Joe McCarthy is alive and well and living in the Finance Committee
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Dateline: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
From: David McLaren
"Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"
With those words Republican Senator Joe McCarthy set off a 10-year witch hunt in the US for just about anyone whose political colour was a redder shade of pink. He was finally censured by the Senate but not before he ruined a lot of lives and dealt a body blow to democracy in the USofA.
Whenever I came across the old news reels of that time, I thanked God I didn't live in a country that would permit that sort of bigoted, callow, scape-goating attack on its own citizens.
I can't say that anymore. In the House Finance committee, a week or so ago, MPs were hearing expert testimony on the impact of Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Bill. Randy Hoback is a member. He's the Conservative MP from Prince Albert Saskatchewan, which is not far from Tommy Douglas's old riding.
Hoback attacked the credibility of United Steel Workers economist Erin Weir by demanding, "Have you or have you ever been a member of the NDP party, or are you presently a member of the NDP party?"
Clearly Hoback is not as eloquent as Joe McCarthy was, and so he blunted his own attack. But his demand resounds like a siren.
Was it a question of his own making? Or was it one that the Prime Minister's Office put in his mouth?
Not that it really matters... for it raises another, more important question. What are we becoming that a democratically elected Canadian can even ask such a thing, and in such a manner, in the heart of our Parliament?