The post-fight points of order

by Aaron Wherry

Shortly after 10am this morning, the House had a little talk about yesterday’s unpleasantness.

Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, I do not quite know when the appropriate moment would be to say something on this subject, but it is a little hard for us to carry on the normal business of the House without referring to the somewhat unusual transaction that took place on the floor of the House yesterday. I wonder if those who were involved in it would care to perhaps indicate their regret at what took place and the fact that we need to continue for the next several days in the House with a greater degree of civility and willingness to engage in public discourse without insulting each other.

Peter Van Loan: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to address that point. Yesterday I went to speak to the opposition House leader with the intention of discussing my concerns with the point of order that had been raised related to a mistake that had been made by the Deputy Speaker during Tuesday night’s vote. I know that mistakes happen. The Deputy Speaker is new and I am sure he is going to do a very good job, but I thought it was inappropriate for the New Democrats to raise a point of order relying on that mistake and somehow suggest it was the responsibility of the government. To do that was inappropriate. It put me in a very difficult position. I did not wish, in defending the government, to be critical of the Deputy Speaker and I tried very delicately to dance around the point. Mr. Speaker, you ruled appropriately in the circumstances. I acknowledge that I used an inappropriate word when I was discussing this matter with the opposition House leader. I should not have done that and I apologize for that. I would expect the opposition House leader to do the same and I hope that at this point we can move forward and get on with the important business that Canadians want us to do.

Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Toronto Centre for his intervention and some of the words from the government House leader with respect to his apology. You and I will be having a conversation quite shortly, so any other more official statement coming from the official opposition is a bit premature, until you and I have spoken in private. Then we will get back to the House forthwith.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I trespass on this very tentatively, but recall that the history of the length between these benches was to be two sword lengths. We would like the notion to be figurative. We do not like the notion that someone from one side of the House would march across to the other side. I can only conclude the hon. government House leader is a sore winner. I hope we will never see this sort of thing again.




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The post-fight points of order

  1. An utter lack of class from Elizabeth May. What else is new?

    Peter Van Loan’s apology was garbage as well. He ruined it by saying he expected the same.

    • PVL suffers from the common Con delusion that they are ever the victims, no matter how they behave.

      • Trying to spin this unfortunate tiff into a slur against Conservatives is also lacking class.

        • Why is that? Did Van Loan resign from the party recently? Is he going to be disciplined for the action? You yourself point out what briguyhfx states directly, after all.

          • Don’t be so hard on Nathan Cullen and Elizabeth May. And don’t generalize so harshly, I’m sure there are more than a few decent NDP MPs out there.

          • Again.. say what? You really need to learn how to read.

        • You are correct. Luckily, I have no class. The Conservatives suffer from a delusion of victimhood.

          • I’ve already commented on what you said.

          • Well, if you want more, they are reality-challenged.

  2. Van Loan knows exactly where the cameras are. This kind of theatre needs to be stopped in it’s tracks right now.

    They are trying to get a rise out of Mulcair and the NDP. Paint them all as crazy

    • Good thing the camera wasn’t in Mulcair’s face then, or this whole story could have taken on an interesting turn.

  3. If the MP’s had guns for “self defense”, the two sword rule would make no sense.

  4. I`ve got no problem with Van Loan telling Cullen to smarten up and if he is just trying to obstruct and delay the business of government, then he should at least not blame the incompetence of the NDP deputy Speaker on the government.

    And I`ve got no problem with Mulcair defending his House Leader and telling Van Loan to fu#k off. Let the men blow a little steam off and forget about it the next day.

  5. Oh, and Lizzie May—-just shut up, you`re no help.

    • I beg your pardon??

      • He means no help to the CPC.

        • Heh…well his Archie Bunker answer was no help to the Cons, that’s for sure!

    • What actions do you suggest she takes that do not involve verbal communications?

      • I don`t know—if she wants to be helpful then she should talk about something she knows about. Sticking her nose into a situation that she knows nothing about and choosing one side in her intervention is not helpful.

