This week in fixing Parliament

Kady O’Malley suggests the time allotted for statements by members be moved (in my opinion, if members’ statements are to be reformed they’ll either have to be moved or eliminated entirely).

Conservative MP Dan Albas suggests the government side needs more time in QP to respond.

The biggest challenge to question period that many in the public are unaware of is that questions and answers are time limited, currently the amount of time a Member of Parliament is allowed to ask  a question is 35 seconds. Likewise for a member on the Government side of the house, 35 seconds is also the time limit for a response. Members can at times ask a supplemental however it is again subject to the same 35 seconds as is the response from Government.

While it is possible to ask a meaningful question in 35 seconds, I am certain most would agree that when it comes to governance, very few answers can be given in such a short timeframe. As a result often questions become comments or statements and the responses follow a similar pattern, all of course with a very political theme. Typically the thirty five seconds in many cases ends up being utilized as an effort to score political points often with quickly delivered commentary that often is more frequently evaluated by the performance of the orator then the actual content.

Of course, no matter how much time is available, the quality of the response still depends primarily on the responder’s willingness to engage the question asked, but let’s go along with both Kady’s proposal and Mr. Albas’ complaint.

At present, the House is getting through 39 questions and responses in about 45 minutes each day. If members’ statements were moved and those 15 minutes between 2pm and 2:15pm given to Question Period, each of the 39 questions and 39 responses could be given about 45 seconds. Still not enough time? If the House went with 35 questions per day, each question and each response would get 50 seconds. Cut it back to 30 questions per day and each side gets a full minute for every question and every response.

Personally, I’d be happy to cover an hour-long QP that covered 30 questions and responses.