'This isn't funny' - Macleans.ca

‘This isn’t funny’


Susan Delacourt notes the scene yesterday as Carolyn Bennett attempted to ask her second question of the Health Minister.

A question about pregnant women and the H1N1 vaccine provoked a bizarre bout of heckling and laughter on the Tory benches in the Commons on Tuesday.

Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, a physician and former public health minister, was shouted down when she tried to raise the issue of confusion surrounding what kind of vaccinations pregnant women should be getting.

For whatever reason, Ms. Bennett regularly draws enthusiastic heckling from the Conservative side. But given government house leader Jay Hill’s stated concern yesterday about anyone who would “intimidate, or attempt to intimidate, members of this House,” he will no doubt be instructing his charges to show Ms. Bennett greater respect in the future.

The Liberals have uploaded video of her question. Here’s that.


‘This isn’t funny’

  1. Why are the Harperites so terrified of a competent and articulate woman that they feel compelled to make such utter asses of themselves?

    • NO kidding!!!!

    • There's a question that contains its own answer.

    • It's interesting that the first two comments on this thread are based on sexist stereotypes.

      Women can and do heckle as well, some of the worst offenders – past and present – are women.

      • Case in point.

  2. Wow. That's classy behaviour in the House, fellas.

    I know, I know, both sides do it, but it doesn't make it right.

  3. Oh come on. This is all so silly. Carolyn Bennett refers some sob-story about someone "agonizing" over whether to get a flu-shot…which she was doing for purely partisan purposes… and we're supposed to get upset that government members heckled her?

    I read in another article that Ms. Bennett's "lips trembled when she spoke"…. seriously? Those nasty mean old conservatives should stop their war on *insert Liberal line*.

    The truth is flu-shorts are getting out there, everybody is talking about whether or not to get them. There is plenty of information available. The world is not going to end.

    • It’s utterly classless to heckle. Why should we tolerate behaviour in the House of Commons that gets people booted from comedy clubs?

    • This comment reflects the mindset of Harperites. Their priority is not on serving society but on demoralizing the opposition.
      Endless news reports of the people who really ARE 'agonizing' over whether they or their children should get the flu shot and IF they will be able to get one in time are NOT 'sob-stories', they're real people in real distress and heckling is doing nothing to reassure them.

    • right. it is all a big game.

    • Riley, I truly hope you never have a health concern and get told it's a "sob story raised for purely partisan purposes". If you listened to the point she was raising, you would hear there is conflicting information on the safety of the shot for pregnant women. Now you may blindly accept everything the government/civil service tells you, but especially in matters of health, I like to do a little research.

      The atmosphere in QP is now toxic and you seem to think it's justified.

      Feel free to post a link to the Government website that directly answers the concern raised

    • Are you for real? I don't care one small bit if her question was a stunt, asked upside down, ended with a rhetorical flourish, and performed while standing on her head while twirling a baton. I don't care. What I DO care about is that she raised an issue. And it is possible for a Minister of the Crown to listen to the question, stand up, say he or she objects to the opposition's characterization, and answer the substance of the issue. It is possible, that is, if you do not have completely lost the plot.

    • That's a really stupid thing to say, Riley. Did you listen to the question? The woman has been to six obstetricians and can't decide, because even doctors can't agree on the flu shot – and she's not alone. I know at least a dozen people who can't decide and who are angry at Health Canada for it's crappy information and mishandling of the issue. Carolyn Bennett is a DOCTOR, Riley. She knows her stuff, and she asks good questions for good reasons, and she gets heckled by jerks who don't give a damn about this pregnant patient or people dying of H1N1. It wasn't a partisan question – H1N1 doesn't discriminate based on what party you vote for.

  4. if carolyn's lips puckkered anymore she would have to have to coat some more alum on them – this lady is too much some time – deserves a juno for that performance

    • Well, she's my brother's MP and she has done alot for him during a stressful time. And, she's a doctor and knows what she's talking about.

      Why the need to attack someone's looks?

      So, isotope crisis is sexy, 20 die from listeriosis and that's funny now this?

      • if you can't ell the difference betwee fake outrage, bad acting and even thoung knowing better – using a medical crisis for polticial gamesmanship then you deserve to have her for your MP!

        • You deserve an illiterate MP, psiclone.

