The Commons: Holier than thou (as long as thou is Greece)

Aaron Wherry sums up Question Period

The Scene. Peggy Nash had asked why the Prime Minister wouldn’t be in Halifax on Friday to meet with the premiers—”Since the Prime Minister is rarely here on Friday…”—and Jim Flaherty had duly enumerated all of the conversations the Prime Minister has had with the premiers these last seven years and now Ms. Nash was apparently done playing nice.

“Mr. Speaker, the fact is the premiers of this country are getting together to discuss, among other things, the economy, but the Prime Minister is refusing to join them,” she prefaced. “According to the IMF, we will have fallen behind the U.S. in growth by 2015. Greece’s economy is expected to grow faster than ours.”

The Conservatives across the way burst into laughter. The Speaker was obliged to call for order.

The New Democrats happily point to some numbers in this regard—specifically the International Monetary Fund’s projections that in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Greece’s economic growth will surpass that of this country. Of course, before that, Greece’s economy will have plummeted for two years (and then, having reached the bottom of the gorge like Wile E. Coyote, just sort of laid there motionless for a year).

With order more or less restored, the Speaker returned the floor to Ms. Nash. “Mr. Speaker, addressing serious problems means engaging in serious discussion,” she ventured. “It means give and take. Co-operative federalism means listening to ideas that are not necessarily one’s own. Why is the Prime Minister refusing to go and meet with the premiers?”

The Finance Minister was eager to have more fun with this. “Mr. Speaker, now we know where the opposition sets the bar for its fiscal performance. It is to try to catch up with Greece,” he quipped. “We aim higher on this side of the House.”

Not much higher, mind you. Just higher than Greece.

Indeed, therein apparently is the choice between what this country has now and what would befall this country if Thomas Mulcair—whose beard is obviously inspired by ancient Greece—were ever to gain power.

“It is absolutely essential that we understand how fraught with danger it would be for Canada to go down the path that Greece, Portugal and other jurisdictions with high taxes, high debt loads and loss of competitive position have gone,” Chris Alexander informed the House earlier fall. “However, that is exactly what the member for Outremont is proposing with his $21.5 billion carbon tax.”

On this day, Mr. Flaherty opted for a slightly less harrowing comparison. “We are a leading economy in the G7, which is acknowledged throughout industrialized societies,” he offered, using a comparison that helpfully renders moot the inconvenient likes of Australia (which has a carbon tax). “We are looking forward to the economic growth that we have in Canada and in the United States, being aware always of the turbulence that is out there in the U.S. and in Europe.”

For its sins of cursing the world with this democracy, so is Greece now the nightmare by which all realities are measured.

The Stats. Ethics, seven questions. Crime, six questions. Foreign investment, five questions. Foreign affairs, government spending and infrastructure, three questions each. Sri Lanka, the economy, the environment and aboriginal affairs, two questions each. Temporary foreign workers, food safety, foreign aid and natural resources, one question each.

Stephen Harper, eight responses. Pierre Poilievre, seven responses. Christian Paradis and Rob Nicholson, three responses each. Jim Flaherty, Vic Toews, John Baird, Peter Kent, Jason Kenney and John Duncan, two responses each. Diane Finley, Leona Aglukkaq, Diane Ablonczy, Tony Clement, Julian Fantino and Joe Oliver, one response each.