Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP Tries Shaming Tory Backbenchers into Giving Up Partisan Trash Talk

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP Tries Shaming Tory Backbenchers into Giving Up Partisan Trash Talk

Article excerpt

NDP tries shaming Tory MPs on trash talk

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OTTAWA - The NDP is trying to shame Conservative backbenchers into abandoning their daily game of partisan trash talk in the House of Commons.

Repeated rebukes by the Speaker have done nothing to stem Conservative use of members' statements -- the 15-minute interval preceding question period each day -- to lob verbal grenades at the leader of the Opposition.

And the Conservative command centre has made it clear it won't stop using backbenchers to deliver the scripted broadsides.

So, the NDP has hit upon a new tactic: employing one of their own member statements to embarrass Tory backbenchers for allowing themselves to be used as little more than attack parrots for their party.

"It's a gentle and sometimes humorous shaming exercise for them to say, 'You're better than this, don't do whatever the PMO wants you to do,'" NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said in an interview Thursday.

Cullen said some Tory backbenchers have privately told him they refuse to read the often-childish statements. The NDP's latest tactic is aimed at shaming other backbenchers into similarly refraining.

"If the only way to speak in Parliament as a Conservative is if you're willing to repeat idiotic lies, then that says a lot about them and not about us."

The new tactic was on display Thursday in the final three statements before question period.

Tory MP Phil McColeman delivered the daily partisan rant about NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's alleged plot to impose a "job-killing carbon tax" -- regardless of the fact that Mulcair has actually proposed a cap and trade system similar to that promised by the Conservatives themselves in 2008.

New Democrat Matthew Kellway was up next and used his statement to mock Tory backbenchers for "making up policies or fantasies about commies hiding under their beds" in their daily "fact-free statements."

He then questioned whether they have nothing better to do.

"Since the E. coli crisis began, the New Democrats have asked 33 questions about tainted meat, Conservatives not one. …

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