Did your mother ever use that line on you? "Just wait until your father gets home?" Well, it kind of feels like that in Ottawa right now, with all eyes on Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, as she cuts short her state visit to Eastern Europe and returns home today to deal with the brewing political crisis. Her message to Stephen Harper – "My door is open." The unspoken message is that she intends to have a talk with him, making the parental allusion all the more salient.
Armies of constitutional scholars are lining up on television news shows to each offer their own bit of advice, for all the good that it will do. Especially given just how toxic the House got today during Question Period.
I can't say that I've ever seen Stéphane Dion so visibly shaking with outrage as he did today. Normally during Question Period, he'll ask the first three questions, then let the rest of his team take turns. Not today. He asked the first three, let John McCallum take the questions in his usual turn, but when it came time for the Liberals to lead off the second round, Dion was back on his feet, taking all four questions this time around. And it was one great big grudge match between Dion and Harper, and tempers were frayed.
Probably the lowest moment of the day was when Harper decided to take a page from the McCain-Obama battle south of the border and resurrected the Flag Pin flap, accusing the coalition partners of not being able to sign their deal in front of Canadian flags. Oh, how unpatriotic they were for that cowardly act. Erm, except that they had flags aplenty, from Canadian flags, to the flags of all the provinces and territories as well (as the Liberal press machine quickly pointed out). But what are facts to get in the way of manufacturing outrage?
Two other notes from Question Period:
-Diane Finley – Oh My Gods what the hell were you wearing? Did your outfit happen to fall out of a time-tunnel, because it screamed "eighties business woman." Which was probably the point when you bought it, but perhaps you need someone to sit you down and remind you about the importance of updating your wardrobe.
-Lisa Raitt's black (snakeskin?) jacket was actually quite fetching. It very nearly mesmerised me, until she uttered the phrase "separatist-socialist alliance." Drink!
Off the Hill, both sides are organising rallies to try and convince Her Excellency, and fellow voters, about the public support behind their particular position. (Shameless plug!) The Liberals, meanwhile, are getting in on the game by canvassing their own members for donations in this time of crisis (only if their supporters are able to contribute, mind you), and they're offering not only their own set of handy talking points "intended to help you answer questions from local media, or from your friends, family and neighbours," but also model letters (model op-eds coming soon), canvass cards, third party quotes and letters to the Governor General.
Really? Is this what "grassroots democracy" has come to? Getting the party's head office to dictate to the membership what to parrot? And just because the Conservatives are doing it, does that mean the Liberals need to get in on the action too? And given the fact that nobody can seem to actually quite place the proper context of democracy in this Parliamentary happenstance, I'm beginning to think that the whole country needs a lesson in remedial social studies.