The House

Midweek podcast: The curtain is closing on the bard of Parliament

This week on the midweek podcast, we talk to retiring Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner about the tone of modern politics, what he'd change on the Hill and how he feels looking back on his 19 years in Parliament.
Nova Scotia Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner reads one of his annual politics-themed Christmas poems in the House of Commons. (CBC)
Listen to the full episode19:02

Retiring Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner thinks much of the camaraderie has vanished from Parliament Hill during his nearly two decades in office.

Cuzner, who represents a riding on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, said he remembers times when MPs of all stripes would gather at a local Ottawa pub for a pint after work.

"It wasn't uncommon," he told CBC's The House Wednesday. "You don't see that anymore."

Conservative, Liberal and NDP staffers and MPs would sit together, talk and laugh, he said. Not anymore.

The tone of politics has soured and partisanship has become rampant, Cuzner said, adding it's getting in the way of the Commons doing its work.

"There's a lot of time that's spent spinning your wheels."

He pointed to the prime minister's official residence at 24 Sussex Dr. as an example. The cost to repair the dilapidated home has ballooned over the years to about $30 million. Over the last few decades, no prime minister has been willing to take the political risk of spending the money to fix the home.

That time-wasting partisan paralysis is something Cuzner said he'd like to see changed about Parliament. 

In the meantime, he's kept his spirits up. Cuzner is known for his hilarious annual speech that riffs off 'Twas the Night Before Christmas', turning the Christmas classic into a comic political year-in-review.

Despite the moments of tension, he said his time on the Hill has been very special.

"I've had a great run and I've been so fortunate to have support over the years," Cuzner said.

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