With less than 10 minutes remaining in Monday's daily 45-minute question period, Liberal MP Bob Rae finally rose to mark his return to the House of Commons after a quarter-century absence.
"Mr. Speaker, you will have to forgive me. I am trying to remember how to do this, but I wanted to ask the minister of Foreign Affairs a question," said Rae, one hand in his pocket, his red paisley tie slightly askew and shock of white hair dishevelled. Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario who last sat as a federal parliamentarian in 1981, was the most highly anticipated of the four new MPs sworn into office Monday.
The Liberal foreign affairs critic looked across the floor at Maxime Bernier and fired a dart at the six-foot-plus wisp of a foreign minister, perhaps the most over-scripted and underwhelming member of Harper's cabinet.Have fun, Maxime! Bob's been around the block a time or two.
"I am sure that much like me, he spent the last couple of weeks studying the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act," said Rae, "and he will know that under that act, he has very specific responsibilities with respect to our radar technology ..."
When an anonymous junior minister of industry responded to Rae's question, hoots of derision rained from the Liberal ranks.
Rae tried again and this time Bernier, blushing like a fraternity pledge and doing his best Stephane Dion shrug, unfurled himself from his seat, offered Rae a welcome greeting and then sputtered a response that the sale of Canada's iconic Radarsat 2 satellite to a U.S. arms-maker was really under the Industry Department's purview.
Rae later scrummed on Afghanistan outside the Commons. But his first day's compare-and-contrast mission was already effectively over. (emphasis added)
We'll be watching...:)