On Parliament Hill, all politics was rendered personal in 2013
Parliamentary pages prepare the House of Commons in Ottawa, Thursday, October 10, 2013. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, December 20, 2013 3:41PM EST
There was a typical Conservative party fundraiser on Vancouver Island this week.
Rising star MP Michelle Rempel was the feature attraction to raise cash for a local Conservative candidate hoping to knock off the incumbent MP in the next election.
But what happened before the event was anything but typical.
Rempel went for a friendly drink with Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Incredibly, May is the MP which Rempel's fundraising effort aims to topple in 2015.
This is the true spirit of Parliament, albeit with a slightly bizarre twist.
There can and should be stark policy differences, but without rabid personal animosities.
Yet 2013 rendered all politics personal and turned the House of Commons into a particularly brutal partisan mudbath.
Soft and fuzzy statements for MPs to salute worthy causes turned into vicious condemnations of rivals based on the flimsiest of facts.
Legitimate questions produced non-answers rooted in smears and jeers.
Conservative majorities on committees rejected bill amendments, even to correct factual errors, just because they came from opposition MPs.
And the dozens of irreconcilable contradictions on the Senate scandal put forth by the prime minister and his minions have produced a mighty proboscis on far too many parliamentary Pinocchios.
This malignant polarization has spread so far and gone so deep, it will be extremely difficult to ceasefire the hostilities.
Yet hope glimmers in the blackness of this toxic atmosphere.
Stephen Harper's widely praised move to invite former prime ministers of all party stripes and premiers to the Mandela memorial showed him there's a political payoff for magnanimous gestures.
MP Michael Chong's bill to empower the caucus to axe the party leader and former Conservative Brent Rathgeber's resignation over excessive PMO control suggest backbenchers are fed up with being either attack dogs or lapdogs.
And May's amicable chat with a classy Calgary MP, even one representing an anti-green government she loathes, shows how two magnetic personalities can attract despite polar opposite views.
So here's to 2014 as the year this Parliament's partisan permafrost starts to melt - one friendly drink at a time.