        • Okay – so you can't read. Stop getting your partisan blue underwear in a knot and pay attention.

          She's not my MP but she sure did a lot to help my brother.

          My MP is a Con who's done nothing much but send about 25 ten percenters.

          Fake outrage? Just watch the Con side of the House, if you are able to concentrate.

          So, isotope crisis is sexy, 20 deaths from literiosis is funny and now this.

          • although you appear able to read – you don't take the time to try an understand what is wriiten : a coomon enough left wing nut practise – I said YOU deserve her as an MP if you buy into the act that carolyn is famous for supplying the house with. as to the rest of your response – you simply can't be serious and if you are I feel sorry for you.

          • Could you repeat that in English please?

          • Good grief – what's a thoug and what's a coomon?

            I'm not going to rant back and forth with you.

            She's a decent person and doesn't deserve the typical Con negativity.

            Enough already.

    • "deserves a juno for that performance"
      As does John Baird for his very authentic imitation of a snarling pitbull whenever he stands to 'answer' a question.

  5. Come on CPC. Stop acting like leftists and do your damn job.

    • I'm not privy to what the rest of them were laughing about but I was laughing myself at Ms. Bennet's claim that MP's offices were "inundated with people who don't know what to do". You couldn't deliver a better straight line if were Dean Martin.

      She then goes on to state that her constituent has spoken to six obstetricians (6!) and still doesn't know what to do. I'd suggest that she flip a coin. If she doesn't trust her flock of obstetricians then she might as well trust to fate.

      I trust that the coming of Mr. Donolo, the latest Liberal saviour, will put an end to these inane stunts.

      • If her concerns were groundless then someone on the government side of the aisle should have risen to say so, and why. Laughing an elected representative down as she tries to exercise her responsibility is inexcusable.

        • If her concerns were groundless then someone on the government side of the aisle should have risen to say so, and why

          Someone did, it just didn't make the highlight reel.

          Laughing an elected representative down as she tries to exercise her responsibility is inexcusable.

          I'm not sure "inexcusable" is the proper term for something that happens on a daily basis, perhaps "unfortunate" or "disappointing" would be more accurate.

          • True, someone did. I meant that they should have done so in lieu of shouting her down, not in addition to it.

            Yes it happens a lot. It's still inexcusable. From the Left one expects this sort of behaviour as a matter of course. For the rest of us the standard should be higher if we honestly believe in personal responsibility.

          • Any objective observer can watch the video – or read Hansard – and see clearly that she was being heckled for her comment about MP's offices being filled with clueless people. As you would expect. Perhaps it's my cynical nature but I even begin to suspect that the laugh line was inserted into her question deliberately so that this exact bout of outrage could be triggered. I wonder who wrote the question.

    • "Stop acting like the left" We all do so love our political security blankies.

  6. I think what we saw here was classic bullying. They mean to intimidate and throw Ms Bennett off her game. Why? Same answer as back in the schoolyard: because they know they can. This is why she has been singled out for special treatment. Parliamentary Primates.

  7. i say it is a simple matter of entitlement.

    The Cons probably felt that, having been given the mandate by 36/37 % of voters to govern, they were entitled to heckle Bennett. The protesters, however, were not entitled to heckle them because they do not represent the people. Oh, I forget, they ARE the people …. well ….

  8. She was doing fine until the question: "How can it be that at this late stage the government has created such confusion?"

    How is anyone meant to answer that? She asked a fake political question and got heckled for her troubles.

    • Nothing 'fake' about her question at all – a legitimate question that many Canadians would like to have answered.

  9. Women phoning in to talk radio on Monday were honestly confused about the two vaccines. Pregnant women are justifiably more concerned than the rest of us and want to do the right thing for themselves and their unborn child. Because supplies of non-adjuvanted vaccines are late, they have been now told that the adjuvant is safe for them, which is not what they had been led to believe by officials. The Conservatives ridicule Bennett for manufacturing outrage? Her questions were sincere. Just another example of insensitive Conservative MPs taking every advantage for political gain.

  10. This is beyond contempt. Laughing and heckling when the issue is so important to so many Canadians? People are worried, misinformed, confused, and this government is laughing? This government who spent how many times more promoting its budget than informing Canadians about H1N1 and the vaccine is laughing? Whoa.

