Why I miss the minority government

Listening to John Baird use his inside voice is like hearing 'Back in Black' performed by a harpist

Why I miss the minority government

CP; Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Maybe I’m a weirdo but I miss minority government. I miss the tension, the brinkmanship, the Liberals being even remotely relevant. I miss the thrill that comes with John Baird going hyper-partisan, his face turning the kind of purple that under different circumstances would prompt a good Samaritan to apply the Heimlich manoeuvre. I caught a bit of question period not long ago and heard Baird use something that sounded an awful lot like an inside voice. It was as jarring as listening to Back in Black performed by a harpist.

It’s been a tough transition for the political enthusiast. Without the ever-present threat of an election, the Conservatives have no reason even to pretend to feign fake-caring about opposition queries. And the opposition seems similarly disinterested. This is pretty much every exchange in the House these days:

Why aren’t you doing stuff about jobs?

—We are doing stuff about jobs.

But, um, why aren’t you doing stuff about jobs?

—Your mother. Army boots. And so on.

Not even Stephen Harper seems like himself. The Prime Minister has so much time on his hands he may actually start writing that hockey book he’s been writing for years. And what’s with his weird obsession with the monarchy? First he casts our military back to the days of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Now his government is shipping out portraits of the Queen to embassies and missions abroad. We can’t be more than two months away from Harper pulling a Madonna and starting to speak with a fake British accent.

Then again, can you blame him for being bored? Harper is now entering his third consecutive year of saying Canada is doing well, it’s doing great, it’s doing better than everyone else—but it may not always do so great. Shores. Lapping. Troubles. We get it already. Won’t some caring party donor give this man the gift of a fresh metaphor?

Happily, there is some hope on the horizon. For one thing, we have a leadership contest to tide us over. That’ll be a hoot, right? Next March, the New Democrats will select a new person to serve as leader of the Opposition. The Liberals will eventually select a new leader, too, but like anyone cares. Each convention will be followed by Conservatives using attack ads to “brand” the new leader as weak or dumb or maybe this time a warlock, which would be pretty cool.

On the other hand, I’m getting a little worried about the NDP. Already the party’s leadership race has attracted a large number of candidates—but none of them has said a negative thing about the others. I’m not sure even a political junkie—or for that matter a regular junkie—could endure a dozen debates that feature copious use of the phrase, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”

Don’t get me wrong: there are ways to pass the time in a majority. For instance, we can all start paying attention to Peter Penashue, who is, apparently, our intergovernmental affairs minister. As Aaron Wherry noted on the Maclean’s website, Penashue made it through the first several weeks of the session without committing a single word to the official House of Commons record. He is the anti-Baird. If ever these two men were to touch, the universe would surely be obliterated—except for Baird himself, who is indestructible and would for all eternity complain to the vast nothingness about its liberal bias.

Stay silent, Peter Penashue! You’re our best hope for intrigue.

Other than that, well, I’m not saying the legislative agenda is modest, but drawing the bulk of the media’s attention is the private member’s bill of a Conservative MP who wants to fine or jail any Canadian who prevents another from flying the Maple Leaf. Because apparently that’s a thing.

What a blow this will be to the nefarious gangs of anti-flag thugs who roam the land, bullying citizens into keeping the red-and-white under wraps. Sleep well, citizens, for the Conservative party is here to protect you from what would be a grave injustice if it actually existed!

In the meantime, the hundreds of thousands of you who are still without jobs may wish to look into a career in the exciting field of flag-display enforcement.

We have four years of this to go, people.

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