It seems CPAC is now looking for an Emmy nomination after its reality TV show, Question Period, hit an all-time high earlier this week. A show that captures the surprise of Survivor and the drama of Big Brother, featuring more rich white people yelling at each other per minute than The Real Housewives of Orange County, New York City, and Vancouver combined, Question Period tears at your heartstrings while keeping you informed of the general buffoonery of your tax dollars fund. In case you missed this Tuesday’s episode, here’s a quick recap:
Her Majesty’s Opposition Leader, Thomas Mulcair, asked a seemingly reasonable and straightforward question regarding the particulars of Canada’s military involvement in Iraq. As a response, Prime Minister Harper’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, read a several month old Facebook status written by an NDP fundraiser critical of Israeli military action in Gaza. After a back and forth between Mulcair and Calandra that lacked an answer to the original question—but made up for it with irrelevant Facebook statuses (you know, standard political banter)—Mulcair turned to the Speaker of the House, Ed Scheer, and questioned his neutrality and ability to keep relevance.
This will surely solidify Calandra as a family favourite TV personality. All he needs now is a clever catchphrase, like Stephen Urkel’s generation-transcending, “did I do that?”. For Calandra, I’m thinking, “eff the IDF? IDF-you!”
Since Tuesday, we’ve seen Calandra defend his answer to awe-stricken journalists, who exercise the ol’ Great Canadian Face-Palm. On Friday, however, Calandra rose on a point of order after Question Period to deliver a teary-eyed apology for his behaviour on Tuesday. His speech was exemplar of what I can only assume is some brilliant behind the scenes writing. “Clearly, I allowed the passion and anger at something I read to get in the way of appropriately answering the question to leader of the Opposition,” he whimpered. “For that, I apologize to you and to this entire House, and to my constituents.” I can’t imagine his constituents appreciate being lumped in there with…well, politicians, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Based on his moving performance, it’s clear he just couldn’t handle the heat. However, Calandra did assure us that we wouldn’t see the end to the loose-cannon bad-boy everyone has come to love, as well as the non-answers he was currently apologizing for. “I’m fairly certain there will be other opportunities in this House where I will be answering questions that you don’t appreciate,” he said. “I don’t think this will be the last time that I get up and answer a question that doesn’t effectively respond.” I find it comforting to know our politicians possess a level of self-awareness of their contempt, a fact a Globe and Mail editorial writer finds slightly more daunting, “to call Mr. Calandra a clown is to do a disservice to the ancient profession of painted-face buffoonery.”
Of course, no great reality TV show is without a story that lends itself to mystery. The CBC has sources that say Calandra was handed material by Alykhan Velshi, director of issues management in the PMO, during the Conservatives’ daily preparation for question period. Apparently, he was told to use it in his answer no matter what question was asked in the House. Simply riveting, folks. You just can’t write stuff like this.
Like a great TV icon–a Seinfeld or D’Angelo from The Wire–I hope to bring some of Calandra’s philosophy into my life. “You don’t want Shawarma for lunch? Shawarma is a food popular in Israel and, unlike you who I assume supports Hamas, I stand in solidarity with our friends on the front lines.”