Frustrated MPs turn to blogs
Many old assumptions seem to be turning on their heads this week. First it was the prospect of Ontario as a have-not province; now the StatsCan report on how younger folks cannot expect to make more than their parents.
There's another old saw becoming defunct, too: Pierre Trudeau's famous observation that MPs are nobodies 50 yards away from Parliament Hill.
Actually, as Parliament has become increasingly dysfunctional, and under Stephen Harper's iron-fist rule, it's more correct to say that MPs are only somebodies when they get 50 yards (or metres, if you insist) away from the Hill. This is making itself evident on some MPs' blogs and websites, where more candid politicians are acknowledging their exasperation with the state of things in Ottawa. It fits quite nicely with last Sunday's Cross-Country Checkup program, which asked whether political discourse was simply destructive and degenerative these days.
Here's just a sampling of some fed-up MPs:
Mark Holland, an MP who's become fascinated with Barack Obama's campaign in the U.S., has posted a long essay on his Facebook site. "Gotcha wins out over eureka every time," he writes. "If you don’t play along, you are attacked. A leader who doesn’t produce good sound bytes is derided. A Question Period devoted to questions of policy is ignored. And, let’s be honest, unanimously supported parliamentary reports are seldom even picked up by the nightly CPAC coverage regardless how brilliant their ideas." It's only available to his Facebook friends, but it's worth becoming his "friend" to check it out.
Glen Pearson, from London North Centre, is also writing frankly about his despair in an April 28 posting at his blog, called The Parallel Parliament. "As this particular parliament grinds itself to a standstill, there is an increasing sense that we have somehow lost our way," Pearson writes. "Put simply, the country is catching on that we can’t get our act together as a parliament and we’re sensing it too as politicians."
Government MPs, meanwhile, are less likely to be talking about despair, or even blogging, but a glimpse through some of their websites shows many of them appearing to derive more satisfaction out of their lives away from the Parliament Hill bubble as well.
Michael Chong, who left Harper's cabinet over the Quebec-nation controversy in late 2006, has devoted a great deal of time and attention on his website to writing a three-part series of essays on how to handle urban sprawl. Mike Lake, an Edmonton-area MP, meanwhile, has made autism a central theme of his website, much of his work revolving around his own 12-year-old son, Jaden.
So what do we make of all this?
It may be true that fine men and women are still elected to Parliament, but the place itself may not be worthy of them at the moment.