Goodbye Vic Toews?

’Mr. Speaker, I will not get into those kinds of cheap shots that the member does’
Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews rises following Question Period to raise a Point of Order in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday February 27, 2012. Toews admits that Parliament’s hands may be tied when it comes to dealing with videos attacking him that were posted on the Internet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is reportedly preparing to retire. Maybe.

If Mr. Toews’ federal political career is soon to end, his last exchange with the opposition will be this one from June 10.

Randall Garrison. Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have misplaced priorities when it comes to RCMP reform as well. Last week the minister refused to distance himself from Commissioner Paulson’s inappropriate comments about sexual harassment in the force. Now the minister is flatly rejecting the idea of civilian governance for the RCMP. This was a key recommendation of the Brown task force for improving RCMP accountability. Why does the minister insist on undermining rather than rebuilding public trust in the RCMP?

Vic Toews. Mr. Speaker, our government has taken strong action to restore pride in Canada’s national police force. Harassment in the RCMP, especially harassment of a sexual nature, is a problem. The commissioner, like all Canadians, finds it totally unacceptable and our government agrees. What I do not understand is that when we had the debate to see what legislation was needed by the RCMP, who stood up to vote against it? That member and his party.

Rosane Doré Lefebvre. Mr. Speaker, the minister is once again showing that he is living beyond his means, intellectually speaking. He knows full well that Bill C-42 does not go far enough. The RCMP needs a change in culture, from the bottom straight up to the top. The band-aid solutions proposed by the minister are not enough to restore the public trust. Why are the Conservatives opposing the idea that the commissioner no longer be accountable to the minister? Why categorically oppose the principle of civil governance at the RCMP?

Vic Toews. Mr. Speaker, I will not get into those kinds of cheap shots that the member does. I may not have been blessed with the same intelligence she has, but I try to make up for it with hard work. I try to work with my colleagues in the House. We have brought good legislation forward that would transform the RCMP. Unfortunately, that member and her party have consistently stood in the way of meaningful reform for the RCMP.

Given the statement for which Mr. Toews is most recently famous for, this bit about not getting into “those kinds of cheap shots” is possibly the funniest thing Mr. Toews has ever said. Indeed, his last two statements in the House—see here and here—would be responses to lobbed questions that allowed the minister to accuse Charlie Angus of sexism (for a reference to a Beatles song) and fret that Thomas Mulcair could have endangered children (when the NDP leader had his “misunderstanding” with Hill security).

Nonetheless, Mr. Toews would at the very least leave us with a valuable lesson about the limits of denigrating one’s opponents—or at least the risk that in doing so, one might undermine own’s own cause. As Mr. Toews admonished the NDP’s Francoise Boivin 16 months ago: “Mr. Speaker, the member, by trying to over-emphasize her point, discredits herself.”