A few tweets from the NDP MP.
Tradition is one thing, insulting farce another: why is #ThroneSpeech held in Senate w/ Commoner MPs treated as cattle in a holding pen?
As part of the Speech from the Throne, MPs are invited to walk over to the Senate and watch from behind behind the railing that divides the Senate floor from the Senate lobby (MPs are not permitted on the Senate floor). The Governor General, meanwhile, is not traditionally permitted on the floor of the House of Commons, something we’ve borrowed from the British, but ignore at the provincial level.
Why in the Senate? The Canadian Parliament was modelled on that of the United Kingdom. Both have an upper Chamber, whose members are appointed, and a lower Chamber, the House of Commons, whose members are elected by the general population. In Canada, Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Since neither the Governor General nor Senators are allowed to enter the House of Commons, the Speech is given in the Senate Chamber.
An interesting side note concerning the tradition that the Crown is not allowed to enter the elected Chamber. In provincial legislatures, since there is no upper chamber, the Lieutenant Governor is allowed to enter the Chamber to read the Speech from the Throne because the House is not in session during the reading – the Mace is not on the table.
The British haven’t permitted their monarch to enter their House ever since King Charles I stormed in and tried to arrest five MPs.
You could probably make an argument that the whole thing is silly and I would probably be inclined to agree with you, but possibly it is a tradition that would be difficult to eliminate entirely and has some merit as a constitutional tradition. Maybe it would be better if the Throne Speech was a short declaration and then the actual Prime Minister was expected to deliver a speech of his own immediately afterwards. He could even do it in the House of Commons, where no reporter could possibly shout a question at him.
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