In and out of order

Twice last week—here and here—the Speaker seemed to fret that questions asked by the opposition were not sufficiently specific to the administrative responsibilities of government. I’ve noted this issue and the Speaker Scheer’s rulings in the past, see here, here, here and here. And now, as Colin Horgan notes, Peter Van Loan is voicing some concern.

For the sake of discussion, you can include a question the government side had Brent Rathgeber ask last month. One that was not ruled out of order.

Mr. Speaker, Albertans are very concerned about the NDP’s position regarding the oil sands. The NDP appears all too willing to abandon the interests of construction workers and oil sands workers. For example, both the former NDP environment critic, an Albertan, and the current leadership contender, Mr. Brian Topp, have called for a moratorium on oil sands development. Meanwhile, the NDP natural resources and environment critics have actually taken it up a notch and are telling our international trading partners not to trade with Canada.

Could the Minister of Natural Resources give this House an update on the latest academic research on the viability of the oil sands?




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In and out of order

  1. I am free speech fan and it sounds like Cons are trying to hide behind mom’s skirt by not answering questions. I can understand Con cabinet ministers not being responsible for party affairs but oppo critics just have to change how they phrase question. 

    Why isn’t elections canada doing its job? Why are there thousands of complaints, false forms, dead people voting … every election and nothing changes? Why does Parliament tolerate electoral corruption?

    • The HOC has rules of procedure that must be followed.  They can’t just phrase questions they way they wish,

      And remember when people came to your door years ago, and made sure you were on the voter’s list and with the correct information before every election?

      They haven’t done that in years, and consequently voter’s list are a mess

      • Exactly. If you moved out of the city and into the suburbs but didn’t update your voting information then don’t be surprised if you get a misleading phone call on e-day telling you that your polling station is an hour’s drive into the city.

        • Except EC don’t make those calls, right. That’s already an established fact.

          • All parties make calls to voters telling them where their closest polling station is.

            Call centers sometimes go off script and say they are from EC. We already know that’s happened.

            Or callers mistakenly think they’ve been contacted by EC.

            A great deal of the non-Geulph complaints can be explained away by this fact.

          • No we don’t know it has happened ( at least EC has not officially said anything other then they never make calls). What you’re probably referring to is one Star article and one employee’s account. You’re making a huge uncorroberated leap into the unknown.

          • EC advised the parties not to tell voters where to vote because the locations may change.  They were advised to tell voters to go to the EC website or call them. This was after he Cons requested the voters lists with voting locations attached.

          • I think it is safer for parties not to get involved in these things. Encourage people to call EC or go to the website. Telling people with false authority that their polling station has changed ought to be considered suspect.

        • Don’t any of you people pay taxes?  There is a box on your income tax form letting the Revenue Agency update Elections Canada as to your current citizenship status and address.  This is much more efficient than knocking in doors.

        • Weak.

  2. I`m not sure what the ratio is for the Opposition questions in relation to the government side questions, but I assume it is in 30:1 range. 
    And I know the question asked by Rathgeber is a set-up one to extol the virtues of the government in regards to the oil-based economy.
    But at least it is about the economy, which I assume is part of the administrative responsibilities of the country.
     Those other 30 questions often have very little to do with government administrations, but seem to be just a method of scoring points against the government.

    This may be something that the opposition parties may want to look at if they wish to become relevant with the voting public.

    • I forgot that just by virtue of mentioning the economy it places a subject beyond frivolity.

      I mean, what do fair elections have to do with Government administration? Why absolutely nothing, apparently. It does seem pretty impossible to trace a direct line from Election winners to those who govern Canada.

      What is essential for government administration is to let the Canadian public know the personal musings of the Opposition parties (who actually exercise all power in government) but also the thoughts of any private citizen who is seeking a role within any rival political party (whether or not they may get the spot or not).

      I am glad that we, and we alone, most vigorously and factually recognize these serious deviations from Opposition questions versus Government questions.

