Here to compliment the finance minister? - Macleans.ca

Here to compliment the finance minister?

A backbencher pays tribute to Jim Flaherty

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In light of this, Erin O’Toole takes to Twitter to explain himself.

With 90% of Question Period being oppos. questions methinks @cselley & others doth protest a tad too much about the odd +ve shout out

It is indeed nice to say nice things about others. I’m sure Jim Flaherty appreciated it. Mr. O’Toole is obviously very considerate.

But this morning’s point about the purpose of Question Period still stands and so does last week’s question: Shouldn’t Erin O’Toole have something better to do? Shouldn’t his contribution to Question Period be something more than reciting his party’s talking points and saluting the greatness of the cabinet minister he is nominally questioning?

This practice of lobbing friendly queries is by no means new or unique to this government (see here, for example). But it’s ridiculous. And desperate for change. In fact, it was part of Michael Chong’s proposed QP reforms.

The real problem with Question Period is that members of Parliament have been stripped of the right to ask questions of the government, with the result that members are no longer true participants in Question Period, but mere spectators. Rather than being attentive and potential participants posing questions, many behave as any spectator would, cheering or jeering for their side and against the other.

Until the 1980s, members had the right to rise in the House, catch the eye of the Speaker and ask questions of the government, questions that were driven by the concerns they heard from their constituents the previous weekend when they returned home to their ridings.

The changes that stripped members of the right to spontaneously rise, catch the eye of the Speaker to ask a question were introduced by Jeanne Sauvé. Every day, each party submits their list of approved questioners to the Speaker. The Speaker recognizes only those on the list.

Mr. Chong proposed allotting half of the questions asked each day to backbenchers.