Next in our series on the prospective speakers, Barry Devolin, the MP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. His answers are after the jump.
1. First and foremost, why do you want this job?
I believe the Speaker’s principle responsibility is to serve Members, both as a group and as individuals. The Speaker must ensure that the will of the House is done. The Speaker must also ensure that every Member has the opportunity to participate and contribute. As a deputy Speaker and committee Chair, I have enjoyed the role of facilitator, and would like the opportunity to further serve my colleagues as their Speaker.
2. To what degree have you been concerned about the levels of civility and decorum in the House during recent sessions? Would your approach to maintaining civility differ from Mr. Milliken’s and, if so, how?
Every Member has a concern about the deteriorating level of mutual respect in the House. If I am elected as Speaker, I will take that as a mandate to lead an effort by all Chair Occupants to bring a stricter interpretation of existing rules to the House. In my view, we do not need more rules. To use a hockey analogy, we need the referees to call more penalties. My approach will be to begin to enforce a stricter code during routine debate, thereby building momentum towards ultimately making durable improvements in Question Period.
3. Mr. Milliken objected to the use of statements by members to launch partisan and personal attacks? Do you share his concern and, if so, what could be done to deal with this matter?
I agree with Speaker Milliken that the purpose of Members’ Statements is not to launch personal attacks on other Members. If I am elected Speaker, I will continue to enforce this policy.
4. Mr. Milliken made three closely watched rulings on privilege during the last Parliament: specifically on matters related to the opposition’s access to documents in regards to the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda’s dealings with the House and an opposition demand that the government comply with certain requests for information. Did you at the time, or do you now, have any objections to any part of those rulings? As Speaker, would you have handled those matters at all differently?
I think Speaker Milliken found an admirable balance between the right of Parliament to demand information, and the right of government to do its job, which includes keeping some information confidential. In the case of the Afghan detainees in particular, I think that Speaker Milliken presented an innovative solution that allowed both sides to meet their primary objectives.