Politics of Canada
3 min

Stampede political round-up

While I didn’t venture out to the Calgary Stampede to follow our political leaders there, I’ve lived though my share of them back in my Calgary days, so I have little doubt that the attempt to sway the Alberta voters away from the Conservatives was out in force.

Jack Layton showed his mettle by engaging in the old machismo ritual of eating prairie oysters. What’s a prairie oyster? It’s a polite euphemism for a bull’s testicle – and Layton ate two of them. Layton, still buoyed by his party’s electoral breakthrough in Edmonton (even though it had everything to do with the fact that the riding is NDP provincially, the fact that Linda Duncan was on the ground giving it her all since before the election, and that the Conservative incumbent thought his seat was safe so he didn’t really have to bother trying – and less about Layton himself), and now the NDP majority in Nova Scotia, is hoping to carry his momentum to Alberta. Good luck with that.

Ignatieff held a pancake breakfast at the Calgary Zoo, and blasted Harper for his continued use of attack ads. One of the latest gems are mailouts in Quebec that accuse the Bloc of supporting child abduction because they didn’t vote in favour of a bill on human trafficking. (Remember how Flaherty said they were going to only use taxpayer funds responsibly? How’s that working?) Ignatieff says that he’s in the business to defeat the Bloc, but with reason and sound arguments, not slurs and ad hominem attacks. Ignatieff also hopes to make some headway in Alberta, and while it’s not impossible, I will similarly wish him luck. Albertans have been so brainwashed that all any Conservative has to do is raise the spectre of the NEP, and their brains shut off.

And then Harper had his turn, at a Stampede barbecue he held, where he once again, dared the opposition to bring him down, because “Canadians Don’t Want Another Election™.” Daring your opponents to bring you down, when you were all about fostering an environment of cooperation and making Parliament work in the face of an economic crisis? How exactly does that work again? (A little retrospective here).

And while not too many pictures have yet been released, I didn’t see a leatherette vest anywhere. Ignatieff looked to be dressed sensibly and inoffensively, as did Harper, though surprisingly, Ignatieff was in blue, and Harper in red. (The Canadian Press has a video of the proceedings here, if you want to check it out for yourself).

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, the Conservatives are engaging in a new round of procedural gimmickry, this time with Senate Private Members’ Bills. Normally, when a Senator’s Private Members’ Bill get passed, they need a sponsor in the Commons to shepherd them through the process, and they get placed on the Order Paper at the bottom of the top 30 items of Private Members’ Business – and likewise in the Senate. But what the Conservatives decided to do was get MPs to all rush and put their names as sponsors of some 28 Senate Private Members’ bills – including the dead-in-the-water bill on banning the seal hunt that they continually castigate the Liberals for. Why, one might ask? Sabotage, figures one Liberal senator. You see, a Commons sponsor can kill a bill by failing to show up twice for debate on it. Things like that. And the Government House Leader? He says that they’re not doing anything untoward, but they want to ensure “fairness” by ending the practice of putting a Senate Private Members’ Bill at the bottom of the top 30, because all those other MPs won’t get their business to the House.

But then again, when has centuries of Parliamentary tradition ever stopped the Conservatives from trying to undermine the way things work in order to pay lip service to this notion of “fairness.”