The Commons: ‘Way to go, Skippy’

Yes, congratulations are in order on another day well diverted

The Scene. It was for awhile there—no word of a lie—proving to be a fairly substantive day.

Opening Question Period, the Liberals opted to raise the matter of Omar Khadr, the young man of some Canadian heritage now residing, under the auspices of global security, in a Guantanamo Bay prison. The opposition parties are of the opinion that Khadr, with due consideration to his age and the precedents of other Western-born detainees, should be brought back to Canada.

It is, at the very least, a position of principle, if not at all a position of great political gain. And as such it was quickly shooed away by the Prime Minister. But months after they promised to champion Khadr’s cause, it was at least redeeming to see the Liberals make a token effort.

Next came the Bloc, Gilles Duceppe going maroon-faced in his denuniciation of the Governor General and her stubborn insistence on speaking in favour of a united Canada when traveling abroad. “This is ridiculous,” he cried. “Monarchy is ridiculous.”

Maybe so. But the Prime Minister surely appreciated the opportunity to announce his love of country, the Liberals rewarding him with a bi-partisan ovation that was reciprocated a moment later when Stephane Dion made his own claim of patriotism. (Though it is perhaps insignificant, it will be noted here that while the Grits and Tories were applauding the Maple Leaf, the NDP caucus, with seemingly the only exception of Peter Stoffer, stayed seated.)
From there it was on to the environment and the plight of native communities, the latter discussion at least serving to remind what a forceful speaker Chuck Strahl can be. Indeed, a full 26 questions passed without meaningful mention of scandal or political controversy. The chest swelled with democratic pride.

Then, of course, John Baird rose and indirectly questioned Liberal concern for the disabled. And away we went.

So challenged, John McCallum asked why Baird was taking questions directed at the finance minister. “Today I am stuck with an environment minister who knows even less about economics than he knows about the environment, but I will give it a go,” McCallum huffed. “What are the top four priorities in the Department of Finance’s annual report?”

The environment minister rose only to note that when we last held a federal election in this country, the Canadian public voted in a minority Conservative government. As a statement of fact, this was difficult to dispute. As a point of relevance, well, never mind.

Before calm could be restored Pierre Poilievre was up. No need to bore you with the details of his appearance, but, suffice it to say, by the time the parliamentary secretary sat back down, Baird was beaming and cheering enthusiastically.

“Way to go Skippy!” the environment minister yelped.

Later, when a Liberal referred to Poilievre as “Junior,” the Conservative benches all but sobbed their outrage to the Speaker. “I am not going to weigh the virtues or not of names,” Peter Milliken admonished, “but I think members might refer to each other, as is required in the House, by their titles.”

Of course, it was far too late to be demanding any kind of order.

The Stats. Natives, six questions. The Quebec economy and the environment, four questions each. Omar Khadr and election financing, three questions each. Diplomacy, the Governor General, Quebec City, the Quebec City armoury, Burma, the Finance Minister and ministerial expenses, two questions each. Immigration, disaster relief and food safety, one question each.

Stephen Harper, seven answers. Chuck Strahl, six answers. Maxime Bernier, Jean-Pierre Blackburn and John Baird, four answers. Pierre Poilievre, three answers. Lawrence Cannon, Peter MacKay, Stockwell Day and Peter Van Loan, two answers each. Tony Clement, one answer.

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