View From The Hill – November 28th, 2013

House of Commons

America’s Funniest Home Video built an empire on videos of middle-aged men being hit in the crotch.  Families would pop a bag of buttery, salty popcorn and watch that man get hit in the crotch.  Again.  And again.

Well, that’s what Question Period has become.

On a very special episode of Thursday’s mess, Parliamentary Secretary for getting ceremoniously sacked, Paul Calandra, took a special level of slapstick grilling from NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Mulcair started by musing on the Senate majority’s decision not to call back Michael Runia, senior partner at Deloitte, to ask about the possible shady relationship between the auditor and the government.  Why did the Conservatives stop the Senate from interviewing Runia?  Well, if you’re genuinely curious, you would have gotten a better answer from America’s Funniest Home Videos.

But, like the genuinely crass amateur video show, there were plenty of slips.

Mulcair initially wondered, why is the Prime Minister trying to stop this testiphoney- before breaking down in laughter, amused by his own accidental cleverness.  Calandra stared at the opposition leader and told the House that the real phoney is-

Surprise.  It’s Mulcair.

So for an excruciating half hour, Thomas Mulcair continued his dissection of the Senate scandal, and had his opposition lackeys convicting Prime Minister Harper, in abstentia.  But it was Paul Calandra who took the repeated hits.  And just like Bob Saget’s televised trainwreck, it became steadily less funny.  And then it became sad.  And then it became aggravating.

The only reprieve that we had from the horror that is the Parliamentary Secretary’s moral relativism was a few brief questions about the possible snooping of Canadian citizens, by the American intelligence apparatus, during the G20.

Rob Nicholson informed us that spying on Canadians is illegal.  But also that foreign intelligence operations in Canada are secret.  So shut up.  The opposition naturally underlined that the spying was probably happening in Canada, and therefore is pretty relevant.  But Nicholson disagreed, and ceded the stage to Calandra’s vaudevillian one man show.

If the leader of the opposition lives in Stornoway, can he claim per diems on his Montreal home? asked Calandra, instead of answering the question.  Mulcair, of course, couldn’t claim those per diems.  But on the other hand: there is no proof that he does.  So.

[Long silence.]

Anyway. Question Period’s best late-game questions came from Dippers Wayne Marston and Dany Morin, who asked the absent Health Minister why she approved a highly-addictive form of Oxycodone.  Eve Adams, going to bat for the government, told the House that the drug was studied and approved by experts at Health Canada.  Morin made a snide implication, suggesting it was the lobbyists, not the bureaucrats.

We also heard from Jason Kenney, who was boxing with the Bloc in freshly-improved French, but totally not because he’s running for leader or anything.

And it closed with Elizabeth May, on a point of order, demanding that the Speaker force Paul Calandra to answer the question.

But it was Peter Van Loan who jumped in and offered some painfully blunt reality.

It is not the practise of you, as speaker, to regulate the quality of answers.



Other articles by Justin Ling

Billionaires and Plutocrats

The last MP out can turn off the light

Harper’s Clues

Follow Justin Ling on Twitter: @Justin_Ling

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