The Commons: We are an island that Louis XIV is protecting from debt zombies

Our analogies runneth over

The Scene. Apparently something of a fussy TV critic, Thomas Mulcair seemed not to appreciate the Stephen Harper’s demeanour during last night’s showing of “The Prime Minister & The Queen (And The Continent That Is Like A Plane That Is Running Out Of Runway).”

“Mr. Speaker, last night in London” Mr. Mulcair reported, seeming to sound out the city’s name in a certain la-de-da tone, “the Prime Minister mused about catastrophic events about to hit the Canadian economy. He laughed about Canadians having to face the most volatile stock market since the Great Depression.”

There were groans from the government benches.

On the matter of the stock market, the Prime Minister did seem to smile, perhaps in hopes of projecting reassurance or confidence or so as not to scare the Boomers watching at home who are fretting about their RRSPs. Mr. Harper did also seem to acknowledge that the last time Peter Mansbridge asked him about the markets, the Prime Minister had perhaps not expressed himself that well. But to suggest he had openly guffawed seems to apply a loose measure of frivolity.

In any event, the leader of the opposition was most interested in whether the Prime Minister had a plan for the next recession. And, if so, what was in that plan. To answer this stood Peter Van Loan, the Government House leader having apparently come away quite moved by last night’s broadcast.

“Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister articulated well, Canada’s economic policies have helped make Canada an island of economic stability in a world that is in deep trouble on that front,” Mr. Van Loan mused. “And we are not immune to those problems. But that’s why we’ve taken measures through our Economic Action Plan, including Economic Action Plan 2012. The leader of the opposition asked where the plan is. That is where the plan is.”

That, presumably, is why the budget bill is so large. So that while the rest of the world drowns—either metaphorically, in the case of economic disaster, or literally, in the case of environmental disaster—Canadians will be able to use copies of the bill as flotation devices.

Mr. Mulcair rose to quibble with the House leader’s analogy.

“Despite the talking points, no country is an island in the world we live in today,” he charged.

On the Conservative side, Rob Nicholson and Gary Goodyear applauded, demonstrating approval for Mr. Mulcair’s point and also possibly proving that these analogies are getting difficult to parse. If memory serves, Canada was last year said to be an island that could only be swamped if a coalition led by Michael Ignatieff took power and, as a result of refusing to consolidate the government’s computer systems, turned us into Greece. Now we are an island that is not immune to the debt flu, which apparently now threatens to cause Europe’s plane to crash, possibly into our island. Perhaps we are meant to ward off the flu-ridden zombies that may emerge from this wreck by beating them about the head with those copies of the budget bill.

“The Prime Minister pretends to be concerned now, but two months ago in Washington the Conservatives were singing a different tune,” Mr. Mulcair scolded. “At the G20 meeting in April, the Finance Minister led the effort to block an international plan to resolve the European economic crisis,” the leader of the opposition continued.

“Hogwash!” yelled a voice from the Conservative side.

“He told European countries to, quote, ‘step up to the plate and fix the problem on their own,’ ” Mr. Mulcair recounted.

“Hear! Hear!” called Pierre Poilievre, clapping.

“As if our fate wasn’t intimately connected to theirs,” Mr. Mulcair said. “And he gets applause for that from the peanut gallery.”

This, of course, provoked more applause.

“When will the Conservatives stop lecturing European countries and put forward a real plan to protect and create jobs in Canada?” the NDP leader finally asked, winning a standing ovation from his fellow New Democrats.

In response, Mr. Van  Loan saw fit to sermonize. “Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister travels abroad, people talk to him about Canada’s economic success and the fact that we have the lowest debt of any of the major developed economies. The fact that we’ve posted the strongest economic growth and job growth of those economies coming out of the economic downturn. And they look at us and say, what is the key to our success?” Mr. Van Loan explained. “And the reason is because we have been pursuing a plan: Economic Action Plan and now Economic Action Plan 2012, that delivers jobs. When we go abroad, we talk about the ways to balance budgets and creates jobs.”

Presumably this balanced budget talk is mostly theoretical.

“When they go abroad,” Mr. Van Loan concluded, “they talk about how to kill Canadian jobs in our important resource sector.”

For effect, he stressed the k-word. Presumably he meant it figuratively.

A few moments later, Bob Rae was on his feet, loudly likening Mr. Harper to Louis XIV as least so far as it pertained to the Prime Minister’s approach to federalism. So apparently are we left to hope that a French monarchy can protect our island from the debt zombies.

The Stats. The economy and employment, seven questions each. Government spending, five questions. Fisheries and ethics, four questions each. Crime, three questions. The military, military procurement and arts funding, two questions each. The United Nations, the budget and search and rescue, one question each.

Peter Van Loan, 10 responses. Diane Finley, Julian Fantino and Keith Ashfield, five responses each. Tony Clement, four responses. Ted Menzies, three responses. Paul Calandra and Vic Toews, two responses each. Denis Lebel, Rob Nicholson and Christian Paradis, one response each.

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