By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 0 Comments
Ralph Goodale reports on some kind of confrontation in the House following a vote this afternoon.
Altercation on floor of HofC – DefMin MacKay has to pull his HouseLeader + another ConsMin out of silly scrap with Mulcair+ Dippers….
Lots of talk and gestures. Nose to nose, but no apparent direct contact.
Right after vote, Cons House Leader crossed floor to confront NDP leadership group. Tempers clearly flared.
CTV has the House video that shows Peter Van Loan and Gary Goodyear on the NDP side of the House.
Update 5:13pm. There was maybe a middle finger involved?
Update 5:27pm. A little bit of background is apparently necessary. After Question Period, Nathan Cullen rose on a point of order to argue that the final vote on C-45 last night was out of order because the person moving for the vote, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, was not in his seat when the motion was brought forward. After submissions from all sides on this, the Speaker promised to get back to the House and the House proceeded to a separate vote. After that vote, the Speaker ruled that the final vote last night was in order. It is apparently after that ruling, as MPs were milling about, that, at least according to the New Democrats, Peter Van Loan crossed the aisle and complained to Mr. Cullen about Mr. Cullen’s point of order. Mr. Mulcair seems to have objected to Mr. Van Loan’s treatment of Mr. Cullen and, in the ensuing discussion, cross words seem to have been exchanged.
Update 5:58pm. Oddly enough, this confrontation was preceded by a notably civil moment between Mr. Mulcair and the Prime Minister. Immediately after Mr. Cullen’s point of order, as MPs were being called in for the subsequent vote, the NDP leader crossed the aisle and sat down beside Mr. Harper. The two chatted apparently amicably for a few minutes, Mr. Mulcair even laughing at something Mr. Harper said. The two parted company with a handshake.
Update 6:16pm. C-45 has just now passed a vote at third and is off to the Senate.
Update 6:31pm. Here is CBC’s version of the House video: it’s a bit longer than the CTV cut and in it you can see Mr. Van Loan walk across the aisle immediately after Speaker Scheer finished delivering his ruling.
Mulcair has a temper, but Van Loan would have turned Gandhi into a cold blooded killer.
Update 8:00pm. Peter MacKay tweets his version of events.
Whoa – Angry Tom at it again! NDP snaps at Van Loan for standing up for Canada’s economic recovery
Here is Mr. Cullen’s interview with the CBC.
Update 8:25pm. A statement from Peter Van Loan.
We are disappointed that the NDP has attempted to obstruct the passage of the important job creating measures in the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.
Today, I conveyed my disappointment to the NDP House Leader for the hypocrisy of his complaint which related to a mistake by a member of his own caucus last night.
It is normal for me to speak with the opposition House Leaders. I was however surprised how Mr. Mulcair snapped and lost his temper.
The reference to “a mistake by a member of his own caucus” is apparently a reference to the fact that Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin was in the Speaker’s chair when the vote in question was called last night.
Update 9:38pm. The Canadian Press talks to Mr. Cullen.
For his part, Cullen wouldn’t specify precisely what was said but indicated that Van Loan used “a lot of real bad language, threatening language.” ”It was inappropriate and then Tom said, ‘Don’t threaten my House leader,’ and that’s when we all sort of stood up to make sure it didn’t go any further,” Cullen said in an interview. ”You’ve got to get him away because nothing good happens if he stays there talking that way.”
Cullen said Mulcair’s intervention was aimed at making Van Loan back off. ”For the Conservatives to try to spin his out that somehow (Van Loan) was the victim, I mean, give me a break … That’s ridiculous.”
Update 10:51pm. Mr. Cullen tweets at Mr. MacKay.
Check the video @MinPeterMacKay to see who came after whom. But we all need to work on raising decorum, I hope you agree with that, at least
Update 10:56pm. Elizabeth May chimes in.
Update Thursday. For the sake of comparison, a brief history of recent commotions is here. Morning-after interviews with Mr. Van Loan and Mr. Cullen are here. And this morning’s points of order on the matter are here.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:13 AM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin in conversation with Paul Wells
“There’s ways of making Parliament function for you if you know how the rules function — what the dynamics are in there, including the personalities that you are dealing with. Building that close relationship with other people is important — whether they’re in your party or others.”
Our View from the Hill
Video series: Paul Wells in conversation with …
Ralph Goodale on troubles in the House: (Son of omnibus, come on down)
“There is concern about the House’s inability to perform up to the quality standards that Canadians would expect, but it’s still a place that is the central focus — the central crucible — of Canadian democracy and I think that people hope for the best.”
