History was made last night when President Obama was re-elected for another four year term. What struck me while listening to his acceptance speech was the fact that his words (whether we agree or disagree with him) are now part of his nation's historical record. Quite simply they are there for future generations to study.
In much the same way, when our MPs stand in the House of Commons to give a speech, read a Member's Statement, ask a question or even make a comment during a committee meeting, their words are there for posterity too. Future generations of Canadians will study what has been said, comments of individuals will be analyzed and our present day MPs will have left an indelible mark on our country's history.
However, when you look at the House of Commons today you have to wonder where is that sense of history when an MP stands up to read a Member's Statement, a speech, ask a question or if a minister, answer one?
Their children, grandchildren and yes even great grandchildren and scholars decades down the road will be able to review what every one of our MPs of all political stripes has put on the historical record. If you are an MP or if you follow what was said in the House today, would you want that to be your historical record, your record of service to your country in that great institution of Parliament?
Where is the pride in craftsmanship that speakers in the House used to have? Today it has been replaced by the 10-second media clip. The clever put down of a political opponent has been replaced by a blunt hammer blow of partisan nastiness.
I have a collection of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's speeches and quotes. When you read them, they are as alive today as on the day he stood to deliver them. Can you say that about any of our politicians today?
How many MPs today write their own speeches and spend hours drafting and re-drafting them so that they truly reflect their views and values? How many MPs on the government side stand up and blindly read what has been handed to them by the boys in the PMO or by a minister's staffer?
Gone are the days when a Parliamentary Secretary would refuse outright to read a speech with which they personally disagreed. For that matter, how many committee chairs today will write a report that is anything less than talk points dictated by PMO?
It used to be that MPs from all parties came to Ottawa to change the system, to make things better. They had different political beliefs, but they were all there for the same reason -- to make a better Canada. They had that sense of history that was reflected in Obama's speech last night. The words they spoke made a difference; their words were their personal historical record, preserved for all time in Hansard.
What would Diefenbaker have thought if his MPs stood day after day and read into our county's historical record the following:
Jacques Gourde: "It is sad, because the carbon tax proposed by the NDP would increase the price of birthday cakes, candles and even pinatas." (Hansard, October24, 2012)
Stellar Ambler: "Unfortunately, the NDP wants to impose one of the spookiest things of all, an evil $21 billion carbon tax... that would hurt Canadian families and raise the cost of celebrating Halloween." (Hansard, October 30, 2012)
Corneliu Chisu: "Even Count Dracula himself is frightened by the very scary carbon tax proposed by the spooky NDP." (Hansard, October 31, 2012)
Aren't these stirring words? Is this how these MPs want to be remembered by future generations of Canadians? Where was their sense of history when they stood to read this nonsense into our country's historical record?