The Backbench Spring: Brent Rathgeber on Justin Trudeau's gambit - Macleans.ca

The Backbench Spring: Brent Rathgeber on Justin Trudeau’s gambit

A lukewarm reception from a government backbencher

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The Conservative MP blogs on members’ statements and the Liberal motion.

This wording, if accurate, imports the word “Party” previously absent from the Standing Order; importing the concept of Party seems to run contrary to the stated intent of the Motion, to remove the control and vetting of SO 31s from the Parties. More troubling, the draft seems to infer (or at least is open to the interpretation of) equality of parties.  It appears the proposed rotation would be on a Party basis, meaning that all Parties would have equal, not proportional, slots.  That would certainly advantage parties with smaller caucuses, whereas the current system appropriately distributes spots proportionally to the size of the caucus.  Mathematically, the 8 Independents would similarly get 25% of the rotation; accordingly each would get to deliver a Member’s Statement approximately every other day.

The awkward wording aside, it is also unclear that the Motion is well intentioned.  It has been suggested that its entire purpose is to “wedge” Members such as myself, who have been vocal in favour of Parliamentary Reform, to vote in favour of the Motion, possibly against the wishes of our Leadership. Regardless, the whole Motion could be pre-empted and deemed moot by a positive ruling from the Speaker.  I have argued in the House that the current Standing Order 31 is actually quite clear and as written, does not support Party or Whip vetting.  If the Speaker so rules and provides appropriate direction, that would be a preferable outcome to amending the Standing Order unnecessarily and especially using unclear wordage that denotes equality of Parties rather than equality of Members.