Xtra
2 min

Giving a damn about QP

The lament for question period continues.
Oh, how debased it is. Oh, how it is unreflective of the work parliamentarians
actually do. Oh, how this is all the fault of parties. Well, no, not really.
While it cannot be denied that some of the ills in QP's
Canadian context stem from the fact that we simply don’t have the culture of
debate in Canada that exists in the United Kingdom, we simply can’t blame
parties, writ large, and be done with it. Because really, parties are a fairly
integral part of our system, and without them, there would be a lot more chaos
in our political system, as every single confidence motion would be a
free-for-all of horse trading and influence peddling (like the existential
angst of a minority government magnified by 308). Why are we not looking to MPs
themselves? Because really, they have the power to change this if they actually
gave a damn. They don’t have to robotically read out prepared texts – and yet
they choose to do so. They don’t have to deliver talking points and party
lines – and yet they choose to. They could listen to answers the ministers give
and play off on their efficacy (rather than reading their next prepared text) if they so chose to. Do you see what I’m getting
at? Last I checked, we elect MPs in this country – not voting automatons that are
expected to parrot the lines that the leader’s office wants without question. So rather than
simply blaming “the parties” for the “decline” in Parliament, perhaps we should
return the agency for this to where it belongs – the MPs themselves – and demand
better.

The omnibus crime bill is making its final
stop
 in the Commons this week before heading off to the Senate. Meanwhile, an
internal Justice Department report casts doubt on the efficacy of harsher
sentences. Not that this government listens to the expert advice of its own
department, let alone anyone else.

Here’s an account of more behind-the-scenes drama around the portrait of the Queen now hanging at Foreign Affairs, and how
the one they mounted for the visit by Prince William and Kate was a loaner from
the prime minister that he was impatient to get back.

The former chief justice of the Federal
Court denies that there is any political influence in the court, no matter
which prime ministers are appointing judges.

What’s that? The Department of National
Defence tried to hide the cost of retrofitting the newly acquired Nortel campus? Just like they tried to hide their half-billion dollar contribution to
a US military satellite from parliamentarians? You don’t say!

The New Democrats are launching attack ads featuring
semi-automatic weapons against the Conservatives, proving that they continue to
take Conservative lessons to heart.

Bob Rae talks about observing the elections
in Morocco.

Paul Dewar talks about overcoming dyslexia.

And an American historian admits that Canada
won the War of 1812 because it ended up forging our sense of nationhood, while
the Americans didn’t advance their own interests one iota.

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