Michael Chong on thinking local while in Ottawa
“Being a good constituency MP involves two things. The first is that you’ve got to help constituents out with access and government services, with listening to their concerns, with being in touch with them and having a sense of what’s going on on the ground … with being local, with understanding local issues — even if they’re not necessarily federal issues. The second thing a good constituency MP does is that in each and every decision they take up here on Parliament Hill, that they’re always thinking about what the voters back home would think and what they would want you to do.”
Megan Leslie on the importance of flipping burgers and doing groceries
“Flipping burgers, how is that political work? It’s quite amazing. This summer, I fully realized the value of overhearing conversations at home — not in a creepy way. But even just being in a cafe and hearing what people are talking about, or being in the grocery store and hearing a family talk about the next time peanut butter is going to go on sale. That is important political work to understanding what is happening in your riding. And you can’t replicate that unless you’re at home.”
John Baird on playing the bulldog and reaching out
“What gets media attention is the discord and disagreement. Whenever something is hot, it leads on the news, but there’s a good number of folks you can work across the aisle with … you can work collegially with. There are some people though that are a lot tougher to work with, so sometimes personal and political differences get in the way. But that doesn’t happen as often as you might expect.”
Bob Rae on the evolution of QP (more scripted and partisan)
“The House is much more partisan, scripted place and I don’t think it’s an improvement. I think it’s a deterioration in the quality of parliamentary life. I really do. I think things are getting worse.”
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:09 AM - 0 Comments
There’s always time to read up on things
Joe Comartin reads for roughly two hours each day—often 10 minutes squeezed “here and there”—but he says he longs to read more. There’s always more to know. “I think I read only about half what I’d like to,” the NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh tells Maclean’s. The former criminal lawyer is up by 6 a.m. and on the Hill by 7:30 every morning. “I begin my day with preparatory work,” says Comartin, “and paperwork—which accumulates constantly.” Comartin, an expert on House procedure, intelligence services and criminal law, says he prepares extensively for speeches, debates and procedural motions, but often feels unfulfilled when they’re over. “I never feel comfortable we’ve covered enough,” he says. His love of learning makes him an obvious choice for “Most Knowledgeable MP,” and his perspective isn’t limited to politics.
Comartin is a Margaret Atwood fanatic and counts Saskatchewan-born authors Alistair MacLeod and Guy Vanderhaeghe among his favourites, though he can’t pronounce the latter’s name, he’ll freely admit. And he’s a long-time “military buff,” he says, having spent time in the reserves in his youth. The ancient Romans and Mongols, particularly their wartime tactics, are a favourite area of study. When he’s not working—which is extremely rare, he notes—he likes to spend time with his grandchildren or travelling with his wife, often visiting “historical sites that may show up in a novel or article.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin talks about his new gig.
“I can tell you, there’s times that I’ll be sitting on the chair – and I have to say it comes from both sides of the house – where somebody would be up saying something and in my mind I’d be saying, ‘That’s not right. That is factually not correct.’ Or ideologically or philosophically, I just don’t agree with that. And I want to say something, but of course I can’t.”
Comartin said his ultimate goal is to increase the decorum significantly in the house and bring about more civility. “I am quite determined – as is the Speaker – to speed up the changes that need to be made in the house to have more decorum,” said Comartin. “It’s just damaging to democracy and it’s certainly damaging to the reputation of politicians.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Among Michael Chong’s objections to C-290, Joe Comartin’s sports betting bill, is the manner in which it passed the House. Via email, I asked him how the bill ended up passing unanimously. Here is his explanation.
I did not know it was going to be passed unanimously.
I made my intention to request a standing vote (and my opposition to the bill) known. Normally, that happens at end of the second hour of debate at third reading when members “stand five” to request a standing vote.
Report stage and first hour of debate at third reading took place on Friday, March 2nd. The second hour of debate was to have taken place several weeks later. That never happened because, that Friday, debate was forced to collapse, the question put and adopted unanimously.
As to why the members lined up to speak were told not to get up and speak thereby collapsing debate, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the House leaders.
Instead of two hours of debate at third reading, C-290 seems to have received 20 minutes of debate.
I asked the NDP if the party’s House leader or whip told any NDP MP not to speak to the bill. The NDP says no.
I asked Peter Van Loan’s office if Conservative members were told not to speak to C-290. The Government House leader’s office responded that “no one who opposed the bill sought an opportunity to speak on the day of debate in the House.”
(I’ve also asked the Liberals if any of their MPs were told to refrain from speaking and will post whatever I receive in response.)
Update 12:36pm. Liberal House leader Marc Garneau responds to my query.
