Remembering Salmi, One Year Later

Originally posted from September 1, 2009


Well, visitors to the hall of portraits on Parliament Hill are in for a shock, that’s for sure, but it was still a fun little ceremony today as Prime Ministers Harper and Salmi attended the hanging of their official portraits. Everybody gave their speeches, there were the requisite jokes about being hung on Parliament Hill, and then boom, the two latest portraits were unveiled. And a pair of more different official portraits there simply cannot be.

With everybody all smiles today, it’s easy to forget just how out of sorts we were last year during the seven days that shook Canada, but I think Prime Minister Moore said it best in his speech. In talking about the lessons learned the last year, he said that the Week of the Rhinoceros reminded us of who is really in charge in a democracy, and that is the people. And while that can be confounding or frustrating, it’s still the best of all possible worlds. And if five million Canadians decide to screw with our politicians’ heads, that’s their right, and good for them.

A far worse situation is when the voting public disengages from the process, and allows the politicians, chosen by those who remain, to forget who they really work for. Yes, I’m saying this now a year after a week-long Rhino government, with our country stable and still in surplus, but that doesn’t make this less true, I think.

The high voter turnout for the 160 byelections and the political realignments that followed have made for interesting copy, to be sure, but after the voting public had that joke at politicans’ expense, they seem to have settled down and started to engage in the political process. And our chastened politicians seem more responsive to the needs of the public, lest they be slapped down again. Yes, there have been hefty debates in parliament, but there’s less posturing. We’re looking at the issues, and not attacking the people advocating them. Dare I hope this is the new normal?

A year ago today, I talked about Salmi’s possible legacy. And I notice that the first gigantic shoelace tying Quebec and Ontario together has been erected near Riviere Beaudette. It doesn’t look bad. It seems that there is some private interest in continuing this project. A charitable fund has been established and donations are being received. Perhaps these installations will be set up north along the Ontario-Quebec land border after all.

I may pay it a visit someday; a new national monument.

In other news, citing a survey he ran in his own riding, Greg Staples announced today that he is giving up his independent status and is joining the Libertarian caucus. Party leader Gerry Nichols called a news conference to officially welcome him. The survey seems thorough enough, and if that’s the wishes of his voters, I won’t fault him for crossing the floor. Besides, 90 independent MPs remain.

Here are the standings in the House of Commons as of today.

Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada (James Moore): 100
Green Democratic Party of Canada (David Chernuschenko): 43
Libertarian Party of Canada (Gerry Nichols): 37
Social Democratic Party of Canada (Pat Martin): 24
Christian Heritage Party (Stockwell Day): 14
Independent MPs: 90

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Pat Paulson Jr…

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