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Seinfeld's lessons for Canada's #@^*&0 MPs

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‘SERENITY now!"

That was the message the prime minister tweeted at a steaming-mad post-question period Tom Mulcair last week. The tweet was a reference to Frank Costanza's anger-management mantra on the defunct sitcom Seinfeld and revealed 1) that Stephen Harper has a sense of humour, and 2) that the idiosyncratic language of Seinfeld is an underused political resource.

Here are three other Seinfeld catchphrases that could come in handy once, post-Festivus, Parliament is back in session.

"Not that there's anything wrong with that" -- Seinfeld's perfunctory disclaimer might be the quickest route to restoring civility to politics. Earlier this month, the Conservative House Leader nearly set off a bench-clearing brawl when he crossed the floor to berate his NDP counterpart with ad hominem attacks, as if the Dipper were a double-dipper. A year earlier, Justin Trudeau called Environment Minister Peter Kent a "piece of s***." Imagine the feelings that might have been spared had the insulters used Seinfeld's qualification!

"Get out!" -- Elaine's trademark phrase, usually accompanied by a sturdy shove to her interlocutor's chest, might be particularly relevant to Harper as he considers the fate of Defence Minister Peter MacKay post-F-35 fiasco.

"Yada, yada" -- With its predilection for impenetrable 400-page budgets, the government seems to prefer obfuscation by inundation. But as George understood, if there's something you want to hide, it's better to elide.

A couple or three well-placed yadas famously allowed George to avoid dwelling on uncomfortable details. The authors of future budgets could use the same tactic to obscure any further job cuts, environmental deregulation, blows to our social safety net, yada, yada -- and to save reams of paper in the process.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Seinfeld holds so many lessons for question period, so often a show about nothing.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2012 0

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