The House of Commons is on a break until the new year, so what better time look back at the session that was. The list looks a lot different from the government's scorecard released Thursday.
1. Prorogue State
It all began with a fizzle in September, when Stephen Harper went to the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. This wiped clean the legislative agenda and allowed Harper a whole other month to dodge questions about Senate scandal.
2. The Senate Hunger Games
As Conservatives continue to capture and cannibalize their own, it's hard to know which death throes to watch. With Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau gone from the Senate for now, should we be watching Conservative senators David Tkachuk, Marjory Lebreton and Carolyn Stewart Olsen, whose version of events of the Senate spending scandal are being challenged by the RCMP? How about the Senator Irving Gerstein? There's also trouble in Liberal-land, despite Mac Harb's early exit from the Upper Chamber amid his own spending scandal, with allegations of sexual harassment involving Liberal Senator Colin Kenny.
3. The Duffy Docs
The revelations in the "ITO" (Information To Obtain) filed in court by a RCMP investigator single-handedly kept Question Period going for over a month. From the allegations of Stephen Harper knowing about a plan to pay for Duffy’s expense claims out of Conservative Party coffers to the emails showing the PMO interfering in the Senate probe of bogus expenses, the court document made for a lively session.
4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Clear
MP Paul Calandra made quite an impression in Question Period as Harper’s new point man for not answering questions in QP. Watch Calandra repeat how "very clear" he's being 24 times in under an hour, and you'll see why Calandra’s broken record line quickly became meme-worthy. A website popped up, mocking his go-to lines to deflect from the Senate scandal, including the one about his dad's pizza shop and two young daughters. Calandra's performance is summed up as "the most complete non-answer in the history of QP."
5. My Body’s Nobody’s Body But Yours?
Even though Stephen Woodworth’s Private Member’s Bill looking to re-open the abortion debate in Canada failed last year, the steady stream of anti-choice petitions continued Woodworth's legacy this fall. Six Conservative backbenchers presented multiple petitions calling to "restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible" and used "sex-selective abortions" as way in to reopen the abortion debate.
6. Labour Pains
The anti-union bill (C-525) authored by Conservative backbencher Blaine Calkins resurfaced this session, building on a similar union-busting bill (C-377) of a caucus colleague. The bill proposes to change certification and decertification procedures, shifting the current majority process to minority rule, where a threshold of 45 per cent could dissolve a union.
While we’re waiting to see how Conservative backbencher Michael Chong’s much-hyped Reform Act does at committee, observers have already canonized and vilified the thing. Whatever happens, nobody can say the Reform Act wasn’t a hot topic this session.
8. Bully Pulpit
Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais (Who’s that? Oh wait, that guy who ran for office, lost, and then got appointed to the Senate for a term almost 10 times longer than the one voters didn’t want to give him?) launched a condescending and sexist attack on NDP MP Charmaine Borg, calling her, among other things, a whiner and saying she knows nothing and should go to the library. This wasn't the only sexist outbust of the session, ladies.
9. So… What Just Happened?
The number of bills that actually passed Third Reading is really, really short (three!), but the one at the top of the list -- the omnibus budget implementation bill -- is a doozy: the wide-ranging Conservative omnibus budget bill amends 50 laws, including many that have nothing to do with the budget.
10. A Moment of Civility
However bleak the session was with heated and intense exchanges about the Senate scandal and a PMO cover up, the death of Nelson Mandela brought civility back to the place for a moment. Shortly after news of Mandela’s passing, Harper stood in the House of Commons to deliver a speech about Mandela’s legacy, after which NDP leader Thomas Mulcair crossed the floor to shake his hand. Mulcair then returned to his place, delivered his own speech. Harper returned the gesture by walking over to shake Mulcair's hand.
Photo: mcdemoura. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.