Welcome back to “Great Question – No Answer” – the PEI Legislative Assembly Game Show that’s mostly serious, but sometimes comical; and since what happens within the Legislative Assembly isn’t supposed to be funny at all, you’re never really sure if the tears in your eyes are from laughing or crying!

NOTE: My SINCERE hope is that I will someday tune into Question Period and every single “good question” will be met with an equally good, honest, clear and concise answer, and I’ll be forced to cancel the show and send the entire production crew home (…uh, wait a second, I am at home).

Someday perhaps…..but not today.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J. Alan McIsaac’s passionate response to a really “Good Question” from Peter Bevan-Baker first fooled me into thinking he answered the question…but when I listened to it again, just to make sure, it became clear there was “No Answer” whatsoever, so Alan gets today’s award.

And the way McIsaac delivered his “no answer” response taught me an important lesson about the psychology of persuasion and sleight-of-mind tactics. Ask yourself: does his fast-paced, carefully-delivered and quite eloquent-sounding diction leave you a bit confused about whether he answered the question?

An analogy came to mind that helps to explain these same speech dynamics.

If you hired me to wash your car, and after I told you I was finished you asked: “Did you wash the tires?” and with a slight tone of fatigue and frustration, and with a slightly-raised voice I answered: “Did I wash your car? I washed the windows, doors, seats, floors, roof, mirrors, headlights…” – then stopped and asked – “do I need to go on?” You’d probably feel uneasy and say “no, no” and forget about it or just assume I would have eventually mentioned “tires”. But don’t be too surprised if the next time you go for a drive you notice your tires are covered with mud.

So I’m left wondering if we really don’t have anything to worry about with our shrinking off-shore herring stocks and really wish McIsaac had not only provided an answer to Peter’s good question, but had taken him up on his good idea as well.