My fellow Canadians, the skies have darkened, and the threat of despotism looms on the horizon once again. Two days after the end of the holidays for our elected representatives, the leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, has accused Andrew Scheer, the Conservative Speaker of the House, for showing favouritism to the, um, Conservative party. Many questions arise from this situation: Have Scheer’s actions reflected favouritism? Does this even matter?
In order to better understand the issue, I decided to watch the period in question.
Worst. Idea. Ever.
The CPAC digital archives website provides free viewing of everything that gets filmed in parliament so that political masochists like myself have an outlet. I originally only intended to watch the relevant scene, but I ended up watching the entire hour-long question period, and three more. The CPAC digital archives became my Facebook: it was 3:00 AM, I knew I wouldn’t find anything new and should probably go to sleep, but I just kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling into the dark abyss of the political farce that is Question Period.
Don’t get me wrong, Question Period is by no means boring. It’s actually quite lively, but for all the wrong reasons. Check out this video of the January 28th question period—actually, wait. Don’t check it out. Spare yourself the pain. Mulcair asks his question, and Harper even stands up to reply. Scheer says he hasn’t heard anything in the question relating to government business, and allows Mulcair to repeat his question. The Leader of the Opposition does, and the debate (if we can even call it that) rolls right on. The issue is that, when asking these questions, Mulcair and Harper struggle to insult each other repeatedly. When the PM makes a comment regarding the NDP’s “90 years in Opposition”, you can almost see some Tory MPs yelling “burn!” to their NDP colleagues across the House.
The problem is that Mulcair seems to be upset over half a minute in an hour-long QP, but fails to notice that the entire procedure is one big joke. Members of all parties spend more of their speaking time trying to insult each other than actually asking questions. When questions do get asked, the replies from Conservatives are – in keeping with the core concepts of political discourse – answers that aren’t answers, but merely repetitions of party policy. The whole thing is either a memorization contest or a spoken word rap battle. Very rarely do politics enter the fray.
In light of all this kerfuffle, Mulcair chose to specifically address a petty issue with the Speaker. Really? If this is the only problem the leader of the opposition can find, he may not be asking the right questions. Period.