Forget about Battle of the Blades, the Amazing Race or even Survivor … the best reality show on television these days is Question Period!
What a show! Drama! Mystery! Tragedy! And even Comedy! And all of it is Canadian content to boot … great LIVE viewing, aired Monday to Friday on the Parliamentary Channel (CPAC … Channel 123 on Shaw in Vancouver). And repeated later each day too.
We’ve all seen/hear/read brief clips of the 45-minute daily , along with long discourse and analysis by reporters, pundits, experts and “streeters” voicing their opinions and biases.
But the best way to follow the edge-of-your-seat unfolding soap opera is to watch the ENTIRE show each day, delivered appropriately in both official languages (with translation). After all, you wouldn’t be satisfied with just a 45 second clip of the other Big Brother … followed by 45 minutes of others telling you what happened and who did best!
I’ve been watching: and along with the cast of hundreds … MPs, Senators and bureaucrats … there have been LOTS of villains and so far, one shining knight, NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Like a skillful D’Artagnan, slicing up his opponent with his well-honed rapier, Mulcair has daily been inflicting wounds … some shallow, some deep … on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his version of events surrounding the Senate scandal involving Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrice Brazeau.
But what I’ve also been noticing …surprised no other pundits have even pointed to it … is how Mulcair has also been putting to shame Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau’s inexperience, shallowness and most of all, lack of training in pursuing information has also been laid bare … clearly a politician well short of major league qualities.
In fact … hard to believe … Thursday he didn’t even show up for the game!
While almost all of Canada’s eyes and ears were focused on the drama unfolding in Ottawa, Question Period and the Senate, the Liberal leader was in Washington Thursday to rub shoulders with political has-beens, former US Secretary of Sate Madeleine Albright and former Australian PM Julia Gillard, attending meetings and a panel discussion at a Centre for American Progress Conference.
But no matter … I also watched Question Period Wednesday and maybe I know why Trudeau got out of town afterwards: Mulcair outperformed and outshone the Liberal leader BY FAR. So much so, I got the feeling Harper was almost happy to take the Liberal leader’s jabs … a break from the pummeling he was taking each time Mulcair came out of his corner.
And Mulcair had Harper on the ropes several times this week!
Of course, we cannot forget Mulcair is a long-time lawyer and has had an extensive political life; Trudeau was a school teacher … at a private preppy school no less. And the differences showed.
Mulcair thrust 22 questions at Harper Wednesday and Thursday (after those accusatory speeches in the Senate by Duffy and Wallin) compared to only 3 by Trudeau. At a time when more Canadians are paying attention to Question Period than probably in the past 10 years!
And Mulcair’s demands for information on what the PM knew, who else knew and when did they know it also triumphed in quality over Trudeau’s cliché queries about whether the PM would agree to testify under oath. Did he really expect a “yes” to that from a Prime Minister … in Question Period?
Mulcair’s interrogation was much more penetrating and, I’m sure more captivating from any taxpayer’s and certainly the reporting media’s point of view:
* Did anyone in the PMO or Cabinet ever inform Senator Duffy his expenses were apparently illegal?
* Did the PM tell Duffy it’s not about what you did, it’s about the perception of what you did, because the rules are inexplicable to the Conservative base?
* At one point in June, the PM said no one, other than Nigel Wright, knew about buying Duffy’s silence; then it was revealed by Wright as many as 13 top Conservatives also knew … why did the story change and who are these others who knew? and,
* Did the PM order or approve the motion currently being considered in the Senate to suspend the three Senators? Or take ANY part or play ANY role in the discussions about the motion to suspend them?
Of course, Harper did not yield a lot of new information … but he did acknowledge that OTHERS (if not 13) did also know what was going on, and he said he “supports” the Senate suspension motion, but NEVER answered directly whether he played any part in its being put forward. VERY telling!
A poll completed earlier this week saw the federal Liberals leading with 40% public support; the Tories with 28%; and the NDP trailing with 20% support.
If Mulcair continues to go after Harper so skillfully for more about what really went on in the Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau fiasco … and continues to outshine and expose Trudeau’s lack of substance in the process … those numbers will likely change, to the NDP’s liking.