You can give me front row seats for an Elton John show, a performance at the Stratford Festival and a seat in the first rows along the 1stor 3rdbaselines at a Toronto Blue Jays game.
I have a front row seat, not to be confused with a front bench seat, every day for Parliament in Ottawa. For most of my two years on Parliament Hill the words, the shouting and innuendos from the benches have meant nothing to me, but just part of the theatrics of question period. Recently something changed, and not in a good way – the tone has changed from the government side.
Up until MPs returned from a two week break in April what happened in the house was pretty predictable. For the last two weeks the government has been particularly spiteful when answering a question from the Opposition Conservatives. It reached a new low on Wednesday (the 25th) on the occasion of Prime Minister’s day in Question period. I don’t know what got into the Prime Minister; maybe he was still fired up from the Liberal convention the previous weekend. You might have seen this video produced by the Conservative Party and posted on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cpcpcc/videos/10156311860774204/, it has a few clips from the Liberal where Justin Trudeau thinks he is still campaigning against Stephen Harper.
It is more than that, on that particular day, the TV in my office almost flew out the window (with a little bit of help) because of Trudeau’s angry and spiteful answers during question period. Most of the controversy revolved around the discovery that the Canada Summer Jobs was funding jobs to protest and disrupt the Trans mountain pipeline. This is controversial because the Liberals prevented many good organizations from receiving jobs funding because they don’t agree with the Liberal values attestation.
Back to question period, of the 22 questions asked to the Prime Minister, Trudeau responded 11 times using the phrase “Harper Conservatives” or named Stephen Harper. If I think back to that recent Liberal convention I would have to imagine that Trudeau thought he was still talking to his Liberal base only this time in the House of Commons. He probably was, why else would be invoked the name of Harper if Trudeau had to use the trump card he thinks has with Canadians. It worked in the 2015 election when Canadians were looking for someone else that Stephen Harper.
In 2018, he could only be naming Harper as much as he had in the House because he needs a distraction from pipelines, the cost of a carbon tax on Canadians and the fallout of the Canada Summer Jobs program. He is daring everyone to remember Harper and have them forget his shortcomings. Watching Trudeau that day, it wasn’t what Trudeau said, but the how he said it. I cannot put into words the anger and spite in how the Prime Minister’s the words came out. It was not like anything I have heard before, even worse than I heard Kathleen Wynne resurrect the history of Mike Harris in Queens Park. I cannot put into words that do justice to describe the smugness of the Trudeau grin, the extreme spite of his words and daggers in Trudeau’s eyes in his efforts to deflect from his government’s problems to a Prime Minister he hopes Canadians still like less than him. I will not forget it.
It was during Question Period on that day that Trudeau showed his true self, most Canadians won’t see it, most Canadians will not even know it happened because it is just 50 minutes out of a day of 24 hours. As Trudeau and his team are forced to defend their inactions, lack of success and poor judgement expect to hear more of Stephen Harper after all the 2019 election is only 541 days away. Trudeau has learned well that it’s easier to campaign using the name of a person who is not running (Harper) than it is to face your true opponent (Scheer).
So call this a promise kept, doing politics differently, because I do not remember any other Prime Minister acting out like a spoiled little boy as Trudeau did this week and blaming it on someone else. For that, this is one front row I prefer to watch from afar, or on mute.
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