The easiest way to make the House of Commons less (or more) relevant

What if we had a place where ministers could make announcements?


NDP MP Jean Crowder asked a fairly straightforward question of the government side on Friday.

Mr. Speaker, the minister told the CANSEC defence industry conference that the Conservatives would be reviewing their final fighter jet options in the next few weeks. This is yet another clue that the Conservatives will wait until after the House of Commons rises for the summer before they announce whether or not they will buy the F-35s. This project has been a disaster for long enough.

Will the Conservatives let this House know their plans before running away in June?

Bernard Trottier, the relevant parliamentary secretary, would offer only that a decision would be announced in “due course.”

You could ask the same question of a decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline—due June 17—or the announcement of a new Supreme Court justice (or, for that matter, an explanation of how Supreme Court justices will be chosen in the future).

In a perfect parliamentary world, such things wouldn’t just be announced while the House was sitting, but actually announced in the House.

As it is, the House isn’t really regarded as a place for government announcements. Presumably, I assume, because when a minister speaks in the House you’re not allowed to decorate him or her with colour co-ordinated backdrops and placards bearing the desired three-word phrase for the day. Also, of course, if you announce something in the House, you leave open the possibility that members of the opposition will stand up and ask you questions or convey criticism of what you’ve said or done.

Another comparison with the Mother Parliament is instructive—see herehere and here. The Brits seem, strangely, to have not yet abandoned the idea that the House of Commons should be regarded with some importance. In fact, there seems to be some feeling that the House is due the first announcement.

For awhile there, the Finance Minister presented an economic statement to Parliament each fall—either to the House or the finance committee—but the Conservatives abandoned that after 2008, preferring to speak at chamber of commerce luncheons far away from Ottawa. There is still time set aside each day for “statements by ministers” but mostly it goes unused, except when a minister wants to mark a special commemoration. Only really the spring budget is ever actually announced to the House before being announced somewhere else.

For all the discussion around and about the complicated systems of incentives and powers that weaken our Parliament and the various proposals for fixing matters, here is a very simple thing: ministers making their announcements in the House of Commons. It could be adopted tomorrow. And it could even be pitched as saving taxpayers the expense of placards, backdrops and plane rides for ministers to be photographed around those placards and backdrops.


The easiest way to make the House of Commons less (or more) relevant

  1. Aaron,

    You and I both know that no matter what decision is made with regards to fighter jets…the NDP will be opposed.

    they aren’t really known as being friendly towards any military purchase. Just look at their reaction to Harper’s purchase of the heavy lift aircraft. Everyone whined, screamed, and complained about the expense of purchasing these jets and other aircraft….until of course, we needed them.

    I don’t blame Harper for making announcements outside of Parliament. Why not announce these big issues in a place where people are actually going to listen.

    The NDP whine about military purchases, and then in the next breath complain that the forces are ill-equipped.

    Can’t win.

    • Its a stage show. NDP are for economical stupid envy loaded people, so they argue like unionist in their greed. Have a placatory neo-Conservative party too, lining other lobbyists pockets. Then Liberal ad-scamers are again awaiting their turn.

      Just like Mulroney-Airbus scam, Liberals bought the planes with NDP union support….they all sold us out. Media too sells us out as its happening again and in 4-8 years well will call it Harper-Boeing.

      As bankrupt, negative cash flow, money losing, junk credit status Air Canada isn’t buying these new planes with their money, they are doing it with taxpayers money, with NDP, Lib and Con support.

      Ottawa has become a lobby bought brokerage of other peoples money for cooperate, union, bank, money for nothing greed, bailouts, inflated contracts and waste.

      Sad part, we only think left-right, and not statism versus liberty. No liberty from government on our ballots….just more government and less for the people to spend on each others jobs and families.

      [ x ] I need better options for my vote than economic slavery to government bloat and waste.

  2. None of these parties work for us.

    Maybe self serving unions should be banned from enforcements and union lobby money to politics. Sort of like government funding statism…..as the money is used to brainwash us.

    Fact is we have far too much government than is good for us. We lose jobs as our tax-inflated economy drives up wage demands to uncompetitive levels. No reason your average Canadian civil servant makes more than twice as much as USA and more than 3 times that of Mexico.

    With all the hidden taxes, protectionism driving up our costs, it necessitates uncompetitive wage demands from commoner workers, and jobs are lost. Isn’t that we don’t get paid enough, its that we are over taxed with high prices and low value in cost inflated Canada. Too taxing.

    At some point statism greed needs to leave more to the people and less for government bloat and waste.

    Need $1,500,000 to pay $700,000 in direct taxation, $300,000 in bank/debt interest to buy a $400,000 home which has $200,000 of hdden taxes, labour taxes, and taxes you never see for a $200,000 home.

    American makes $400,000 to pay $80,000 in direct taxes, $80,000 in bank.debt after taxes deductions to get a $$220,000 home with only $50,000 in taxes in the home cost for a $170,000 tax/debt cost out home.

    Thus, they can work for less, live better with more disposable income and take our jobs. Gets even worse if I were to do Mexico above.

    We lose jobs as our collective governments tax greed takes too much and does too little for it. I call this statism greed. And to make matters worse, it is the only option in your lobby/union/corrupt corp welfare sponsored ballot.

  3. Almost everyone has canceled or indefinitely delayed the defective F35 program of waste. Even the US Navy has stated they have no plans to use the F35 as its not reliable and effective enough.

    If governance wasn’t so lobby corrupted, they would ditch the F35 programs with prejudice. Australia is buy new seasoned and reliable modernized F18s at 1/3rd the costs. No need to upgrade infrastructure, munitions or training either.

    But then they are not as susceptible to US DC munitions lobby driven influences, lobby money and ego trips in failing to admit the F35s are just a huge mistake.

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