Holding the government to account - Macleans.ca

Holding the government to account

Erin O’Toole asks a “question” of the government


Conservative MP Erin O’Toole’s question for the government yesterday.

According to the compendium of House of Commons procedure, “The right to seek information and the right to hold the Government accountable are recognized as fundamental to our system of parliamentary government” and “One of the principal ways by which Members exercise these rights is by asking questions in the House.” As the current guide to practice and procedure explains, Question Period “is this part of the parliamentary day where the government is held accountable for its administrative policies and the conduct of its Ministers, both individually and collectively.” Or, as Speaker James Jerome once said, “If the essence of Parliament is Government accountability, then surely the essence of accountability is the Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons.”

See previously: Here’s your problem


Holding the government to account

  1. Also from Question Period:

    “Why are the Conservatives letting big polluters off the hook and sticking taxpayers with the bill to clean up the environment?”

    “While pollution and overfishing threaten our oceans, why is the minister rushing into offshore development without proper protection?”

    “Is the minister doing anything to ensure that the response plans are effective and that government action will be coordinated in the event of a major oil spill off the Atlantic coast, or does the minister agree with the hon. member for Calgary Centre, who claims that oil spills will simply biodegrade in three years?”

    The commissioner’s report’s findings are very clear: there is a difference between the problem and the government’s ability to resolve it and to protect Canadians.”

    ..and that’s just in the first round. Rae and Mulcair had some decent questions I didn’t include here. The issues being brought up aren’t frivolous, they’re important, but the way the questions are phrased means the Government can respond with nonsense and no one will bat an eyelash. That’s not say the Government wouldn’t continue foolishly, but if the Opposition made a more consistent effort of asking specific questions (Yes or No, or What did you know and when did you know it) then absurd responses would seem more out of place. Do it long enough over time and the government would be embarrassing itself on a daily basis (and it would be more obvious than it is now)

    • Exactly.

      And from the other POV, if government members just started providing open, straightforward answers, the nonsense questions would look even more nonsensical.

      Ultimately I don’t care who makes the first move, but whoever does make that move will earn my respect.