A couple of minutes before Question Period, the NDP usually expends 60 seconds on all-out partisan theatrics. The party tends to pounce during the fifth round of daily members’ statements, just before the Tories unleash a similar assault on the opposition (or, more specifically on most days, Justin Trudeau).
For months, the NDP’s fifth-round assault comprised a disturbing tale of corruption and deceit. Conservatives paid off their own senator, Mike Duffy, before throwing him under the bus, they charged. Conservatives stole the last election by way of unfair robocalls, they insisted. Conservatives plan to steal the next election by rigging the rules in their favour, they lamented.
Plenty of loose ends enabled those daily taunts. The RCMP was digging into ex-Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright’s financial gift to Duffy, and police affidavits alleged juicy wrongdoing. Elections Canada was investigating thousands of complaints of voter fraud in 2011. Pierre Poilievre was stubborn, not to mention robotic, as he defended his electoral reform bill, The Fair Elections Act.
Now, the Mounties have concluded that Wright didn’t break the law. Elections Canada can’t prove widespread electoral fraud in 2011. And Poilievre has introduced 45 amendments to his bill, including several substantial reversals. The NDP would counter that Wright still acted improperly, Elections Canada simply didn’t have the tools to unearth electoral fraud, and the Fair Elections Act requires further amendment.
Those rejoinders, important though they may be, are harder to pack into 60 seconds of compelling theatrics. The opposition needs a target.
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.