What if you could see them? - Macleans.ca

What if you could see them?


The Sun’s Elizabeth Thompson raises a probably pertinent question about yesterday’s heckling of Carolyn Bennett.

Wonder if the Conservative MPs in question would have behaved the same way if the archaic rules of the House of Commons didn’t prevent cameras from showing anyone other than the person speaking and their constituents could have seen them in action.


What if you could see them?

  1. The problem is the Speaker. If he were willing to actually enforce the rules we could get things under control.

    • That may be, but the camera idea still sounds like a good one to me. That our elected reps act like third-graders (minus the threat of detention) is an ongoing, daily slap in the face to us all. People don't act that way when the boss (us, in this case) is watching.

      • Considering how they act when they have the floor, I'd suggest the evidence is against you.

        • Sadly, you may be right. I guess no one's paying attention. If more Canadians watched Question Period regularly and saw the behavior in that place first-hand, there would be riots in the streets.

          • I've mentioned this before, but someone with web site experience should create a non-partisan page that focusses strictly on MPs acting dishonourably during QP, committees, etc.

          • If this place is any indication, the very first entry that makes a Conservative look bad will be irrefutable evidence of the site's partisan nature.

          • Ha!

            Quite possibly, but I think Project As*hat (working title – I'm sure there's something less crude, with more class, that could be used) could quickly gain a reputation as an impartial attempt to restore honour to our House. So long as the moderators stay focussed on the neutral calling out of idiocy, it could be a useful prod.

            (Maybe: The Dishonourable Member from…" as a title?).

          • How about a penalty box?

          • that could work!

    • Personaly I don't blame the Speaker at all; there is nothing concrete preventing any or all MPs from behaving better, much better, than they do today.

      If the MPs took it upon themselves to live up to the rules that they all know about, we wouldn't need a speaker to enforce the rules; granted that seems to be asking a lot of the typical MP.

      Furthermore, if voters made good manners in QP a criteria when voting I'm sure we could find 308 decent Canadians to become our MPs, so that suggests that while some of us are put off by the antics, most voters don't worry about it enough to let it influence their voting.

  2. Or they could publish on Hansard ALL of the comments made my hecklers. Not just a few select random ones.

    • Not sure how this would help; after all, it is already fairly easy to identify the worst offenders. If the parties won't reign them in (and the parties don't seem all that interested in doing that) there is nothing stopping voters from electing politer MPs, and voters seem similarly uninterested.

  3. All heckling should be recorded in Hansard.

    • Good idea, Boethius and Evalina. Only one question: who's going to pay for the extra stenographers?

      • Money is no object — it can be from the stimulus funds, and the cons can put a big sign up, right there in the HoC.

      • > who's going to pay for the extra stenographers?

        …not to mention the therapy they're going to need after a few weeks spent documenting this juvenile behaviour.

  4. I'd have a lot more sympathy for Carolyn Bennett if she did not already have a reputation. She is widely considered one of the nastiest and loudest hecklers on the Liberal side (especially when women ministers speak) and her defence for her own actions is based on the fact that she believes she's on the side of god so it's OK if she does but not if the other guys do it.

    • Acknowledging that the original source refers specifically to those on the Conservative side's treatment of a Liberal, the more general question is, do you think that turning the camera on hecklers and/or identifying them in Hansard would help fix the problem?
      Having established that you don't particularly sympathize with Ms. Bennett due to her own participation in the nonsense, what do you think of the idea in general?
      Would it solve the problem? Maybe, maybe not. Would it be quite satisfying to see the occasional parliamentarian have to answer outside the HoC for their behaviour inside the HoC? YES.

      • The only reason he's bringing up Bennett's heckling is that she's the only MP, to my knowledge, who's on record as having participated in it.

        I don't think anything will work so long as the Conservatives can get away with defaming private citizens in the House and vilifying the Oppositon as traitors, terrorists and pedophiles.

      • Many years ago, the Speaker ruled that the TV cameras should only focus on the person speaking since to do otherwise could raise questions about the objectivity of those controlling the cameras. I agree with this ruling.

        • Just have a floor view.

      • I think they should revisit the whole camera idea. Technology has changed since the speaker ruled on the issue. I'd like to see multiple camera's filming the different benches steaming LIVE to the government website. That way if your so inclined you can check up on your MP with the click of a button.

        • And the parties could have tape to at their Monday morning caucus sesssions, plan their passing routes and blitzes!

        • And the parties could have tape to play at their Monday morning caucus sesssions, to plan their passing routes and blitzes!

  5. Don't you ever dare question or mock this Liberal who is the poster child for arrogance and maybe is more responsible than anyone else for associating Liberals with arrogance – to me she is a joke and wrapped up in her own self importance when she is nothing more than a phony politician ( and they aren't all phony).

    • Conservatives are juvenile scumbags and you just demonstrated that wonderfully.

      • *SIGH*

        • But true.

          You can see it all over this. The Right defines itself by vilification, defamation, rumour- and smear-mongering and outright lying…behaviour that is supposed to be corrected by the end of adolescence.

          Faced with that, what choices does one have when one is obligated to answer them?

          • Nice…you stay classy.

    • There are people trying to have a discussion here. What are YOU doing?

  6. I seem to recall that when Stephane Dion rose in parliament to ask his first question post resignation, some of the catcalls that greeted him were didn't you used to be someone? Now you may not have liked his politics, and that is your right, but what did he do to deserve this? He was and remains, a decent man. When did it become so fashionable for adults to behave this way?
    This sort of behaviour is demeaning to all concerned. We pat ourselves on the back while agreeing that the homeless should be treated with dignity, yet we stand idly by while our elected officials hoot and holler like drunks at a lynching. Where is the voice of reason in all this? The Party leaders? Milliken?
    The real shame in all this is that constructive debate gets the shaft as MP's point at one another and say "they do it too" – and any time we lose real dialogue, we slip further away from what our democracy should be.

