‘There may be some exceptions in those African dictatorships’

How about less party discipline and a stricter Speaker?

by Aaron Wherry

The Globe consults academics who suggest party discipline is stricter in Canada than almost anywhere else.

“There may be some exceptions in those African dictatorships that are part of the Commonwealth and so on,” says Leslie Seidle, a research director with the Institute for Research on Public Policy, “but in the advanced parliamentary democracies, there is nowhere that has heavier, tighter party discipline than the Canadian House of Commons. People are kicked out of their party temporarily for what are really very minor matters.”

Richard Simeon, a professor emeritus of political science and law at the University of Toronto and a member of the university’s School of Public Policy and Governance, agrees. “We are worse than the Australians, and much worse than the British, in terms of giving MPs the ability to act and to somehow make a difference,” said Dr. Simeon.

The Globe also notes a recent intervention of the Speaker in New Zealand.

During a recent debate in that country’s legislature, Prime Minister John Key was asked by an opposition leader to explain why he had said the filming of the movie The Hobbit would create 3,000 jobs. When Mr. Key asserted that the film had increased tourism, the opposition leader objected and the Speaker stopped the Prime Minister from going further. “I appreciate the member’s concern,” he said. “He asked a question, but he did not ask for that information.” That’s a far cry from Canada, where responses from the government go unchecked even though they often have little bearing on what was asked.

I suggested something similar a week ago: the Speaker should have the authority to cut off a response that strays off topic. Here, for another example, is the Speaker in Britain both cutting off and admonishing Prime Minister David Cameron during a session of Prime Minister’s Question in June 2011.




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‘There may be some exceptions in those African dictatorships’

  1. “That’s a far cry from Canada, where responses from the government
    go unchecked even though they often have little bearing on what was
    asked.”

    Now, now, Mr W. If we were to implement something even half so radical and far reaching as to expect real answers to real questions, one consequence would be almost complete and utter silence on the govt side of the house. W/o their tps and little pmo cole’s notes on what to say, and what not to say, half the govt front bench – leave alone its back bench – would be struck dumb.They might even have to wheel in the PM’s piano, just to entertain us all.

  2. Man the UK HoCs is just awesome! The two principles are close enough to have to wipe the spittle out of their eyes. And the back benches look like something out of a spitting image skit. It’s 100% better than our boring, moronic set up.
    But what’s the speaker actually saying to Cameron? Is that Latin? [ our guys would probably mistake it for Cantonese] Or after 30 years is my ear for the British patter finally becoming dulled?

    • He’s calling on a backbencher to speak.

      • oh thanks. It sounded like latin to me anyway. :)

  3. I have just finished reading “The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956″ by Anne Applebaum. While it would be ridiculously alarmist to suggest that Canadian politics have reached such an extreme degree of repression, the tactics of the current government are eerily reminiscent of some of the strategies employed by the Soviet Union in post-war Eastern Europe to stifle dissent and sabotage established democratic processes and institutions.

    Just sayin’…

    • Managed democracy…supposedly more efficient…but just without all the Putin strong arm stuff. I will say though that this govt does draw the line at ignoring the SCoC…in the main.

      • Only until they find a way to stack the court. I’m pretty sure Harper falls asleep dreaming about how it could be done.

        • His first few picks have obviously been overqualified for the job. Time to get some else in there trained up a bit…like, maybe Big DD, Fantino,PP, or Peter Mac. Trouble is they have to be able to convince the other justices that just being able to wear the fancy rig isn’t all the job entails.

    • And yet a bill was passed that took power away from a government agency to impose their view of appropriate speech upon Canadians. Now the government has to follow due process, things like evidence, innocent until proven guilty. Stalinesque if you ask me.

      • What are you talking about?

        • Human rights tribunal?

    • That’s great! Then asshats like you can be shipped to our equivalent of Siberia to spend the rest of your sorry life in a gulag!

      • First they came for the asshats, and I didn’t speak out because I am not an asshat. Then they came for the leftards, and I didn’t speak out because I am not a leftard. Then they came for the low-information voters, and there was no-one left to speak for me.

        • Don’t worry bout Joe. He’ll make out. Probably get a job coming for someone or other.

      • Thanks for confirming that some Cons share the Soviets’ worst inclinations.

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