Veteran Conservative MP Ed Fast received a standing ovation in the House of Commons Tuesday before he even had a chance to speak.
Fast, the Tories’ environment critic and former international trade critic, suffered a stroke at his home in Abbotsford, B.C. in December.
A popular and gregarious figure, Fast was responsible for making Environment Minister Catherine McKenna crack up in question period last year, and memorably hugged his Liberal predecessor on the floor of the House last fall to mark the signing of the Canada-EU free trade deal.
Conservative MP Ed Fast speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on March 7, 2017. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
As he rose for a member’s statement before question period, MPs of all stripes rose with extended applause.
“It is so good to be back in the House with my parliamentary family,” Fast began, thanking his colleagues for their kind words and prayers.
But it wasn’t all roses.
“Alas, upon my return, I find that the ship of state has run aground on a massive iceberg of deficits and broken promises,” he said. “Listing to the left, the good ship Sunny Ways is awash in a sea of red ink and carbon taxes.”
Fast charged that the “captain,” meant to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has thrown his “hapless first mate for democratic reform overboard” while two other shipmates were dispatched on “the diplomatic lifeboats the McCallum and Dion.” That reference, of course, is to the cabinet shake-up in January that saw beleaguered democratic institutions minister Maryam Monsef replaced, and led to veteran Liberals Stephane Dion and John McCallum heading for diplomatic posts.
"Mr. Speaker, it’s so good to be back in this House."
“Diving for the last lifeboat, the captain realizes he does not have the cash for access, and was last seen elbowing his way to the front of the line,” Fast went on — a shot at the prime minister’s questionable fundraising and an apparent callback to so-called “elbowgate” controversy.
Fast said it all amounted to a disaster of "Titanic" proportions.
“As the panicked caucus orchestra plays and the good ship Sunny Ways slowly sinks under the sea, I can hear the captain singing “My Heart Will Go On,” Fast concluded, sparking more laughs.
“Mr. Speaker, it’s so good to be back in this House.”
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland embraces former minister of international trade Ed Fast during question period in the House of Commons on Oct. 31, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
A little later, Fast rose in question period to accuse Liberals of not coming clean on the costs of phasing in a federal price on carbon. He referenced a heavily redacted memo from Finance Canada that sheds light on the expected costs to Canadian households of the Liberals’ carbon plan, as reported by the National Post.
“To the prime minister, why the cover-up and when will he finally release the unredacted report outlining the harm this tax will inflict on Canadians?” Fast asked.
Trudeau welcomed Fast back to the House but didn’t go easy on him.
PM references Fast's 'downtime'
The prime minister said Fast didn’t use his “downtime” to learn that investing in reducing carbon emissions is “a way of creating opportunities for Canadians and opportunities to grow the economy.”
Fast again called on Trudeau to release details of the carbon tax report and “let Canadians judge for themselves.”
“Canadians did judge for themselves in the 2015 election where they rejected a vision that did not understand that the way to build a strong economy is to invest in a cleaner environment,” Trudeau responded.
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