Ottawa ON – Parliamentarians often lament the lack of interest that Canadians have in the political affairs of the nation. This past week offers a glimpse as to why that might be the case.
I would suggest that some of the most talked about issues of concern to Canadians this past week (setting aside the weather), would be Libya, the spike in gasoline prices, the rising cost of food, pensions, mortgages and just making ends meet on the family budget. All of which are important topics that require policy initiatives from all of the parties.
Yet, what were our elected representatives focused on? Essentially they wasted their time asking some 16 questions on Bev Oda (79 questions in two weeks), 57 questions on the “in and out” issue and 10 questions in two days on Jason Kenney’s misuse of his parliamentary letterhead. Altogether this totals some 83 questions in this past week.
In contrast, in the last week the opposition asked five questions on pensions, none on food prices, three on gasoline prices and two on Libya. In addition, the government asked itself three questions on Libya.
I agree that questions should have been asked on some of the issues the opposition picked, but lets face it, the Oda issue and the “In and Out” issue are stale and old news and the Kenney issue has been blown all out of proportion.
Few Canadians are going to think it is terribly wrong that a minister asked someone to add the word “not” to an internal departmental memo to make her position crystal clear to the department. Whether or not she answered questions to the satisfaction of opposition MPs will get a collective shrug of voter’s shoulders while they pay for their groceries.
The “in and out” issue will get another collective yawn. It’s an old story. It was real news in 2007 when the story first broke and Canadians had an opportunity to vote the government out on this issue in the 2008 election. Everyone knows that court cases go back and forth until they are finally over and this one is far from over. The opposition can forget about Canadians rallying in the streets over this one. They will pass judgement when the legal process is finally concluded.
As for the Jason Kenney issue, I can just see Canadians huddled around the gas pumps whispering about how awful it is that the wrong letterhead was used. It might have been a stupid thing to do, but the gold medal for stupidity goes to the folks who sent the package to the wrong MP and to the folks that even put that strategy into print. Does anyone on the Hill think Canadians will be shocked to know that the Conservatives have a plan to win over ethnic votes? I doubt there is a single person of voting age in this country who doesn’t believe that municipal, provincial and federal politicians seek to sway ethnic voters to their side. The government admitted it was wrong to use parliamentary letterhead, case closed for the vast majority of voters.
As for the minister resigning over this issue, I recall a Prime Minister grabbing a protester by the throat and he didn’t resign over what would arguably be a far worse offence than using the wrong letterhead.
While people are dying in Libya for the right to be able to question their government, here in Canada we waste the opportunities available to us to ask real questions that matter. Is it any wonder the voters tune out what happens in Ottawa?