Disturbance in the House

by Aaron Wherry

In the autumn issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review, Evan Sotiropoulos applies a little qualitative and quantitative analysis to the spectacle that now is the 15 minutes before Question Period reserved for statements by members.

My extensive review of parliamentary transcripts showed that unparliamentary or partisan discourse is on the rise during Members’ Statements in the House of Commons. Policy differences and their expression in a democratic society should not be used as cover for mean spirited attacks. All Members, regardless of party affiliation, should strive to arrest this decline in political discourse and help to cultivate a political environment conducive to cooperation.

The Speaker has the power required to sanction those parliamentarians who violate Standing Order 31. Throughout the 38th and 39th Parliaments, however, many examples can be found of violations of the spirit of the rule. It is no wonder then that when Speaker Milliken issued his warning to House Leaders, most Members simply ignored his advice and continued to follow the pattern set over the past five years.

Elsewhere in the CPR, an expansive attempt to rethink Question Period. More on that once I’ve read it all.

Disturbance in the House

  1. Cameras in the Commons. Bring 'em.

    • Better idea.. take them out. Completely.

      • Better better idea: let the networks use any of the camera feeds they want, from any side, any angle, from 2 to 3 o'clock or 11 to noon on Fridays.

  2. What stands out regarding member statements:

    38th Parliament
    (Liberal Minority) Conservative Liberal
    Political/Partisan Statements 328 (42.1%) 148 (13.5%)

    39th Parliament
    (Conservative Minority) Conservative Liberal
    Political/Partisan Statements 569 (47.3%) 250 (24.9%)

    Biggest offender (regardless of whether they're in government or not)? Conservatives. What a friggin' shocker.

  3. Essentially Evan Sotiropoulos has confirmed that the Conservatives have continued to behave in government as if they are still in Opposition.

    • Except it's like they took advantage of taxpayer stimulus to grow their nastiness.

  4. I used to rather enjoy Members' Statements when they were used for the purpose intended – to recognize people and events in MPs' ridings; not so much since the Harperites have made a mockery of yet one more parliamentary tradition by turning their statements into attack ads and self-promotions.

    • All the better to generate ten-percenter content with.

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