Let no opportunity to denigrate one's opponent be missed - Macleans.ca

Let no opportunity to denigrate one’s opponent be missed


Eric Grenier attempts to quantify the increasingly partisan nature of members’ statements.

An analysis of almost 1,000 speeches made during the Statements by Members period between 1994 and 2012 over the first three normal sitting days after the summer indicates that the number of partisan statements have almost doubled since the Conservatives were first elected. Statements were deemed partisan in this analysis if their primary purpose was to attack another party or praise the speaker’s own party, particularly if the statement was overly generalized. Statements that criticized a government’s policy but on a substantive issue were generally deemed non-partisan, depending on the tone. There is a degree of subjectivity in the analysis, but the trends are quite clear.

About 24 per cent of Statements by Members on the sampled days since 2006 were of a partisan nature, compared to 14 per cent in the period between 1994 and 2005 when the Liberals were in power. Four of the five years where more than 1 in 5 statements were partisan took place under the Conservatives. The lone exception is 1995, when the debate over the then-upcoming Quebec referendum was especially nasty.

Evan Sotiropoulos compiled a similar tally a few years ago.

I would suggest two potential solutions: either abolish members’ statements entirely or move those 15 minutes to another part of the day. I suspect the parties would be less eager to use that time for free political advertising if those 15 minutes were at a point in the parliamentary day when fewer people were watching.