On Thursday, in the House of Commons, Conservative cabinet minister Greg Rickford stuck out his tongue and mouthed “blah blah blah” at Liberal MPs across the floor. Canadians from coast to coast freaked out—or so the CBC inferred, based on its analysis of Twitter traffic. So, really, a few loser hipsters and someone at Macleans (same thing?) tweeted about what happened. That, folks, is how news is made.
The topic of discussion at the time, if you could call this event a discussion, was the Keystone XL pipeline. U.S. President Obama recently vetoed a congressional bill to approve the pipeline, and, in so doing, upset Canada’s oil lobby. Apparently, that group includes the Liberals and Conservatives, who both want to see the pipeline built. That’s right: they agree on this issue, but they still fight about it. During Question Period, the Liberals questioned why the Conservatives had failed to win American support for the pipeline. They suggested that Canada’s weak environmental record has scared the Americans away. Rickford retorted by showing the Liberals the inside of his mouth. It was easily the most compelling pro-pipeline argument this government has put forward.
Ideally, this tongue display would serve as evidence that Canadians are rule-breakers or something daring like that, but there’s no rule forbidding childish behaviour during Question Period. That’s probably a good thing; if there was such a rule, the whole exercise would grind to a halt. Parliament would stop functioning. The country would, well, it would be the same as it is today.
Some Canadians complained about the gesture, others applauded the resulting GIF, but few paid attention to what was, arguably, the most interesting part of this story. Pay attention to the behaviour of the people sitting beside Rickford, including that of fellow cabinet minister Chris Alexander. They applaud. There are two possible explanations for this behaviour: (1) they think Rickford is doing a good job, or (2) they are so zoned out that they don’t even notice what’s happening. Either way, it’s bad news.
Several people took the GIF talk to the next level by asking whether Rickford’s tongue waggle might be “the best House of Commons GIF ever.” Surely it ranks up there with Harper buttoning his suit jacket, or Ralph Goodale shaking a piece of paper. Really, it’s a great question for a pointless debate, much like arguing over whether Peter Van Loan or Tom Mulcair would look better in a bikini. Why ask a question when answering it will bore you—or, in the bikini case, nauseate you? No point.
Those of us who pay attention to Parliamentary proceedings (the few, the proud) should agree that Question Period is a disgrace. It has devolved into an exercise in posturing, pontificating, and a grotesque display of body parts. While many agree that it should continue to exist, few really want to hear about it. As Rickford’s behaviour proves, when it comes to Question Period, sometimes no news is good news.