    Reasonable people can disagree on policy and that's part of the democratic process. But laughing at people when the issue is their health and it's your responsibility to act and inform them about how to protect it, that's in a universe of its own.

    This is not about politics or policy anymore. It's about our most basic right to health and safety. And the MPs who make up the Conservative Party of Canada in the House of Commons have just shown Canadians that they are a menace to it. Period.

  11. A legitimate question may have been: "What is the government's position in respect of the safety of adjuvant in the H1N1 vaccines for use by pregnant women?"

    A precise question requiring a precise answer.

    Her question was semi-rhetorical. She did not expect or even want an answer; she just wanted to castigate the government.

    • The feds originally said that the adjuvant vaccine was ok for pregnant women. They later ordered unadjuvanted vaccine for pregnant women. When it became clear that the unadjuvanted vaccine would be late coming, they changed the messaging to say "No, the regular stuff is ok, use it". Until they went and bought unadjuvanted vaccine from Australia to get out sooner.

      So, why are some pregnant women confused? It's a good question, and a good answer would have helped a lot of confused people.

      • A good answer would be to talk to your family physician, and don't for god's sake get medical advice from an MP. Yes it would be nice if they were well briefed and gave a coherent answer, but question period is not really a good forum for this.

        • Except the problem is that famiy physicians are as confused as the rest of us.

    • The issue is that the heckling began at the beginning of Bennet's question when she said, 'MP's offices are inundated by people who don't know what to do', not when she later asked 'How can it be that at this late stage the government has created such confusion?' There is nothing 'semi-rhetorical' about it, Canadians want to know if they can trust this government to manage this crisis.

      • Simple answer? They can't.

        • This poor constituent couldn't get a straight answer from half a dozen obstetricians!

          Think of those poor women who don't have access to six obstetricians, imagine how confused they are!

    • Then the response should have been: there is no confusion. The government position on this is clear, and I will have a member of my staff direct you to the answer by today's end.

      This "precise" question/ answer ca-ca is lawyerspeak, just like BC's it depends on what the definition of is, is

    • Her job is to hold the government to account while representing the views of constituents. she is asking the gov how they bungled it so badly. it is exactly what her job is.

  12. The confusion is real, the sincerity of her question is debateable.

    If she was sincere then maybe the question would be different. Is it the governments fault that adjuvant vaccines arent shown to be dangerous to be pregnant women but havent passed the more stringent test of showing of being demonstarted NOt to be dangerous to pregnant women?

    Wrapping up the question into typical no win question (Are you lying or incompetent type Layton question) is the Bennetts issue. Would the Cons be advised to try to cut through Bennett's hyperventilating to answer the real question, yes.

    But it is too much for the lady who plays politics with this issue since the summer to claim innocence.

    As for her anecdotal friend, if her friend was the expert in pandemics that she claimed and had done her research she would already know the answer, which is the highly unsatisfying, "there is no evidence to indicate the adjuvant vaccine is harmful but it hasnt been certified as safe. The non adjuvant vaccine will be available next week."

    One can only imagine Bennetts reaction to that answer….so you tell me how sincere she was.

    • I posted this once already but Intense Debate liked it so much that it decided to keep it.

      The laughter came before the question therefore could not be in response to the question. They were laughing – as was I – at the preamble wherein Ms. Bennett claimed that MP's offices were "inundated with people who don't know what to do."

      That's a straight line folks and the laughter was likely in response to some witticism like "I'll say!"

      • of course – you always have to place things in context otherwise all is ignorance

      • And that's why it increased in volume and lasted for so long?

        • Did you see the word "likely" – it indicates conjecture. I don't know what was said other than what's recorded in Hansard.

          Are you suggesting that a little laughter and heckling would have been cool with you… but you just thought they went a little overboard this time?

          • Straw man.

    • well said – it is the practised faux-outrage that gets me – how long did she spend in the ladies room practising the fake quiver and the oh my people are dying and confused – only adding to the very confusion she so insincerely is complaining about and being a doctor she ought to know better – even if I were a liberla I would never vote for her now were she my MP – and being a uber partisan type myself it takes a lot to make me overlook my MP

      • Who cares about how she asked the question? Really, who cares? This is simply a way to rationalize and justify the despicable behaviour of the Conservative MPs. There is no justification for the elected government of a democratic country to laugh, ignore, heckle and otherwise dismiss a legitimate health and safety concern of its citizens. None.