  6. Interesting that everyone, including the media seem to be overlooking the suggestion that Joe Comartin made a clerical mistake and that it was Comartin’s mistake that the NDP were trying to procedurally capitalize on. Did Joe Comartin make a clerical error as is alleged ? The fact that most of the Ottawa media bubble ignores this part of the story suggests to me that Comartin did. After all we wouldn’t want the NDP to look bad for trying to capitalize on a Deputy Speakers clerical error would we ?

    And before the usual NDP apologists start the predictable condemnation of my comments keep in mind I am not defending Van Loan’s actions….I already stated yesterday that I thought PVL “crossed” the line (literally) and I disagree with how he handled this.

    • Was this Joe Comartin angle even part of the conversation until PVL just brought it up in the house? If the Conservatives didn’t point it out to the media over the last 24 hours, is it the media’s fault for not divining the bee underneath PVL’s bonnet?

      • Actually in the very first CTV interview on this topic MP Rick Dykstra was an eyewitness to what occurred and he stated that the disagreement and what PVL went over to chat with Nate Cullen about was entirely the effort by the NDP to try and politically capitalize over Comartins “alleged” clerical error.

        I say alleged because of course I don’t know if this is true or not. However given that was entirely what started this incident it is a tad surprising that the Ottawa media bubble continues to overlook what essentially “started” this discussion in the House. But again, the NDP would look bad if it were true that they were in fact trying to politically capitalize on a clerical error made by their very own deputy speaker. It just amazes me this point would be overlooked.

        • Except what “started” this discussion was Van Loan crossing the floor. If Comartin made an error, there are other ways to handle it, such as by point of order. Crossing the floor to rebuke someone personally is not how it’s done and shows a lack of both knowledge and respect for parliamentary conduct and tradition.

          • But if crossing the floor is done by all sides, then this debate comes down whether Van Loan did use the wrong language. If he did, then Mulcair’s use of language must be considered equally because it then boils down to use of language. And in that case both men would be in the wrong and should apologize.

          • Of course, but only one of the two gentleman involved is reported all over the media while the other is given a free pass. It’s not unlike how some of the Ottawa media shills are quick to report “near fisticuffs” when in fact VanLoan made the non threatening and non aggressive gesture of dropping to his knees to continue the discussion. It was actually Mulcair
            that made the aggressive move of jumping up out of his seat using aggressive language. But why report what really happened if you are in the media when you can instead add your own partisan political slant in your coverage?

          • Yes, the dropping to one’s knees actually indicates a leveling position. Often people drop to their knees when speaking to people in wheelchairs or when speaking to kids for instance, thereby attempting to set the level straight.

            I felt too, when watching the video, that PVL was trying to have a conversation with Cullen in a level sort of way, although PVL did point his finger at the end of crossing the aisle before kneeling down.

            I wouldn’t say that the media covered things up; I would say that the media is more interested in letting things blow up to the fullest extend possible, rather than putting in an effort for coming to the bottom of things right from the get-go. But getting to the bottom of things takes time and in this day and age, time is of the essence in that every news channel wants to be known for being into the action rather than being cautious for reporting the facts. By the time the real facts are uncovered, the story is no longer news and therefore mostly irrelevant to the news outlets. And…letting such stories blow up to the fullest extent is more exciting for the media to report than reporting on an evened-out report. And there you have it.

          • I am generally in agreement with you although I would point out that in selective circumstances certain media sometimes find nothing but time to pursue some issues. For example find me ANY media personality of the Ottawa press gallery to spend as much time defending the NDP carbon revenue proposals as Aaron Wherry has. Wherry has actually spent more time defending the NDP’s position to increase Carbon revenues then the NDP has.…and interesting that some media have way more time to find stories about Senator Duffy then most other Senators….once again the selective media filter is being applied.

          • I think you’ve got it. Van Loan was trying to get his face right in Cullen’s, pointing his finger at him and cursing to respect him as one would a child or a disabled person. *snort*

            Just curious – do you believe your own bullshit, or are you just hoping someone else will?

          • But it wasn’t done by all sides. It was done by Peter Van Loan, as you can see from the tape quite clearly.

