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MPs hit new low in Question Period 'for Dummies'

Parliament Hill is illuminated at dusk on Nov. 17, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

It was Question Period for Dummies Thursday with opposition MPs and cabinet ministers trading insults as they riffed off the title of the multi-subject, how-to book.

» Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told NDP MP Megan Leslie to read "Economics for Dummies" after she told the government to stop listening to the "oil lobby" on the Keystone pipeline.

"The emissaries are back from their job-killing trip to Washington," Mr. Oliver charged, referring to the two NDP MPs who visited the U.S. capital to talk to politicians about the pipeline. "They apparently felt it was their patriotic duty to block an important project that will generate jobs, economic activity and energy security. This is precisely the wrong time to block shovel-ready projects."

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» New Democrat Matthew Kellway told Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino to read "Buying Jets for Dummies."

The Toronto MP, who has been on the government's case for its planned multi-million-dollar purchase of stealth fighter jets, was mocking Mr. Fantino and Defence Minister Peter MacKay for contradicting each other Wednesday over whether the government had a back-up plan if the jet fighter program fails.

"The Associate Minister of National Defence clearly said there are no problems but there is a plan B," Mr. Kellway saod. "The [Defence Minister]says there are problems but no plan B. Americans and others understand that the F-35s are behind schedule and massively over-budget. Perhaps the ministers could ask the U.S. Secretary of Defense about his plan B."

The two ministers are meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Friday at a security conference in Halifax.

» Quebec NDP MP Francoise Boivin recommended Public Safety Minister Vic Toews read "Democracy for Dummies," suggesting the Tories are being anything but democratic in the way in which they are handling their bill to scrap the long-gun registry and implement omnibus crime legislation.

» Liberal MP John McCallum couldn't resist weighing in with this title "Flying Challenger Jets for Dummies" in his question to Government House Leader Peter Van Loan about the Tory use, or overuse, of Challenger jets.

Of course, this caused great excitement in the Commons and led to poor behaviour, forcing House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer up on his feet.

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"We will have a little bit of order," he said, telling them there was "far too much noise."

Such was the quality of Question Period on this first week back from a week-long break. There are still four more weeks to go before the House lifts again for the Christmas holidays.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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