This afternoon, four new people took their seats in the House of Commons. Two Liberals and two Conservatives, all of them elected in the much-hyped byelections of Nov. 25, 2013, endured the ritualistic First Entering of the Commons.
Emmanuel Dubourg, the Liberal from Bourassa, in Montreal, was first. Ted Falk, the Conservative from Provencher, in rural Manitoba, was second. Chrystia Freeland, the Liberal from Toronto Centre, in Toronto, was third. Larry Maguire, the Conservative from Brandon-Souris, in semi-rural Manitoba, was fourth.
Dubourg represents the latest achievement of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in Quebec, the first of what the party hopes is a parade of winners in the province. Falk represents the last defence of the Conservatives, the must-win safe seat if the governing party is to hold on to government. The two, introduced one after the other by Trudeau and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, set off a modest showdown between the leaders.
“Hey, Steve, look at my new guy, Emmanuel! He’s from Montreal!”
“Hey, Justin, guess what? This dude, Ted? He’s ours!”
“Well, check this out. Chrystia’s on my side!”
“Big deal. Larry’s our guy in Brandon, where we beat you! Remember that?”
“So what? We still won!”
“See you in 2015, Steve!”
“Can’t wait, Justin!”
Yeah, it sounded nothing like that. But that’s beside the point.
Throughout the ordeal, Tom Mulcair and the NDP wish they could partake. But, alas, they were consigned to the small task of asking the majority of questions during the 45-minute period that followed the introductions. Mulcair did his college best, addressing four different issues—the crisis in Ukraine, military suicides, banking fees, and the Senate expenses scandal—in his first round of questions.
Lots of questions, plenty of substance, and few answers, just the same as most of 2013. Mulcair’s team, however, didn’t grow today. The other teams did. Even Elizabeth May doubled her caucus over the winter break. MP Bruce Hyer, the former NDP and independent MP who joined the Greens on Dec. 13, and now serves as the party’s deputy leader, took his seat in the Commons.