            So stop being a dishonest, misleading arse-wipe trying to muddy the waters about the issue.

        • You say media cover-up, I say the Conservatives did a piss poor job of explaining their side of the story. They had ample opportunity to bring this point up and, except for Dykstra, didn’t. They just went after Mulcair for being a hothead.

          And if we’re going to start calling Comartin ‘the NDP’s speaker’, can we start calling Scheer the ‘Conservative’ speaker? Is he Harper’s boy?

          • But the media does not have to report what emphasis the CPC puts on any of this. It is the media’s role to figure out if indeed MP’s on all sides DO cross the floor every now and then. Do they indeed? And furthermore, it is the media’s role to make clear to the public that the speaker’s chair is considered neutral territory, and so forth.

            The media should not take sides in any of these stories by repeating the spin as being spun by all parties. The media’s role is to lay out the facts and correct the facts if being misrepresented by any party members.

            The media’s role is to try and report as neutrally as possible and such would be by sticking to the facts , or correcting the facts on ALL sides.

          • Point taken, but in my view it’s not emphasis, it’s not spin, it’s explanation. Until PVL stood up today, I really had no idea why he lost it. I even posted as much on here yesterday. I found it all very bizarre. I think journalists were trying to find that out. But if the Conservatives aren’t going to tell them what made PVL snap… that ain’t the media’s fault.

          • I understood it this way: PVL had been cautious as not to come down too harshly on the deputy speaker of the House, since he was new at it. In other words, PVL had ‘danced’ around the real issue at hand in order to save grace for the benefit of the speaker of the House. But by having done so (by PVL having tried to be gracious to the new speaker of the House) he had given the NDP the opportunity to mislead the House by blaming the CPC. And that is what peeved off PVL. He crossed the floor to tell Cullen not to do that again (to take advantage of PVLoan’s gracious ‘dancing around the subject’ in order to save the speaker of the House).

          • Fine… but why are we getting that explanation today and not last night? Why is it the media’s fault for ‘burying’ the story when the Tories spent their time talking about Mulcair being a hothead?

          • I have read various media accounts of this dispute and it is not just the one in which PVL tries to play the victim. I have read reports in which the crossing of the floor starts off as an offending move and the report moves on from there.

            I’m not sure if the Tories only spun the story of Mulcair being the hothead. That was one of them, not the only one. I would like to see the media come to a more neutral stand on things like this. Bring it in perspective. If the CPC did spin the ‘Mulcair is a hothead’ and the media picked up on that too much, without asking for more information or without trying to set the facts straight, then the media is loosing it too.!!

          • BINGO ! You just nailed the issue. it’s not rocket science yet all of our esteemed parliamentary press gallery failed to tell that side of the story.

          • I completely agree with you. However if it is true that Joe Comartin made a clerical error and the NDP attempted to use that clerical error for political advantage then that side of the story needs and deserves to be reported on. Yet the media has chosen to ignore them.

            If Comartin made an error that is either a fact, or as Aaron Wherry would say, it is a “farce” Funny though how selective some members of the media will be when it comes to attempting to expose a farce. Not one member of the Ottawa media bubble that I am aware of has indicated if Comartin made a clerical mistake or not and all of the so called defenders of democracy conveniently turn their heads the other way when a certain political party attempts to use a clerical error for partisan political gain. Funny that.

          • I did not say it was a media cover-up at all. I suggested that I found it very interesting given that an entire issue and reportedly the reason why Van Loan went over to chat with Nate Cullen in the first place was over the “alleged” clerical error made by Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin that led to Cullen’s attempt at political capitalization over the error. One would think that the Ottawa media bubble MIGHT have covered that part of the story that actually was the center of the discussion.

