The Backbench Spring: Is this history?

A Conservative MP stands to ask a question of the government


Nearer the end of Question Period this afternoon, the Speaker called on the Conservative MP for Vegreville-Wainwright and both Leon Benoit and another Conservative MP, Phil McColeman I believe, stood and began speaking. Only one of them, Mr. Benoit, is the member for Vegreville-Wainwright and eventually the other MP returned to his seat.

Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber says Mr. Benoit was not on the government whip’s list of those backbenchers who would be asking questions this afternoon, meaning that Mr. Benoit had stood of his own volition, caught the Speaker’s eye and been recognized and possibly making him the first Conservative MP to do so since the Speaker’s ruling. Mr. Benoit has not yet confirmed as much himself, but here is the question he asked.

Mr. Speaker, development of our natural resources is very important for creating jobs, for adding to our economy, and for providing money for health care, education and other social programs. Opposition parties criticizing the government for not paying enough attention to protecting the environment as major projects like mines and pipelines are being developed are slowing this development, thus killing jobs and reducing funding for social programs. I would ask the Minister of Natural Resources for evidence that the government is in fact protecting the environment in the development of these major natural resource projects.

For the record, the response of Dave Anderson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources, was as follows.

Mr. Speaker, the National Energy Board in Canada is a strong, independent regulator. It is a world-class regulator that ensures pipeline safety. Our government has taken action to prevent pipeline accidents and to prove our ability to respond to any incidents that do occur. For example, we have increased the number of inspections of federally regulated pipelines by 50%. We have doubled the amount of annual audits. We have put forward new fines for companies that break Canada’s rigorous new environmental protections. We are there for Canadian communities. We are going to protect the environment and develop the economy at the same time.

Update 8:43am. Mr. Benoit’s office confirms he was not scheduled to ask a question.


The Backbench Spring: Is this history?

  1. :) – well everyone should be applauding him standing up for democracy and executing the resposiblity of a MP – yet just watch the comments that are going to follow – you simply have to love it – look folks there was never any back bench revolt – quite the reverse – it is the other parties who are going to look follish here and even mre funny will be when one of their back benchers gets recognized hahaha!

    • Ha ha ha ha…right you are Dr Evil. Lets have the whole country watch Harper deny his backbench even a gasp of the free fresh air that is the birth right of all free men… then 7 years on when they finally get a green light from the speaker to draw breath without permission, let’s hope everyone comes to the obvious conclusion that the govt was never the problem in the first place…indeed look how the opposition is flourishing and speaking freely in our fair land?…it’s a stroke on genius sir! Harper wins again…ha ha ha ha aha!!!!

    • What a wonderful strawman you have there.

    • Speaking for myself, I really hate it when MPs of any persuasion look “follish”, let alone “mre funny.” It’s such a blow to their digity.

  2. But more importantly to the Parliamentary Press Gallery, did he read his question from notes, or did he memorize it beforehand?

  3. ” I would ask the Minister of Natural Resources for evidence that…”

    The minster[Oliver?] in response: Amid papers flying, glasses askew… “Whhaaa, waas that…evidence!…nnnnn..ow? Right this minute you mean?[ the epithet bastard…is caught, faintly, by the house mics]

    Good start. Although i do see one unfortunate downside…this probably means that little sh*t Poilivere will be up and down like a jack in the box, even more than he is now.

  4. What was the answer?

  5. I won’t believe it until I see Elizabeth May called upon for a question or member’s statement.

    • Agreed! All it took is allowing a backbencher to stand up and lob an softball question to his minister? That was some bold and restless revolution they had going on.

  6. To his credit, he only obliquely referenced a job-killing carbon tax concern for the environment.

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