Challenging the Speaker - Macleans.ca

Challenging the Speaker

Questions of affiliation prompt a closer look at Andrew Scheer’s rulings

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Paul McLeod finds anonymous complaints about the Speaker’s first year.

Outwardly, opposition MPs say they are disappointed but not surprised by Tuesday’s ruling, but behind the scenes, some members of Parliament are angry. They believe Scheer, Parliament’s judge and referee, is favouring the Conservatives …  criticizing the Speaker is deeply taboo. But some opposition MPs say there is a widespread belief he is under the influence of Conservative House Leader Peter van Loan. “He’s got the robes and the ranch, but van Loan makes the rules,” one MP said.

Yesterday’s ruling is here. Irwin Cotler’s original point of order is here.

The Speaker has been publicly praised by all sides. If his rulings have been somehow flawed, they should probably be challenged outside Parliament by academics and observers. If MPs feel the Speaker isn’t intervening sufficiently, then MPs should probably look at amending the standing orders to officially provide the Speaker with greater latitude to intervene: that seemed, to me, to be the lesson of Speaker Scheer’s ruling on Elizabeth May’s point of order and it probably applies to Mr. Cotler’s point of order as well. I tend to prefer the idea of a more interventionist Speaker, but that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, absolve the other 307 MPs from the responsibility they have to protecting and honouring the House of Commons.

So far as the refereeing of Question Period is concerned, he has only, so far as I recall, punished one party: the Conservatives, when he took away a question for excessive interruptions. He has also cut off at least a couple of Conservatives when their members’ statement’s strayed into personal attacks. There are a few things that have come up during this sitting that might be addressed when the House returns in the falls—the content of members’ statements, the relevance of questions and the use of responses—but I’ll lay out those suggestions in another post.