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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 03.10.08
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Aping PM Harper, Canada's MPs will sue you, dude

STANSTEAD, QC | Prime Minister Stephen Harper's threatened lawsuit against top Liberals appears to have inspired other parliamentary lawsuits, with MPs suing MPs, ordinary citizens, celebrities, and, in one instance, a Pomeranian named Theo.

"It's not only opened the floodgates, it's let the genie out of the bottle," said John "Jon" Tollbrooke, a political analyst with the Redundant Cliché Institute.

"When your prime minister is in the vanguard of leading the way on a new and unprecedented issue like suing fellow MPs, other MPs feel they have a free rein to give themselves carte blanche to launch legal actions of their own. They're copycat imitations."

The wave of lawsuits began early Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Harper announced he was suing Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff, House Leader Ralph Goodale, the Liberal Party, and anyone suspiciously wearing too much red.

The libel suit stems from articles on the Liberal website that allege Harper knew of a Conservative attempt to buy the late MP Chuck Cadman's vote with a million-dollar life insurance policy.

Harper has described the allegations as "devastatingly defamatory," although he did later concede that Ignatieff is "devastatingly handsome."

The precedent appears to have unleashed a deep-seated longing for litigation in the House of Commons.

The quickest out of the chute was Vancouver East MP Zwoon Van Hursten (NDP), who issued a notice of slander suit against Prime Minister Harper for describing his private member's bill to make Ramen noodles the official noodle of Canada as "a noodly-brained idea from a doodly-brained dude."

"Mr. Harper hurt my reputation and he hurt my feelings," said Van Hursten in a statement on his Facebook page. "He had a devastating effect on my Crusade for the Can-Noodle."

Asked for comment, Mr. Harper rolled his eyes into the back of his head and made a deep gurgling sound. CBC News analysis pointed out that this statement was remarkably similar to Harper's position on Israel and Palestine.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office later declared that Harper never issued the supposedly slanderous statement against Van Hursten. Shown a transcript of a tape where Harper says those exact words, the spokesperson clarified that the transcript was in fact a recording of Harper in a dinner-theatre performance of Spank Yer Yankee.

Late in the day Tuesday, every Bloc Québécois MP jointly sued the City of Ottawa for not being in Quebec.

"We have to cross that humiliating river every day to get here. It's Hull," said Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe. When complimented on the pun, he replied, "What pun?"

The flurry of suits continued into Wednesday. Kitchener Centre Liberal MP Constance Pardina sued the Grammies for snubbing singer Feist. She opted not to sue the Oscars for snubbing Juno because she's "not fond of that preggie movie."

MP Rufus Buntt (Liberal, St. John's East) is suing MP Alex Gulpino (Conservative, Durham) for damage to his reputation resulting from a crude limerick about him scrawled in the Centre Block men's room. "I've been teased about my name all my life," said the Newfoundland MP. "But I think it behooves a Member of Parliament to rise above rhyming a colleague's name with 'doofus.'"

Asked for comment, Gulpino giggled, "He said 'behooves'!"

Avalon Liberal MP Julie Brown is suing former prime minister Brian Mulroney for damages, alleging that Mulroney "has been and continues to be willfully and with forethought an arrogant schmuck."

MP for West Nova Gail Pimbelton is suing NDP leader Jack Layton for mental duress and psychological damage caused by his moustache.

"I mean, come on!" she said.

And finally, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion launched a suit against himself, though he refused to say on what grounds.

"I have my reasons and I will reveal them when the time is right," he stated, resulting in a collective sigh from reporters.

Observers are suggesting that the flurry of suits will be short-lived and that Parliament will soon return to normal, with MPs getting things out of their system with simple name-calling in the House.

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