MPs victimized in drive by smear

'Stop insulting MPs with the tripe about them not working
because the House of Commons isn't in session'

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

Beating on Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the prorogation of Parliament is fair game. By his slide in the public opinion polls, it's a fairly effective strategy for the opposition parties and it gives the news media an easy story to feast on.

However the opposition leaders are committing an outrageous drive by smear on all Members of Parliament with all their palaver about MPs not being able to work because the House of Commons isn't in session.

What a pile of nonsense. MPs aren't elected to sit in the House of Commons and smile when the camera swings in their direction and or applaud approvingly when someone on their team gets off a zinger. But you would think so listening to the comments from the opposition leaders, newspaper columnists and television commentators.

MPs are elected to represent their constituents. They probably work the most while in their Parliament Hill or local constituency offices. It's a year-round job for them and their assistants to handle constituents' problems with the federal government or try to get local issues dealt with by federal bureaucrats who have little if any knowledge of matters in communities across the country.

They can do little of that when they're on House duty.

Their other main duty is serving on Commons standing committees but we're not hearing a lot about them. Wonder if that's because the news media generally ignore committee work.

The Liberals have contrived what one participant calls dog and pony shows on Parliament Hill to somehow impress Canadians that Parliament isn't in session and to show how busy their MPs are. Most Canadians who care will have noted the absence of news clips from the Commons on their televisions. If it's concern to them, they will be able to show that in the next election.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said on Jan. 26 that "With 1.6 million Canadians still out of work, Stephen Harper has decided that Members of Parliament shouldn't work either." Does that mean his MPs don't do anything when Parliament is on its summer or Christmas breaks? I don't think so. They're probably working their constituencies like all other MPs.

The House of Commons usually takes a week off most months when it's sitting. Those breaks are often connected with national holidays but are also intended to give MPs time in their constituencies. Most MPs go home on weekends to see their families and deal with local issues. In case Ignatief and Layton don't understand, that's what gets most of them re-elected, not the charms of their leaders.

So keep beating on Harper over prorogation but at least acknowledge he's not the first prime minister to use that dodge. But mainly stop insulting MPs past, present and future with the tripe about them not working because the House of Commons isn't in session.

29 January 2010 — Return to cover.