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‘I don’t think it’s that much worse than it was’


 

Peter Milliken, now the longest-standing speaker in Parliament’s history, reflects on the state of the House.

Although many complain that the House has become a bedlam in recent years, Milliken remembers sitting in the galleries as a student in the 1960s, when the boom of fists slammed on desk tops could be deafening. “There was a lot of yelling and desk thumping. … It was so loud it drowned out anything,” he said. “You couldn’t hear a thing when people were pounding their desks and that’s exactly what they did. It would start in the middle of an answer or the middle of a question.”

Today, desk thumping is out of style on the House, replaced by booing or cheers and ovations. “I don’t think it’s that much worse than it was,” Milliken says. “It’s bigger – then there were 265 (MPs) now it’s 308 – so it is bigger. … But I don’t think the noise is particularly worse.”

What has changed is that more people see the question period uproar. “Because it’s on television, people see it more than they did before. I think they’re thinking: ‘Boy! Look at this.’ You can see what they’re doing and they are making a lot of noise.”


 

‘I don’t think it’s that much worse than it was’

  1. It's nice to get this sort of seasoned perspective from a long-time observer or participant in the House's activities. Nonetheless, the behaviour is still deplorable.

  2. "I don't think it's that much worse than it was…"

    Now that is a vote of confidence. Terrific.

    • Milliken's refusal to ensure a greater degree of order ensues chaffs me.

  3. With all due respect for The Speaker, the noise may not be worse, but IMHO the quality of the noise in recent years is obliterating any trace of appropriate parliamentary behaviour. It's not hard to understand why the Harperite's don't engage in desk thumping – it doesn't convey nearly enough venom for their purposes. The Harperites have turned Members' Statements into attack ads, in QP government members sneer in answer to opposition questions, and the greatest applause from the government side is for the sleeziest attacks on the opposition.

  4. Honestly, do we expect Milliken to say anything else, given that if he did admit it were worse it would reflect badly on him as the Speaker?

  5. Even if they used to fight on the floor of the House, MPs from opposing parties used to work together behind the scenes, and even go out and have lunch or drinks together. They knew that, theatrics aside, they were all in it for the same reason, and that nothing would get accomplished if they couldn't put their differences aside once in a while.

    Today, theatrics have become reality. Camera-friendly outrage has been replaced real rage. Verbal sparring buddies have become real enemies. No one truly respects what the other side has to say.

    Today, they no longer go for lunch together. That's the problem, Peter.

  6. Even if they used to fight on the floor of the House, MPs from opposing parties used to work together behind the scenes, and even go out and have lunch or drinks together. They knew that, theatrics aside, they were all in it for the same reason, and that nothing would get accomplished if they couldn't put their differences aside once in a while.

    Today, theatrics have become reality. Feigned outrage has been replaced by real rage. Verbal sparring buddies have become real enemies. Disagreement with a person's opinion has become confused with hatred for that person, and no one truly respects what the other side has to say.

    Today, they no longer go for lunch together. That's the problem, Peter.

  7. Even if they used to fight on the floor of the House, MPs from opposing parties used to work together behind the scenes, and even go out and have lunch or drinks together. They knew that, theatrics aside, they were all in it for the same reason, and that nothing would get accomplished if they couldn't put their differences aside once in a while.

    Today, theatrics have become reality. Feigned outrage has been replaced by real rage. Verbal sparring buddies have become real enemies. Disagreement with a person's opinion has become confused with hatred of that person, and no one truly respects what the other side has to say.

    Today, they no longer go for lunch together. That's the problem, Peter.

  8. It's a lot worse. It's much more juvenile than it used to be. At least they used to insult each other like adults back in the day (for the most part…calling female MP's 'sluts' was pretty disgraceful).

    Now it's all "I know you are but what am I?"

  9. I am waiting one day for a fight to break out in the Commons! That would be must see TV : )

    • Didn't Galipeau Royale try to punch David McGuinty last year?

  10. News flash: Man who determines conduct of the House says conduct of the House isn't so bad.

    In other news: Each political party leader says their party is doing well and representing Canadians, company CEO's declare their companies to be well-managed, and utopia is surely just around the corner because of how gosh darn awesome everybody is doing.

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