The uniquely dispiriting bickering in the House of Commons rarely produces a genuine exchange of ideas. Today, parliamentarians were briefly preoccupied with who watches the Prime Minister’s kids while he and his wife are out of town.
The genesis of that mini-debate between Tory MP Paul Calandra and NDP MP Jinny Sims was an NDP motion related to government jets. iPolitics reporter Elizabeth Thompson revealed last week that a top Tory fundraiser, Mark Kihn, tagged along with the PM’s family on a number of trips on government-funded Challenger jets. Kihn, by the way, was the subject of the Great Nanny Debate of ’14.
The NDP wants the House to confirm that government jets shouldn’t ferry around party fundraisers. The motion reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, government planes, and in particular the plane used by the Prime Minister, should only be used for government purposes and should not be used to transport anyone other than those associated with such purposes, or those required for the safety and security of the Prime Minister and his family.
Innocuous though it may seem—presumably, nobody in the House actually disagrees with the proposed text—the motion left the House bereft of collegiality. Tories accused the NDP of misunderstanding the Canadian Armed Forces, which operates the Challenger jets, and further accused the NDP of misusing taxpayer money on inappropriate outreach. Sims poked fun at Kihn, saying it was news to her that a Tory friend “is kind of a nanny.” She went on to claim nannying was not why he was on those airplanes.
And so it goes.
The NDP hopes to shame the government’s non-governmental use of government-funded jets. Perhaps MP Paul Calandra will play defence.
In the news
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.