The Backbench Spring: Justin Trudeau joins the cause

Liberals will move to change the rules around statements by members

The Liberals will table the following motion on Monday.

That Standing Order 31 be amended by adding the following: (1) The Speaker shall recognize Members in alphabetical order by Party. For the purposes of this Standing Order, all Members who do not belong to a recognized party shall be grouped together. (2) When a Member is unable to present his or her statement on the date required by Standing Order 31(1), he or she may indicate in writing to the Speaker at least one hour prior to the beginning of Statement by Members, the name of the Member with whom he or she will exchange position.

This would attempt to deal directly with what Mark Warawa and other Conservative backbenchers have raised as a concern over the last few weeks. Yesterday, Conservative MP LaVar Payne became the ninth backbencher to speak in the House to the issue of the time reserved for statements by members.

Mr. Trudeau had vowed to “loosen the grip of the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament.” He will speak in the House to the Liberal motion at noon on Monday.

Here is the official news release.

I’d asked last night about Mr. Trudeau’s position on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege and the power of party whips to control statements by members and Question Period. I’m told there won’t be a direct intervention on Mr. Warawa’s question of privilege (“We’re not going to get dragged into divisions within the Tory caucus,” says a Liberal spokeswoman). As for Question Period reform, as raised by Conservative MP John Williamson in his intervention, “Liberals have always been open minded on QP reform, but we’re focused on improving SO31s as a starting point.”

Update 1:51pm. The Liberals report that the government side has rescheduled Monday’s opposition day. The government side passes along the following statement made by House leader Peter Van Loan.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a brief statement respecting the business of the House next week. As I said at the start of question period, leadership requires decisive and serious action in response to the serious threats of violent terrorism. In order to give members of this House an opportunity to express their views on the appropriate way to respond to terrorist violence, on Monday and Tuesday the House will debate Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act. This bill is at its final stage in Parliament and I call upon all members of this place to pass this bill, we don’t need further study – we need action. As a result, the government business originally scheduled for those days will be re-scheduled to a later date.

Here is the summary for S-7.

The Liberals are displeased.

PMO is scared of democracy and giving its Members an opportunity to express the views of their constituents freely in the House of Commons. By pulling our opposition day, PMO has shown yet again that they are control freaks who have a disdain for Parliament. Our motion is substantive, constructive and would ensure fairness for all MPs.

Update 2:17pm. The government says the Liberal opposition day will now be Wednesday.

The Liberals, meanwhile, question the timing of all this. Here is the Liberal version of events from Marc Garneau (who the Liberals have put forward to comment).

The House leaders meet on Tuesday and, at that point, the House leader puts forward a kind of preliminary plan for debate for the next two weeks. And Tuesday being, of course, the day after the bombing. And there was nothing about S-7. And then on Thursday, [Peter Van Loan] makes his weekly business statement after Question Period … and again there was absolutely no mention of S-7. But suddenly, S-7 appears roughly less than an hour after we announce what we want to debate in the planned opposition day for the Liberals on Monday. So it does seem rather suspicious. And it is unfortunate. We cannot understand why suddenly S-7, when it was not even mentioned in the days after the Boston bombing, suddenly is invoked as being something that urgently needs to be, I presume, closed off in third reading by Tuesday evening. So that’s our view. And it’s unfortunate. I think Boston is kind of being used as a political football a second time.

I’ve asked Mr. Van Loan’s office to confirm that S-7 was not mentioned at Tuesday’s House leaders meeting.

The Liberals supported S-7 at second reading and continue to support it.




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The Backbench Spring: Justin Trudeau joins the cause

  1. House of fools.
    Six figure renumeration.
    Gold plated pensions.
    Pomp and privilege.
    Tax payers lose.

  2. Good. I hear there are other motions coming up that will try to reduce the power of the PM and party leaders and enhance the power of individual MPs in the HoC.

    This shift in power was a major part of Justin Trudeau’s democratic reform package for his leadership campaign and is one of the reasons he favours ranked ballot over proportional representation – because he wants individual MPs to have more power than they currently do and parties and leaders to have less power.

