2 min

Contributions to the tone

And thus ends the fall sitting of the House
of Commons. Predictably, it gets the send-off about how nasty the session was,
which often tends to be a function of the usual crankiness that creeps into MPs
the longer they stick around to try and finish up business here before they
head back to their ridings. As for the supposed “new era of decorum” and the
unctuous sanctimony of certain parties who preached decorum but for whom it was okay for certain MPs to go to comic lengths to express their outrage
in some of the most insulting terms possible, well, decorum is more than
not heckling. Just saying.

All of this aside, the nasty tone was less
about the usual acrimony in the exchanges during question period but the tone
set by the government as to how it was going to conduct operations. It was
amusing watching Peter Van Loan today talk about how debate on issues before
the House was “gridlock” – as though Canada actually had a system founded on
institutional gridlock as the Americans have – and that the increasing abuse of
in camera motions in committees was somehow demonstration of openness and
transparency. Contentious bills got rammed through both houses at unseemly fast
paces (case in point: the bill to kill the Canadian Wheat Board bill is now law – a day before the appeal at the courts to hold off on it until a plebiscite
could be held for farmers). Committees are either doing make-work projects or
they’ve had their reports neutered so they say what the minister wants to
hear (like what’s been happening in finance committee with the pre-budget
consultations). The palpable frustration of opposition MPs on those committees
helps contribute to that “nasty” tone, much as the hypocrisy and doublespeak
that Peter Kent exhibited on Wednesday led to blow-ups like that of Justin

But now we have six weeks to let things decompress.
Originally the House was supposed to be back on Jan 23, but
they pushed it to the 30th for whatever reason. In that time, we
may see a minor cabinet shuffle (I suspect that John Duncan may soon be
resigning his portfolio “for health reasons”), but I suspect the only thing
that would really change the tone a little when MPs return is a new government house leader who isn’t so grossly inept at handling a majority situation,
barring, of course, any change of heart from the big guy himself. Until then, we’ll
let them spend some time in their ridings, but of course miss them by the
second week of January.

The chief of Attawapiskat is seeking an injunction to prevent third-party management being imposed upon the band.

The federal correctional investigator is
launching an investigation into the spike in the black prison population in
Canada – because having our aboriginal population being over-represented
apparently wasn’t enough.

Quebec is looking to start up a
cap-and-trade carbon market but may only have California to trade carbon credits with in North America.

And Jason Kenney has named gay former
Liberal MP Mario Silva as the chair of the International Task Force on
Holocaust Education.

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