Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Senate Scandal: How to hold the Prime Minister to account in Question Period

Thomas Mulcair in Question Period
The leader of the NDP has done Canadians, and Canadian democracy, a service through his dogged, skillful, meticulous and highly professional questions posed to the Prime Minister during Question Period.

Mulcair has clearly spent a great deal of time researching the facts of the Sentate expenses scandal, reviewing previous statements by the PM and other government spokespersons, and zeroing in on the essence of the manner.

Of late, he has made a point of highlighting the evasions of the Prime Minister to questions, clearly spelling out exactly when the PM has refused to answer very clear questions about who knew what and when.

One suggestion to the Opposition parties: Stephen Harper has made a political career in Parliament out of managing the message, disciplining both himself and his party members to devise a message, and to stick to the message. The infamous Tory talking points are not choices for MPs and Cabinet ministers, they are obligatory.

And it is clear to anyone who tunes in to Question Period that the Prime Minister is not answering clear, unambiguous, and essential questions.

The suggestion is this: Erect a physical bar chart showing the cumulative number of questions regarding the Senate scandal that the Prime Minister has answered in Question Period, back to the time the scandal first erupted, as a percentage of the total questions posed to him. Then update that bar chart every Question Period.

Place that Question Period record in a highly visible place in Ottawa. Add a digital one that every Canadian can tune into.

And watch it become one of the most watched objects in Canada.


  1. I think many people can agree that Mulcair's questioning in the house has been extremely successful in shining a light on Harper's inability to keep following the same line of thought, and his disinterest in accountability. That being said, if a few minutes sound bytes or a one-trick pony (saddled with untenable and indigestible policies and a motley cast of supporting characters) in a lawyer's suit was all you need to be PM, Raymond Burr would have been drafted and elected in the early 1960s. It remains to be seen if Harper will be truly damaged by this (he should have been ruined by his Cadman connection), or if Mulcair or Trudeau (who needs to work on his in House pronouncements) are able to make it stick. But playing Perry Mason against a corrupt house doesn't appear to me as anything but a Neilsen ratings winner.

  2. Daniel, Mulcair is building up his inventory of attack ads for the 2015 election. They could be very effective in framing the issue as Harper and his new Tories lack of accountability, disrespect for Parliamentary conventions, and general low standards of responsibility (avoiding answering questions in the House is a good example of that).


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