Personally, I blame myself - Macleans.ca

Personally, I blame myself

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Preston Manning endorses the Chong Plan for Question Period, but wonders if the press gallery isn’t part of the problem and shouldn’t be part of the solution.

Most House leaders and Question Period co-ordinators I know feel that no matter what reforms are made, they are likely to be met with skepticism, ridicule and opposition from the media. This is because from a news-generating standpoint, a Question Period characterized by negative, antagonistic, exaggerated and emotional exchanges is much more newsworthy than one characterized by positive, co-operative, moderate and rational exchanges.

Parliamentary and legislative committees addressing Question Period reform should therefore tackle this obstacle head-on by specifically soliciting input and suggestions from their respective press galleries. There must be some way of making Question Period more civil, productive and newsworthy, and the sooner we find it, the better it will be for Canadian democracy.

Most of what happens in QP at present is actively ignored by the press gallery. I can think of one major media outlet that regularly and specifically attends in person. Most of those reporters and columnists who don’t attend would, I suspect, blame the tone and tenor of the proceedings (well, that and the fact that the proceedings are televised, making the arduous journey up to the House not absolutely necessary). So it would seem completely ridiculous for the press gallery, in this imagined world of reform, to equally shun a more substantive and reasonable QP.

And if outsider perspective is necessary, at least a couple of us would be only too happy to fix everything.