A kinder, gen­tler House

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Bob Wake­ham has spent more than 40 years as a jour­nal­ist in New­found­land and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwake­ham@nl.rogers.com

With all the rev­e­la­tions in re­cent months about the nasty way that some of our MHAs — of­ten of the same ide­o­log­i­cal makeup — treat each other, dis­clo­sures that have sul­lied the very good name, the im­pec­ca­ble rep­u­ta­tion, of ev­ery class of politi­cian, and have surely sad­dened all of us (I have shed many a tear of dis­ap­point­ment my­self dur­ing breaks in NHL games), it’s about time the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives launched a new era of ci­vil­ity and kind­ness.

And, in fact, sev­eral very hon­ourable mem­bers have been beg­ging for bet­ter man­ners from their col­leagues, have sought an en­vi­ron­ment akin to that liv­ing room oc­cu­pied by the Friendly Gi­ant, Rusty and Jerome.

So I was think­ing: what bet­ter place to ini­ti­ate such an al­ter­ation in be­hav­iour than in the very lo­cale where the MHAs gather for a scat­tered week dur­ing the year to con­duct the busi­ness of the peo­ple, the House of As­sem­bly.

Yes, I’m aware that the leg­isla­tive venue is, by its very na­ture, com­bat­ive, and that it is the job of the op­po­si­tion to, well, to op­pose with vigour the govern­ment of the day, to tear to shreds ev­ery sin­gle pol­icy the ad­min­is­tra­tion en­acts, and that it is the func­tion of the govern­ment to de­fend with equal en­thu­si­asm its at­tempts to make it­self look good.

But, come on now, these stal­warts of un­abashed, un­com­pro­mis­ing pub­lic ser­vice, these men and women of enor­mous mag­na­nim­ity, can surely take mea­sures in their very own “House,” as it were, to dra­mat­i­cally im­prove the way in which they treat each other. What more ap­pro­pri­ate place? They rep­re­sent, af­ter all, the “friendly prov­ince.”

The pro­ceed­ings could be­come an en­light­ened ex­am­ple for politi­cians ev­ery­where.

HON­OURABLE LEADER OF THE OP­PO­SI­TION: “Mr. Speaker — and by the way, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that black be­comes you — I have a ques­tion for that hand­some devil across the way: would tHonourabl­e the Premier like some help rak­ing up leaves around his house this week­end?”

HON. THE PREMIER: “Mr. Speaker, I’d be de­lighted to ac­cept the Hon­ourable the Op­po­si­tion Leader’s of­fer, and if, by the way, he hasn’t man­aged to get his moose yet this year, I’d surely lend him a hand in quar­ter­ing up his an­i­mal if, and when, he finds him­self on a lonely bog with his win­ter meat, just so long, of course, that I don’t get too messy.”

HON. LEADER OF THE OP­PO­SI­TION: “I thank the Hon­ourable the Premier, and I can guar­an­tee that his freezer will be blocked solid with moose sausages if we’re suc­cess­ful;”

HON. LEADER OF THE NDP: “Mr. Speaker, I was won­der­ing if mem­bers on both sides of the leg­is­la­ture would be will­ing to start a car pool, to cut down on gas emis­sions, but, also, to take ad­van­tage of that bond­ing time to get to know each other a lit­tle bet­ter.”

HON.E MIN­IS­TER OF EN­VI­RON­MENT: “Mr. Speaker, we would surely join with the Leader of the Third Party in such a ven­ture. How about, Mr. Speaker, we rent a party bus when­ever the leg­is­la­ture is open, to give us an even grander op­por­tu­nity to ex­pose our true per­son­al­i­ties?”

HON. OP­PO­SI­TION HOUSE LEADER: “Mr. Speaker, I was won­der­ing if any mem­bers op­po­site were in­ter­ested in start­ing a GoFundMe cam­paign to help find homes for or­phan pup­pies?”

HON. MIN­IS­TER OF FI­NANCE: “Mr. Speaker, as long as this doesn’t be­come a bow-wow par­lia­ment.”

AN HON. MEM­BER: “Ha, ha, Mr. Speaker. Good one.”


HOUSE LEADER: “Ob­vi­ously, we didn’t re­al­ize, Mr. Speaker, what a great sense of hu­mour the min­is­ter of fi­nance has.”

HON. MIN­IS­TER OF FI­NANCE: “Mr. Speaker, I’ve got a mil­lion of ’em. Did you hear about the New­found­lan­der from Port aux Basques who was liv­ing in Toronto and was asked by a fel­low New­found­lan­der how he ended up in On­tario? Ex­plained the ex-Newf: ‘I was play­ing hockey on the ice in the har­bour and got a break-away.’”

AN HON. MEM­BER: “Mr. Speaker, the min­is­ter of fi­nance should not quit his day job. Then, again, on sec­ond thought, per­haps he should. And do the prov­ince a favour.”

AN HON. MEM­BER: “Here we go.” MR. SPEAKER: “Come on now, watch the nas­ti­ness. I re­mind hon­ourable mem­bers this is a new era, one of gen­eros­ity of spirit.”

AN HON. MEM­BER: “True, Mr. Speaker: In fact, if ev­ery­one lit just one lit­tle can­dle, what a bright lit­tle leg­is­la­ture this would be.”

HON. THE PREMIER: “Mr. Speaker, I can see the light. Blessed are the cor­dial and oblig­ing mem­bers, Mr. Speaker, for they shall have peace of heart.”

HON. LEADER OF THE NDP: “Mr. Speaker, may I ask that we all join hands for one verse of ‘Kum­baya’?”

HON. MIN­IS­TER OF ED­U­CA­TION : “While we’re at it, Mr. Speaker, how about The Seren­ity Prayer? God grant me the seren­ity to ac­cept the things I can­not change...”

AN UNIDEN­TI­FIED HON. MEM­BER: “Mr. Speaker, I think I’m gonna vomit.”

AN­OTHER UNIDEN­TI­FIED HON. MEM­BER: “‘Enough of this crap, Mr. Speaker.”

(Sounds of in­sults and shout­ing can be heard).

AN HON. MEMER: “She’s goin’ up, b’ys. Now you’re talkin’.”

AN­OTHER HON. MEM­BER: “This is who we are!”

STILL AN­OTHER HON. MEM­BER: “Hey, this is us!” We’re a bunch of .... ”

MR. SPEAKER: “This ex­per­i­ment is of­fi­cially over.”

The pro­ceed­ings could be­come an en­light­ened ex­am­ple for politi­cians ev­ery­where.

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