does not does do, let us look at what they does do.”

Mr. Calandra’s daughters would probably understand this to be mean.

“Senator Duffy announced that he would repay his expenses on February 22,” Mr. Mulcair continued. “His expenses were paid back on March 26, more than a month later. What was negotiated between the Prime Minister’s own lawyers and Mike Duffy’s lawyers during that month?”

Mr. Harper repeated that he has been “very clear”—the NDP laughed at this—and proceeded to recount how Mike Duffy had done a bad thing and he should have done the right thing and Nigel Wright was no longer on the public payroll and neither should Mr. Duffy be.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Mulcair then asked, “how many people knew that lawyers from the Prime Minister’s office and the Conservative Party were negotiating that deal with Mike Duffy?”

Mr. Harper now reminded the House that Mr. Wright had been “very clear about his sole responsibility and his dealings with others on this matter.”

And then Mr. Harper started worrying about the membership of the NDP. “I wonder how many members of the NDP are aware that this party leader not only claims expenses for court cases he loses,” the Prime Minister ventured, “but also expects his political party to actually pay, for him, the damages imposed by a court of law.”

The Conservatives stood and cheered to demonstrate their concern. But possibly Mr. Harper was starting to forget what the point of raising Mr. Mulcair’s settlement was supposed to be.

“How could someone at the Conservative Party approve paying Duffy’s legal bills if Nigel Wright acted alone?” Mr. Mulcair asked.

Mr. Harper shrugged. “Mr. Speaker, once again, that question has been clearly answered,” the Prime Minister claimed. Then he accused the NDP leader of changing his story, apparently because Mr. Mulcair had suggested a day earlier that Mr. Duffy had suggested he was extorted.

Once again, Mr. Mulcair was quite mean in response. “Mr. Speaker,” he said. “I am concerned for your safety, that you might be impaled on the Prime Minister’s increasing proboscis.”

After Question Period, Conservative minister Michelle Rempel would rise on a point of order to express her view that such use of this p-word was rather unparliamentary and the Speaker would helpfully inform the House of the word’s definition and etymology.

“Did the Prime Minister offer Mike Duffy a guarantee that in turn for going along with the repayment scheme the Conservative-controlled Senate would let him off the hook?” Mr. Mulcair wondered.

Mr. Harper was moved to lament for Mr. Mulcair’s tone.

“Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the question is there,” he said. “I am reminded by that particular statement that the finding against the Leader of the Opposition was for libel.”

Mr. Mulcair would repeat his question and Mr. Harper would explain that the Senate “makes its own decisions” and then Mr. Mulcair would read into the record an email released by Mr. Duffy which seems to suggest Mr. Wright was demanding that “action” of Marjory LeBreton’s office be cleared with him. And then the NDP leader began needling Mr. Harper about the expenses of another senator, Carolyn Stewart Olsen, once an advisor in Mr. Harper’s office.

“It is really interesting to see the comportment of this particular individual, making allegations without any substantiation against some individuals, against some senators,” Mr. Harper declared. “However, at the same time, when he is actually caught doing that and convicted in court for having done that, he then expects his political party to pay the fines and the damages for him. That is the kind of person we are dealing with over there.”

The Conservatives stood and cheered.

And over here is a person who apparently sees no problem with his political party covering the legal expenses of a senator even when it is alleged that the legal expenses in question related to an agreement that this person believes was inappropriate.

Hopefully, Mr. Calandra has a charming story about his family that might by way of analogy make sense of this.


The sketch: Are you smarter and more ethical than Paul Calandra’s daughters?

  1. I’m not getting snookered this time – does Calandra have these kids? It’s appropriate anyway since this is rapidly degenerating into a kinder garden spat.
    Is he getting this line from the pmo, poor guy?

    ‘ See, i told you yesterday that pizza and Eugene crap wouldn’t stand up! Now you want me to do this? Well, ok, but i tell you now, if you think i’m going out there tomorrow and telling them my dog Sparky can lick it’s arse AND still knows better then to expect a pat on the head for claiming illegal kenneling expenses, you’ve got another thing coming!’

