Almost autumn leaves .. common house returns to Ottawa .. this is Canadian democracy? .. zzzzzzzz etc

Sep 18th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

Billboard magazine has declared “Call Me Maybe”, by Carly Rae Jepsen from Mission, BC, the song of summer 2012. Too bad she didn’t write something for the returning Canadian House of Commons.

OTTAWA. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2012. Retired senior citizens in desperate need of afternoon naps were well served by the CPAC TV presentation of Question Period, in the just-back-from-summer-vacation Canadian House of Commons yesterday afternoon.

The favourite word of New Democrat MPs this season is apparently “reckless,” as in the Harper government’s “reckless cost cutting,” etc, etc. The favourite two words of PM Harper’s trained Conservative seals is clearly “carbon tax” — as in something allegedly advocated by the NDP that could destroy the Canadian economy overnight!

(Although according to New Democrat House Leader Nathan Cullen: “the NDP has no interest in a carbon tax … ‘The Conservatives are entitled to their opinions but not their own facts,’ said Mr. Cullen [to the Globe and Mail, before Question Period]. ‘They can repeat lies and hope that one day that will somehow become truth in the minds of Canadians.’” Judging from the number of times “carbon tax” was repeated by Conservative MPs in Charlie Farquharson’s Common House yesterday afternoon, that does indeed seem to be the current government strategy. Brilliant huh?)

Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire at Toronto International Film Festival 2012. Will he be the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada? Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

According to Tim (not Stephen) Harper, at the Toronto Star, much of what may or may not be exciting in Canadian federal politics this fall will be happening outside the hallowed halls on Parliament Hill. And from here you might deduce that the favourite Liberal two words will be “Justin Trudeau.” If he does finally decide to run for Liberal leader. In which case, Tim Harper tells us, “the MP for Papineau must be drawn out on policy and that job will fall to the parliamentary press gallery.”

Lawrence Martin (who may or may not still be a Globe and Mail columnist?) recently argued that “Harper’s Conservatives are on cruise control … No oversized controversies or crises confront them. They drive the agenda, putting others on the defensive. On the big files —  the economy and unity —  the status is stable. In the polls, they remain where they’ve usually been — in the mid-30s, which is good enough. For the coming fall session of Parliament, the opposition parties have little to go on — a lot of legitimate grievances but no issue of great galvanizing potential.”

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner rose in the House Monday to announce that she is reverting to her birth name: Candice Bergen. She told her fellow honourable members: “So Mr. Speaker, if you hear on the Hill that Candice Bergen is here, it's not Murphy Brown people will be referring to, it will be me.”

The return of the federal parliament yesterday just seemed to bear all this out. Two recent opinion polls underlined the point, even as media reports about them aspired to controversy: See, eg: “Poll gives Conservatives edge as Parliament prepares for acrimonious return” and “Tories, NDP, tied for support as Parliament resumes.” (In the first case we have  Conservatives 34%, NDP 27%, Liberals 24%, Greens 7%. In the second — Conservatives 32%, NDP 30%, Liberals 25%, Greens 5%.  Not all that different really?)

Personally, I am trying to find some storm clouds on the horizon, just to keep things interesting. Perhaps Pauline Marois will prove more of a challenge for Ottawa than many (or even I?) think. Perhaps … but that doesn’t seem about to happen, not this fall at least.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen prepare for the start of the Calgary Stampede parade, July 6, 2012. Photograph by: Stuart Gradon, Calgary Herald.

Still … Who doesn’t really believe that there is a sense of unease abroad in the land, for one reason or another, from coast to coast to coast? And who knows? Maybe the NHL lockout is just a trivial sign of some deeper malaise. Myself, I believe the fundamental problem is that while Stephen Harper is very interested in being prime minister of Canada — a job he clearly likes a lot — he is not really very interested in Canada, or its (as opposed to his) future. That is what fundamentally makes him a not very interesting prime minister of Canada. His first majority government will of course last until 2015. And he will probably be able to remain on cruise control until at least the spring of that year. And until then many senior citizens will remain at rest. But … well, wake me when the cruise is over, and I’ll do my best to figure it all out!  (Meanwhile, as Carly Rae Jepsen from Mission, BC has so memorably reminded us in the now almost even officially vanished summer of 2012, “Call Me Maybe.”)

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