Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is Question Period. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer. Today, QP runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We livestream and liveblog all the action.
The politician who looks and sounds persuasive in the House of Commons masters a few basic tricks: a) speak without notes; b) replace rhetoric with data; c) stay calm, don’t yell; and d) throw in a chuckle, because why not?
Employment Minister Jason Kenney knows the game, and he knows its tricks. He has no choice. Kenney spent months convincing parliamentarians and provinces that the federal Canada Job Grant was worth everyone’s time. Now, he must defend his government’s record on temporary foreign workers. Yesterday, Kenney smiled in the face of Liberal MP John McCallum’s nearly rabid questioning. He never lost his cool. He had no choice.
Today, former Liberal leader Bob Rae poked the employment minister on Twitter.
TFW issue has roots in Reform's anti-immigration bias – explosion in "temporary" category is all about segregating and excluding. #cdnpoili
— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) April 30, 2014
Kenney, clearly offended, fired off 18 tweets that framed the governing Tories as “the most pro-immigration govt in modern CDN history.” Ten of the tweets cited specific data, a savvy bit of online grandstanding. For example:
The # of TFWs entering Canada has gone from .7% of workforce in 2006 to 1.1% of workforce in 2012, @BobRae48. This is "anti-immigration?"
— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) April 30, 2014
Kenney’s stats are worth scrutiny. But he’s got a whole lot of ’em in his pocket, and he won’t shy away from overwhelming his opposition with data and a smile. Contrast that against Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre, whose talking points on electoral reform comprised a couple of sentences and who consulted only very specific, well-rehearsed data. The opposition only grew more determined to defeat Poilievre. That robotic approach was much easier to dismiss than the guy who always has a new number at his fingertips.