View From the Hill by Keith Beardlsey – The Silly Season Arrives in Parliament for 2012

Keith Beardsley

CFN – It appears the silly season on the Hill is arriving right on schedule this year. With the House of Commons in the throes of wrapping up this session we see the annual attempt of the opposition to delay passage of key bills and the annual response from the government side to hold late night voting marathons to push legislation through. All this creates a very tired bunch of MPs who take their crankiness out on the other parties.

Even Question Period has become so dull and predictable that its main purpose appears to be to provide viewers with an opportunity for a midafternoon siesta. If watching ministers recite by rote their PMO approved answers excites you, then watching Jason Kenney regurgitate old push back lines developed in 2006 must have you sitting on the edge of your seat. How many more years will the Conservatives ask where the $40 million of sponsorship money is hiding? Come to think of it, that is a 2004 issue. By the time of the next election that issue will be 11 years old. Many new voters in 2015 would have been entering kindergarten back then and older voters will have already punished the Liberals several times over for the sponsorship scandal. It is time for them to update the pushback notes ministers carry in their QP briefing books.

Let us not forget the thrilling Liberal leadership race that some are reporting is heating up. Really?

It is June; summer is here although Ottawa’s weather might make you doubt that. Outside of media types and pundits, are Canadians breathlessly debating whether or not Bob Rae should break his previous commitment and run for the Liberal leadership? Somehow which brand of mustard to use on your hot dog or hamburger takes on more importance than the leadership of the third struggling party.

With the speculation over who will run for the Liberal leadership come the inevitable stories about Justin Trudeau. I give him credit, he never saw a mic that he didn’t like and he has a knack of getting into almost any story out there, but Justin as Prime Minister? That possibility should have Conservatives and their base drooling as this is the same Justin Trudeau who wore a fur coat that angered so many environmentalists and animal rights supporters, the Justin Trudeau who swore at a cabinet minister and the Justin Trudeau who pondered making Quebec a country because he didn’t like Stephen Harper’s Canada.  There is definitely top notch leadership material there.

When one considers that the next election will almost certainly include a fight over the oil sands and a national energy policy, what an opportunity for the Conservatives to remind voters in western Canada about previous Liberal attempts under his father to impose the NEP.

I wonder if his name were Justin Smith, would anyone know he existed on the Hill?

For the next week or so we will see more last minute grandstanding. MPs will sit long into the evening hours to vote on 100s of proposed amendments to the budget bill, all of which will be defeated (as everyone knew in advance they would be) and the crankiness level in the House will increase daily until finally they all agree to go home, rest and rejuvenate so that they can return fresh and invigorated for the fall session.

In the meantime Canadians can rest assured that silly season on the Hill is really business as usual. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

James Moak

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