    Not sure that any of these motions will pass, but it will stimulate debate on these important issues and lay the groundwork for such changes when we have a new government.

  3. I don’t understand a word of that motion – but it looks like a great move on Justin’s part anyway, both politically and more importantly because it is the right thing to do.

    Can you check Aaron. Somewhere i think i can hear Coyne doing backflips. Better make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.

  4. “I don’t understand why Justin doesn’t jump on this bandwagon. It seems to me that he could explain a lot about himself and his promised style of governing by echoing Rathgeber and other CPC MP’s.
    Why is Justin not taking this opportunity?”
    -Francien Verhoeven, yesterday

    Answer: seems Justin IS taking the opportunity. Francien, I am impressed by your clair-voyance. Now the question is, will the other parties support the motion?

    • Ooh, breaking news – appears the government has cancelled the opposition day due to the motion! Oh, snap!

      • Wow, Harper is really running scared. He can’t hide for a full 2 years. What is he going to do, besides dream up more attack ads?

    • Thank you.

      I don’t know how the other parties will respond.

      But if I were Harper (and i am not:) ) I would let the selective-sex-abortion condemnation come to the floor of the House, and let the MP’s vote freely on such a condemnation.

      Then we really have something to talk about and something to be proud of!

    • *snort*

      That’s high comedy. You really have to put those two comments together in one place:

      yesterday:
      “I don’t understand why Justin doesn’t jump on this bandwagon. It seems
      to me that he could explain a lot about himself and his promised style
      of governing by echoing Rathgeber and other CPC MP’s.
      Why is Justin not taking this opportunity?”

      today:
      “Why did Justin not come forward sooner with a private member’s bill to
      promote what he is promoting now? Why did Justin wait so long? The issue
      of MP independence has been going on for weeks now, if not months!”

  5. If this this motion makes it onto the floor of the House, it will be interesting to see a majority of the Con caucus vote against their own increased autonomy as members of parliament. And then deny they were whipped.

  6. hahah! this is perfect – think about it folks – if the motion carries it won’t be Conservatives that will use it the most – think about it :) – hopefully the Dipppers can put forward on their day – question? = will they? .. you see folks it is not only harper who is a control freak all leaders or they wouldn’t be leader – at first glance this look very good BUT the law of unintended consequences rule supreme I can think of a dozen scenarios that everyone may cheer if it’s a Tory MP however what if it isn’t – what happens if it’s a pro-life liberal (and there are quite a few) .. think about it folks!

    • Some punctuation might help your premise….hahahaha…but i doubt it.

      • Why not concentrate on the message Wayne Young is letting out? Why not respond to his message instead of responding to his style of writing?

        • I thought i did.

    • I don’t think Justin will let it come to that. When it comes to the abortion issue, the Liberal bench is still being kept muzzled.

  7. A Conservative floor-crossing to the Liberals would taste really sweet right now. It cannot be Trost or Vellacott or Warawa, but what about Rathgeber…someone muzzled who wants to break out and thinks (s)he sees a chance with LPC. That’s my wish for the weekend:

    cross the floor cross the floor cross the floor

    • Now this is interesting. When MP’s sit as Conservative MP’s they are considered by you and the opposition parties as being CONBOTS and so much worse. Yet, when the very same people would cross the floor to sit with the Liberals or the NDP, then suddenly those very same people are a god’s send.

      You really have no notion of contradicting yourself on so many fronts, do you?

      • Isn’t the WHOLE POINT here that the reason they’d be crossing the floor is because they’re sick of being robots?

        It seems to me to be perfectly reasonable for a Party who criticizes an MP from another Party for X to then accept a floor crosser who’s crossing specifically because they’re sick of X being forced on them by their current Party.

        Sure, the opposition frequently criticizes government MPs for being mindless robots who keep their mouths shut unless they’re reading from PMO-approved talking points. Given that fact though, what exactly would be contradictory about welcoming an MP who chose to flee the Tories because he or she is sick of keeping their mouth shut and only being allowed to parrot PMO-approved talking points?

        • To flee the Tories for trying to find an air of independent thinking on the opposition benches!!

          Oh, I love how you try to fit in reason, somewhere. It’s cramped though, don’t you find!

