Parliamentarian of the year goes to…

Macleans.ca – which was once a leader in critical Canadian debate, but has evolved into a safe house for traditional journalism (don’t get me wrong, I am a fan as much as the next person but from this writers perspective, they are letting some excellent talent get a little stagnant), completed thier annual survey of parliamentarians. Asking MPs to rate their peers in such categories as hardest working (Ted Menzies of Fort MacLeon won the honours this year), most collegial (Peter Stoffer, one of my favourite members to watch in QP and from one of my favourite places – Sackville, NB). Parliamentarian of the year this time around went to one of the strongest faces in the Harper government, John Baird.

Despite his bulldog attitude in and out of the house, he carries a Liepert like charm, which has some hating him but apparently more admiring him. Whether it is that he takes the hardest jobs and shoulders them graciously, or just gratitude by the rest of the CPC caucus that he is charged for implementing and successfully continuing the Accountability Act and the federal stimulus plan. I am disposed to believing it is the latter over the former.

In a time when Canadians continue to have little faith in their politicians – hardly a new trend, I am curious to see how this peer review would stack up against a public review. Would Baird still take home the biggest trophy? Would Gilles Duceppe still be thought of as most knowledgeable? I could see Bob Rae still taking home “Best Orator” though.

It would be a struggle for many Canadians to come up with positive things to say about politicians they don’t even know, much less their own MP but I would still be keen to hear what the public feels about those elected to represent them and protect Canada’s federal institutions.

So, in the spirit of good, clean fun I’ll start. Using the same categories as Macleans, here are my choices for MP awards. All justification is of course completely arbitrary and based on personal bias.

  • Parliamentarian of the Year: Jack Layton – Now, this is a departure from my traditional opinion of Layton, and after the recent federal election I lost quite a bit of faith in the man. However, despite personal illness and dealing with the disappointment of the most recent election, Layton has not lost faith in the part he leads and the people he works for. I admire the continual show of respect he displays in the house, his positive attitude and his leadership skills in a party facing an ideology crisis. He has exhibited an in depth understanding of parliamentary procedure consistently, and is almost always a positive force in the house and for the NDP. Despite his odd strategic choices at times, he does not lose sight of what his role in the house is.
  • Most Knowledgeable: Gilles Duceppe – Duceppe knows who he represents and why he is in the house. He knows what the BQ is for, and what they can accomplish and what they cannot. He is an effective opposition members and his political ability is commendable. Intelligent, articulate, and intuitive, Duceppe is an excellent resource and leader.
  • Most Collegial: Peter McKay – This is a guess, at best. But McKay seems to busy to really stir up any trouble, and he always seems respectful towards other MPs and I haven’t heard much to the contrary.
  • Rising Star: Nikki Ashton – her list of involvement is not only long, but impressive. A strong advocate for women and youth, she displays leadership within the NDP (according to my sources at least) and continues to excel as an educator and a PhD candidate. She will likely go far and do well within the house if given the chance.
  • Best Orator: Bob Rae –  have you heard him hold court?
  • Best Represents Constituents: Call me an optimist, but I believe there are many MP who truly do represent their constituency strongly, and I have no doubt that across party lines what is said in caucus is truly on behalf of the interests of one’s riding.
  • Hardest Working: Martha Hall Findley –  this is difficult because hardest working is a hard one to peg since I don’t work with any of these individuals. However, I do admire Findley’s tenacity and her work on the financial accountability side of the house. Sitting as an opposition member, she has been one of the most vocal supporters of the performance audit and was very active during the governments decision to prorouge the house. She maintains decent press coverage and outside of her MP duties maintains active participation in community organizations.

Just to clarify, I hold strong political beliefs but no partisan allegiances.

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