        • Who cares about how she asked the question? Really, who cares?

          People who try to be accurate?

          What you're seeing here is a textbook example of emotional manipulation. Don't be duped by it.

          • I have worked in politics and the civil service my entire career, I have seen my share of everything this silly Hill has to offer. Let me tell you something: it does not matter how the question is asked when the issue is health and safety. People with the most tiny moral compass know that whenever someone asks a health and safety question, you shut up and listen. You do not make it fodder for partisan purposes, you don't heckle, you certainly don't laugh, no matter what the stunt is. Because at its root is a basic concern of every citizen. You respect it. The Conservative side of the House completely forgot that and showed they lack the basic judgment and sensitivity to govern.

          • … they lack the basic judgment and sensitivity to govern.

            And yet, there they are… As much as I respect your impressive CV, I'm gonna stick with my own lying eyes for now.

          • Hey, do as you wish. But think about this: would you give anyone power over the health and safety of you and your family knowing that they lack the basic ability to think fast enough in this kind of situation? They knew she would rise and they knew what she would ask about. They know that this issue is worrisome for many Canadians. And yet they could not muster enough respect for any of it to simply shut their mouths and listen to the question for thirty seconds? Is that worthy of your trust? Come on, would you really trust someone with this kind of attitude to run your local hospital? So how would you trust them to run the national health department and the rest of the federal government?

          • But think about this: would you give anyone power over the health and safety of you and your family


          • Or perhaps.. just perhaps.. actual emotion coming from being confronted by a constituent who's at wits end and fearing for the health of her unborn child.

          • I don't doubt that Ms. Bennett was showing genuine emotion. But that doesn't require me – or anyone else – to put away our reason and simply emote along with her.

            But when you see the triumvirate of Taber, Delacourt & Kinsella pushing a non-story as the biggest scandal since the one before last, you're well advised to use an extra helping of skepticism.

            It was a stupid question about a sensitive topic. Since the stupid preceeded the question it's dishonest and manipulative to claim that "they are laughing at the sensitive topic."

            Have we all fallen so far into partisan cheerleading that we can't recognize a cheap trick unless we're on the receiving end? I expect this kind of willful credulity from politicians, it's what they do. But we're not required to play along by accepting pure theatre as genuine.

          • Please illuminate the stupid part for me, since you seem to be an expert in such.

          • I presumed that you had already seen it earlier in the thread. Watching the video or reading Hansard will show that the interruption came after Ms. Bennett claimed that "MP's offices are being inundated with people who don't know what to do". Which is easily misinterpreted as an generic insult against MP's and their staff members. If you watch Question Period – as I do sometimes – you'll know that all members wait like hawks for these little miscues and they hoot and holler and laugh whenever they occur. It happens all the time. The only thing that's different about this one is that Ms. Bennett had a little meltdown in response and some folks in the Liberal war room, seeing an opportunity, set about bringing it to your attention.

            It''s unfortunate that the really funny part – the six obstetricians – actually came after the heckling because, to my mind, that is funnier than the bit about clueless people in MP's offices.

          • How is that stupid? For the conservative MPs to take it as a generic insult against MPs perhaps speaks to their offices, but it is not at all stupid.

            Hell, is that not part of the POINT of an MP's office? To receive questions from those who don't know what to do in hopes of receiving guidance as to what the government can provide?

            Laughing at that isn't excusable. If an MP thinks it's funny that someone might not know what to do in their office, that MP should be fired. Period.

    • "As for her anecdotal friend, if her friend was the expert in pandemics that she claimed and had done her research she would already know the answer, which is the highly unsatisfying, "there is no evidence to indicate the adjuvant vaccine is harmful but it hasnt been certified as safe. The non adjuvant vaccine will be available next week."

      You're basically right. One can only imagine Bennett's reaction to that answer, because that's not the answer that was provided.
      But, more important than Bennett's reaction, what would the reaction of Canadian voters who aren't yet convinced the Conservatives are ready to be trusted with the majority they're jonesing for? Maybe something like, "Wow, they sure didn't get sucked into those parliamentary games I hate so much, and yet they still gave an accurate, authoritative answer. Hmmm…."