    Forget the cameras. If my grandmother were still alive she'd sort these fools out in no time, and they'd damn well behave like civil adults – or else

    • I wonder if it's the mob/gang mentality thing? Many of those who disgraced themselves in mocking Dion would very lkely not behave like that in other curcumstances…at least i hope not.
      In my view loss of basic civility and common courtesy are the outriders of a civillization in decline.

    • Ahhh the 'they did it too' philosophy. They treated Dion terribly. On that day and many others.

      • No one treated Dion worse than Liberals themselves.
        Nothing heckled in QP compared to what 'Liberal sources' said about him.
        Then the LPC tossed him under the bus.

        • While I agree that the Liberals treated him shabbily, the didn't you used to be someone catcalls were beyond demeaning. The man had been thoroughly humbled by that point, yet was still serving his constituents and his country with his head held high. While politics is a rough sport, this kind of sand kicking is pure bully boy, and has no place among elected officials.

    • I remember that – It was Joe Preston. I remember thinking to myself that Dion should have been faster on his feet and said that's rich coming from someone who's never been anyone.

      I guess it's pick on Bennett day because she brought notice to the neverending nonsense from the Con side. I saw her in an interview a while back and she said since the Cons have been in power she's been so angry. She never used to get so angry, but they bring it out.

      Olivia Chow stood up today on a Question of Privilege about the heckling, especially against women.

      I watch QP most days, but I watch the people/caucuses in the background. It's interesting. Del Mastro and Rick Dykstra and forever making comments, elbowing each other and laughing – like boys that can't pay attention in grammar school.

      I've never, ever seen it so bad.

      • ". . .she said since the Cons have been in power she's been so angry. She never used to get so angry, but they bring it out. "

        I can relate to that.

  7. I fear that televising the hecklers would lead to worse behaviour. Let's face it politics attracts people who seek and need public attention. And who knows, with the number of people tuning into so-called reality TV where ill mannered and unethical behaviour are pretty much the norm, behaving badly in front of a camera might even win votes.

    • Sadly, there are some in the House who would see this as an opportunity not to be wasted and put on an even more obnoxious show for the camera. That said, I like the idea of a floor shot with something like a picture-in-picture in the corner of the MP who has the floor.

  8. It's terrible that she was heckled through such an important question. Do I like her, ….meh, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't be heard.

    There are a lot of very confused people out there with regards to the H1N1 vaccine. Just this morning on the news I was told to make sure to get the vaccine ASAP, and in the next breath I was told that it would take some time to get the shot and to relax and not panic. Now if I, a fairly educated woman can get confused on the issue, it doesn't surprise me that pregnant woman across the country are confused on what to do.

    • What's wrong with the style of that question? She was vehement, but she wasn't off the hook. Moreover, the question was actually about something, albeit framed in an unanswerable way: "Will the minister for once put people ahead of politics and let the committee do its work?" She could just have said "Will the minister let the committee do its work?" and whatnot, but all in all it was better than many of the questions posed (and answered) in the House.

    • What's the problem here?

      Did she call anyone a Taliban-hugger, a traitor, a terrorist or a pedophile?

  9. Hear here!

  10. The Hansard floor officers write down everything they hear during QP, and can't always identify who is shouting what epithet. Not their fault things get rowdy. It's not like there are Hansard employees selecting what should and shouldn't be included. They can't attribute words to people if they can't verify who said them.

  11. "compared to what 'Liberal sources' said about him…"

    What did they say about him?

    i do remember internal problems, but does that compare to three years of vicious attack ads and thuggish behaviour the House? Not to mention the endless vilification from the classless rank-and-file…

  12. I think MP's should get fined everytime they heckle and distrupt parliament.

    Afterall, we pay for that time, the mainentance of the building, etc.

    We are not getting our monies' worth.

    • Borrowing from a previous comment (http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/09/23/men-money-and-

      Interested citizens, perhaps some who are currently unemployed, could take on the task of monitoring an MP of their choosing and keep all the fines that are collected; at $20 per heckle the hourly rate could be very rewarding.

      Of course, as SeanS pointed out on that other thread, those folks might have to roll all of their earnings into the cost of the related therapy.

      Any volunteers to monitor Dean del Mastro? How about Carolyn Bennet herself? I gather that Glen Paerson might not be much of a moneymaker.

  13. Mic them all. 308 streaming audio sites / podcasts on the internet. When something disgusting is overheard, it would not take long to discern who was the offender. Then the Speaker can not stand to deliver his usual dismissive "conflicting views of what was said blah-blah…"

  14. two yen,

    you seem to be missing the point.

    The subject of heckling becomes dire the instant conservatives do it.

    Ditto that for attack tv ads, floor crossing, patronage appointments ect. Otherwise for the Liberals it's "awe shucks, politics is politics."

    Reading the post you'd think heckling were invented by the conservatives today. It is to laugh.

    • When Liberals heckle they are just expressing doing god's work by Canadian values in a loud voice.

    • Biff and two yen
      The two of you seem to be standing on the dock while the ship sails without you. All the MP's are behaving badly and I personally would like to see all of them conduct themselves in a more professional manner.
      Surely, even Conservative supporters would concede that the Dion heckling was over the line.
      Last falls economic statement was indicative of SH's MO. When he might have been focusing on the upcoming economic troubles, he was busying himself with kicking sand and stirring up a hornets nest. Did this serve him well? Did it serve the country? It is this small minded meaness which turns a lot of us off – I just don't respect him.
      So finish up your laughs, your giggles and maybe we can get down to making this parliament work – unless you think it's is functioning perfectly well already.