As you know, Kevin Lamoureux did in fact speak from the Liberal side. No one else chose to speak. No MP was instructed not to speak and no direction to that effect came from either the Whip or House Leader.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:37 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin and Brian Masse respond to Stephen Colbert’s suggestion that Windsor is “the Earth’s rectum.”
“It’s not unusual for a humourous comedian to use somebody as a whipping boy on a repeated basis. It’s a convenient and easy way for them to get a laugh,” Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MP Joe Comartin said. “But as always, it’s a cheap shot.”
Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse wants Colbert to visit Windsor before rushing to judgement. ”I would just invite Stephen Colbert to come to Windsor, get out of his basement, and to come over here and talk with people, see people,” Masse said. “Obviously; he’s off his medications and hopefully Obamacare will come from him and rescue him from his situation.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:03 PM - 0 Comments
Finally, single game betting undermines the integrity of professional and amateur sport. There has not been a major betting scandal in North America since Major League Baseball created the Commissioner of Baseball in response to the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. In Europe, where single game betting is legal, sport is rife with game-fixing scandals. Professional leagues, along with the NCAA (of which Simon Fraser University is a member), will take a tough line on Canada if this bill passes. The NCAA bans all championships in jurisdictions where single game betting is legalized.
A very different, and perhaps the most important, reason for the Senate to defeat this bill is process. The Globe and Mail reported that “this bill was passed unanimously by the House.” In fact, a number of MPs, myself included, are opposed to this bill. In a highly unusual occurrence, debate on this bill collapsed and it passed through all stages without a standing vote. To my knowledge, no opposition private members’ bill has ever passed through the House of Commons in this manner. For this reason, a defeat of this bill would not be inconsistent with the wishes of the House, as those wishes were never properly recorded in a vote.
I suppose it depends on your definition of “major,” but the last century of North American pro sports isn’t quite clean: including Pete Rose, Tim Donaghy, Alex Karras and Paul Hornung and various NCAA point-shaving scandals.
Senator David Braley, who owns the B.C. Lions and the Toronto Argonauts, supports the bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 5:22 PM - 0 Comments
Jim Flaherty will apparently deliver his fall economic update to a luncheon crowd in Fredericton tomorrow. Last year, he delivered the update in Calgary. Two years ago, he presented it in Mississauga. Three years ago, he presented in it Victoria.
It will now be four years since Mr. Flaherty delivered his fall economic update to the House. You might remember that economic update as the one that nearly brought about the defeat of the Conservative government.
A year ago, Joe Comartin said that presenting the economic update outside the House “demeans the role of Parliament and parliamentarians.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:21 AM - 0 Comments
“There’s certainly a real effort to defeat the bill,” said Conservative Senator Bob Runciman, who is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate but describes himself as an “unenthusiastic” supporter. “A number of senators in the Conservative caucus are adamantly opposed to the bill.”
The former Ontario cabinet minister said there are several reasons why senators oppose the bill – including personal feelings about gambling and concern about the lack of debate the bill received in the House. But Mr. Runciman suggested there are other factors motivating the resistance. “Some people see this as an opportunity to send a message that we’re alive and well,” he said. “It’s going to be an interesting period of time dealing with this bill.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM - 0 Comments
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for…
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for parliamentarians to raise awareness about bullying and diversity. Pink cupcakes were served.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has added his voice to the debate, saying in an emailed statement to Postmedia News: “We too oppose the proposed legislation and we hope to have the opportunity to voice our concerns to the Canadian Senate in the near future.”
Now that Joe Comartin is the deputy speaker, the NDP’s Brian Masse seems to be the lead spokesman for the bill, but here is the speech Mr. Comartin gave in the House a year ago when it was presented for second reading. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
“The legalization of single-event sports betting by any government would increase the chances that persons gambling on games will attempt to influence the outcome of those games,” Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays, told the Senate…
Mr. Beeston said baseball management also fears an erosion of confidence in the game “Losing bettors and fans … may in turn become suspicious of every strikeout or error, and the game’s integrity would be open to question play by play, day after day,” he said. “If large numbers of our fans come to regard baseball only, or even partially, as a gambling vehicle, the very nature of the sport will be altered and harmed.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The new deputy speaker takes the chair and promptly rules praise for his promotion to be out of order.
During a morning session Tuesday Masse rose to be the first to speak in front of Comartin, to whom he offered a glowing congratulations for his work as a parliamentarian since his election in 2000 and his worthy appointment to his new position.
When Masse was finished, Comartin thanked all the members and did indeed rule Masse out of order because he did not speak on a point of order that was relevant to the debate at hand.
