“Perhaps the Prime Minister should spend more time worried about his own country, and not an Empire that has more than enough revenue already, Mister Speaker! I ask him again, what does he intend to do to make certain that this country receives a better share of the wealth from a mandate that we alone are now responsible for?”
Stephanie Shylock had a hard time keeping her jaw shut as she watched the spectacle – the heckles and the jeers, the laughter and obvious disrespect, the lack of reverence. She’d read about Question Period – Canada’s answer to the British Parliament’s Question Time – but seeing it in person was quite different than reading quotes in a paper, or Hansard.
It was like watching children yell at each other across a schoolyard.
As the Leader of the Opposition sat down in his seat, having called out Alain Lapointe over some issue about who got to keep revenues from the new world’s Selkirk Mandate, the uproar in Canada’s House of Commons was quite enthusiastic.
Though he’d appeared shaken throughout the flight to Ottawa from Newfoundland – the investigators had travelled on the same skycruiser with him – the Canadian Prime Minister rose immediately, his glare fixed on his opponent even though he addressed himself, by convention, to the Speaker of the House.
“Mister Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition should recall that it was a Tory government that first set these rules. I know that his party has a problem remembering what it said last month about support for the shipping industry, so I must assume that they have forgotten, too, that they called for strong support to the Empire, as our duty as a dominion. Now they want more money for their factories, and it is the Empire which must suffer – even as Britain recovers costs after the European War? Mister Speaker, the revenue scheme in place today serves Canada and the Empire. We stand by it, even if we did not create it.”
There was applause from the government side as Lapointe made that emphatic statement, then resumed his seat… but the opposition once again began the assault. Stephanie tried to keep up, but she wasn’t a close follower of domestic Canadian politics – it all seemed a bit dull, if she was honest – and it was also difficult to reconcile the idea that serious business about a country’s finances was being addressed in such a spectacularly immature fashion.
But then, she was an American accustomed to seeing Senators and Congressmen so wrapped up in their high opinions of themselves that they probably didn’t know enough to participate in such debates. The reverence with which Capitol Hill treated its elected officials was good for the country’s image, but perhaps bad for keeping the members of government up on their issues.
Whatever. The sum of Stephanie’s observations as she watched Question Period roar on was that politics in any country was a game not for her… though, as she looked to the left and then right of her narrow, uncomfortable seat in the gallery overlooking the House of Commons, she saw that both Elspeth and George were watching eagerly. Vanier Cross wore a fascinated frown, and Nancy Wake seemed to be grinning – probably loving the jeers.
Only Alex, Strong, and Constance seemed as unimpressed as she was, and it was her best friend’s gaze that she landed on as she puffed out her cheeks.
“I expected more class, less mocking,” the whitecoat offered quietly, and Stephanie nodded.
“Me too. But I guess this works.”
Perhaps it did, though the very fact that they’d come to Ottawa to witness it suggested otherwise. After all, if a raucous Question Period was such an important tool for holding the Government of Canada to account, how had it failed to manage new world operations for all these years?
That was the question that had to be answered, and bearing it in mind, Stephanie turned her gaze back to the government benches. Sitting a few seats down from Lapointe was Henri Dumont, the Minister of New World Affairs. The Canadian government was – as the Leader of the Opposition had mentioned – entirely responsible for operations in the Selkirk Mandate. Canadian officers like Crerar were in charge of its security, and when Governor Currie needed authority or funding, it was Dumont who answered the call.
Whether or not the ‘EH Ministry’ was in fact some sort of code for a secret entity within that man’s portfolio remained to be seen, but Dumont nevertheless needed to be the first target of the investigation. After him, there were other Ministers who might have had some way of reaching the new world – Defense and Finance being most likely. There could be many hours of interviews and interrogations, so it was good that Jimmystown had sent all of its investigators.
Someone had to know something…
Though as the jeers continued to fly back and forth, accompanied by bawdy laughs and half-answered questions, Stephanie Shylock wasn’t so sure that was true. Watching these creatures in their natural environment had seemed like a good idea, since the investigators had to wait for Lapointe to start their search… but perhaps their hope for humanity would have been better served by waiting in the lobby.