The Commons: Everyone's fault, but Jim's

The Scene. Economic apocalypse beckons. The very foundations of Western society are crumbling. Bloody anarchy is sure to follow. Your children will know nothing but abject poverty or, worse, socialism. It will decades before we fully understand the extent and scope of these horrors.

But it’s never too early to start assigning blame.

So first up was Jim Flaherty, pointing directly towards a Liberal opposition that had voted against various measures in the last Parliament—though not, mind you, in sufficient number to be of any consequence. Then to Bob Rae, whose words and economic expertise had, by Flaherty’s estimate, compelled the Prime Minister to run a deficit. And then to Scott Brison, whose pessimism was reportedly moving people to give up their jobs and claim poverty.

“Mr. Speaker,” huffed the beleaguered Finance Minister, “there the member for Kings-Hants goes again talking down the Canadian economy.”

Who else? Well for one, the Bloc Quebecois, who voted in equally insufficient numbers against the previous Conservative government. Not to mention the NDP, who were similarly unable to impede the government’s agenda.

Jack Layton could not escape individual scrutiny either, the Finance Minister astutely identifying the NDP leader as a treasonous scoundrel. “I call on the honourable member to stand up for Canada,” Flaherty pleaded, “and stop bad-mouthing Canada.”

For sure, the nation has spent untold nights crying itself to sleep as a result of Layton’s mockery.

But what also of the Earth’s 6.7-billion people, each of whom had abjectly failed to inform Mr. Flaherty of this coming crisis? “Mr. Speaker,” Flaherty moped, “it is plain that no one in the world was predicting the kind of economic downturn and the severity and depth of the economic downturn that we have experienced in the last 12 weeks.”

Ungrateful jerks, all of them.

Remarkably, as Gentleman Jim outlined in alternate breaths, this government was wise enough to preemptively combat a recession it never thought would happen. “In October 2007 there were personal income tax reductions, business tax reductions, we reduced the GST by two full percentage points,” Mr. Flaherty crowed. “The GST reduction is permanent. The income tax reductions are permanent. The business tax reductions are permanent.”

That Mr. Flaherty’s department seems, as a result, to be permanently screwed—that all of those measures have emptied the national treasury and limited the government’s ability to do much of anything in this time of crisis—is, of course, unfortunate coincidence.

It was Brison, determined to destroy the Canadian economy with the sheer force of his mind, who wondered if the Finance Minister might, in these desperate times, show equally reductive zeal for the government’s use of luxurious air travel.

“About travel expenses,” Flaherty sniffed, “I am sure he read about that as he flew business class back to his riding last Friday.”

Shortly after the conclusion of Question Period, Brison rose on a point of order, waving a piece of paper in the air. Seems he had his most recent travel itinerary—showing him to have flown economy class—and wished to table it.

The government declined his request. But such frugality will surely serve him well in the apocalyptic future his pessimism is certain to leave us.


The Stats. The economy, 14 questions. Violence against women, three questions. Forestry, the auto industry, unemployment, the aeronautics industry, Aboriginals, the environment, Afghanistan and credit cards, two questions each. Affordable housing, energy efficiency, identity theft, the public service, infrastructure and the Ukraine, one question each.

Jim Flaherty, 16 answers. Tony Clement and Diane Finley, four answers. Helena Guergis, three answers. Lisa Raitt, Chuck Strahl, Jim Prentice and Peter MacKay, two answers each. Rob Nicholson, Vic Toews, Gail Shea and Jason Kenney, one answer each.

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