The full exchange is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 2:33 PM - 0 Comments
The Hill Times sizes up the permanent campaign.
Prof. Flanagan, a political pundit who teaches political science at the University of Calgary, said that House of Commons-funded activities can also be used for political purposes. For example, he said, “travel to targeted ridings and ethnic communities, mailouts with a response coupon for voter identification, public opinion research to find policies that will resonate with target demographic groups.” He added: “All parties do some these things some of the time, but the Conservatives are unique in the scale on which they operate and the degree to which everything is coordinated. They have produced a campaign equivalent of Colin Powell’s doctrine of ‘overwhelming force,’ applying all possible resources to the battleground ridings where the election will be won or lost.”
Prof. Flanagan suggests the Canadian permanent campaign, “which was born of minority government with public money serving as the midwife,” will slow down in periods of majority government, but will continue because of the potent political weaponry of the pre-writ advertising, its usefulness for attracting new support, passing legislation, questioning the opposition’s policies, and undermining opposition leader’s images. “It is a political arms race in which competitors will have to adopt new generations of weaponry or fall irretrievably behind. As long as they can find the money to pay for it, parties will be forced to keep up in order to compete,” he said.
Joe Comartin suggests limits should be established on advertising between election campaigns. I’m not sure there will ever be an incentive for the governing party to limit itself. So far the Conservatives have mostly had the airwaves to themselves. Given the success they’ve had with previous ad campaigns, it’s difficult to imagine why they’d want to limit the use of such ads. Presumably the New Democrats and (eventually) the Liberals are going to do everything they can to join that fight over the next three years. And if ad campaigns help the New Democrats or Liberals defeat and surpass the Conservatives in 2015, why would either turn around and institute a limit?
The next three years are going to be instructive. The permanent campaign in Canadian politics is a fairly well-established idea, but we’ve not yet seen it really joined by more than one party (the Conservatives). And it’s not much of a fight unless more than one person is throwing punches. If the NDP (and eventually the Liberals) can match the Conservatives ad-for-ad then we shall really see what a permanent campaign looks like.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to the late NDP leader
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to mark the one-year anniversary of NDP leader Jack Layton’s death.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 8:02 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Joe Comartin stepped out from behind his desk and presented the question of the moment.
“This morning the Auditor General has said the responsibility for the misleading information that came to this House about the cost lies directly in the cabinet of the Conservative government,” the NDP House leader reported. “I would ask the Prime Minister today, will he stand in this House and tell us whether in fact the cabinet knew what the true costs were going to be for the F-35s?”
The Prime Minister might not have been expected to stand here: Mr. Harper generally declining to answer questions put to him by anyone who isn’t the leader of a recognized party. But here he stood to respond. Not to answer the question at hand, but to respond nonetheless.
“Mr. Speaker, once again, the government has not actually purchased any airplanes. The government plans to do that some years hence, and we will set up an independent committee to supervise that process,” he reassured. “What the Auditor General in fact did say is that in terms of his report the government is taking steps in the right direction. Of course he also confirms that no money has been spent on this acquisition.”
Mr. Comartin was unimpressed. “Mr. Speaker, is that not typical?” he lamented. “Again no responsibility, no true information coming to this House.”
The issue here is a matter of billions. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
It seemed like an amateurish prank when NDP volunteer Andrew McAvoy received election day calls from a phone that has become ground zero in the exploding robocall scandal. “It was really weird, it really was,” McAvoy said Wednesday, as he recounted the calls he received — first a recording and then a man with an unprofessional manner — claiming to be from Elections Canada and telling him his polling location had changed.
His is one of two complaints from Windsor that are part of a larger Elections Canada investigation into calls from one phone number, 450-760-7746, that were allegedly made to misdirect or confuse non-Conservative voters. The other Windsor complainant is Maureen Comartin, MP Joe Comartin’s (NDP — Windsor-Tecumseh) wife, who took a call from a recorded message at about 10 a.m. on May 2, informing her the location of her polling station had changed. She was immediately suspicious because she didn’t recognize the new location.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Joe Comartin says his campaign reported four to six calls about polling station changes to the returning officer in Windsor-Tecumseh. And yesterday’s Postmedia report adds an interesting note in that regard.
There were also several complaints from New Democrats in Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont., including a call to the home of MP Joe Comartin, directing them that their polling station had moved. New Democrat volunteer Andrew McAvoy received a live call directing him to an address where there was no polling station.
Those calls came from the same number listed as the Poutine phone.