  13. A opp. MP asks a predictable question and receives a predictable response. What stands out in this video is the anger on Ms. Bennett`s face and voice at around 10 secs. on the video. And she is a doctor—-how would you feel if she was your doctor and you looked down at that face yelling " This is not funny ".

    • Oh please – this is ridiculous.

      Fact is – it's not funny folks and she has every right to be angry.

  14. For whatever reason, Ms. Bennett regularly draws enthusiastic heckling

    Since when did bloggistés become shy about offering reasons why?

  15. This comment was deleted.

    • Well said!

    • Mr. Bennett?

      • "Mr . Bennett, you presume?" Mr. Bennett – Dr. Bennett's Father – passed away last week. Mr. Peter O'Brian – Dr. Bennett's Husband – probably has the good sense not to enter the blogosphere to see some of the uneducated and unwarranted CON vitriol directed at her. However, as an advocate for public health care, I completely admire Dr. Bennett and would be proud to be related to her. The behavior of the Conservative government toward H1N1 is not funny, nor is your comment.

        • The behavior of the Conservative government toward H1N1 is not funny, nor is your comment.

          No accounting for taste, I guess. I kinda like Dr. Bennett myself, what I know of her. So has great passion, she's obviously intelligent and she wears the hell out of a scarf, doesn't she?

          Having said that, I thought your little tribute to her virtues was a little overwrought, hence the joke.

  16. right. lets turn the channel and attack the citizen. quick update those gala talking points re having a doctor. now!….. oh wait, thought we are into galas now….. i am so confused.

    • Actually, it's not an attack but a bit of mockery of Ms. Bennett. Apparently it's not sufficient to be confused after speaking to one measly obstetrician, you must first talk to a committee of obstetricians to properly establish your bona fides as a confused lady with child. I'm sure if she could have managed it, Ms. Bennett would have had her constituent consulting with Stephen Hawking before finally, desperately, in utter despair ,throwing herself on the tender mercies of Ms. Bennett.

      Of course she wouldn't actually invoke Stephen Hawking, that would be too silly.

  17. Milliken must go. This is his fault. Look at him trying to quell the heckling, it's like Piggy in Lord of the Flies.

    • Truly. He is about as effective as the referee in a 1960's TV wrestling match. Come to think of it, QP pretty much has the same feel as a 1960's TV wrestling match.

      • I would like to see Wherry cover QP from that angle. Some suggestions:

        Stephen "Piano Man" Harper
        Jack "The Stache" Layton
        Michael "The Count" Ignatieff (not very original, but unavoidable)
        "Wildman" Gilles Duceppe
        Peter "The Van" Van Loan
        Glen "Mr. Niceguy" Pearson
        Marlene "Smackdown" Jennings
        Peter "Quisling" MacKay
        Libby "The Queen" Davies

        . . . well, I guess it could go on and on. I'm thinking something like,

        "And there's the Piano Man, up and pumping that finger at the Count. Whoa, Johnny, he doesn't like that and — oh, it's the Wildman, back for more, he's calling out to the ref, but the Piano Man's tagged — yes, it's Quisling MacKay! Quisling MacKay climbing into the ring, and he's not happy, Johnny, he's just savaging the Count now, this has got to stop, the Count's hurt, and — it's her! Smackdown Jennings to the rescue! . . ."

        • John "Big Boss Man" Baird?

  18. Those Conservatives are a bunch of despicable fratboys who deserve to have their doughy asses kicked up and down every stair in Parliament. Ah well, they've just lost their last chance at a majority, and thye didn't even need Harper's vindictive mouthing off to blow it this time.

  19. Citizens are confused, the news media is confused, the medical profession is confused, and lives are at stake. Bennett's question, regardless of interpretations of her methods or motives, was a legitimate question that required a legitimate answer, not heckling. The more Harper supporters try to justify, rationalize, and trivialize the appalling behaviour of their MPs and shoot the messenger, the more evidence they provide of their and their MPs complete indifference to Canadians in distress. What they don't get is that their message Canadians is that they don't give a damn about them until election time. As has happened a few times in the past, there probably will be a gesture of apology from the Harperites, but as in the past, it will be too little too late.

  20. Great comment!

  21. the confusion is normal, it's a DISEASE, folks! no one really understands what it does.