Saturday, September 27, 2014

Getting It And Them


Paul Calandra's behaviour this week -- first preening arrogance, then blubbering self pity -- is symptomatic of our sick politics. Andrew Coyne writes:

There is no useful distinction to be made between sincerity and pretence in this tableau. Mr. Calandra’s self-pity was undoubtedly genuine, his manipulativeness admirably unforced. And the House’s empathetic response? We know you have no intention of changing anything. Neither do we. Indeed, your non-answers weren’t a great deal different than the non-answers we are normally given, or the ones we’d give ourselves, in the same position, just more obvious. Our chagrin was as feigned as your contrition.

Mind you, in a way being obvious does make it worse. Though the non-answer is as frequent a feature of Question Period as the non-question, it is ordinarily bounded by the time-hallowed conventions of hypocrisy. The minister who takes the trouble of pretending to answer does Parliament the courtesy of dissembling; by his efforts at concealment, he implicitly acknowledges there is a standard expected of him, even if he declines to meet it. He’s still not answering the question. But by observing the proper rituals, custom is respected, and a certain equilibrium between the parties is maintained. The Mafia operates on much the same lines.

Coyn'e analogy to the mafia goes straight to the point. There is nothing of national interest any more in the House of  Commons. Everything is now about self interest. And, therefore, everyday we see nothing but complete contempt for the fundamental institution of our democracy:

Calandra’s overtly nonsensical answers, by contrast, represented a deliberate flouting of convention. He was not just refusing to answer the question: he was rejecting the whole concept of question-answering. He was not only taking no care to conceal his refusal: he was going out of his way to make it obvious. It was a calculated snub to the Opposition, offered up, what is worse, in full view of the public. No wonder they were so filled with fake indignation.

Coyne rightly points out that the Harperites don't have a monopoly on contempt for Parliament.  But the Conservatives have raised that contempt to a new high. Consider the parade of Harper's parliamentary secretaries -- Pierre Poilievre, Dean del Maestro and now Calandra. What does that collection of blubbering boobs say about the man who appointed them?

It says that the Prime Minister doesn't care a whit about getting things right. He cares only about getting it -- (power) and them. (the opposition)


Lorne said...

Compounding the insult to Parliament and, by extension to all of us, Owen, is the report by the CBC that the PMO orchestrated that 'sincerity thing' and forced Calandra to read from a script they prepared. Those tears were likely tears of humiliation:

Owen Gray said...

The Wright-Duffy Affair exposed just where power now resides in this country, Lorne.

Like Harper's apology to Canada's First Nations, Calandra's apology was carefully orchestrated hog wash.

mogs moglio said...

Nice shot Owen: "It says that the Prime Minister doesn't care a whit about getting things right. He cares only about getting it -- (power) and them. (the opposition)"

So true, so true its time to wake-up Canada, while you are asleep at the wheel the so-called 'conservatives' are trying to get a piece of Canada's 1% club for themselves...

Our parliamentarian's are servicing global elites and Canada's own elites, NOT us.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Mogs. We elected them, but they're not working for us.

Rural said...

The lack of respect for Parliament may well not be exclusive to the Harper Regime Owen, but they have taken it to far greater heights (or is that depths) than any government that previously held power. Some say that Calandra was weeping with the frustration of being made to apologize, other say he was trying to hold back laughter at the farce that is question period nowadays. Certainly Harper and his cronies must be laughing at what they get away with on a daily basis but the demise of our democracy is no joke!!

Owen Gray said...

When they first arrived in Ottawa, Rural, the Harperites handed their MP's a handbook which -- among other things -- gave instructions on how to obstruct the business of parliamentary committees.

It's always been about obstruction and diversion.

Askingtherightquestions said...

What a complete sideshow, Owen. Perhaps the most significant responses I have heard today are the number of people who feel that they cannot believe ANYTHING this government says. And thats where it all breaks down for Harper -to not be trusted, to make voters feel duped, is death in politics (and any human relationship!). Harper has always played fast and loose with the rules and the truth. But I also think it would be wrong to also suggest an equivalency among the parties in their behaviour and attitudes in the house. Only the CPC has worked so hard to dissemble, block, hide from scrutiny and read from scripted notes!! In this latest exchange between Mulcair and Calandra, I was surprised to see the level of criticism that Mulcair received. certainly , calling out the speaker is considered bad form. But when I watch the exchange, I saw a reasonable response to a young speaker who is clearly "not up for the job". Can you imagine this happening under Peter Milliken??

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard Calandra speak he reminded me, of Harper's yappy little Goebbels.

Andrew Scheer has always been, Harper's little dweeb.

Harper's European trade deal, is a disaster. Harper says, jobs, jobs, jobs. However there will be no jobs for Canadians. As in China, they bring their own workers over as well.

No-one can tell me why, Harper and his cabal aren't in prison? What does it take, to be rid of Harper and his gang of thugs? Never have I ever seen, our House of Commons being so disrespected especially since, Harper's so called majority. Harper is the one and only Canadian PM ever, that has been held in contempt of Parliament.

Owen Gray said...

It's a distinction he wears with pride, Anon. And that is precisely what is wrong with this government.

Owen Gray said...

That's an important point, Asking. In all ministries -- finance, justice, defense -- this government simply lacks the expertise to get the job done.

mogs moglio said...

Anon 3:03,

"Harper's so called majority."

It's a lie here are the facts only 61.4% of eligible voters voted [say 60%].

Harper-cons captured 39.62% [say 40%] of that [60%].,_2011

Now [40%] of [60%] = 24% of all eligible voters 100% and therefore Harper has no REAL majority government. The 24% that put him in office destroyed the country and ruined it for the 76% or the rest of us. We are the majority, only those that did not get out and vote in 2011 in a way supported Harper, a shame.

Will they make the same mistake again is the question.

Owen Gray said...

That, indeed, is the question, Mogs. Harper is working very hard to keep the real majority apathetic.