Windsor-Tecumseh isn’t referenced on Elections Canada’s list of ridings where polling station changes occurred.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 3:19 PM - 0 Comments
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae rose after Question Period and reported to the House that a member of the Liberal party’s research bureau was the author of the “vikileaks” Twitter account. That individual has resigned.
The Harper government had accused the NDP of being responsible. Joe Comartin, the NDP’s House leader, stood after Mr. Rae and asked the government to apologize. Peter Van Loan and John Baird duly did so.
Update 3:19pm. A statement from Mr. Rae, distributed by his office.
“I learned yesterday that an investigation into the online activities of Parliamentary staff conducted by the Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons has found a link between the @Vikileaks30 social media account and an employee of the Liberal Research Bureau.
On behalf of the Liberal Caucus, I wish to apologize to Minister Toews and Speaker Scheer for the improper use of a parliamentary account and for sharing personal information intended to embarrass Minister Toews.
The employee involved has advised me that he took this initiative on his own, has apologised for his action, regrets the embarrassment he has caused and has offered his resignation. In the circumstances I have accepted it.
I shall be making clear that political controversy is one thing, personal attacks are another.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker,” the NDP House leader posited, “you cannot be half for torture. You are either for or against.”
Given those choices, the Defence Minister decided to go with latter. ”Mr. Speaker, our government has always respected the law and our position is clear,” Peter MacKay reported. “Canada does not approve of the use of torture and does not engage in this practice.”
Alas, this simple equation seems only to make perfect sense if you leave it at that. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 19, 2011 at 3:14 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin would like to empower the Speaker somehow to better sort out the unruly.
Mr. Comartin, meanwhile, told The Globe he believes Mr. Scheer’s rulings show he is acting independently but needs more clout. The Windsor New Democrat said the two powers the Speaker now has are either to refuse to recognize an MP or throw him or her out of the Commons. “That’s just not a broad enough way of enforcing discipline,” Mr. Comartin said.
He says through private members bills or opposition day motions, the NDP wants to debate and study how the Speaker can be given “more authority, more clear authority to be able to bring into line recalcitrant members and having the authority to discipline them in a greater variety of ways that we have now.”
I was watching a session of Prime Minister’s Questions a few months back and I saw the Speaker twice cut off the Prime Minister when he thought David Cameron was straying from the question asked. That seemed to me to be a neat trick.
So far as enforcing decorum, I’m not sure if I can see how a Speaker might be better positioned to maintain calm. (Does he need more than the threat of silence or expulsion?) Or perhaps I’m not convinced that excessive heckling is the problem here. (Would a House without heckling be inherently and practically better than what we have now?) Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Monday, November 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin is known to arrive on Parliament Hill at 7 a.m. every day, in order to catch up on his reading
Joe Comartin reads for roughly two hours each day—often 10 minutes squeezed “here and there”—but he says he longs to read more. There’s always more to know. “I think I read only about half what I’d like to,” the NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh tells Maclean’s. The former criminal lawyer is up by 6 a.m. and on the Hill by 7:30 every morning. “I begin my day with preparatory work,” says Comartin, “and paperwork—which accumulates constantly.” Comartin, an expert on House procedure, intelligence services and criminal law, says he prepares extensively for speeches, debates and procedural motions, but often feels unfulfilled when they’re over. “I never feel comfortable we’ve covered enough,” he says. His love of learning makes him an obvious choice for “Most Knowledgeable MP,” and his perspective isn’t limited to politics. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 18, 2011 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
An ad hoc committee of Conservative, New Democrat and Liberal MPs has released an extensive report on how government can better deal with palliative care, home care, long-term care, pain control, suicide prevention and elder abuse.
The palliative care philosophy is person-centered, family-focused and community-based. It moves us from disease or condition-specific care to person-centered care. It recognizes that the psycho-social and spiritual dimensions have profound impact upon health and well being, and that a variety of specific conditions may be operating on different levels in the chronically ill or dying person’s life. The philosophy of palliative care permeating medical culture is more important than the simple delivery of “services.” As family physicians and local nurses come to accept a palliative care philosophy, palliative care services can begin to develop organically in communities.
The committee makes 14 recommendations, ranging from calls for national strategies to specific tax and funding measures.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM - 47 Comments
NDP House Leader Joe Comartin argued the Conservative tactic “demeans the role of Parliament and parliamentarians.” He said it follows the government’s strategy of disrespecting democracy by bringing in time allocation and closure to shut down routine debate on legislation … “I think it obviously gives the government an advantage of being able to put out whatever their messaging is, even if there are some negative parts, without having to be concerned about an immediate response in the House from the opposition parties.”