Harper stood out in lacklustre Parliament of 2007

CanWest News Service
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T'was the year of the Non-Election. You remember . . . the vote that was a certainty going to be last spring as a new and confident Liberal Leader Stephane Dion piggybacked on his political honeymoon to return the party to its natural governing state.
Fortunately for the hapless, honeymoonless official Opposition leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't give him a decent non-confidence voting opportunity.
Yet, in the fall, Harper's testosterone level escalated, he hit the reset button on the government, giving his cabinet its second shuffle of 2007, unfurling another throne speech, and daring the Liberals to drag him down.
The official Opposition promptly sat on their thumbs, refused to vote for or against the government on two occasions - and Canada's trip to the polls was averted.
Such was the lingering unfulfilled election threat that dominated a Parliament that didn't do much to earn its keep in 2007. Aside from tougher crime bills that few legal experts say are needed and a fixed election date law that will never apply to chronic minority governments, the legislative lineup was flaccidly disconnected from improving the daily lives of Canadians.
Yet there were good, bad and downright ugly sideshows to the year.
Best Politician: It has to be Prime Minister Stephen Harper. From his shrewd appointment of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley to plot a way out of Canada's morass in Kandahar to making a minority Parliament function in the fall by sounding fearless about an election possibility, this bold and at times bellicose prime minister was at his tactical best.
Best Cabinet Minister: It's slim pickings, although insiders keep talking up Industry Minister Jim Prentice as the cabinet's top drawer. But the Calgary MP's hottest performances must take place in secret cabinet meetings because there weren't oodles of legislative accomplishments to his name, in Industry or his former Indian Affairs post.
Worst Cabinet Minister: A top aide to Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn recently lobbied me to consider her guy as a superior cabinet material instead of listing him as another chronic disappointment. It was slightly possible until Lunn melted down with the Chalk River nuclear power plant fiasco. Lunn appears to have known the plant's production of isotopes for the world was at risk from an extended shutdown, yet he neglected to promptly inform the health minister about the problem. As such, Lunn rates as the radioactive performer of the year.
Non-story of the Year: When B.C. Conservative MP James Moore flipped open his laptop in the House of Commons during a slow session over the dinner hour last month, he sneaked a peek at his undeniably attractive girlfriend in a swimsuit. Snoopy New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen saw it as inappropriate "soft porn." Instead of giving Moore a chance to explain himself, she humiliated the MP by raising a point of parliamentary privilege in front of the cameras. The situation was explained, an apology issued and here's hoping we never hear of Mathyssen again.
Most Under-reported Story of the Year. A cabinet order last month quietly forgave huge tax debts on paper profits for several dozen former JDS Uniphase employees. It triggered screams from experts saying it was precedent-setting and unfair to other taxpayers who lost money on the stock-crashed hi-tech company, yours truly included. Incredibly, the story disappeared after one day.
Worst Political Investment: Wajid Khan was a nobody Liberal MP who delivered a say-nothing secret report on the Middle East to the prime minister, crossed the floor to join the Conservatives, and was charged by Elections Canada with improper electioneering. Refund, anyone?

Don Martin writes for the CanWest News Service

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