Live from Langevin Block, it’s your pretaped PM!

Liveblogging the non-live Prime Ministerial address


… from the Metropolitan, of all places, where a previously scheduled Wonderful Wednesday reception hosted by Bob Rae seems to have transformed into a multipartisan mass watch-in of the most anticipated political event of the last twelve or so hours.

6:45:10 PM
Yikes. Sorry about the delay, y’all – I forgot that the Met is also unofficially known as the Blackberry Bermuda Triangle — for some reason, it’s nearly impossible to get a signal anywhere other than by the door, or in the lobby of the apartment next door, or any number of other incredibly awkward spots to stand, particularly if you’re liveblogging. But ITQ will soldier on, because the people of Canada deserve no less.

Anyway, it is *packed* here tonight – mostly Liberal at the moment, but a few outposts of Torydom. The rumour – and I should stress that this is a rumour and not a coy embargo breaking, since I haven’t yet received the usual advance copy of the speech – is that he will “take a shot across the bow” of … Rideau Hall. Yes, that Rideau Hall. Which, if true, will mark a new high point in unsettling surreality for Canadian politics. I — can’t wait? Well, at least it will be interesting.

6:51:30 PM
Can I say, by the way, that this has been, hands down, the most amazing, incredible, astonishing time to be covering the Hill that I can remember – and contrary to what certain people – ahem, Olaf – might suggest, I’ve been around for a while. Whatever happens, I wouldn’t trade the last week of my professional life for anything.

6:56:04 PM
Four minutes! Eeeh! And we still don’t have a copy of the PM’s speech, so I’ll be just as surprised as the rest of you. Incidentally, Bob Rae just arrived – with a full entourage of MPs, some of whom are still trickling in. I wonder where the Ignatianauts are hanging out tonight? This is a time for coming together, right?

By the way, since I can’t actually see the TV from the spot I’ve staked out to deliver my bulletins – which is right in front of the hostess’ lair, which I’m sure thrills her to no end – I’m probably going to be silentish during the address itself, although I’ll try to run back and forth.

7:03:00 PM
Great amuse/bemusement from the crowd over his line about accepting suggestions from opposition parties on the budget. Has he *listened* to himself lately? And .. Was that it? Really? That wasn’t ten minutes – and it wasn’t terribly new, at least as far as the content.

7:06:09 PM
Okay, minority – hah! No pun intended – opinion is that he sounded slightly more desparate to make this about “the people” – not him.

7:10:00 PM
The text of the statement is up now; I presume that one of us will post the contents. Not me, because I’m on the BlackBerry, trying to find a chair from which I can both blog *and* watch Dion and, presumably, the other leaders speak.

7:13:12 PM
Okay, the backdrop behind Peter Mansbridge at the moment is downright *terrifying – dark clouds and very possibly Dementors enveloping the Parliament buildings. In case anyone was worried, that’s not actually happening outside.

Meanwhile, Keith Boag and the rest of the anchor reporters are standing in front of cheery red-and-green-festooned Christmas trees. Or maybe the Christmas pole, which has become a much beloved Hill holiday tradition, if only for inspiring one of my now sadly departed colleagues to muse, in the spirit of Yule, that what Parliament needed was “more pole dancing”.

7:19:56 PM
Okay, we’re starting to wonder what’s going on with Dion’s official reply. Wasn’t he supposed to be on right after the (current) PM?

7:21:32 PM
According to an Unnamed Liberal, there may – and I stress the word “may” – have been a logistical screwup involving the tape of the Official Reply, which is why the poor overworked and likely exhausted CBC parliamentary bureau has been filling time with an increasingly snippy Keith Boag.

7:24:54 PM
Okay, that seems to have been pretty much exactly what happened. Peter Mansbridge is trying to be non-judgemental, but Susan Bonner and Keith Boag seem ready to write off the feasibility of the coalition to govern based on its inability to deliver a tape on time.

7:26:18 PM
And there he is! What a weird camera angle – it’s like, from the collar bone up. On the plus side, there is a flag!

7:28:29 PM
It looks like this was recorded with a webcam – and not one of the expensive ones used by practical girls working their way through university – but the content seems to be fine — positive-ish, and stressing the importance of having, you know, a functional parliament.

7:32:45 PM
Stephane Dion, ladies and gentlemen! Next up – Jack Layton or Gilles Duceppe; I forget who was supposed to go first. I hope the english networks will run Duceppe – he’ll probably give the best speech of the night.

7:40:36 PM
Gilles Duceppe! Who has a Canadian flag behind him, o irony. He also had the good sense to do it in the Hill press theatre, which means broadcast quality framing as far as the camera shot. He’s also delivering his speech live, which I think is a good idea, not that anyone asked me.

7:43:24 PM
Someone beside me points out that the one word he *didn’t* say was “sovereignty”. He did, however, stress that the Bloc would not be part of the coalition, which probably helps everyone except the government.

Also, I love the fact that I live in a city where I can overhear, from my perch by the corner of the bar, not one but two spirited debates on whether the Governor General would be constitutionally justified in denying a prorogation request.

7:47:52 PM
Well, the advisory just went out – the PM will be visiting Rideau Hall tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Also, Jack Layton is delivering his reply – which is, thankfully, the last of the lot – from exactly the same spot that Harper gave his terse press conference lo those many aeons ago. Or last Thursday, for those of you not operating on Parliamentary Standard Time.

7:51:34 PM
Okay, ITQ is ready to call it for Jack Layton – I know! We were shocked too! – for his performance on both a stylistic and substantial level. The line about members silenced by prorogation, and democracy being shut down was very good, and I do like the shuttered House in the background – especially fitting given the subject matter.

7:55:39 PM
Okay, that’s it for the speechifying – I believe I shall sign off for the moment, and try to get reaction from the various factions – and subfactions – which will require my putting down the berry for a bit. Hopefully you’ll be able to get by without my dispatches from the front for a few hours, anyway. It’s been a long day, y’all. Try not to be too awful to each other in the comments.