While Stephen Harper spent his Thanksgiving weekend with family back in Calgary, Michael Ignatieff and his wife were in Ottawa, serving soup and stroganoff to the hungry and homeless in Ottawa. Aside from the good optics of being out there with the less fortunate, Ignatieff also made the point about how people’s expiring EI benefits were pushing more people to needing food banks, who are suffering from increased demand along with dropping contributions. And while sure, there was a slight uptick in employment rates last month, most of those jobs were in the public sector, and people’s EI benefits are expiring – which means they no longer count in the unemployment statistics – so Ignatieff’s message still bears a great deal of heft.
The Famous Five, who ensured that women in Canada were legally recognised as “persons” – and thus eligible to sit in the Senate – have been made honorary senators to mark eighty years since the landmark decision. At least one vote took place in the Senate last week that wasn’t mired in some kind of political gamesmanship.
House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken has just made history as the longest serving Commons Speaker in Canadian history. While Milliken’s election after the last election was a little more fraught, he has been making more of an effort to maintain some semblance of decorum in the House – and has even threatened to eject some unruly Members on a couple of occasions, though he has yet to follow through. Milliken’s style, after all, is to try to use humour to remind members of the rules. Nevertheless, it’s a milestone and he’s done finished yet.
And finally, from the “I get mail!” files, I got a Liberal Ten Percenter a few days ago, this time from York West MP Judy Sgro. The front cover declares “A revolving door of Harper patronage” in both official languages, with a picture of – well, someone going through a revolving door – with headlines pasted about saying things like “Conservatives pick up pace on patronage,” and “PM’s pal gets government job,” again in both official languages. Inside is a rather unflattering picture of Harper’s visage with the headline “A record of ‘Harpocrisy.’” Because that’s clever. The text goes on about how Harper “pretends to be squeaky clean” with his political appointments, but he’s heading for a record number of Senate appointments in a single year, and goes on about “cronyism, contracts, judgeships, cushy board appointments” pointing out that they’re going to Conservative friends and lobbyists. It concludes with the line “With Stephen Harper, it’s always a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do,” again in both official languages. And it’s a perfectly valid point. The feedback portion asks the question “Who do you trust more to restore integrity to government – Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals, or Stephen Harper and the Conservatives,” giving one the option to tick the boxes there, sign up for Liberal emails updates, or to reply online at their website. Because everyone needs to have multiple avenues for data mining. And once again, the faux postage stamp on the back is a portrait of Lester B. Pearson, not that one needs actual postage to send mail to their MPs.
So while it’s not completely insulting to a voter’s intelligence, or subtexutally saying that the incumbent MP’s choice is the only right one to make, I have tired of these kinds of Ten Percenters with their unsubtle and unclever attempts at informing the politically disengaged citizenry.
This week: It’s a break week for Parliament, so expect another flurry of funding announcements from Conservatives from coast-to-coast, to demonstrate that the way to provide economic stimulus is to simply stage a bunch of photo ops.