    • Michael Chong – if he wants to retain credibility he has to take a real stand. And now John Weston has joined the rebel side.

      • Michael Chong would be perfecto, plus I do believe he’s a Quebec MP. I don’t know much about John Weston, but I did just read his piece on the other thread. Yes, can you make this happen, JanBC?

  8. All this says is that the Conservatives…namely Harper, are almost apoplectic about Trudeau….they would rather shoot their own feet then let the guy have an inch. Honestly, beacons of Democratic virtue the Conservatives ain’t……and this won’t help one bit.

  9. Wow, the Harper Conservatives have no shame. Using the tragedy in Boston to try to score political points for a second time.

    Pathetic.

    • Why did Justin not come forward sooner with a private member’s bill to promote what he is promoting now? Why did Justin wait so long? The issue of MP independence has been going on for weeks now, if not months!

      • Wait so long? He just became the leader! It’s been part of his campaign since the beginning.

        • Such an interesting reply you just posted.

          Indeed, does Justin think that only as Liberal leader he can make a difference? Did Justin, as a regular MP, never have the chance to put forth a private member’s motion?

          If that’s the excuse Justin has about the long wait, then he better think again about what he really is saying about being an ordinary MP. Perhaps he will explain himself fully at some point in time.

          • As the saying goes, its better late then never!

            Justin Trudeau is really impressing me so far. If he keeps this up I might even consider just be voting for him in two years time. Keyword: might. The NDP and the Conservatives had years to put forth this motion but they never did. I’m glad at least someone in parliament is doing their job!

          • But the Liberals never put forth a motion either!! :)))) And they have been in power longer over the past century than any other Canadian political party!

            Now suddenly you start seeing the light? Time will tell how really liberal the new Liberal leader will be.

            As far as I can tell, the private motion put forth by Justin deals only with the order in which the member can make a statement before QP begins. The motion says nothing about what parties must allow in regards to free speech once the Members have the floor.

            Don’t go overboard with what Justin is promising with the upcoming motion; it ain’t that impressive.

          • Give it up, it’s Con MP’s that started this. If you want something more done demand Harper do it.

          • But far more impressive than anything offered by the CPC.. you remember them don’t you? The ones who promised that they’d do better?

          • They are now, which means they still beat the cons, ndp, greens, ect.

            More impressive than what you, or any of the other politicians are saying. You offer no solutions, just empty insults.

            Granted, I’d never vote for the libs. Not after adscam, but that doesn’t mean when the propose a good motion, I’m going to fight it, just because I don’t like the libs. I give credit where credit is due.

      • Lame, Francien.

        • Oh, JanBC; my comment is only lame to those who don’t understand the comment.

          Are you proud of the fact that JT had never put in the effort to reform the role of MP’s before he became leader of the party?

          Why did he not do so then? Does Justin believe that as a regular MP he could not show his independent thinking on the subject? Why not then? Was he being muzzled when being a regular MP? Or how else to explain it.

          But don’t worry. I won’t hold my breath for you to explain much.

          • and Francien, when have the conservatives done anything to open the door to understanding and free speech? They are conservatives hobbled together from a bi partisan party that were two failed ideas. There is no free speech or we would hear more crazy outburst about what we’re not allowed to do.

          • Would Stephen Harper like to be able to bring the topic of abortion onto the floor of the House? The way I understand the man, I would say, that yes, he would like to be able to bring such controversial topics under discussion in the House.

            Now imagine what would happen if he would agree to bring such (societal) divisive topic under discussion?

            For one, the CBC and some other news outlets, would jump out of their seats to fling baseless accusations against him to begin with. The thought of wanting a debate has already been forgotten at the point. From there on in, it will be one smear campaign after another of how Harper is the devil in disguise, for how dare he send women back to the back alleys and coathangers.

            I think Mr.Harper has long ago accepted that there is no open debate possible on such controversial topics. He has indicated publicly, when being in interview with Peter Mansbridge, that the topic of abortion is really about attitude.

