This probably won’t become a regular ITQ feature, mind you, since it’s usually nothing more than a cacophony of competing talking points, but considering the events that transpired earlier today, it’s worth making the foray to the foyer this afternoon.
Well, I’m here – although frankly, it was touch and go for a while there that I would recover sufficient mental faculties from the torpor of Question Period to haul myself out of the gallery and into the foyer. You would have thought that this would be an vitriolic, tension-laced highwire show of a Question Period, but you would be horribly, horribly wrong.
Oh, the milling. So much of journalism relies on one’s milling skills. At least the security guards are friendly, although oddly reticent to comment on the political issues of the day. There are three clusters at the moment – two waiting, one involving Christian Paradis which is being conducted entirely in French, and a few MPs mingling with the horde as we eye the two respective doors intently.
Now I’m remembering why I don’t enjoy scrums – it’s a height issue that is pretty well insurmountable, coupled with the anomalous audio that is a quirk of the foyer, which means you can sometimes pick up whispers from across the room, and others, you are left wondering just what Tony Clement had to say about his portfolio.
Oh, it turns out I’m not the only one perturbed by the inequity; several reporters are now airing a similar grievance, and demanding that “the first circle” (of cameras) bring their quarry to the mic before beginning the scrum.
Aha, despite grumbling, the mob cooperated: John Baird is now at a microphone, talking about shovels, and how it isn’t the federal hand that actually *holds* it, but will make it possible for said shovel to make it into the ground. He’s being quizzed about whether the government will support the Liberal amendment, and is coy – the general sense is that it *will*, but there have been no official or unofficial confirmations to that effect.
And over to – why, is that Rona Ambrose? It is! And she’s talking transit strike; a pox on both their houses seems to be her instinctive reaction, but then she drops in a mention of back to work legislation, and suddenly, there’s a lot more interest in what she has to say. At which point she hastily abandons the mic.
The mystery of the missing random Liberal MPs has been solved: their leader is currently giving his official House response to the budget, which means that we should get our hands on the amendment soon. Yay! Parliamentary procedure!
Unfortunately for Rona Ambrose, it appears Paul Dewar is slightly more familiar with the minutaeia of the Canada Labour Code; the way he tells it, the minister could end this strike in a nanosecond by sending both parties to mediation. He’s trying to avoid the obvious questions about the fate of the coalition, although he does mention the possibility that the Liberals and the Tories could have cooked up a backroom deal. Of evil, obviously. That’s slightly paraphrased, but you get the gist.
I am assured by a member of Team Ignatieff that the amendment will be available “soon”. Other than the crowd waiting somewhat uncertainly for Ignatieff, the foyer is clearing out, although there may be a second wave as the Liberal MPs start to trickle out. Bob Rae is doing an interview with CPAC about whether his party has “caved in”; he seems a bit tired as he explains that this is, after all, an Economic Crisis, so to carry on “as if nothing has changed” would be wrong. He touts the demand for “heightened accountability”, but then I get distracted and wander off to another part of the foyer, where Mauril Belanger – my MP – is saying — oh, much the same thing, as it turns out. Really, at this point the most interesting question is what the government will do. How gratifying for the PM it must be to finally have some sort of influence, albeit indirectly, over the ultimate fate of his budget and his government.
There is something rather futile about watching CPAC’s broadcast of the House of Commons from the foyer of the House of Commons. It’s meta in a bad way.
Okay, I’ve got the amendment – I’m going to flee the vicinity so I can read it properly. I hope the few of you who have stuck through to the bitter end enjoyed this glimpse inside the rituals of Hill journalism – and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll do it again.