It being the last sitting day of the spring for the Commons, all three parties summoned the media to outline their particular versions of what happened the past few months.
For the government, Peter Van Loan summoned us to the Foyer, where, along with Stephen Blaney to provide the French narrative, he outlined a simple message. “We got the job done.”
Never mind the opposition delay or the political theatre, he said, the government avoided the “paralysis” of other countries and moved forward with their agenda of – say it with me – jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. Because you know, debate should all be pro forms messages of support for the government and its programme.
Van Loan then went through the long list of accomplishments – the budget implementation bill, trade agreements, jobs, reforming immigration, tackling crime – and after every single item he announced “We got the job done.” If you were playing the “We got the job done” drinking game then congratulations, you have succumbed to fatal alcohol poisoning and are paying your fare to cross the river Acheron on Charon’s barge. Give our regards to Hades and Persephone.
The NDP were up next with Thomas Mulcair, Nathan Cullen and Nycole Turmel summoning us to the National Press Theatre. There, Thomas Mulcair decried the “senseless and unfair” manner in which the government passed the omnibus budget bill, and insisted that the NDP “do it better” and consulted with Canadians on the changes. He also listed off a number of “ethical and public administration failures,” from the F-35 procurement process to the limousines and $16 orange juice.
Mulcair said that he was proud of his party for shedding light on the government without engaging in witch hunts (name calling, apparently, is okay however) and he said the NDP were defending our democratic institutions – before he went on about “putting forward solutions” which anyone who understands the role of the opposition in the Westminster system is not actually their role.
Nycole Turmel gave us a brief recap of her time as interim leader and decried the “authoritarian and arrogant” government and pointed out how many times questions posed in French were answered in English. Nathan Cullen pointed out how many questions they asked (as though doing their jobs was somehow worthy of special praise), and how they put forward more private members’ bills than anyone else – never mind that it’s a meaningless figure as there are only so many slots to go around.
Last up were the Liberals, who had the largest group presented with not only interim leader Bob Rae, but also his deputy Ralph Goodale, House leader Marc Garneau, whip Judy Foote, and Senate leader James Cowan.
The early part of the presser was given over to Rae’s criticism of Jim Flaherty’s announcement earlier in the morning about restricting mortgages back to the policies that were in place in 2006 – the ones the government inherited from the Liberals, which Rae said undermined the claims of fiscal competence, and remarked that while some may claim that Canada is an island of fiscal stability, there is no such thing in today’s global economy.
When the discussion did turn to C-38, Rae described it as a landmark of how parliamentary power is being assumed by the executive. He said that he was proud of his team both in the House and the Senate for fighting for this parliamentary power.
Closing off, Garneau decried the government’s flagrant abuse of power and said that he has brought forward a motion at the Procedure and House Affairs committee to study ways of limiting future omnibus legislation. Senator Cowan remarked that while the Senate is sitting for another couple of weeks, they too are suffering from the anti-democratic behaviour of the government as time allocation has been brought down not only on the budget bill, but also the copyright bill and the refugee reform bill, which the government wants passed before July 1st.