Today was the day that the 44th Parliament got back to the nitty gritty of work. After a five-month break for the summer, an election, and another two months to recover from the election (no other reasonable excuse has been given, so maybe that’s it?) the House got back to work with the first Question Period of this Parliament. Normally it’s not something I would take the time write about as a stand-alone piece but, in my opinion, todays Question Period warranted it badly. With an emphasis on the bad, because while it’s been five months since I’ve been able to watch a Question Period in Ottawa, it was especially bad. What exactly do I mean? Well this exchange on the serious issue of inflation really drives it home for me about how bad QP this was and what a terrible omen it is for this entire Parliament ahead:
Gah, that was bad folks and I think I have to start this with an apology… an apology for exposing you all to that video that was a groan worthy as it was disturbing. It didn’t even take 20 minutes for Question Period to devolve into the worst of the political performance theatre that it can be, and there really is no excuse for that. And in my view, it was bad on both parts, for reasons that should disturb all Canadians.
Let’s start with the questioner, Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre. Anyone who has been watching Ti-Pierre’s social media feed for the past month or so would have recognized the false message track he put down. He tries to lay the blame for the inflation issues we are seeing right not at the feet of Justin Trudeau, and more specifically, the help the last Parliament gave to Canadians to help get us through COVID. Poilievre does have his finger on an actual problem, which is rising prices. We do have a problem with inflation right now that demands a serious response to it. But instead of offering that solution, Poilievre is offering what is the political and economic equivalent of suggesting ingesting Ivermectin.
Economists have been clear that the inflation we are facing right now has nothing to do with government spending. If that were the case, there’s no way most of the rest of the world would be facing the exact same problem as we are. This problem is a creation of COVID, of ripples in the economy from prices that crashed to record lows last year to rebound this year. It’s also a creation of massive supply chain problems, creating less supply and driving prices up. None of the blame for that falls on the shoulders of this government or Justin Trudeau, as much as that might feel good to do. What Poilievre is trying to do is shoehorn his preferred political outcome as a solution for a series problem, effectively telling the Canadian economy should ignore the experts and instead go off and undertake another approach that won’t solve anything and will likely create more harm. That’s dangerous, stupid crap and it’s disturbing that on day one of Question Period, Erin O’Toole’s team are buying into this crap argument lock, stock and barrel. It’s not a serious solution to a serious problem, and again proves how unready for primetime they are.
But while the Blue Team is showing just how unready and unserious they are, it’s not like the Red Team is basking in glory after what we just saw above. Through out the entirety of Question Period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied to just about every answer with a slap-dashed talking point from the election that finished over two months ago. In doing so, he acted as if nothing has happened in the world for the past two months while he took his sweet time recalling the House. His answer to climate change concerns? Cheap shots about ratings of campaign plans was his reply. When asked about the rise of day-to-day costs? He points to promises to help with affordable housing and childcare, which does nothing to help those who are already housed and without need of childcare. Yes, funding for affordable housing should help create more stock to meet demand and hopefully bring down costs (another thing that Poilievre seems to not understand, as he claimed that investing in Housing would actually drive costs up) for those having trouble cover the cost of housing. But does it speak to the breadth and depth of the inflation problems out there and neither does it address any of the causes of that inflation. The same goes for childcare; yes it makes something more affordable, but does nothing to lower the inflation for everything else.
It was the kind of response that was rather unserious in my estimation and honestly, I was quite taken aback about how poor the answers were. Sure, I’m not expecting the government to answer all the questions put to them forthrightly and such, but I’m expecting a bit of basic work to be done to at least speak to the time frame the questions are asking about. With those canned answers from the campaign it left me wondering what in the Hell they’ve been up to for the past two months. Seriously, are you trying to tell me they were doing so much they couldn’t update the bloody talking points to at least speak to the reality that’s developed over the past two months? Come on man.
Overall, it was just a bad sight to see and a truly bad omen for the remainder of this Parliament. You saw a government not ready to answer basic questions and couldn’t bring themselves to offer a reply that didn’t point to a program that’s tangentially connected. The answers simply weren’t serious and sluffed off the serious problem being brought to their attention. And the way the question itself was ask, it was also lacking any seriousness that something if its importance deserved. The rising cost of life for all Canadians deserved so much better than a politically torqued question that completely ignored the reality of the problem, only to be followed by an equally torqued answer that completely ignored a real answer that actually addresses the problem posed. It was shite folks, pure shite.
Right now Canadians are looking to their Parliamentarians to be mature, serious people and work on their behalf. Just two months ago the votes sent that clear message by sending this minority Parliament back, with nearly identical numbers as they had before the election. The message was “stop the crap, work things out!”. If we’re supposed to take todays Question Period as an indication of what’s to come, you’d have to assume they either didn’t get the message or heard it and don’t give a flying fig. Surely that can’t be a good omen for how this Parliament is going to roll out and what might happen. This Parliament clearly needs to do better than this because we all need better than this. After today though, it’s an open question if this group can put on their adult pants and deliver that better.