POLITICS

NDP Hilariously Delivers Camembert To Reporters At Mike Duffy Trial

04/07/2015 03:49 EDT | Updated 04/08/2015 07:59 EDT

New Democrats cheesed about Canada's beleaguered Senate treated journalists covering the trial of Mike Duffy to a snack that has, in some circles, come to symbolize excess in Parliament's upper chamber.

As Duffy's trial broke for lunch on Tuesday, NDP staffers handed out small cardboard boxes that contained two pieces of "ice-cold" Camembert and a handful of crackers.

"Let them eat cheese," the NDP tweeted from its main account.

The prank comes a week after Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth vented to reporters about having to justify her meal expenses to auditor general Michael Ferguson, who is conducting a wide-ranging audit of senators' claims.

Ruth said she was asked why her breakfast was expensed on a few occasions when the alternative was free airline food.

"Well, those (airline) breakfasts are pretty awful," she said. "If you want ice-cold Camembert with broken crackers, have at it."

The reference to the soft, creamy cheese spurred a #SenateProblems hashtag and a slew of cheese puns on social media, like this one from deputy NDP leader Megan Leslie.

In response to the kerfuffle, Quebec MP Alexandrine Latendresse even shared a popular cheese commercial in which she starred in as a child in 1991.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair also got in the spirit of things in question period last week.

"Instead of complaining about the temperature of the Camembert on their first-class flights, when are the Conservatives going to help the middle class?" he asked.

The Camembert gag comes days after another Senate-related joke from the official Opposition. On April Fool's Day, New Democrats sent an email to supporters saying they could be entered into a draw to become Canada's next senator if they donated a mere $90,000.

That is, of course, the same amount of money Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, gave to Duffy to repay his inappropriate housing expenses.

On a more serious note, New Democrats promoted a petition Tuesday on the party's website calling for the Red Chamber to be abolished to save taxpayers nearly $90 million each year.

"Canada's scandal-prone Senate is unelected, unaccountable, and has no place in a modern democracy like ours," the petition reads.

And a new poll suggests the vast majority of Canadians agree that the institution needs to change. According to numbers from Angus Reid Institute released Tuesday, 45 per cent of Canadians think the Senate should be reformed, while 41 per cent want it shut down altogether. Just 14 per cent say the upper chamber should be left as is.

The online survey was conducted between March 11 and 12 among 1,500 Canadians. It has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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