Can an MP ask a constituent’s question during QP?

The matter of crowd-sourcing Question Period


Last month, Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to send him questions they wanted to have put to the Prime Minister and on Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau raised two such questions in the House.

Immediately after Question Period, Peter Van Loan complained that questions from constituents were not allowed.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order relating to a number of questions that were raised by the leader of the Liberal Party, which were clearly in contravention of the rules of this place. I know he is somewhat new here and is not entirely familiar yet with the rules, but when we look at the good book, O’Brien and Bosc, we will find at pages 502 and 503 a reference to questions in question period. A question should not be a representation and, furthermore, it should not be a question from a constituent. This has been dealt with on occasion by Speakers of the House. For example, in early 1994, the member for Fraser Valley West asked the finance minister a question on behalf of one of his constituents and Speaker Parent advised that was out of order.

Mr. Trudeau countered that the two Canadians referenced were not his constituents as the the MP for Papineau and Mr. Van Loan responded that this was not a relevant distinction. After a final intervention, the House moved on to other matters, with the Speaker offering no ruling on the validity of Mr. Van Loan’s complaint, nor suggesting that he might be offering one later.

Here is the section of House of Commons Practice and Procedure that deals with oral questions (scroll down for the portion on the “Principles and Guidelines for Oral Questions”).

As I noted at the time of Mr. Trudeau’s call for questions, the Reform party tried something similar in 1994. Back then, the Speaker voiced some concern with the practice, but it’s not entirely clear from Speaker Parent’s comments why such questions should be ruled out of order and that might be a discussion worth having.

It might merely be a matter of phrasing. MPs are, of course, supposed to be representing their constituents, but in the case of the question Speaker Parent objected to, the Reform MP was quoting directly a question asked by another person. And perhaps there is some reason to insist that MPs put questions themselves, even if inspired by a question raised by someone else.

Whether it is a particularly good use of Question Period is another discussion entirely.

Presumably, if Mr. Trudeau persists in asking such questions and Mr. Van Loan persists in objecting, the Speaker might be compelled to clarify the parameters here.


Can an MP ask a constituent’s question during QP?

  1. Hmmmmm, so if an MP can’t ask legitimate questions on behalf of their constituents why do we elect them and send them to Ottawa? Who do they represent?

    • I suspect the rule that they can’t directly ask a question as posed by a constituent is fear they may be flooded with such requests.
      That, or they are embarrassed by the idea that they may have to lie on the record directly to the named constituent.

      • I suppose the point is that if a question from an MP’s constituent,or any other Canadian for that matter, is relevant, thought provoking, or important enough to ask in the House of Commons by a duly elected representative of Canada then why shouldn’t it get asked. What are we paying all these MP’s and their staff both in Ottawa and back in their riding for anyway?

        • What dumb @$$ voted down?

    • What questions are they supposed to ask?

  2. I thought MPs and MLAs looked into things, asked questions, found services, etc, for constiuents as a matter of job description. But the good news is: we now know that PVL and gov have a copy of the rules and regs they keep breaking.

    Is this just a matter of how the question is worded. Petty stuff, but what else would we get from Petty Van Loan?

  3. A brief reminder that the Peter Principle does exist , false rumors are free speech does have a Orwellian sound .

  4. Why does the Harper Government have such a problem answering questions?
    It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic is, or who is posing the question, their response is always similar, in that it seeks to deflect, deny, or just plain skirt the issue.

    • “It’s called Question Period. If answers are expected, they should have named it Answer Period.”

      – pretty much any CPC minister

  5. LOL Trust Fund Trudeau never fails to make himself look like a fool. Can’t come up with his own questions, so he asks Canadians to do it for him. Then he finds out that outsourcing your job as an MP isn’t allowed.

    Totally. In. Over. His. Head.

    • Troll.

      • Oh, thanks for that wonderful addition to the conversation. You’re so very insightful.

        • It’s true though. You aren’t one whit interested in whether its legit to ask a question on behalf of a constituent – simply shilling for your team.

          • You sir, are a troll!

          • Hah…I believe that’s where you came in.

    • By your standard, seems Preston Manning was in over his head too.

      Internal consistency has never been a strong point for you, has it?

    • conbot dumb @$$.

      • Very clever. You remind me of Trust Fund Trudeau with your wise intellect and deep vocabulary.

        • Mines deeper than yours.

          • Yes, mines typically are quite deep.

    • But the Harperites are always telling us what we think and care about.

  6. “Whether it is a particularly good use of Question Period is another discussion entirely.”

    This sentence made me chuckle. First of all, what is the reason for Question Period if an MP cannot ask questions on behalf of his/her constituents. Isn’t that the very reason we elect these people in the first place?

    Also, this made me laugh because I know MPs would much rather bang on their desks and yell out “hear, hear”, or read emails on their BlackBerrys instead of actually making use of their time by answering questions. QP is already a waste of time as is, at least Justin is thinking of new “ish” ways of wasting time.

    • I actually admire that Trudeau is letting Canadians ask questions of Parliamentarians, and it also shows us (and the gov if they could bother to listen) the kinds of things that are on people’s minds. Lord knows Harper doesn’t give a darn what the rest of us think, want, expect.

      And it seems so much more transparent and honest than paying idiots who can’t get real jobs that require actual skills to post on sites like this one.

  7. Since the Conservatives have no interest in what Canadians want discussed in the house, then I can see why they would complain. IF their base wants abortion discussed then we all know, to what ends they will go to block that.

    • Time to drag the cons out of the hoc and string them up.

  8. Figures the cons would have a problem with Canadians actually have any kind of representation.

  9. If an MP can parrot some staffer’s talking point in Parliament, what’s wrong with asking a constituents question? I’m sure many MP’s haven’t had an original thought in quite some time, they have to find their material somewhere.

  10. I am sure Mr. trudeau’s intentions are good but I am leaning against the practice as stated. if an MP thinks a constituent’s question is worth asking he or she should adopt the question as his/her own. Otherwise I can see an eye-rolling layer of “how dare the MP snub their nose at John Ordinary Canadian for his well-thought out question”, from BOTH sides of the house.

  11. “Here I have a question from the rabble…”

    “Point of order: If we wanted to hear questions from the rabble, we would not post guards at all of the entrances to this House. The member from Papineau is attempting to tear down the illusory insulation that protects us from the unwashed masses.”

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