Personally, I blame myself - Macleans.ca
 

Personally, I blame myself


 

Preston Manning endorses the Chong Plan for Question Period, but wonders if the press gallery isn’t part of the problem and shouldn’t be part of the solution.

Most House leaders and Question Period co-ordinators I know feel that no matter what reforms are made, they are likely to be met with skepticism, ridicule and opposition from the media. This is because from a news-generating standpoint, a Question Period characterized by negative, antagonistic, exaggerated and emotional exchanges is much more newsworthy than one characterized by positive, co-operative, moderate and rational exchanges.

Parliamentary and legislative committees addressing Question Period reform should therefore tackle this obstacle head-on by specifically soliciting input and suggestions from their respective press galleries. There must be some way of making Question Period more civil, productive and newsworthy, and the sooner we find it, the better it will be for Canadian democracy.

Most of what happens in QP at present is actively ignored by the press gallery. I can think of one major media outlet that regularly and specifically attends in person. Most of those reporters and columnists who don’t attend would, I suspect, blame the tone and tenor of the proceedings (well, that and the fact that the proceedings are televised, making the arduous journey up to the House not absolutely necessary). So it would seem completely ridiculous for the press gallery, in this imagined world of reform, to equally shun a more substantive and reasonable QP.

And if outsider perspective is necessary, at least a couple of us would be only too happy to fix everything.


 

Personally, I blame myself

  1. As I recall, Manning was going to 'do things differently' in Ottawa.

    See how long THAT lasted?

    • If you read Manning's piece in the Globe you'll see that he addresses that.

      "For the first four months, we tried to ask substantive and genuinely information-seeking questions on the issues of the day and to refrain from theatrical challenges to cabinet ministers merely for the sake of drawing attention to ourselves. We even gave ministers advance notice of our questions, assuring them that a substantive and civil reply would be followed by a substantive and civil supplementary question, not a gratuitous rejoinder."

      As they say, better to have tried and failed than not to have ever tried at all. What did the Liberals do, the NDP? Banged their partisan drums and carried on, business as usual.

  2. Pardon me for quoting Elvis, but:

    "A little less conversation, a little more action, please."

  3. I've also seen more than a few reporters proclaim QP 'boring', if there's not the usual amount of sabre rattling and hyperventilating.

  4. This is because from a news-generating standpoint, a Question Period characterized by negative, antagonistic, exaggerated and emotional exchanges is much more newsworthy than one characterized by positive, co-operative, moderate and rational exchanges.

    So Preston, instead of asking the media to stop reporting the negative and antagonistic, why don't the Members just start acting positive & co-operative?

    If that reduces the media coverage, just think how much more your former colleagues could get away with!

  5. there is another solution – get rid of the cameras

    • I'm not sure that by itself would get them to change their ways–we just wouldn't be able to see it. Actually, we can't see it now as far as the hooting and heckling goes so we can't hold them accountable when it is OUR MP making the disruption. But still, I have often thought it might be better, as it was before, without the cameras. I have not, however, looked to see whether it was better before the cameras, or if they brought the cameras in to help make it better!

      • it is always better when there are no cameras : years ago I talked with a former page and at that time an MP and QP is all theatre – there were rambunctious times but not the like the theatre of the absurd since Trudeau -what they could do is provide a wriiten transcript maybe make it part of the hansard and post in on line. The media would never agree though as the gotcha moment is the mainstay of our current crop of lazy so called journalists.

    • I've watched the British QP and the Australian QP – they have cameras and they're civilized. It's not the camera – it's the clowns.

  6. Like the war on drugs; blame the consumer, not the supply.