For Stephen Harper's Conservatives, the temptation to use their majority to administer some of his own medicine to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair - the government's chief torturer in the House of Commons - must have been irresistible.
Only a misguided spirit of retribution could have led the governing party to treat the housekeeping matter of the NDP's decision to set up satellite parliamentary offices under the same roof as its Montreal and Toronto partisan operations as an issue worthy of a star chamber.
In the more collegial parliaments of the past, the parties would have resolved this, if not amicably, at least with a measure of civility. Deep down, all MPs of good faith know that the thin line between party and parliamentary business is often in the eye of the beholder.
In that kind of parliament, MPs still had enough reciprocal respect to afford each other a measure of the benefit of the doubt. But in the present one, they are usually never more eager to be in the same room when the purpose of their gathering is to eat one of their own.
Thus, on Thursday morning, a half a dozen Conservative and Liberal MPs spent two hours grilling the leader of the official opposition as if he were a common thief and he, in return, treated them as so many common worms just waiting to be crushed under the heel of his cutting rhetoric.
If there is one sin that none of the participants to this spectacle can be accused of, it is an excess of political acumen.
With a performance that often bordered on patronizing arrogance, Mulcair is unlikely to have earned many new friends outside of the ranks of the converted. But his Liberal and Conservative tormenters also left some blood in the water.
It takes uncommonly thick blinkers to fail to see how poorly the pettiness on offer on all sides on Thursday reflected on every party at the table. Only hardened parliamentary insiders would not wonder how MPs came to have so much time on their hands as to spend it airing a load of alleged dirty smallclothes in public.
A charitable explanation would be that such has been the effectiveness of the government to cut off debate on more fundamental policy issues that holding mock trials of opposition leaders is a make-work project for under-employed backbenchers (along with a duo of front-line Liberals).
On a visit to Winnipeg this week, I ran into Bill Blaikie, the veteran NDP parliamentarian who was the dean of the House of Commons when he left federal politics in 2008. He noted that, no so long ago, an all-party committee would have been tasked to explore alternatives to the prostitution law that the Supreme Court has thrown out rather than have the task left to the sole discretion of the government.
But in the bygone era that Blaikie reminisces about, government seeking electoral reform would also have sought to engage in meaningful, real give-and-take with the opposition parties.
They, in turn, might have bought into a major federal effort to improve the education lot of First Nations, if only to help prevent a fragile consensus from falling apart.
For make no mistake, no one was sitting on the side of angels at Thursday's inquisition-style committee hearing.
As Mulcair's answers made clear, the New Democrats pride themselves at playing hardball on the same court as their Liberal and Conservative rivals these days. (On the same day, the NDP had to issue an abject apology to Liberal Sen. Marie Poulin for having dragged her name in the mud on the basis of false allegations).
If Thursday's events suggest anything, it is that all three parties have concluded that voters - having watched successive prime ministers renege on their promise to raise the level of the debate in Parliament - will make do with having the party of their choice become the chief bully in the next House of Commons. If Thursday's charade demonstrated anything, it is that the Conservatives, the NDP and the Liberals are all happy enough to rehearse for the part.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer.