Collenette: House more mean spirited today than ever
Liberal candidate Penny Collenette, the former director of appointments in former prime minister Jean Chrétien’s PMO, says the most recent House session was one of the nastiest she’s ever seen, but Tories disagree. Ms. Collenette said the Commons session was marked by too many personal attacks.
“This Parliament has changed in the fact that suddenly you, as a person, are being attacked. I haven’t seen that before. It’s one thing if you attack a party’s policy, that’s fair game. Going after people, Peter MacKay’s remark about Belinda, the Prime Minister’s about [Liberal MP] Navdeep [Bains]; no, never seen that before,” said Ms. Collenette, who currently is executive in residence at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, in an interview with The Hill Times last week after she took part in a Public Policy Forum (PPF) event called, `Canada’s Cranky Parliament: Results
Thus Far and Prospects for the Future.’
Ms. Collenette, who will run as the Liberal candidate in the coveted riding of Ottawa Centre and was part of the PPF panel along with Ontario Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal and SES Research President & CEO Nik Nanos to discuss the last session of Parliament, was especially critical of the Conservatives for launching personal attacks against the Liberals.
She pointed out the incidents in the House in October last year in which Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay allegedly referred to his former girlfriend Belinda Stronach as “a dog,” after she crossed the floor to the Liberals, and also when Prime Minister Stephen Harper sparked an uproar in the House in February when he appeared to imply that Liberals were opposing the extensions of two provisions of the anti-terrorism law to protect one of their own—Liberal MP Navdeep Bains whose father-in-law could have been questioned by the RCMP if the two provisions in the anti-terrorism act had been extended.
But Sen. Segal disagreed with Ms. Collenette’s observation that the last Parliamentary session was any crankier today than ever before.
“The Pearson Diefenbaker years were much more crankier, much more difficult. The level of hyperbole, the level of insensitivity, the level of personal attack was much more difficult in those years than it is now. What constitutes cranky today would not have even registered on the Richter scale back then,” said Sen. Segal.
Considering that the Conservatives did not have a majority in the House and the Upper Chamber is dominated by the Liberals, Sen. Segal said his party accomplished a considerable amount of legislative work.
“I thought it was very productive, we almost passed as much legislation though the House, through the Senate as Prime Minister Martin did in 2004, 2005, and Mr. Martin, of course, had a majority in the Senate which would have made his task substantially easier than ours was. So, I think the government deserves a fair amount of credit and I also give some credit to the Opposition who on some issues was very constructive, did their job but were not necessarily always in the way.”
Penny is a frequent public policy commentator on national television. During the 2011 federal election, Penny was a commentator for Global TV. Penny tweets @penottawa.
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