‘We need more of this kind of leadership and ideas exchanged between the parties’

by Aaron Wherry

In lavish detail, Nate Silver explains how Washington might create its own Question Time. Meanwhile, former McCain campaign strategist Mark McKinnon posits that a regular QT might help leach “partisan poison” from Capitol Hill.

All of which may serve to remind that it is not necessarily the institution or the idea of Question Period that is the problem here in Ottawa, so much as how it is used.




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‘We need more of this kind of leadership and ideas exchanged between the parties’

  1. Doesn't matter what the format is, without equal measures of (a) intellectual honesty, and (b) willingness to sacrifice political advantage for the common good, it will always descend into Accusations and Obfuscations Period.

    The problem is a little more fundamental than format, and goes a little deeper than Parliament. One often sees a similar dynamic on these comment boards.

    • "One often sees a similar dynamic on these comment boards."

      Yes, but we online nobodies and shut-ins aren't elected officials, are we?

    • "One often sees a similar dynamic on these comment boards."

      Ahmen! These boards have deteriorated considerably over the last year. Perhaps Macleans needs to institute a policy where only subscribers get to leave comments? It would reduce the trolls.

      • It doesn't make a difference. Spend some time over at the National Post, or Globe comments sections; its painful. Its hard for me to understand how people who do not hold a personal stake in these parties can be so veracious in defending them, despite ample reason to criticise.

        But then, its all the fault of the 'mainstream media,' who are liars and thieves. Apparently.

    • Gaunilon, on both points, I actually agree.

      For the most part though, I find this comment section far more constructive and thoughtful than the G&M, CBC, NP. In many cases, references to strengthen arguments are attached to comments. I've even seen some commenters move from their positions based on sound rebuttals. Hope to see more of that kind of reasoned and less partisan discussion.

  2. "Mark McKinnon posits that a regular QT might help leach “partisan poison” from Capitol Hill."

    And I posit…no.

  3. It should also be noted that the quality of the questions being asked is also quite poor. They are often one sided, disingenuous, and drip with feigned outrage and indignation.

    It would be dishonest to blame the state of question period on any one party or person.

  4. QP in this country has always been a combination of mudslinging and dodgeball. Part of it is the participants. I would still prefer to see PM Questions, a single day when the PM answers questions and it becomes a debate from the leaders with lots of follow up.

    The US was alawys structured as a bipartisan body, which is why they all sit together as opposed to oppositie. Question time for the President…..I dont think it will help and in fact will drag it down. For the moment the opposition is being nice, but it can and will get worse. If they do it then it shoudl be infrequent, 2-3 times a year.

    It will only stay nioce if there is a sense of occasion, but once the Pres startes trying to score points it will descend fast and furious, like here.

  5. Until the Harper era I always wondered why it wasn't called Question and Answer Period!

    • One would suggest that you haven't been paying attention then.

      Of course, under Harper it's become particularly obvious/odious, I'll admit.

      • In 20 years of following politics, so pardon me for not being able to reach back further, but I've never seen a government be so disingenuous about actually answering a question during question period. For the most part ministers are muzzled and when they are allowed to respond, it is from a very carefully prescripted answer that is repeated each time the minister rises regardless of the question posed. Two obvious members of Harper's cabinet that stand out from this group are Baird, who the prime minister has given the unofficial title of pit bull but more closely resembles a dalmation in IQ, and McKay who doesn't seem to understand the difference between lying and telling the truth.

  6. Since when is our Question Period an actual question period = answer NEVER! (1) When was the last time anyone ever heard an actual question – NEVER – they are all thinly disguised accusations covered up with what did X know when did X know or not know Y (2) when has anyone ever heard an answer I have been following QP from Day One on CPAC – and let's face it folks from the years watching Chretien answer any question = AM A BIZEEEE MAN AH DON HAF TIME FOR DA hnhbnaavsvauv .. whatever he would say after that – nope folks QP is theatre and worth about the same as the current MP's holding meetings while then House is locked just like the barn door ….

  7. On the matter of comparing ourselves with the Americans, the United States' State Department holds daily press briefings and by virtue of signing up I receive their Daily Digest e-mail which includes the transcript as well as the transcript of any interview or speech given by the SoS. What is particularly noteworthy about these briefings is that they cover a wide range of foreign affairs topics and current issues; they are never partisan and by reading the responses one obtains a clear understanding of the position of the U.S. government. I received these emails when Ms. Rice was secretary so I can attest that this has been true under the previous administration as well.

    I'm not aware if DFAIT does something similiar but I suspect not.

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