    • Worse than that: he doesn’t even have a dog named Sparky. No kids, no pizza, no Eugene, no Sparky — no integrity, no balls …

      • If you’re talking about someone with no integrity, it is that lying deceptive back stabbing weasel Nigel Wright. I don’t know how he can even show his face in public knowing what he’s done.

        • That must be why we haven’t seen him since the CTV reporter literally ran him down in the dark. Those kinds of people only skulk around in dark. Wait: new Harper QP talking point: He was deceived by Nigel Wright the Vampyre!

          • He is hiding his face in utter and complete shame.
            What kind of conniving weasel does that to his boss?
            No wonder Harper fired his incompetent ass.

          • Good thing the other 12 people in Harper’s cabal, er I mean office got his back.

    • Ottawa/par-lame-ment is just a disgusting display of deceit and immaturity. And nothing on our statism rigged ballots to change it. Media herds us into the corrupt 3 parties and decent votes go to tax-me-more green.

      But not one party that represents the middle class productive people. Oh, I hear the words, but I don’t see any results or action….

      • IMV it’s the job of the provinces to mostly rep the so called productive classes, and the feds to play nurse maid, nanny umpire and social leveler or sorts.
        That doesn’t really happen because in some cases we have the wrong sets of responsibilities and powers in the wrong hands. It is possible after all the constitution isn’t perfect or has become dated in some respects. Harper’s plan to shovel it all out the door lock stock and barrel, but keep a few over priced F35 around is frankly nuts.

      • Oh, don’t worry. Justin Trudeau and his million dollar trust fund, and silver spoon entitlements will save the middle class. He said so himself. And we all know he’s a man who gets things done…… oh, wait. He hasn’t actually accomplished anything in his life, has he?

  2. Calandra may have a story about ordering a Mediterranean pizza and receiving – instead – an Hawaiian pizza.
    In other words mistakes are made – even by pizza delivery people – as well as his beloved Prime Minister.
    Powerful stuff – dreamt up by Tory communications wizards in the PMO , I assume.LOL

  3. Why isn’t he hammering Mulcair for allowing NDP MP Pat Martin to accept bribes from union’s to pay off his legal bills? It wasn’t that long ago that Pat Martin was forced to take a loan out from the NDP to pay a legal judgement, and was then allowed to pay that loan back with money he received through bribes from union executives.

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with a party paying for a caucus members legal bills, but allowing them to take bribes, as in Pat Martin’s case, is clearly something we should all be worried about.

    • That rat bastard; could you please post a link to that?

    • That is an allegation of a serious crime. Do you have actual evidence, or do you just like slandering organized labour and the NDP?

      • Just google it. It was reported in several big newspapers.

        • “Just google it.”

          I think you and Rick misunderstand how debates work. It’s your job to prove your own point, not the other guy’s.

          • Oh, that’s rich coming from someone who only posts assumptions and speculation.

          • I think you misunderstand how I work….It isn’t my job to prove Rick’s point. It was NEVER my point. I however find it amusing that people are so bloody lazy that they won’t even do research before throwing around the accusations of defamation and libel.

          • Lazy? ACME could spend hours googling, but he still wouldn’t find it reported in any “big newspapers” that that Martin took “bribes”.

          • Poor lenny….cannot allow for others clearly partisan hyperbole and google “Pat Martin borrowed money from NDP and accepted donations from unions”. If you cannot allow for the partisan bs, lenny you will never get anywhere with your research.

          • Apparently it wasn’t clear to ACME either who wrote:
            “That is an allegation of a serious crime.”

            To which you responded:
            “Just google it. It was reported in several big newspapers.”

            I guess you were just too lazy mention that their are no criminal allegations in those stories – just a minor detail and a wee bit of hyperbole.

