Is there an adult in the House?

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional columnist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky

I’m tired of it. I’m sure most of the rest of the coun­try is, too.

And Wed­nes­day’s House of Com­mons shove-and-rage is a good rea­son to yell, “Enough!” At all of them.

We elect fed­eral gov­ern­ments that ar­gue for change, and once they get into the House of Com­mons, it’s busi­ness as usual, adults act­ing like chil­dren and think­ing that they de­serve to be called “hon­ourable.”

This ac­tu­ally has noth­ing to do with gov­ern­ing; it has noth­ing to do with leg­isla­tive agen­das.

It’s all games­man­ship, pro­ce­dural fool­ish­ness that wastes time and money and gives the gen­eral public one more rea­son to think that pol­i­tics is a waste of time and space.

I used to cover a pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, and while there were and are po­lit­i­cal re­por- ters who get wrapped up in the whole thing — breath­less re­port­ing about all-night fil­i­busters or the lat­est small pro­ce­dural trick — it quickly had me rolling my eyes. I sup­pose I wasn’t a very good leg­isla­tive re­porter.

I couldn’t take grown adults bla­tantly act­ing like chil­dren and por­tray­ing it as shrewd use of time and tac­tics in the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. I couldn’t take the fake, stagey um­brage, the unc­tu­ous self-serv­ing self-praise. I also couldn’t un­der­stand how other­wise rea­son­able, in­tel­li­gent peo­ple could buy into the process within mere weeks of tak­ing a leg­isla­tive seat.

And Wed­nes­day’s mess in the House of Com­mons?

The Lib­er­als were wrong from the start by mov­ing a pro­ce­dural mo­tion to limit de­bate — it was a trick that they must have known was go­ing to up the am­per­age. Then the NDP, us­ing a fool­ish at­tempt to slow a vote by phys­i­cally block­ing MPs from get­ting to their seats were worse: “Ha ha, we won’t let Tony go to the bath­room be­fore re­cess ends.” How — well, “child­ish” fits.

Trudeau’s phys­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence, where he tried to pull a Con­ser­va­tive through the NDP equiv­a­lent of a Red Rover line, then el­bow­ing an NDP MP? Un­ac­cept­able. Ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able.

Equally un­ac­cept­able? The Lib­eral move to limit de­bate in the first place, es­pe­cially af­ter their cam­paign prom­ises to change things in the House.

But the op­po­si­tion gets no points here, ei­ther — the foam­ing rage of NDP Leader Tom Mul­cair, then the out­ra­geous, ridicu­lous, holier-than-thou state­ments af­ter the fact, com­par­ing Trudeau to ev­ery­thing from a serial abuser to a mur­derer. Some com­ments about the shove by par­lia­men­tar­i­ans? “Deeply trau­matic.” “I think there are peo­ple, on both sides here, who have ex­pe­ri­enced vi­o­lence in their fam­ily. I have an aunt who was beaten to death.” “Abu­sive hus­bands said they did not do it on pur­pose, they did not mean to hurt their wives. I am sorry. There is no ex­cuse.”

Frankly, that’s an in­sult to any­one who ac­tu­ally suf­fered trauma.

To peo­ple who say “imag­ine what would hap­pen if Trudeau did this at a dif­fer­ent work­place” — you’re right. But im- agine what would hap­pen in your work­place if an em­ployee blocked the com­pany’s work by re­fus­ing to stop talk­ing at a meet­ing un­til a deal fell through. Imag­ine what would hap­pen if an em­ployee used ev­ery trick in the book, in­clud­ing grossly in­flated com­plaints about the be­hav­iour of other em­ploy­ees, to keep the busi­ness from de­liv­er­ing an or­der. At work, we’ve got work to do. MPs plainly don’t.

All of it is sopho­moric, school­yard at­tempts to play pol­i­tics, in­stead of deal­ing with a bill to ad­dress as­sisted dy­ing for peo­ple who are right now deal­ing with real suf­fer­ing.

This was not Par­lia­ment’s finest hour.

But does it re­ally have any?

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