Disturbance in the House - Macleans.ca

Disturbance in the House

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In the autumn issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review, Evan Sotiropoulos applies a little qualitative and quantitative analysis to the spectacle that now is the 15 minutes before Question Period reserved for statements by members.

My extensive review of parliamentary transcripts showed that unparliamentary or partisan discourse is on the rise during Members’ Statements in the House of Commons. Policy differences and their expression in a democratic society should not be used as cover for mean spirited attacks. All Members, regardless of party affiliation, should strive to arrest this decline in political discourse and help to cultivate a political environment conducive to cooperation.

The Speaker has the power required to sanction those parliamentarians who violate Standing Order 31. Throughout the 38th and 39th Parliaments, however, many examples can be found of violations of the spirit of the rule. It is no wonder then that when Speaker Milliken issued his warning to House Leaders, most Members simply ignored his advice and continued to follow the pattern set over the past five years.

Elsewhere in the CPR, an expansive attempt to rethink Question Period. More on that once I’ve read it all.