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Wednesday
Feb132013

Game On!

Finally the NDP is making Question Period interesting to watch. And they have the Conservatives to thank for handing them the issues and the ammunition.

I am speaking about NDP attacks on the Senate and the ongoing issues faced by the Prime Minister as he deals with Patrick Brazeau, and the financial questions hanging over the heads of Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy and let’s not forget robo calls (round two).

These are good issues for the NDP. First because they don’t like the Senate and many would prefer it be abolished, and second because nothing wakes the public up faster than a scandal or the hint of one.

Parliamentary privilege being what it is, all sorts of innuendo can be built into an opposition party’s questions and for the most part the government is restricted to some pretty standard defensive lines. Voters will be hearing a lot of answers from the government side along the lines of “we are investigating”, or “inquiries are being made” or “all monies will be accounted for”. It reminds me a bit of Scott Brison, then the Liberal Public works minister, repeating day after day “Let Justice Gomery do his job”. There really isn’t much else that the Conservatives can say.

Public trust in politicians being what it is, I doubt the public will every fully believe those answers. Even if the Conservative senators are cleared, there will always be that little bit of nagging doubt in the public’s mind. It remains to be seen if this story has legs or if anything else will come out from the red chamber that will feed this issue.  Right now, the NDP don’t have enough to defeat this government, not even if an election were to be called tomorrow, nor is it enough to tarnish the Prime Minister’s image. Not yet at least, but each little bit of controversy contributes to eroding trust in the Conservative brand. Add in robo calls to the issue of alleged financial impropriety by senators and you have several negative issues piling on top of each other.

By focusing on these issues and chiseling away at the credibility of the party and both its image of being good financial managers and the honesty of its appointees, the NDP is doing what good opposition parties do- chip away, chip away, chip away. The NDP has no choice but to go for the long game right now as the next election is quite far away. But every bit of negative publicity hurts.

It is often said that governments defeat themselves and it is issues like these that accumulate over time and eventually ruin your brand. The NDP are doing exactly what we did to the Liberals. No party is invincible, especially when it’s your own side shooting you in the foot.

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Reader Comments (2)

"... the NDP is doing what good opposition parties do- chip away, chip away, chip away..."

Doesn't that sort of contradict what you've written about in other blog posts, i.e. the lack of civility in the House? As you yourself said "all sorts of innuendo can be built into an opposition party’s questions" -- and most of those are not actual questions but merely accusations with a ? mark at the end.

Also, isn't it strange that questions have been raised about some senators' absences from the Senate ... yet not a word about the many days during several months NDP MPs running for the leadership of their party were absent, including now chief accuser Thomas Mulcair and his sidekick Nathan Cullen, plus Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton, Romeo Saganash, Peggy Nash, and briefly Robert Chisholm? That's SEVEN MPs who were regularly absent from the House during the campaign, but not a whisper of a question raised by "investigative" journalists. I assume those MPs were still being paid their regular salary despite all their absences.

And now the same thing is going on with the Liberal hopefuls. That's why yesterday Justin Trudeau's surprise drop-in to QP got the response it did. But it appears the media is not interested in raising questions about members of the opposition.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGabby in QC

Agree with several of your points. The blanket protection MPs get in the House is an issue and can certainly lead to misleading comments and statements. It is always something people talk about fixing but nothing ever gets done about it. On the MPs being absent in the House, you are quite right it is generally ignored. Unlike the Senate where attendance is taken and pay can be with held if absent to many days, no attendance is taken on the House side, (MPs can't even refer to another MP being absent). It should be and it should be public.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteratory01

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