The Speaker on Parliament

The Speaker returned to the House yesterday with a response to the points of order raised on November 28 by Nathan Cullen and Peter Van Loan, particularly Mr. Van Loan’s concerns about the opposition’s ability to subject bills to multiple votes.

The underlying principles these citations express are the cornerstones of our parliamentary system. They enshrine the ancient democratic tradition of allowing the minority to voice its views and opinions in the public square, and in counterpoint allowing the majority to put its legislative program before Parliament and have it voted upon. In advocating a much stricter approach to the report stage on Bill C-45, the government House leader seemed to argue that the existence of a government majority meant that the outcome of proceedings on the bill was known in advance, that somehow this justified taking a new approach to decision making by the House and that anything short of that would constitute a waste of the House’s time. This line of reasoning, taken to its logical end, might lead to conclusions that trespass on important foundational principles of our institutions, regardless of its composition.

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