A holiday tradition started more than a decade ago by a Cape Breton MP continued in his absence Thursday.
For 11 years, Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner stood before the House rose for the Holidays and delivered a humorous poem poking fun at the political news of the day. It was always loosely based on the Night Before Christmas.
Cuzner represented the Nova Scotia riding from 2000 until he announced his retirement this past spring.
But on Thursday, Quebec MP Anthony Housefather, the newly minted parliamentary secretary for the minister of labour, continued the tradition by delivering a poem of his own.
“Twas the last sitting week before Christmas, and who knew? That Cuzner’s Christmas poem tradition would be assumed by a Jew,” the poem began.
Housefather even got in a quip about Andrew Scheer’s resignation announcement earlier in the day:
“For our Conservative colleagues, I know today’s been a lot, in the spirit of the holiday, I will go straight to the Bloc.”
The poem also references Quebec’s controversial religious symbols ban, the NDP’s calls for universal dental care, and the prime minister’s awkward NATO summit faux-pas. Justin Trudeau made national headlines earlier this month after he was caught making fun of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Housefather said he decided to take up the tradition because the poem has always been a highlight for him.
“(Cuzner’s) humour brought the House together and I wanted to make sure it continued,” he said in an email.
Speaking with SaltWire, Cuzner called Housefather’s crack at the tradition masterful and said he’s thrilled the poem is being kept alive.
“Over the course of an annual parliament run, the fall sitting and winter sitting, by the end of it, you usually have a four-week straight sitting schedule and everyone is pretty cranky and edgy, so to wrap it up with that … We had a lot of fun with it … and I think all parties all took it in stride and got a kick out of it,” he said.
Cuzner noted there are always people who criticize the tradition as being a waste of time. It’s an assessment he disagrees with.
"Over the course of a Parliament, there's 15 statements a day and I think it works out to be about 1,500 a year, so if there's one or two that can share some common chuckles, I don't think it’s a waste,” he said.
Though Cuzner has stepped away from public life, he will be around the nation’s capital more in the new year: He told SaltWire he has accepted a position with Rubicon Strategy, the government relations firm ran by former Stephen Harper communications advisor Kory Teneycke.
Here's Cuzner's poem he recited last December:
Housefather's full poem:
Twas the last sitting week before Christmas
And Who knew?
That Cuzner’s Christmas poem tradition
Would be assumed by a Jew.
But whether we light the Menorah
Or a big Christmas tree
Parliamentarians are asking for presents
On that we agree
For our Conservative Colleagues
I know today’s been a lot
In the spirit of the holidays
I will go straight to the Bloc
And the Bloc leader, flush with success
For Mr. Claus had but one request
When flying over Quebec please remove the red suit
It’s a religious symbol and ugly to boot
For the NDP, Pharmacare was on the list
It’s supported by the Government but they’ve requested a twist
They asked Santa who is known for passing out candy
To put dental care on the agenda, wouldn’t that be dandy
And when it comes to the PM
We know what he wants, all being equal,
To get rid of hot mics
And another Star Wars sequel
I wish all Members some holiday cheer
Enjoy your family and friends and maybe some beer
And when we come back in January, let’s see the light,
Let’s work together for Canadians and let’s get it right.