“Well Mr. Speaker, that does not speak very favourably about your neutrality in this House.”
During Question Period on Tuesday, a simple but fundamental question by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair led to a bizarre exchange and exposed House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer’s incompetence and lack of neutrality.
In our broken parliamentary system, Question Period is when the government of the day is held to account for its policies and conduct. So, the leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition asked the government to confirm that the 30-day Canadian military commitment in Iraq to fight the Islamic State would indeed end on October 4 as suggested earlier by a Conservative MP on CPAC. Conservative MP Paul Calandra, the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, responded by questioning the NDP’s loyalty to Israel.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has failed to answer clear questions about his ill-defined military deployment in Iraq.
Yesterday, Conservatives refused once again to answer in this House, but the member for Selkirk—Interlake stated on CPAC that the mission will end on October 4.
Will the Conservative government confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will indeed end on October 4?
Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of confusion with respect to the NDP position on Israel.
I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition could confirm for me whether Alex Anderson, who identifies himself as a fundraiser at the New Democratic Party, speaks for the NDP when he says “[eff] the IDF and all who supports them. I am sick and tired of the media [BS] trying to sell lies and hide an [effing] genocide”.
Does Alex Anderson speak for the NDP when he says these shameful things?
Bizarre response, right? It’s only the beginning. Mulcair pressed on Calandra to stick with Iraq:
Mr. Speaker, I can understand the confusion. We are in the Middle East and we are under the I’s, but we are talking about Iraq.
It took over a week for the Prime Minister to answer a simple question about the number of troops involved in the Iraqi deployment. It now appears that Canadian soldiers may require visas approved by the Iraqi government.
Since this military deployment is still ongoing, and since it is set to conclude in 12 days, precisely how many Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Iraq today?
In New York, Harper seemed to answer Mulcair’s questions during an interview with Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal. First, Harper revealed that the government had received a formal written request from the U.S. for more support in the ongoing war against ISIS.
“The United States has just recently, in the last couple days, has asked for some additional contribution and we’ll — we’re weighing our response to that,” said Harper.
More Canadians troops on the ground?
“I haven’t ruled out — we haven’t ruled out anything,” said Harper. “And we want to be supportive as best we can.”
In an earlier Question Period exchange, Stephen Harper had responded to Mulcair’ question about the number of Canadian soldiers in Iraq with: “Mr. Speaker, as the government has announced, and I gather was reviewed by a committee of this body, the Royal Canadian Air Force has been deployed to Iraq to deliver humanitarian and military assistance to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State, ISIL, and there are several dozen Canadian army personnel also deployed to Iraq in an advise-and-assist capacity.”
The Wall Street Journal answered Mulcair’s question.
“To date, Canada has contributed 69 members of a special-forces unit to be stationed in northern Iraq to aid U.S. military advisers and support Iraqi security forces,” reported the WSJ, adding that the Canadian force “is the second largest foreign presence on the ground, after the U.S.”
Back in the House of Commons, Calandra stuck to his bizarre Israel line:
Mr. Speaker, what does the Leader of the Opposition not understand? Our friends in Israel are on the front lines combatting terrorism.
So, when people who work for the NDP, like Alex Anderson, who identifies himself as a fundraiser at Canada’s NDP, calls what the Israel Defense Forces are doing an effing genocide, and calls the media BS for not supporting the fact that they call it an effing genocide, what does he not understand?
Israel is on the front lines. Canada will continue to support our friends in Israel. We will stand up for peace and security around the world. Unlike them, we are not confused by our position.
At this point, the Speaker should have intervened. His role is to “ensure the orderly flow of business” and “maintain order” in the House. He’s expected to do so impartially. His role is to ensure that Question Period proceeds “in a civil manner.” There was nothing civil about Calandra’s responses. Scheer waited until Thursday to say that Calandra’s “language was unsavoury,” and to urge MPs to “choose their words more carefully.”
That was well after Mulcair reminded him:
Mr. Speaker, there are rules in the book about question period. You are our arbiter. We ask you to enforce the rules on relevance and on question period.
When asked at foreign affairs committee just a couple of weeks ago, the minister said that a status of forces agreement with Iraq outlining operating rules for Canadian forces had not yet been completed.
Has that agreement now been completed? If so, when can Canadians see it?
Mr. Speaker, again, clearly the Leader of the Opposition does not identify or understand the fact that our friends in Israel are on the front lines combating terrorism in the region, Mr. Speaker.
That is why on this side of the House we support our friends in Israel, Mr. Speaker. Unlike the NDP whose position is all over the place, Canada will stand up for Israel, will stand up for freedom around the world, Mr. Speaker.
The NDP supporter calls – their supporter – call it an effing IDF, and all those who support it. He claims that the media is ignoring it, and calls it BS.
We will stand up for Israel. We will stand up for—
A which point, a frustrated Mulcair concluded with: “Well Mr. Speaker, that does not speak very favourably about your neutrality in this House.”
Calandra is a nasty piece of work. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “Before he was elected in 2008, the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, was embroiled in an ugly family dispute in which he was accused of taking money from his dying mother and suggesting he should kill his sister.”
And, he doesn’t really care about what Canadians – and the media – about his bizarre responses.
Media upset with me, gee what am I to do? Tell you what, I will stand up for Israel who are on the front lines fighting terror every day.
— Paul Calandra (@PaulCalandra) September 24, 2014