On the Hill – Making a List

Another year has come and gone and what a year It’s been?especially in the halls of Parliament, with Canadians being served an unappealing brew of partisanship, broken promises and an early election, all topped with a self-serving dollop of prorogation.

When it comes to being rewarded for a job well done (in this case, putting the electorate ahead of political manoeuvring), they all deserve a lump of coal in their stockings.

So what wishes do we dare put on our Parliamentary Christmas list for the New Year? What hopes do we hold for our feckless leaders as they return, well paid and well rested, to the job on January 26?

For starters, we can hope that some industrious elves have taped a note to Stephen’s locker while he’s been away unwrapping his shiny new budget, something along the lines of ?This is a minority government.?

With luck, it will serve as a reminder that he hasn’t been given the keys to the car; he’s been handed a mandate to work with all the other MPs in the House, which means they all get to ride along beside him and occasionally offer suggestions (?No, no, you missed the turn. The directions said slight left.?)

Another item on the list would be a fervent wish that Stephen has learned at least one lesson well: when you suddenly poke the opposition with a sharp, unanticipated funding stick, you might get bitten by a coalition, and that puts us all in a mess. Not that our political funding system shouldn’t be open to review, but a little pre-emptive dialogue goes a long way (Stephen, please see the note on your locker, above).

We can also hope that the opposition leaders each get a wonderful sense of irony for Christmas, one they’ll put to good use when they return to their seats in January. Because it really does beggar belief to hear them call Stephen Harper out for being power hungry, then watch the machinations begin as everyone rushes to leverage their own position. Maybe those same elves could slip a reminder under the doors of the opposition caucuses: It’s not about striking deals that will set you up well for the next election, It’s about spending serious time developing policies to help Canadians through these tough economic times.

And while we’re at it (and still have some room on the list), let’s hope that the Speaker of the House gets the one thing that he’s been hoping for all year: order. To hear him calling for it, you’d think it had gone missing long ago?and you’d be right. The hollering, booing, interruptions, insults, and desk-thumping of the average Question Period make a pro-wrestling audience look positively urbane by comparison. And through it all, the Speaker looks wearily on and occasionally calls for the MPs? missing civility. It makes me want to go out and start pasting up signs in his neighbourhood, ?Lost: Order in the House. Reward offered.?

So, will we get a functioning federal Parliament for 2009? One with leaders who have the maturity to check their egos and squabbles at the door and find a way to work together for the benefit of the people who pay them? we’ll find out in January when Parliament reconvenes. In the meantime, enjoy the festive season and may all your holiday wishes come true.

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