Feeling the need to cringe, the other night I pulled out my teenage journals. I kept them quite faithfully during my final two years of high school. They contain about what you’d expect. This somewhat topical entry from May 18, 1984 is thankfully low on angst yet insufferable nonetheless. In the spirit of Exile on Pain Street, I present it as written, with only the names changed to protect the now-middle-aged.
Model Parliament, which kept me busy but never so busy that I couldn’t neglect doing it without harming my position, is over. I have always thought that government was a group of nit-picking old men trying to do anything they can to put down the opposite members and that legislation is a tedious process with too much power going to the whims of the government in power. I was right.
I never really got to do much until the Question Periods. I was the government so I had to bluff. The first afternoon I was asked a question on pornography, which I managed to weasel out of by saying time was up and adjourning Question Period.
The question was raised, of course, by Doris Lynch, critic of everything and anything. There was not a bill proposed on which she did not stand up and shout unnecessarily into the microphone in that know-it-all voice of hers. She did not need the microphone. By the end of the session everyone on the Government was doing everything we could to insult her.
After I presented my bill for second reading, Doris gave a little speech in which she said, “I see absolutely nothing good about this and I think it is quite wrong and bad in every way.” I stood up in reply and said, “Madam Speaker, I think it is quite clear that the member opposite finds everything wrong with everything.” A great cheer went up in the house.
After school the first day, I did go home and prepare for the pornography issue and that night in the evening session Doris asked me again what I planned to do. This time I was ready and I read articles and the Criminal Code which all ended up saying that pornography is illegal but some isn’t.
I was becoming quite efficient at put-downs. Danny Gillis asked me about prisons and I told him to wait for tomorrow when I present my bills. He replied, “Madam Speaker, I think that I may be sick tomorrow and I would like to hear the reply now since I may not be here when it is presented.” To this I answered, “Madam Speaker, I am sorry if the opposition is feeling a little queasy…”
I evaded issues, formed on-the-spot policies and BS’ed my way through two days. Although I still have no confidence in the government system, I am quite amazed at how people can go at each other’s throats across the floor of the assembly and then at a recess chat pleasantly with their opponents. No one held any grudges, except everyone against Doris. She is so damn opinionated and loud. I realize that dissention brings about change but when that dissenting voice brings about cat-calls and groans of authority there is no way to take it seriously.
I suppose it would have been a little different if we had constituents to whom to be responsible. As it was, we were all-powerful. As Ronnie our PM said in an out-of-Commons remark, a remark that was brought up many times, “We are the government; we can do anything.”