Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mock Parliament by Naomi Elana Zener

The school auditorium was generally reserved for plays, science fairs, talent shows and school-wide assemblies. However, given the elite nature of the dignitaries invited to observe Mrs. Smith’s grade two class’ mock parliament performance, the auditorium was booked for the occasion. The students’ parents sat proudly in the audience, starting ten rows back from the front, due to the reserved seating closest to the stage for the Members of Parliament, Senators, Leaders of the Opposition and even the Prime Minister, all of whom had rsvp’d for the event. Even members from every broadcast and paper media outlet had clamoured into the back of the auditorium to cover the presentation. Given the recent set of scandals that had rocked the Federal Government, the Prime Minister issued a dictate to his entire Conservative caucus, including elected and appointed officials, especially those headlined for the shame they brought on the house of Harper, that non-attendance was not an option.

“Thank you all for attending today’s off-site mock session of the House of Commons’ question and answer period. As you can see, assembled before you on the stage are my twenty-six grade two pupils who have been assigned the high profile roles of some of our esteemed national politicians seated before me in the audience, as part of their annual civics project. We have our very own stand-ins for the real Speaker of the House, Prime Minister, Leader of the Official Opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Party and select members of Parliament. The topics to be discussed today were selected by the students themselves to be reinterpreted by them to reflect concerns of seven year olds,” Mrs. Smith explained. “Without further ado, I give you our 2013 Canadian House of Commons.”

The Speaker of the House rose signaling the House to rise to sing the national anthem. No sooner than the final note had reverberated throughout the large hall, the Leader of the Opposition stood up on stage to ask the first question.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker. I’d like to start by asking our Prime Minister how he can say that his government supports fiscal restraint when his Senators’ expense reports show that they are spending their budgets on McDonalds’ Happy Meals and Leap Frog games at Toys R Us?” the Leader of the Opposition asked. “I don’t think that the Senators can say that Dora the Explorer figurines and Leap Frog programs are necessary office tools to help them run the country.”

The Conservative senators in the audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats, as chuckles were heard coming from the parents and other Liberal and NDP politicians in the crowd.

“Mr. Speaker, I’m sure that the NDP Members of Parliament and Senate appointees take work breaks and they play with all sorts of toys that help them do their jobs better,” the Prime Minister’s secretary retorted on the Prime Minister’s behalf. “As long as the Senators are getting their jobs done and they don’t spend more than the allowances given to them, then there is no problem.”

“As a follow up, Mr. Speaker, if spending only their allowances makes it ok to buy toys, then how come the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff had to give a Conservative senator a personal loan out of his own allowance so that the senator could pay back what he overspent at Toys R US?” the Leader of the Opposition queried.

“Mr. Speaker, I must advise that what the Chief of Staff chose to do on his own with his own personal allowance from his mommy and daddy, without the Prime Minister’s knowledge, is not something that the Prime Minister is responsible for,” the Prime Minister’s Secretary replied.

The NDP and Liberal members of the House jeered and heckled the Prime Minister’s Secretary’s answer.

“Perhaps the Senators should have bought toys at the Dollar Store instead of an expensive large toy store,” an NDP Member of Parliament shouted out.

“My mommy says that McDonalds is bad for you and has caused the obesity problem in children, so the Senators should be setting a better example and not eating there,” a Liberal backbencher cried out.

“Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister would have the Canadian taxpayers believe that he did not know what his senators and staffers were doing with their taxpayer allowances, but that is a big fat fib. These senators were seen eating at Ottawa-area McDonalds with their Conservative friends and Members of Parliament where they played with their Happy Meal Smurfs instead of eating wholesome lunches they brought to the Senate from home,” the Leader of the Opposition called out.

“Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister said, “I’d like to yield my time to the Finance Minister to reply on my behalf.”

“Thank you Mr. Prime Minister,” the Finance Minister said. “Every Senator is allowed to spend a certain amount of their allowance every day on food, it’s called a per diem. So if they choose to use it to eat McNuggets instead of their peanut butter sandwich, even if they only bought their Happy Meal for the toy in the first place, that is their choice.”

The Conservative Members of Parliament clapped their hands on their desks cheering on the Finance Minister.

“Order in the House,” the Speaker demanded striking his gavel. “Now, I invite the Leader of the Liberal Party to ask his question, if he has one.”

“Thank you Mr. Speaker,” the Liberal Leader stated with an affected lisp. “I’d like to shift the Prime Minister’s focus to the recent Federal Court decision that said that the Conservatives did a very bad thing when they made prank calls to Canadians during the last election. Canadians do not like getting robo-prank calls made to their homes asking them if their refrigerators are running, only to be told to run after them.”

The real Prime Minister nervously tugged at his shirt collar. He noted that all of the parents were scowling at him, and both Mr. Muclair and Mr. Trudeau were smirking in his direction, realizing that the robocalls had not gone unnoticed by either the children or their parents.

“Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Prime Minister, I will answer the question,” the Defense Minister advised. “Although the Federal Court did say that the calls were wrong, no one would have changed their vote whether the calls were made or not. I think that the Liberal Leader is blowing this issue out of proportion because his head is in a Goldfish cloud.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, but if the Defense Minister could please explain what he is talking about, I would appreciate it,” the Liberal Leader asked.

“Well, the Liberal Leader recently admitted to the press and Canadians that he is a Goldfish user and we all know that they are full of preservatives and don’t let you think straight. Maybe he should put down the bag of Goldfish and eat an apple,” the Defense Minister advised.

“Boo! Boo!” jeered the NDP and Liberal Members of Parliament.

“Order!” the Speaker demanded. “Question and Answer period is drawing to a close. Does the Leader of the Opposition have any further questions for the government?”

“Yes, Mr. Speaker. The government has kept interest rates really low making it easy to buy our favourite toys, but it has caused the price of those toys to go through the roof, especially in the Thomas the Train and Barbie markets. Already very expensive, cost of Thomas the Train sets, Tidmouth Sheds replicas and Barbie’s Dream House have made it impossible for average allowances to keep up since they don’t gain any interest in our piggy banks,” the Leader of the Opposition stated.

“Here! Here!” shouted the Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament and parents in the audience, supporting the action of their counterparts on stage.

“The government’s low interest rate policy has allowed Canadian children to dig their way out of candy, video game and other toy debt, now forcing them to save up their pennies for things they really want. Every child should ask if they really need another Thomas steam engine or if Barbie needs another outfit for her next date with Ken,” the Finance Minister explained.

“Thank you,” the Speaker advised. “We have run out of time for today. I’d like to thank all of the Members of Parliament for their important questions and helpful answers. I officially declare that this Question and Answer session is closed.”

The students gathered at the front of the stage to take their bows. A sigh of relief from the politicians rose above the thunderous parental applause.

“Thank you so much for coming to help support and encourage our students in their civics studies,” Mrs. Smith stated. “I hope that every parent, politician and journalist here today will walk away from today recognizing that even our country’s youngest citizens have a solid grasp on what goes on politically and that they will keep you honest even when you think you’ve got them fooled.”

© 2013 Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

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