            And we could go on. When the Reform Party started off, (and yes, Harper was part of that process) their slogan was: ‘The West wants in!”. But you know as well as most people should know by now, that such slogan was instantly turned into “look at those separatist, arrogant westerners! Who do they think they are!” and from there on in, not much could be said about the Reform party other than they MUST have a secret agenda and that such agenda is SCARY.

            Now, the next time you want Harper or members of his party to come out for wanting open debates on any topic, would you and others be ready to take then at their words, and debate them on those points, rather than trying to score points by twisting and turning their words spoken into a radicalized lie? Because if you would prove that you and others are ready for being engaged in a reasonable debate, my bet is that Harper and his party will be ready too. They have always been ready. Just tell us when the time is right to start an adult conversation in this country about hot topic issues and I too will be there to listen in.

          • At least someone, is doing something now. Or do you think MPs should remain muzzled and in turn, their constituents?

      • Last opposition day for the Liberals was Feb 14. Private member’s bills are awarded by lot.

        A little research goes a long way.

        • So, no room then to include the issue of MP’s independence on the Feb 14 agenda. Shucks. All those dates missed. All those years wasted.

          But now, now that 8 CPC MP’s are calling for more independence of MP’s, now Justin the leader sees the light and wants to do something about it.

          What other research do I need? Nothing really. The facts are what they are, there, staring us in the face!

          • Yup. When an issue was brought to his attention, unlike Mr. Harper, he’s taken action.

          • Perhaps I can bring something else to our attention:

            Here’s to hoping that PM Harper will tell MP Warawa that the time has come for the motion of selective-sex-abortion condemnation to be voted on in the House, now that Harper can rest assured that at least one opposition party leader is all in favour of having MP’s speak their mind in the House by casting a vote openly and willingly.

            One can always hope, not?

          • Sure. And you can also hope that unicorns will piss chocolate milk into your cup. After all, it’s just as relevant and almost as likely.

          • Why? You feel Justin would not agree with holding such a free vote?

            It could be Justin, you know, who would allow one of his backbenchers to bring forth the motion, as a private members bill, about selective-sex-abortions and asking for the condemnation thereof.

            If he would do such a thing, I would seriously consider voting for him. Not because I think that abortion needs to be restricted, but because I do believe our country and our MP’s should be mature enough to handle such a divisive issue. I am sick and tired of the immaturity displayed when regarding Harper as being the sole ‘great muzzler’ while the other party leaders aren’t any better. Hypocrisy should be stripped from all of our leaders; not just the one you single out.

          • Yeah, harpo and his cons are real mature. They cheat to win elections. They commit fraud to raise campaign finances. They waste taxpayers money, lying to us about their economic action scam. They bully everyone, who remotely disagrees with them, including their own. They have the most grotesque sense of entitlement, look no further than helicopter vacation macnay, OJ bloda, babbysitter diddler toes, gazebo the clapment and the worst austerity pay raise harpo.

          • If harpo does that, he’s a liar. harpo has put himself between a rock and a hard place on this issue and I’m enjoying every second he suffers for it. Here’s hopping this is the straw that breaks the camels back.

          • So you’re saying because justin is the one champion the bill, it’s not worth anyone’s time? That makes no sense.

  10. Shorter VL: Sorry, but we have to reschedule democracy… due to the fact the PM was unfortunately compelled to offer criticism of the Dolphins[sic] terrorist apologia on the communists broadcasting net …er, CBC. We feel it is necessary to set Monday aside to have our members ritually mock him at tp expense… er, comment on S7.

    Trudeau is bang on about one thing. There’s something about that name that drives those guys nutty.

    • I can’t believe Harper fell into this trap. Trudeau really is making them crazy.

      • I’m not sure about a trap. There’s another post saying it’s probably them just buying time to sort out their dissenters. Not that that will stop them turning monday into a get Trudeau fest.

  11. Justin or his handlers must have their ears glued to the comment boards.

    It was just the other day when I suggested Justin do just that: jump on the bandwagon of claiming some independence for MP’s, not by providing vague statements on his webpage, but to do so in action.

    Well, sounds like he took me up on the advise! :))))

    (Not wanting to push my luck too far, but could Justin be in favour of letting the selective-sex-abortion condemnation motion come to the floor to be voted on? Hey, I can hope, not?)

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