Coyne on Parliament's bickering, heckling, whining MPs -

Coyne on Parliament’s bickering, heckling, whining MPs

Why won’t MPs behave themselves?


Despite cross-party promises of improving decorum in the House of Commons this September, MPs are back to their regular schoolyard antics going into the second week of Parliament’s fall session.

Claire Ward, of, asks Andrew Coyne: how can we get MPs to behave themselves?

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Coyne on Parliament’s bickering, heckling, whining MPs

  1. A breath of fresh air. I totally agree that ALL MPs should have actual roles to play in parliament, instead we have the majority of them acting like trained seals with little else to do..

    • Absolutely right. If they don't have a vested interest in their jobs in Ottawa (versus what they do for people back in the riding) other than taking home a pay cheque, you get what you now see. Give all MPs a reason to make Parliament a place to work and in turn a reason to make it work and we'll see more responsibility from all.

  2. Paul Simon dumps Art Garfunkel
    George Michael dumps Andrew Ridgeley
    Now, Andrew Coyne dumps poor unsuspecting Inkless.

    • Does that make Clare Ward Yoko? She seems so nice and normal…

  3. Hey COyNe:

    Have you counted how many are from Quebec?

    • What does being from Quebec have to do with what goes on in the House-Quebec bashing?

  4. Dear Mr. Coyne:

    1. Shave more
    2. Put Claire Ward on Maclean's TV more.

  5. I read the comments, and then I asked myself: Are these the same people asking for more decorum in the house of commons?


  6. Perhaps if some ridings took a look at the candidates and didn't elect children to represent them, it wouldn't look like the Speaker was running a daycare. I'm not talking about age, but rather behavior. John Baird, Pierre Poilievre, and a few others come to mind. How do there electors vote in good conscience knowing that the person they are sending to represent them are only there to disrupt and bring insult on the House?

    But who am I to speak, I live in a riding that continually sends Pat Martin into represent them….

  7. Watch a hockey game and then watch question period.

    Note any similarities? Differences?

    Maybe what we need in the house of commons is Ref who'll actually call infractions and a penalty box to put the louts in?


    • i thought that was what the Speaker was supposed to do.

      • The operative phrase being "supposed to" I guess.

        Perhaps a more explicit laying out of rules, expectations and penalties would be helpful?

        To this day I don't find question period any more enlightening than what goes on in your average bar during a hockey game, which to me is ridiculous.

        • I honestly believe too much is laid at the feet of the Speaker. There are lines which may not be crossed, but they appear to be few and far between. It is up to the MPs to govern themselves, in the full glare of the national media and, in the end, their home constituents. The good people of Canada keep returning some of the most egregious violators of decency, veracity and propriety. If the marketplace doesn't correct, then it must accept.

  8. Excellent observation about giving MPs a real roll to play in governance. I believe the comment was: " …if you treat them like children then they'll act like children". Oh, and I understand that they put the space between the Government and the Opposition farther apart in Canada than in England so that the Opposing MPs could not cross swords. Cripes, and we thought our guys were bad.

    • Actually, we copied the Brits on that. But they may have narrowed the chamber when the rebuilt it after WWII. At the very least, they're not sitting behind little desks.

  9. We can get our current crop of MPs to behave themselves by voting the worst of the miscreants out at the next election. It usually takes a few months to a year before new MPs get their House of Commons legs under them and in the meanwhile, we'll have some peace and quiet.

    We need to send a strong message that those who taxpayers fund to the tune of $150,000 annually that they need to show some decorum and maturity.

  10. Some civility would be an improvement. Taking the desks away. Hm, perhaps not – who knows what they mught be doing under their desks. Never mind.

  11. All the posts here recommending policy changes are good, but Coyne is very right about the impact physical changes to the chamber and more TV cams would do. Alas, after the next election we'll have, what, 330 MPs? The UK has 650, so closer quarters is the default there.

  12. MPs are behaving the way MPs always have. In fact, it can be argued that MPs are MORE civil than in the past, because of the rules of the House of Commons have so strictly defined what is considered "unparliamentary language". If you go through House of Commons transcripts of the past you can find many instances where MPs have blatantly insulted each other. That no longer happens, because the rules prevent it. We no longer have MPs banging their desks, which was a tradition for many decades. There has been absolutely ZERO evidence offered that actually shows that the current parliament is ANY more uncivil than parliaments in the past. This is the way Canada's House of Commons has ALWAYS functioned.

    • I beg to differ. Yes, the language today is "supposed" to be more limited, but in practice the rudeness of interruptions is far, far beyond what would EVER have been tolerated in the pre-microphone age. In fact, if you go back to the early years of Confederation you find the most interesting innovation of all: NO PARTY WHIPS. Going back to that state of affairs would solve the problems at all levels. There would be no more trained seals, because the party leader would have to negotiate and bargain and earn his or her consensus afresh with each piece of legislation under debate. That in turn would place far more power in the hands of the individual MPs, and thereby make the institution much more responsive to the people who elected its members. All in favour of banning party whips, so that ALL votes are free votes, say "Aye"!

  13. I have a cheaper and easier solution than removing desks or adding cameras: do what my 2nd grade teacher did and don't allow friends to sit together. Simply put, just seat all* the MP's alphabetically**. This way you would have the parties more spread out. Presumably, an MP would show a little more professionalism if he/she had MP's from other parties as immediate neighbours. He/she might even make new friends.

    *The Prime Minister, Leader of the Oppostion, and maybe some cabinet ministers would still have designated seats up front.
    **By riding might make more sense than alphabetical, but it would be more likely lead to pockets of single-party MP's (particularly in Quebec and Alberta)

  14. There are 4 "Outs" in Shout Out Out Out Out.

  15. The decorum in the House would improve markedly if the media simply stopped reporting on it. Over to you.

    Brian Boyd, Nepean.

    • That really makes a lot of sense. Get rid of the census, and get rid of reporters — Enter The Sun King; aka Harper.

  16. That would be the Tory MPs who aren't allowed to have a real job, and who can't do anything without Harper's approval.

    IE – Lawrence Cannon, just for one. There are many, many others.

    Other than that – Coyne is absolutely right. The way the Engish have it set up is much more companionable. Would go a long way towards fixing it — and get rid of the desks. Auction.

    Watch Spitting Impage on Youtube though – search for Margaret Thatcher in Parliament.