University of Toronto
2 min

Because we have nothing better to talk about

Apparently the fact that we are now three months away from the return of the House means that everyone’s electoral calculations are going into overdrive, and pundits everywhere can start trying to explain how two different polls released the same day show the Liberals one point ahead of the Conservatives – a statistical dead heat – while another shows the Conservatives with a ten-point lead. Meanwhile, in the midst of this, John Baird wants you to know that an election will grind our economy to a halt and kill all hopes of economic recovery, and it’ll be all the Liberals’ fault! Or something like that. Funny how impending economic collapse didn’t stop them from pulling the plug a year ago (while denying that such a collapse was in the offing).

But while the electoral calculators and slide-rules are out in full force, it seems that all other eyes were on Michael Ignatieff’s office – because apparently Ottawa had nothing better to write about. First it was the grumbling that too man people were from Toronto, and then it was the fact that too many of the inner circle are inexperienced in Ottawa circles, which could prove disastrous. But what got me was the daring exposé in The Hill Times which cottoned onto the fact that Ignatieff’s new chief of staff has been in a relationship with his communications director since 2006, and won’t it be awkward for their relationship if something bad happens? Seriously? This is the state of journalism inside the Ottawa Bubble these days? I mean, not just the fact that someone’s trying to pry into people’s personal lives (which, in contrast to American media, most Canadian journalists treat as fairly hands-off, hence our almost complete lack of sex scandals in this country), but that it’s the personal lives of backroom operators and not even public office holders? Apparently it’s been a much slower news day than I gave it credit for.

It’s not that the opposition isn’t trying to get some action going on in the weeks leading up to the return to Parliament. Last week we had the Natural Resources committee recalled to get answers on the medical isotope crisis, and the week before, we had the Health committee recalled to talk about H1N1. This week it looks like it’s going to be the agriculture committee to get answers on government inaction regarding the listeriosis report. I’m starting to think that MP Carolyn Bennett is really missing Ottawa, since she seems to be at the centre of these committee recalls.

Incidentally, if there’s one Liberal trying to tie Bennett for number of blistering press releases, it’s Scott Brison. Fresh from his trip to Western Canada, he put out another release today, alongside public safety critic Mark Holland, blasting the government for their inaction on the passport issue at the American border – which looks like it’s going to cost our tourism industry dearly. Brison points out that our tourism deficit currently stands at $13 billion, while our trade deficit widened to it’s worst ever – $1.4 billion. Both say that the thickening of the border was utterly preventable.

And finally, Elizabeth May’s hunt for a winnable riding continues, and it signs are pointing to Saanich-Gulf Islands in BC, currently held by Minister of State for Sport, Gary Lunn. May says the decision won’t be made until after Labour Day, but we are reminded that it is now her party’s priority to get her into the House, wherever she’s made to run.