Although in politics there always seems to be someone sticking their foot in their mouth, 2014 seemed particularly problematic on a number of levels. Whether it was a key member of the prime minister's party going way off track during Question Period, or a politician's supporter predicting doomsday scenarios because their candidate lost, 2014 was a prime year for crazy in politics. It seemed weird to not comment on it before the year was through, so let's relive the madness of some of the most truly bizarre political moments of the 2014.
Perhaps the most infamous bit of crazy this past year was when Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra, while speaking for Prime Minster Stephen Harper, answered an opposition question about Canada's military involvement in Iraq with a non-sequitur about how the NDP does support the state of Israel. When NDP leader Thomas Mulcair tried again to get an answer, Calandra doubled down on his Israel point until Mulcair was driven to take a swipe at Speaker Andrew Scheer to demand that Calandra answer the question.
Of course being a member of Harper's cabinet means never having to say you're sorry:
The next day on CBC's Power & Politics, Calandra, while on a panel with Liberal Marc Garneau and NDP MP Paul Dewar, remained steadfast in his assertion that ISIS and Israel were connected, which prompted Dewar to launch the facepalm heard 'round Canada.
Eventually, Calandra's non-answers became too much of an albatross for the government to overcome, and Calandra rose in the House of Commons to offer a heartfelt and weepy apology. "Clearly, I allowed the passion and anger at something I read to get in the way of appropriately answering the question to leader of the Opposition," he said. "For that, I apologize to you and to this entire House, and to my constituents."
Of course, this was a Friday morning, and the House was mostly empty, but it's the thought that counts.
Paul Calandra wasn't the only MP to embarrass himself this year though. Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring stepped up in November in the midst of a Parliament Hill scandal where two Liberal MPs were alleged to have sexually harassed two NDP MPs to suggest that, for their own protection, Members of Parliament should wear cameras at all times. He issued a press release that said:
Warning: Consorting Without Protection Is Risky
OTTAWA – Peter Goldring, Member of Parliament for Edmonton East, today stated that MPs that consort with others should avail themselves of readily available risk protection for their health and integrity, to prevent besmirchment when encounters run awry.
“It will not be good enough to simply say that your intentions were honourable and you were just inviting a colleague to your apartment at two in the morning to play a game of Scrabble at the end of a day of playing sports and drinking. MPs must learn, as I have from encounters with authority figures in the past, that all do not tell the truth. I now wear ‘protection’ in the form of body-worn video recording equipment. I suggest that others do so too, particularly because some accusers hide behind a shield of supposed credibility which many times is not, and sometimes even hide behind a cloak of anonymity, which conceals their shameful indiscretion and complicity.”
Mr. Goldring made the statement in the wake of the unproven harassment allegations against two Liberal MPs by two NDP MPs, one of whom has spoken to the media while insisting her name not be published. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suspended the accused from caucus without due process.
In less than 24 hours, Goldring took back the press release saying, "Earlier today I issued a press release that I now recognize was completely inappropriate. I retract that press release unconditionally and deeply regret it."
Still, no one does crazy like U.S. congressional candidates, and the Telegraph even published a list of the Top 7 craziest to watch including Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who refused to say if she even voted for Barack Obama; Florida Governor Republican Rick Scott, who refused to debate his Democratic counterpart Charlie Crist because Crist had a small fan under his podium; and Iowa independent Bob Quast who wanted all babies to know the constitution and promised to "blow the balls off" of any confessed sexual predator.Meanwhile, the American economy continued to improve, gas prices dipped, millions of Americans had healthcare for the first time, and the man serving in the White House during this streak of good news was cast as the villain. While at the ballot box, electing an incredibly conservative federal legislature, voters also overwhelmingly came out for increases in minimum wage, the legalization of pot, and against draconian abortion restrictions. The entirety of the American electorate might as well be labelled "crazy" too.
But this year's all-star in crazy has to be Penny Morrison. Who is Penny Morrison? She's was the one on live TV who said that John Tory's victory as the new Mayor of Toronto was akin to "ISIS coming to Toronto" and that Mayor Tory was going to "tax us out of our house." Throughout the scandal plagued year for Rob Ford and his brother Doug, many were asking themselves just who exactly makes up the 33 per cent of unwaveringly loyal Ford supporters? Well, I give you the Ford Nation:
Now we could say here that we hope 2015 will be a better year where sense and reason win out over this kind of madness, but with a Federal Election in the offing, and the U.S. starting to line-up its 2016 Presidential election race, if anything, it's going to get more insane.