3 min

QP: The least clever quips imaginable

Most days I can find some kind of redeeming
value in question period – even if it’s simple entertainment value. Today was
not one of those days. With the repeated invocation of closure on legislation,
and the government trying to bully the omnibus crime bill through
committee without clause-by-clause debate, there are some serious issues that
the opposition could have addressed. And what did Nycole Turmel lead off QP
with? Declaring that people were being forced to play “retirement roulette” with
a stock market in meltdown, and why not enrich the CPP and QPP? Harper replied
that he wasn’t sure exactly what she was asking, but good news, everybody!
We’ve unveiled a registered pooled pension plan! Wayne Marston and Shelley
Glover took a round of the very same for themselves before Bob Rae got up to
ask about drinking water on First Nations reserves – the subject of the
Liberals’ opposition day motion. Harper welcomed Rae to the debate on the
issue, and when Rae asked about the status of the land claims for the Six
Nations – which were instrumental in our winning the War of 1812 and which the
government is so keen on commemorating – Harper said that it is a difficult
issue, but negotiations are ongoing.

Round two kicked off with Claude Gravelle
and Megan Leslie asking about the Keystone XL pipeline (again, reading a whole
lot into the American decision to delay the project), and then this happened –
Joe Oliver told Leslie she should read "Economics for Dummies." Seriously. But
not to be outdone, after Christine Moore took a turn on the F-35 question in
French, Matthew Kellway’s English round threw out the suggestion that Julian
Fantino read Buying Jets for Dummies.” And then, in a question about Quebec’s
concerns around the long-gun registry data, Françoise Boivin suggested that Vic
Toews read “Democracy for Dummies.” Frank Valeriote and Wayne Easter asked
about the Wheat Board (Ritz: Respect for farmers!), and then John McCallum,
while accusing the government of misrepresenting its use of Challenger jets,
decided he, too, wanted to get in on the action and suggested a “Challenger Jets
for Dummies” book (Van Loan: We still used them less than you, so there!).
Finishing off the round were Guy Caron with a question about small business loans
(Bernier: We’ve lowered small business taxes!), and Malcolm Allen on a Wheat
Board/supply management question (Ritz: Respect farmers!).

And might I just say? Suggesting “Dummies”
books is not clever in the slightest. It’s base and ridiculous and is not
even a good quip. In fact, it lowered what has already been a ridiculously low
tone of debate. And this isn’t even anything to do with the whole “civility”
debate, because while there still is far less heckling than there used to be, it has to do with the level of debate. It’s one thing to use a
clever turn of phrase, but that seems to escape most MPs. And today was the

Round three saw questions on Dean Del
Mastro, First Nations’ drinking water (John Duncan suggested there was new
legislation around this issue due this year), cutting the tax on home heating
(which many a credible economist will tell you won’t do anything as it also rewards the wealthy, whereas direct subsidies to low-income Canadians for
heating would be more beneficial, but that’s hardly as populist a strategy),
petitions on CBC funding, government spying on a First Nations’ child advocacy
worker, an airfield, and Quebec’s long-gun registry data.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Randall Garrison for his black suit and light-purple shirt, with a black tie
with a subtle purple pattern, and to Hélène Laverdière for a nicely tailored
grey pinstripe suit with a crisp white shirt. Style citations go out to Matthew
 and Jean Rousseau for identical black-brown suits with bright teal shirts
and striped ties, and to Nina Grewal for an unflattering ruffled fuchsia top with
an overly chunky black scarf with what appeared to be a floral pattern.

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