            And, yes, in a related thread yesterday there were the usual leftists on here that indeed call the Speaker “Harper’s boy” – odd that I did not see you calling those comments down, given you supposed respect for the independence of the office. For the record I simply noted that the speaker was an NDP MP no different then Scheer is a Conservative MP. I did not imply that Joe Comartin intentionally made the clerical error so the NDP could attempt to try and politically capitalize on it rather I pointed out that the Ottawa media bubble selectively choose to ignore this part of the story I submit solely because it would reflect badly on the NDP, and more so on Cullen given his supposed interest in increasing “decorum” in the House of Commons. Not very stately to try and politically capitalize on a clerical error made by a deputy speaker is it ?

          • I find accusing a speaker of partisanship as lazy as blaming media conspiracies for anything I don’t like. You will notice that I engage in neither, ever.

            And, as I’ve said, I have no problem with PVL’s explanation, but we (including the media) had to wait for it. If you don’t like the media’s portrayal of it, ask why the Tories didn’t present the explanation sooner. I know I found the whole event bizarre, and I was waiting for that explanation.

    • I think we need to go back to the beginning, which is at about 10pm on Tuesday, when this happened:

      http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&DocId=5916282#Int-7835992
      “Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC)

      moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in. ”
      Excelpt that Mr. Flaherty wasn’t there to actually move the motion. If we are going to assign blame, I think we should do it in this order:
      1. Mr. Flaherty: This was the vote to move his Budget Implementation Act from Report Stage to 3rd reading. Why was he not in the House? Where was he? Does he not care about the fate of his bill? (you can watch the video on ParlVu starting at about 21:54:00 to see the vote, and that Mr. Flaherty’s seat is empty)
      2. Mr. Van Loan: As the Government House Leader, it’s his job to make sure his MPs/Ministers are in their seats when they are supposed to be. He didn’t notice Mr. Flaherty wasn’t there. If he had, he could have had another Minister move the motion on Mr. Flaherty’s behalf (which is what the Speaker ultimately deemed the government to have done) or, better yet, ensure that his Finance Minister is there when he’s supposed to be.
      3. The Deputy Speaker: Since the two people mentioned above failed in their duties and responsibilities, the Speaker could have called on the government side to have someone else move the motion.
      4. Any other MP in the house who could have risen on a point of order and pointed it out at the time.
      Now, I understand that it was 10pm, it’s the end of a long session and everybody was tired, but I think what PVL was really mad about was that he was caught in a mistake (or sleeping on the job) and got called out for it, no matter what the Speaker ruled in the end. As Elizabeth May aptly put it, he’s a sore winner…

  7. “I tried very delicately to dance around the point.” There’s an argument against more camera angles in the HoC if I ever heard one.

  8. Okay. I’ve given this some careful thought and have reluctantly come
    to the conclusion that PVL should resign … but the resignation should
    lead to his offer to run for the mayoralty of Trawna. Yes, yes. The meedja
    would be all a-tingle, eh. Ford and PVL .. The Bumptious Boys Blow-out !
    Far be it for someone like me to impugn the physical attributes of others
    but surely the Sunnier side of the street could work in a reference to something
    like Sumo Cage Match !! Let it be …

  9. Mr Wherry:

    Any possibility that you could suss out this clerical error angle? Was Flaherty actually in the house when he moved the motion, but Comartin didn’t document that properly? Or was Flaherty not there, and Comartin failed to act properly at the time? If the latter, what should have been the correct actions on Comartins part? Are there no means for other participants (eg gov house leader or opp house leader) to make it right at the time? Is it common for such an error to be pointed out a day later?

    • Mr. Flaherty wasn’t there to move the motion. Mr. Wherry can look into how common it is for it to be pointed out later, but I don’t remember a minister not being there to move a motion without asking another minister to move it on his behalf (if it had been a Private Member’s Bill, that wouldn’t have been possible…)

      I posted above about which order I would assign blame in, but if you want to watch the video, here’s the link: http://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/ParlVu/TimeBandit/PowerBrowser.aspx?ContentEntityId=9826&EssenceFormatID=433

      You have to move the counter to about 21:54:00 which is just before the beginning of the vote. Mr. Harper votes first, then the clerk starts going down the first row. Mr. Flaherty should be sitting between Mr. Paradis and Mr. Clement (he’s Mr. Clement’s seat mate).

      • Thanks. :-)

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