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The political sewer pipe from Carleton County


 

In light of Republican Joe Wilson’s shoutiness during the President’s address to Congress last week, U.S. legislators have dusted off ye olde Section 370 of the House Rules and Manual to review the precedent. Turns out you can’t call the President a “liar.” But you can refer to his government as “something hated” and/or his message as a “disgrace to the country.”

Likewise, the Speaker of the House of Commons has fairly wide latitude to censure members for overly hostile language. Indeed, at least on paper, “remarks directed specifically at another Member that question that Member’s integrity, honesty or character, are not in order.”

By recent standards this has generally meant that you cannot directly accuse another member of lying. I seem to recall a discussion at some point over the last year as to whether it was improper to call someone a hypocrite, but permissible to suggest that someone’s actions were hypocritical. Though perhaps I hallucinated that.

Various lists are available—see here and here—of specific phrases that have been ruled out of order. It is to our eternal loss that “dim-witted saboteur” and “inspired by forty-rod whiskey” have been removed from the official lexicon.


 

The political sewer pipe from Carleton County

  1. My first thought was those that have remained silent through the speech owed us an apology but on further thought they owe us so much more!

  2. Why argue substance when we can be distracted and have our time wasted over the age old game of arguing over syntax instead. I am getting sick of political games and the constant bickering and fake brinkmanship.

  3. No matter the speific words or phrases I think the guiding principle is that it be focussed on actions not the person.

    That is part of why the speaker is addressed as opposed to the other person. To try to drain some of the personal out of the discussion.

    Enforcing this rule would be a good suggestion for the speaker and following the rule would be an excellent suggestion for the members.

  4. So MPs can't call one another "The political sewer pipe from Carleton County," but does that mean that "The political sewer pipe from Nepean-Carleton" is still fair game?

  5. "The political sewer pipe from Carleton County"

    Ah… I just figured it out. Good one, Aaron.

    • That Frank Carvell. What a bastard he was.

  6. Now I wish to know more about Frank Broadstreet Carvell; specifically, what it was he said that caused him to be branded a political sewer pipe.

    • Unless, of course, it was a reference to the Ontario federal election district of the same name that existed for much of the same period. My, that must have been potentially confusing.

      (In which case it was a reference to William Foster Garland.)

    • He was the Minister of Public Works. Nuff said.

  7. I'm just intrigued that the Democrats had no problem with calling the President a liar during Bush's term. At least one Congressman did so in the chamber, and as I recall Pelosi herself did so in media interviews.

  8. I'm just intrigued that the Democrats had no problem with calling the President a liar during Bush's term. At least one Congressman did so in the chamber, and as I recall Pelosi herself did so in media interviews.

    That said, Republicans should not be stooping to Democrat standards of behaviour.

  9. I'm just intrigued that the Democrats had no problem with calling the President a liar during Bush's term. At least one Congressman did so in the House, and as I recall Pelosi herself did so in media interviews.

    That said, Republicans should not be stooping to Democrat standards of behaviour.

    • Did they shout such accusations at him during a joint session of congress? Because I think that's what's actually being discussed.

      • Section 370 concerns conduct "in the House and in Committees". It makes no distinction between joint sessions, speeches, or debates. If the Dems were honest they'd also reprimand Peter Stark for his repeated references in a speech on the Floor to President Bush as a liar.

        But, of course, the Democrats are neither honest nor particularly concerned with civility. That is why there is a different standard for Republicans compared to Democrats. I'm fine with that; it emphasizes which side is better.

  10. What really amazes me is that "Baby" doesn't appear on any list.

  11. We still have a long way to go to match the sheer inventivieness of New Zealand:

    Idle vapourings of a mind diseased (1946)
    His brains could revolve inside a peanut shell for a thousand years without touching the sides (1949)
    Energy of a tired snail returning home from a funeral (1963)

    Although "Coming in to the world by accident" has a certain appeal.

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