      • It`s not so much the subject of the questions asked by the opposition as it is the repetitive mode of them.
        If the government asked 30 questions of itself concerning the oil sands, then the public would soon tire of them.

        For me it seems the opposition are doing a disservice to their job by chasing the shiny red ball { which certainly deserves attention, but not 24-7 } and seemingly  forgetting that the most important Budget in a couple decades is only two weeks away.

        • It`s not so much the subject of the questions asked by the opposition as it is the repetitive mode of them.If the government asked 30 questions of itself concerning the oil sands, then the public would soon tire of them.

          The difference is, the government ANSWERS the planted questions.  I’m sure the opposition would stop asking certain questions over and over again if someone on the government side actually (gasp!) ANSWERED them.

          • You`re sure about that?
            You may be assuming that the motives of the opposition, when asking these repetitive questions, is to make sure that our elections be forever without dirty tricks. If that were the case then, yes, the government should answer all questions clearly.

            Her are two reasons why we know the opposition motives are not pure and idealistic:
            1—-If Liberals really thought that elections should be fought fairly they would not allow campaign workers to anonymously call young people in Guelph to warn them that the Conservatives will take away their right to have abortions. I wonder how many 80 year old Liberal Catholic seniors received those calls.
            2—-The opposition have a history of hysteria, crying wolf, and inflating, even the most minor issues, to the point where it is now difficult for the public or the government to take them seriously, especially when the Elections Canada investigation seems to be uncovering Liberal wrongdoing and Party manufactured complaints.

          • Could you tone down the partisanship? It’s coming over as white noise over on my side of the bog ya know.

          • Guest: 
            The role of the opposition is to hold the government to account on the issues that are important to the people. I think the economy and jobs are vital in the minds of people when they see a role for our federal government.

            If we think that the role of the opposition is to be the voice of the critical people in Parliament then they have failed the past few weeks. The opposition have chosen to be representative of the narrow group that is their fervent supporters. They may have greater support from this narrow group now, but they are losing relevancy with the majority out there.

            If I sound too partisan when I explain this, it may be because  my focus is on good government. If you are a fan of our blog host then, your focus may be elsewhere.

          • Great Del Mastro imitation, Ellen.  Uncanny, in fact.

          • I don’t think anyone is claiming that the opposition is as pure as the driven snow. You seem to be the one unwilling to decry your government for patently deplorable behaviour.

          • “The role of the opposition is to hold the government to account on the issues that are important to the people. ”

            So, even the APPEARANCE of free and fair elections no longer qualifies as such under your cockamamie circumnavigation of logic? Your cool dispensation of inflammatory spinlish is decidedly unnerving, Tim…er….Ellen. ;)

          • frobisher grove:
            We have Elections Canada to make sure we have free and fair elections.

            My point is that the ratio of questions about robocall as opposed to the economy is way out of line to what are the priorities of the people.

    • Carrying water, I see. The question was about NDP policy. Not germane to the business of the government. 

      •  Read it again. The question concerned an update on the viability of the oil sands.

  3. Why is Peter Van Loan concerned? If deliberate lies are covered by freedom of speech; it’s difficult to think of a question in the House of Commons that wouldn’t similarly be protected.

  4. Wow! What’s with Scheer? We’re the opposition told to not ask so many irrelevant questions during the sponsorship scandal?

    And really given the Harper govts own propensity to read from moronic monotone scripts what’s to object to?

    This is really a serious escalation of partisanship if the speaker is taking sides now.

    • Agreed. This is very concerning. I would not be surprised if it is part of Harper’s plan to totally discredit every institution that stands in his way. I’m concerned about Canada slipping ever further toward Putin-esque strongman regimes. 

      • I would not be surprised at all to learn their big goal is to get a nice, timid auditor-general.

      • let’s hope they never get a good excuse like another global recession or a refusal to allow a national priority to go through, like the gateway pipeline.

  5. Lisa Simpson: “Mr Burns, your campaign has the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?”

    Mr. Burns: “Ooo, a tough question, but a fair one.”

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