The audacity of youth

by Aaron Wherry

A pair of young journalists led Jack Layton’s scrum yesterday with questions about heckling in the House. They would seem to have followed up with a couple other MPs, similar exchanges showing up in the scrum transcripts. The last question posed to Jim Flaherty surely demonstrates a degree of chutzpah that bodes well for the future of this industry.

Question: Mr. Layton, did you notice a difference since you spoke out last week about sexist bullying in the House of Commons?

Jack Layton: I have noticed a difference.  There were even some times when I was able to ask a complete question and nobody shouted out.  I saw today the Conservative Whip got up and waved his hand at some of his members who were shouting so although still at a certain point in today’s discussions things got a bit wild but I haven’t heard the same sexist insults that we were hearing before in the last week. So let’s hope that people have turned a page on that.

Question: Do you think heckling takes away from the democratic process?

Jack Layton: I beg your pardon?

Question: Do you think it takes – heckling takes away from the democratic process of Question Period?

Jack Layton: Well, free speech is one of our fundamental principles and it’s pretty hard to speak freely when people are yelling at you when it’s your turn.  That would never be allowed in a classroom or in any other kind of meeting.  It only seems to be acceptable here.  I think that’s why it has to stop.

***

 

Question: (Inaudible) in the House of commons, to take away from the democratic process?

Gilles Duceppe: Well, it is – I have always said that is human nature. So democracy is democracy. It is better to have that. We have to more disciplined, I admit, but on the other hand it is always funny to have such questions here, because one is very disciplined in the House, the journalists come in here and asking us “Why was there nothing debated today?” So…

Question: Have you ever noticed that (inaudible)?

Gilles Duceppe: What?

Question: Have you ever noticed (inaudible)?

Gilles Duceppe: Not recently, not from my place, but…

***

 

Question: Does heckling take away from the democratic process of question period?

Hon. Jim Flaherty: Does what?

Question: Heckling.

Hon. Jim Flaherty: Heckling.

Question: Heckling.

Hon. Jim Flaherty: Oh, I’m so used to that.  You know I’ve been in the Ontario Legislature for more than 10 years and this one.  The Ontario Legislature is sometimes more raucous than the House of Commons actually.  I think the only problem you get into is when it gets so noisy that people can’t hear each other.  That’s a problem and the Speaker sands up and the place calms down. It’s all right.

Moderator: Okay, we’ve got to go.

Question: Have you ever been a sexist bully?

Hon. Jim Flaherty: Have I ever done what?

Question: A sexist bully during Question Period?

Hon. Jim Flaherty: No, no, I haven’t.  I had to think about that.  No, I haven’t heard anything like that said in the House of Commons.  Thank you.  Thanks very much.

 

 

 




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The audacity of youth

  1. I gotta say some aggressiveness from Canadian reporters is a long time coming. I think back 3 years to the Income Trust disaster inflicted by the Conservatives. It was obvious that reporters, including many so called business reporters, did not understand the implications of how much damage this tax change caused Canadians or they were too enthralled with "Canada's New Conservative Government (TM)" to call them on this flawed policy.

    In what other country would a government be able to roll out a new surprise tax policy based on blacked out documents as proof a policy change was required? Russia? Nigeria? Not the US of UK. http://www.caiti.info/resources/fla_docs.pdf

    You'd think reporters would be all over this type of cover-up, pulling a Van Loan-Gun Registry type of scrum on the 2006 Conservatives. But that was 3 years ago and not a peep of criticism. A cover-up that cost Canadian investors $35 billion in market losses. Jim Flaherty's reputation as a competent Finance Minister has since taken enough of a beating one wonders if he could get away with this level of incompetence today. I'm in favour of more aggressive reporting if it holds those who direct Canada's policy in account for their actions. This does not happen often in this country.

  2. But the House of Commons wouldn't be the House of Commons without heckling. It's in their nature.

  3. As if the NDP, LPT or BLOQ doesn't heckle – gimme a break guys -

    • Of course they do

    • Who said they don't? No one posted any such thing.

      Yes, MPs of all stripes seem reduced to the maturity level of playschool children. Scratch that — playschool children are more respectful, even in gangs.

      Except Ken Dryden.

  4. Isn't the heckling from backbenchers pretty much just drowning out heckling by the person who has the floor?

  5. Question: Have you ever been a sexist bully?

    Ah yes, a bright and shining star with a real future in gotcha journalism.

    • In the immortal words of Derek Smalls: "What's wrong with being sexy?"

  6. FLAHERTY: I'll have you know I've been a sexy bull all my life since I was fourteen and a half and Shelley from four lockers over looked at me and smiled and… What, that was the question, wasn't it?

    • I was going to vote, but I had only one choice and I needed three!!
      None of these three understand how ridiculous this practice is.
      In the Private sector, we would not be allowed to carry on like this
      in meetings as we realize that time and money is better spent on
      productive meetings. It really upsets us to think we pay taxes to
      the Government so they can carry on like this!!
      What the heck!!

      Auntie Annette

  7. From wilson:

    -Question: Have you ever been a sexist bully?
    -Ah yes, a bright and shining star with a real future in gotcha journalism.

    This person needs to research what 'gotcha journalism' is. This is a straightforward question, which is actually what the business should strive to do more often.

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