Liable for damages
It's standard practice, when renting a car, an apartment or a party venue, to leave a damage deposit.
I'm starting to think that Canadians should be insisting on the same condition when a new government takes power: if it breaks the institutions of office, or leaves them in worse condition than it found them, someone (not us) should pay.
Question Period has been on a downward descent for a while, so it's hard to backtrack and pinpoint who started trashing the place. Maybe it was the Liberal "rat pack" of the 1980s, or maybe it was the arrival of television in the 1970s. But Question Period is now utterly and completely broken. It's the basement rec room of Canadian politics, filled with rollicking feats of ever-more-sophomoric behaviour and language. This week has been a true low.
I keep imagining the janitors walking in every night after everyone has gone home and surveying the wreckage: "Oh no, look at this, all those pants on fire have scorched the chairs, even on the front bench." or "Aww, look at those walls. What on earth were they throwing at each other?"
The committee rooms are a disaster too, though they're in marginally better condition than the Question Period venue. This week, the Conservatives moved to shut down an inquiry into the Auditor General's report on $10-billion cost overruns in the price of F-35 fighter jets. Again, the clean-up crew must be sighing: "Hey, somebody smashed all the lights in here. It's totally dark."
As for the Senate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has reportedly given up on his attempts to clean up the place, wedging ever more appointees into the chamber, and considering calling in a haz-mat team (the Supreme Court) to help turn it into a properly functioning institution. One tiny thing: Five years ago, the Senate itself recommended that the Supreme Court was necessary for this cleanup duty, and the Conservatives steadfastly refused to consider it. Provinces also argued that their help was needed. Now the rot has had an extra half-decade to set in, simply because Harper was convinced that fixing the place was a do-it-yourself job.
Imaginary janitor: "Darn it, somebody tried to use a staple gun and duct tape here. Look at the mess."
A lot of the parliamentary rule books have been taking a battering too over the past few years; their pages tattered, torn or ripped right out all together. There was the infamous manual on how to disrupt the work of committees. There was the massive PR effort of late 2008, to convince Canadians that a "coup" was under way, when what was really happening was an old-fashioned, legitimate loss of confidence in the Prime Minister, by a majority of duly elected MPs in the chamber. There was the subsequent shutdown of Parliament in late 2008, and another one in 2009 -- prorogation used as it had rarely been used before, to help the government escape from tight situtations in Parliament.
Imaginary janitor: "Hey look over here. Someone's busted the latches on these windows and doors."
At some point, we're going to have to confront all this wreckage and either fix it or have the whole place condemned.
Former cabinet minister Bev Oda was (rightly) forced to pay when she smoked in a hotel room. Who's going to pay for the damage currently being inflicted on our Parliamentary institutions? Not us, the citizens, I hope.