Politics on TV (and radio): Parliament, Page and disclosure

The three things you need to see and listen to


Here are the three things you should not have missed:

  1. Parliament’s relevance today
  2. Kevin Page
  3. Politicians disclosing health concerns

Parliament’s relevance:

The West Block looked at the diminishing number of sitting days in provincial legislatures around the country – 19 days in BC, 39 days in Alberta, 33 days in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 78 days in Ontario – and asked Alison Loat of Samara Canada and Maclean’s Aaron Wherry about the problem. Wherry said shuttered legislatures are a problem for holding governments to account, and that there is a disconnect where MPs are being seen simply as party messengers. Wherry said that ultimately public concern and political will are needed to change things. Loat cited Samara’s new report about the perception that MPs don’t represent their constituents and their issues, which isn’t as much of a problem as people might think, but said that it does raise broader questions about how representative democracy functions in the 21st century.

Kevin Page:

CBC Radio’s The House had an interview with outgoing Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page (first 13 minutes), wherein Page said that his greatest concern about the office going forward is the misunderstanding about why it is important. Page says that parliamentarians being asked to vote on items without understanding the costs behind them, and that understanding is the “noble purpose” of his office, which has too few resources to fulfil that large mandate. Page says that Parliament’s appropriation system is broken, and MPs don’t feel the incentive to spend time scrutinizing the spending of the departments their committees oversee. Page also spoke on a personal level about how the loss of his son gave helped him find the sense of meaning in his work.

Disclosing health concerns:

In the wake of Jim Flaherty’s disclosure of his health concerns, Tom Clark spoke with Carleton University journalism professor Chris Waddell and former NDP chief of staff Anne McGrath about how much political figures need to disclose. McGrath said that it is a personal decision and plenty of MPs haven’t disclosed their medical issues, and that even when there is disclosure, it doesn’t necessarily stop the speculation. Waddell said that when the change is noticeable – as with Flaherty – it becomes necessary to reassure people, lest rumour start to become fact. Waddell said that Flaherty handled it the right way because everything, from condition to treatment, was laid out on the table.

Due to the Super Bowl, CTV’s Question Period was pre-empted this week.


Politics on TV (and radio): Parliament, Page and disclosure

  1. Some people are comparing Flaherty’s condition to Jack Layton’s cancer. There is a huge difference in the consequences. Flaherty can still do his job efficiently. Layton could not and won a huge victory politically, even though he knew he would not fulfill his mandate and now it is someone else, Mulcair, who is, but would not have won that huge of a victory has he been running in Layton’s place. That is where the difference lies. The NDP elected Mulcair, not the public at large. Flaherty was elected by the public and has done his job efficiently for a long time. A skin disease is not life threatening.

    • No, but the steroids are questionable.

  2. However despite the point about PM control and backbenchers towing party line, pundits like Wherry have to admit that when backbenchers start introducing independent private members bills the geniuses start to wander if Harper is “losing control” “are backbenchers in revolt” a problem which also plagues leaders like Ignatieff. So the Press Gallery says in the interests of democracy party leaders should allow members some leeway, but any leader who allows members any leeway is weak and losing control.

    • Trust me, this practice in the Gallery annoys me to no end, and I do call them out on it. The same goes with wanting the Senate to be independent, and yet the moment they show a glimmer of it, the headline is “Is [insert leader] losing control of his senators?”

      • Backbenchers have always submitted private members bills

        No one wants the Senate to be independent.

    • Note the brilliance of the typo above: “geniuses start to ‘wonder’ or ‘wander'”. Both work equally well!

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