View From The Hill – November 25th, 2013

House of Commons

You know what they say: when life gives you lemons, Thomas Mulcair is a corrupt Liberal.

That was the message in Monday’s Question Period, as human punching bag Paul Calandra stood up to receive a pummelling from the NDP leader over the suspicious Senator Duffy repayment.  Did illegal activity take place in the Prime Minister’s Office? asked the leader of the opposition.  Standing up to rebut the, admittedly unhelpful, question, Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra continued the precipitous decline of all that’s good and holy in our parliamentary democracy, and congratulating the Saskatchewan Roughridgers for a well-deserved victory.  And, oh, also, the leader of the NDP took a bribe.

In what, anywhere else, would constitute defamation of character, Paul Calandra today told the House of Commons that Mulcair accepted that bribe for then-Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.  That, of course, is flatly untrue.  But truth be damned.  The brown envelope was this thick! Calandra told the House.  (In actuality, Vaillancourt used cheques.)  While it is certainly worrying that Mulcair fretted so much for his political career that he simply neglected to report the mayor’s suspicious envelope, the Tories have ridden that horse to death and are now insisting that it is still alive.  And it’s sad and awkward and Calandra is hugging the dead horse and everyone is uncomfortable.

Calandra did introduce a new talking point into his repertoire today.  With robotically staccato dictation, the PM’s hypeman told his colleagues that Duffy tried to justify his expenses on January 24.  And Duffy tried to justify his expenses on January 25.  And Duffy tried to-

And so on.

It was once Mulcair sat down that Calandra phoned it in.  Senator Gerstein was offering to pay off Duffy, lobbed Justice critic Francoise Boivin.  Why did only Wright get fired?

Paul Calandra then lazily asked the opposition to explain why Mulcair decided not to take the bribe.  And then he sat down.  There was much applause.  And sobbbing.  But that may have been on my end.

Later, seemingly bored with his own task, Calandra wondered What was in that envelope, scotch mints?  Leading to a rather vibrant discussion on Twitter about the contents of old ladies’ livingroom candy bowls.  Later, he just became frustrated.  He suggested that three-quarters of the Liberal Party had faced some sort of criminal charges.  When the NDP began mocking Calandra’s caricature of Harper as a dotting fool who didn’t know the goings-on of his own office, Calandra lamented the Poor NDP, in his most sickly-sweet false concern.  They couldn’t find a leader, so they picked a corrupt Liberal.

As Calandra himself suggested to some Liberal questioners last week — I invite you to step outside the chamber and say that again.

Once the first period was over, and the fourth lines came on, we saw the only useful exchange of the afternoon, with NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar standing up to ask why the government hasn’t offered its generally meaningless endorsement for the P5+1 deal.  Why won’t this government commit to diplomacy? wondered Dewar, ignoring the actual details of the deal — essentially adding up to a face-saving measure for all parties involved.  While the NDP has lauded the Ayatollah’s favoured candidate, fresh president Hassan Rouhani, and his fresh chops, the Conservatives have been more skeptical.  We will support any reasonable measure that would see Iran step back from its nuclear program, Baird said.  And this deal, it ain’t it.  (The P5+1 deal really doesn’t force Tehran to walk back from its nuclear program at all.)  Dewar’s cohort, Hélène Laverdiére, continued on the same line of questioning in wondering why Ottawa wouldn’t celebrate Rouhani.  Angry Baird then came out, noting that Canada doesn’t recognize elections as legitimate where women are barred from participating.  The NDP shrugged and moved on.

Then, seemingly as a hat-tip to the four federal byelections going on today, we had Calgary Centre MP, recent byelection winner, and noted lockstep Tory, Joan Crockatt.  Whatever question she had for her government was immediately forgotten by me and, seemingly, everyone else.  Or perhaps it was just not heard, seeing as Crockatt’s seat is so far away it may as well be in Gatineau.

While Crockatt was once touted as a star candidate, and it was suggested she may go on to doing something relevant, she seemingly knew of her fate before being elected in 2012.

“If I’m a backbench MP, I’m just fine doing that,” she told the Globe and Mail.  “To me, the job is to support the Prime Minister in whatever way he thinks.”

Keep up the good work, Joanne Crochet. Or whatever your name is.

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