          • Before you get yourself in a tizzy about what I did and didn’t do lenny, why don’t you read ACME’s earlier comment. It might make the situation clearer to you. You were obviously late to the party lenny and now you are cherry picking comments instead of looking at the big picture. Rick made a claim of bribery but sourced the wrong article. Acme said Rick’s article had nothing to do with “Pat Martin accepting improper donations from unions.“ I suggested there were articles in many papers that stated that Pat Martin did accept donations from unions to pay for his robocalls defamation suit if Acme was inclined to google said stories…I never at any point commented on the veracity of the articles NOR whether or not they supported Rick`s contentions that the articles suggested Pat Martin was guilty of anything.
            You entered the fray and we know how that ended up….now do you still want to continue a ridiculous arguments of semantics with someone who has no partisan interest except to say that I don`t care about the issue. I never commented on Pat Martin`s guilt of lack of. Rather, I commented on the existence of articles suggesting that Pat Martin accepted: 1) a loan from the NDP and 2) donations from unions to pay for his Robocalls defamation lawsuit.
            Carry on lenny in trying to accuse me of anything you want however, I can honestly recuse myself in this instance of any partisan wrongdoing. I find you people to be ridiculous…you, Rick, T. J. Cook, Acme and the whole lot of you. Stop hurling insults at each other and do some research. No wonder the Conservatives are kicking your asses.

          • Ah yes, insisting that the words people use have specific meaning is just “semanitics”.

          • lenny, I never used the word ‘bribe’ but I did use the word ‘donation’. Now go away and harass someone else…perhaps Rick.

    • WTF do you mean ‘bribes’ think about libel buddy

      • Martin accepted donations from unions to help pay his legal bills.

        • Donations aren’t bribes. Stephen Harper will tell you so.

          • There has been much speculation about the payments and what they might mean. Of course, that is what the media does…speculate on what “payments made to politicians mean”.


        He took money from unions, and then after the fact stated “If anybody thinks I could become more friendly to trade unions, then they don’t know me very well”.

        So they give him money, and he stands up for whatever the unions happen to believe in at any given time. He’s not representing his constituents, he’s representing union leadership. Bribes.

        • what a load of bollocks twisted thinking!

          • Is the idea of a bribe really that difficult for you to understand?

    • Maybe Rick Omen could explain what Pat Martin could possibly do in exchange for these alleged “bribes”.

      Oh — he can’t. And he won’t. Rick Omen is like a cockroach. He hides as soon as the lights are turned on.

      • Um, he can clearly vote on legislation that affects the same unions that were bribing him. That’s kind of the point of bribing a federal MP.

        • Yes, because voting in favour of a labour union’s point of view would probably be going against NDP policy. It would be courageous of Pat Martin to go against party discipline like that.

          • So you’re saying that because the NDP is typically pro-union, that it’s impossible for a union to bribe an NDP MP? Is it impossible that the union’s interests don’t reflect his constituents interests? I’d be very suspect that Pat Martin would vote for his constituents interests over those of his union overlords, especially now that we know he’s on their payroll.

          • What would be the point of bribing if it would be predictable that the member would vote along party lines?

            Granted, its not impossible that the union’s interests don’t reflect his constituents interests; I’ve tried to find if there are any demographic info available on that (union membership by riding) however given that its an urban riding in a province with about 36% unionization, I would think that there’s a good chance of a higher rate in the riding, which gave Martin about 54% of the votes cast.

            But, all that said, its a bit rich for a CPC partisan to complain about an MP being told how to vote by someone other than his constituents.

        • Um, Martin represents a single vote in a minority opposition. He is not a member of government or a cabinet minister. What union bills?

          You put forth such an unbelievably stupid argument. Go back under your bridge you nasty little troll.

    • The question of the hour, of course, is whether the party leaders knew about the payments. Anything else misses the point.

      • Of course his leader knew. The NDP loaned him the money until he could find people to bribe him and pay them back.

    • Ah! Now I understand why the fake person. You want to hide from libel charges.

      • Can you explain to me how it’s not a bribe?

  4. those poor children

  5. Poor Ms. Rempel. Everybody nose what a proboscis is.

    • Probiscus? Damn, I knew I should have taken liberal arts education…

      • Well, I did take one and I’m here to tell you: it’s HYBISCUS. It’s a bloomin’ lovely plant. You can sniff its blossom with your nose.

        • Cannabis is a bloomin lovely plant too, and apparently Rempel’s proboscis needs some because it is out of joints.

          • HIgh-biscus.

        • Well done,

      • A science education might have been more helpful.

    • Probiscus? It’s a exploratory space probe launched by the Canadian Space Agency that has reached that large blue gas giant at the outer reaches of our solar system.

