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Constant election 'braying' quickly wears thin with MPs

Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

MPs simply can't escape it. It's the biggest issue on Parliament Hill these days - and it has nothing to do with the big issues of the day, such as the economy, health care or the environment.

Rather, it's purely speculative and political: whether or not there will be an election soon. So often is it asked and so much energy is put into it that it's beginning to grate on some MPs - and they just got back to the Commons after a six-week break.

Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau made that sentiment clear in fewer than 140 characters on Tuesday. "Although rested and recharged by a January with constituents, one day back and the election posturing and braying has me missing Papineau," he said on Twitter.

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His London, Ont., colleague Glen Pearson also complained about the current obsession with an upcoming election on his blog. "I heard it everywhere I trekked yesterday: 'So, are we going to have an election?'," the Liberal MP wrote. "My reply that I didn't have the foggiest ideas was met with considerable disappointment as everywhere people seemed to have an opinion on the matter."

He noted that the election speculation was "prepped by the media for the last few weeks as various pundits continued to ramp up some kind of ballot showdown."

The Prime Minister seemed tired with it all, too. In the Commons during the first Question Period of 2011 on Monday he warned Jack Layton to get off that theme, encouraging the NDP Leader and his opposition colleagues "to think about helping families rather than an election."

Then it carried through to the scrums outside the House.

Asked by reporters if an election is "inevitable," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff replied: "Nothing in life is inevitable, nothing."

Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said he agreed with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who said the chances of a spring election over his March budget were "50-50."

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, meanwhile, says he is asked the election question by both local and national reporters. His response. "There is no reason for an election to be held. What is the trigger?"

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The Peterborough Tory stressed that his government's budget is not aimed at provoking an election. Instead, it's focused on ensuring economic recovery.

"All three parties voting against a budget that clearly sets the government on a path to fiscal balance that further contains measures and investments that Canadians broadly support is hardly the election backdrop that the opposition wants," Mr. Del Mastro added.

And what about Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae? What's his response to all of this? "Dunno," he said. "Dunno," he said again when he was asked if he's tired of answering the question.

But he does have a message for those who may be growing tired of it all: "He who is sick of election speculation is sick of life."

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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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