Slumber time in Parliament

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MPs amuse each other

The parliamentary marathon over Stephen Harper's monster legislation, Bill C-38, entered its thirteenth hour Thursday afternoon with no sign of respite. Signs of fatigue were visible everywhere in the House of Commons.

Some MPs, bored with the endless voting, indulged in nonsense and hijinks, and there were frequent gaps of attention. Some MPs had to be awakened to vote.

Conservative MPs  never made mistakes voting. Harper had told them all they had to vote "NO" to each and every amendment proposed by the Opposition, which they dutifully did.

The Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer, complained at one point that his Speaker's chair was not properly stuffed and his backside hurt.

One might think that a fella who earns $ 262 500 a year with a chauffeur, several servants and a great summer house, could get used to small inconveniences of life, from time to time. Or maybe bring in a cushion.

Several MPs turned to candies and dark chocolate, as Finance Minister James Flaherty had suggested.

Liberal leader Bob Rae brought the House down when proclaimed to all that he had developed an addiction to Werthers caramel sweets. MPs laughed at almost anything when they were tired.

Several were sending each other Twitter messages, readily picked up by the news media and broadcast or re-Tweeted. Some MPs read their mail, or wrote letters.

Toilet breaks did not prove as problematic as had been thought. Members from opposing sides of the House sent Tweets to each other searching to be paired off for the bathroom trip. That way the voting balance was not upset. They looked like teenage girls at a prom dance, going off together to talk about the boys.

Some listened to relaxing music, but they risked falling fast asleep which many did.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney took over the role of instructor for the others:

"Do not drink too much before you start. Looser clothing would be more appropriate. And bring plenty of work to do.

"Hydration helps greatly in concentration," he advised. Eating chocolate covered coffee beans helps stay awake."  But Kenney himself promptly fell asleep at his deks but quickly fell asleep, while visions of sugar plums danced in his head.

One MP counselled bringing a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up between votes. Looking after personal hygiene at your desk is forbidden.

One might think MPs would have something better to do for the $10,000 an hour it costs to run Parliament.

But Harper is determined to have his giant Bill C-38 legislation adopted intact, without a single amendement, exactly as he wanted, no matter how much time it took, or how much it cost.

And he had the majority in the Commons to see to it that he gothis way.




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