  6. “One of the first things I taught my daughters when they could speak was their address, so that if they got lost they would know to tell the police or anybody where they live,” Mr. Calandra related. “Only the Liberals and the New Democrats are standing up for people who clearly do not even know where they live.”

    Mr. Calandra forget to mention that the man who appointed these senators also apparently forgot where they lived.

  7. Wow! That Calandra dude sure is as pathetic as they come. What, the pizza yesterday, the daughters today? What other nonsense this schoolyard fool will spit tomorrow?
    Harper babbling non answers, Calandra spouting baloney, the seals cheering and clapping, I tell you, Question Period has become a Comedy of the Absurd.

    • Next up: You’re either with the Tories or you hate Calandra’s sweet little girls.

      • More childish speculation. Have you ever noticed how all the Liberals on this board post nothing but literal jokes? No wonder nobody takes you guys seriously.

        • A Conservative calling others childish? Pot, meet kettle.

    • The Paul Calandra creature has created a new pit-bottom low in parliamentary debate. He has taken on all of Harper’s pathetic ‘answers’, and added a vulgarity of expression and loud hectoring that made me cringe at what Parliament has descended to under Harper’s tutelage.

  8. Tomorrow, and for all the rest of our tomorrows, until time is lost – and we must search for it – Mr Calandra will regale us with a tale of fond remembrance invoked by a madeleine.

  9. Is the object of this article strictly to laugh at the PM? Is that what journalism is all about? Is it all right for one party to cover $100,000 worth of legal fees for Mulcair but not the Conservatives for Duffy? Parties are obligated to cover legal expenses, so what difference does it make who does it? What’s bad for one is bad for the other, so Wherry and Mulcair, don’t try to look all shocked, specially you Mulcair.

    • Hey, the short bus left for the convention a while ago. Did they leave you behind?

    • It just didn’t fly.

    • Actually, Aaron Wherry exists strictly to mock Conservative’s. He never has a point, and there’s nothing to be learned from it. But Liberals and Dippers are easily entertained by the jokes, so Wherry gets to stay.

  10. Holy crap. This is our HOUSE OF COMMONS. You swear an oath to be a member, doesn’t that require SOME element of respect for the truth? It isn’t the public library’s storytelling hour. The conservatives need to stop treating Canadians as though they are as dumb as their own caucus or base. We’re not. We expect better, especially from those who promised to deliver.

  11. Story time to run down the QP clock? Harper and his gang think this is a joke?

  12. I don’t listen to CBC radio, too much propaganda. As for Goodale, he can’t make claim to ethics…. While NDP Mulcair says he isn’t defending Duffy, it sure looks like how he walks and how he talks isn’t in sync (again).

    I get a kick out of Mulcair in that his own house isn’t clean. His legal fees in NDP issues is paid the same way as it is in Cons issues, MPs dip into these funds all the time for legal money. Even Mulcair in the Quebec corruption bribe inquiry. Then there is a NDP not paying taxes, bet they get help and is still a NDP member. At least Harper appears to be taking out the Cons garbage.

    Certain names you can’t mention on CBC or you get censored yet double billed accommodations in Ottawa some years ago.

    I am not defending Cons, not trying to propel Liberals either. But the fact is they are all corrupt and deceive us about it. My only options on the statism rigged ballot is who gets more of my money to waste. Hardly an effective democracy.

    Given NDP seem to be popular, time to un-invest in Canada. Like Chretien, I said I would not return to Canada until he left, ditto NDP. Ottawa doesn’t need my taxes that much. If a government can’t fix its corruption, best just to move out from underneath the tax greed and leave. Its why I left Ontario in 1980 and glad I did.

  13. Canada is just like Oz.

    Harper has no heart.
    Trudeau has no courage.
    NDP have no brains.
    Senate full of self important munchkins killing time

    All deceive us. That is what they do. All of Ottawa is a stage show in the illusion to legitimize it all.

    When you vote, the man behind the curtain always wins and you always lose as none represent you, the commoner.

    Only difference is no good witches, just bad ones a whaling or is that Wallin? Maybe time for the house to fall.

  14. I never knew that paulie walnuts had kids.