Without the angry facial expressions but with a little dramatic flare, Martha Hall Findlay stole Jack Nicholson's line from A Few Good Men to attack the Prime Minister's handling of dissent Thursday.
"Goodness knows that I shouldn't be really comparing Jack Nicholson to Stephen Harper but, you know, to Stephen Harper, 'You can't handle the truth,' " the Liberal MP said. "He doesn't like the truth, he doesn't like the facts and he sure as heck doesn't like it when people want to speak the truth. And that's really problematic."
The line from the military drama, in which Mr. Nicholson was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor, wasn't her only movie reference during what turned into a rather rambling news conference in Ottawa. Ms. Hall Findlay also worked in a mention of Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, referring to "inconvenient truths" the Prime Minister doesn't want to hear, such as the "truth" that most Canadians support the long-form census.
The census controversy, however, was not the main focus. Rather, as the Grits' designated hitter for the day - each week this month the Liberals have put up an MP for news conference on subjects critical of the Conservatives - it was Ms. Hall Findlay's job to present a list of senior officials who have seen their positions terminated or their contracts go un-renewed by the Harper government.
The " enemies list" compiled by the Liberals includes former chief statistician Munir Sheikh, who resigned recently over the long-form census controversy; veterans' affairs ombudsman Pat Stogran, who has been critical of government policy for returning soldiers and whose term has not been renewed; and the senior RCMP officer, Chief Superintendent Marty Cheliak, who was moved out of his post as head of the program overseeing the long-gun registry and sent to take French-language training.
The Mountie is a proponent of the registry; Mr. Harper and his government are not. So you see where Ms. Hall Findlay was going with her news conference - accusations of political interference as she tried to establish a dark pattern by the Conservatives of silencing their critics.
Indeed, she even peered into the future, referring to speculation that radio and television regulator Konrad von Finckenstein is destined for the chopping block. "We really have to look at what is going on at the CRTC," she said.
For Mr. von Finckestein, at least, it seems nothing is going on. At least that's the word from government officials.
"Not true: Mr. von Finckenstein's term expires on January 24, 2012," said Matthew Deacon, spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore. "We continue to work at arms-length with the CRTC on broadcasting and telecom matters."