By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
As the Speaker proceeded through his ruling on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege this afternoon, Michael Chong, the cabinet minister turned parliamentary agitator who last week spoke in support of Mr. Warawa’s appeal and who currently sits directly in front of Mr. Warawa on the government side of the House, periodically nodded and smiled.
Officially, there was nothing for Mr. Warawa or his supporters or any agitators for a more perfect parliament to smile about. On the strict question of whether Mr. Warawa’s privileges as a member of parliament had been breached, the Speaker found no such prima facie case.
Unofficially, Mr. Warawa, his supporters and all willing agitators have been invited to stand and, in doing so, change the rules by which we understand our parliamentary democracy in some small, but significant, way. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Andrew Scheer’s ruling on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 26 by the Member for Langley (Mr. Warawa) regarding the presentation of a Member’s Statement pursuant to Standing Order 31.
I would like to thank the hon. Member for Langley for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. Chief Government Whip (Mr. O’Connor), the hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition (Mr. Cullen), the hon. House Leader for the Liberal Party (Mr. LeBlanc), and the Members for Vegreville—Wainwright (Mr. Benoit), Saanich—Gulf Islands (Ms. May), Lethbridge (Mr. Hillyer), Winnipeg South (Mr. Bruinooge), Edmonton—St. Albert (Mr. Rathgeber), Brampton West (Mr. Seeback), Kitchener Centre (Mr. Woodworth), New Brunswick Southwest (Mr. Williamson), Wellington—Halton Hills (Mr. Chong), Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Mr. Lemieux), South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale (Mr. Hiebert), Medicine Hat (Mr. Payne), West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country (Mr. Weston), Halifax (Ms. Leslie), and Thunder Bay—Superior North (Mr. Hyer) for their comments.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
I’m told the Speaker hopes to deliver a ruling on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege after Question Period this afternoon.
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber wondered yesterday about how statements would be distributed among parties were the Liberal motion to pass. The Liberals tell me that statements would be allocated proportionally—the current system seems to basically follow this rule. I emailed Mr. Rathgeber to ask about the Liberal motion and in the course of that conversation he suggested that party affiliation should be ignored entirely and statements should be allotted randomly, similar to how the order for private members’ bills is established.
It should be random ( by lottery) the way PMB Precedence is established … The point is slots are given to Members; not parties. This is an important distinction and important in re-establishing the significance of the Member. Matters of Private Members should be managed outside the caucus apparatus, as is done with PMB and Motion Precedence.
Speaking with reporters after QP yesterday, Thomas Mulcair said the New Democrats would support the Liberal motion, but also suggested it might not amount to much of a change.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 9:03 AM - 0 Comments
The House will take up debate of S-7, the combatting terrorism act, at noon today. This will conceivably compel Justin Trudeau to explain himself again. It will also put the New Democrats in the position of having to explain, at this sensitive moment, why they oppose this legislation.
Moving this legislation to today and Tuesday bumped the Liberal motion on statements by members to Wednesday. That means the motion won’t be debated until after the Conservative caucus meets on Wednesday morning. But there is also the question of when the Speaker will rule on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege. Will the Speaker rule before the Liberal motion is debated and voted on? And, if so, what effect will that ruling have on the debate and the vote?
John Ivison expects a ruling today.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 7:42 AM - 0 Comments
It is my duty pursuant to section 21 of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act to lay upon the table a certified copy of the reports of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions for the provinces of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. These reports are referred permanently to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, uttered these words Monday. As it happens, one of the reports he plopped down before the House touches closely upon the interests of his other (secret?) identity as Member for Regina-Qu’Appelle. The proposed riding map for Saskatchewan is by far the most controversial of the 10 now approaching finalization. It’s so controversial that one of the three commissioners appointed to draw the map refused to sign off on it, filing a minority report instead.
This is thought to be the first time that a Canadian boundaries commission has split irreconcilably in this way. It’s a nasty failure, since the whole point of a boundaries commission is to use logic to arrive at a broadly acceptable nonpartisan consensus. A conscientious government would be careful to avoid trouble of this sort from the outset, but apparently nobody saw it coming.
The problem isn’t partisanship as such. For the past few decades Saskatchewan’s federal riding map has had a unique “pie-slice” nature whereby there are no constituencies wholly within either of the two major cities. The good folks in southwest Regina, for example, have voted in the Palliser riding, alongside residents of Moose Jaw, since 1996. Voters in the northeast of the city are in the Regina-Qu’Appelle riding, mixing their votes with those of a half-dozen small towns like Indian Head and Wynyard—the latter being almost 200 kilometres away by road.
This arrangement was originally tolerated on the premise that in Saskatchewan there are no meaningful differences of culture or interest between the city and the country. All are one under the sign of the wheat sheaf. This seems to have become a perverse point of provincial pride, much like the lack of a sales tax in Alberta; the boundary commissioners were told often at public hearings that there is no such thing as “urban Saskatchewan” for political purposes. Two of the panelists dismissed this argument, snortingly, and created five new all-urban ridings, three in Saskatoon and two in Regina. The third member of the commission, David Marit, feels so strongly about the truth of the argument that he is willing to jeopardize the whole mapmaking exercise by refusing to sign a unanimous report.
What the people making this argument really mean, naturally, is that the “pie-slice” system has allowed rural Saskatchewan and the satellite cities to dominate or at least counterbalance Regina and Saskatoon in federal elections. Dissenter Marit is the president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities; I suppose he would have us believe he wants the big cities to remain divided for some other purpose than “divide and conquer.” But, of course, anybody who followed the 2011 election knows how the rural tail ends up wagging the urban dog under the existing system. The New Democrats picked up 32.3% of the vote provincewide, but this translated to zero seats in Parliament; the Liberals, with 8.6%, recaptured Ralph Goodale’s Wascana seat quite comfortably.
I took a look at the poll-by-poll results from the election, counting only the Regina and Saskatoon votes within the mixed ridings. These totals exclude advance and mobile polls.
As you can see, within the major cities the New Democrats are very competitive indeed with the Conservatives. (Though it’s also worth noting, lest any myths of extreme injustice and skulduggery flourish, that the Conservatives do seem to have “won” both metropolises.) Palliser MP Ray Boughen, a former mayor of Moose Jaw, would have gotten his clock cleaned if not for the Moose Javian votes. Farmer Nettie Wiebe, the NDP candidate in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, won a majority in the city and got beaten narrowly (for the third time in a row) on the strength of rural votes. And, sure enough, Speaker Scheer got fewer votes within Regina than the NDP’s Fred Clipsham.
It remains to be seen how well Thomas Mulcair’s “Western strategy” will ultimately work out, but in essence the Conservatives will start the 2015 campaign a couple seats down in Saskatchewan by virtue of the new electoral map alone. That is assuming the Conservatives in the Procedure Committee don’t use David Marit’s dissent as a pretext to go after the new map with a fat blue pencil. Vigilance is urged.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
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.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Before the House rose last night for Christmas, the Speaker delivered a statement on decorum.
As the House prepares to adjourn for the Christmas holidays, the Chair would like to make a short statement about order and decorum.
In recent months, for a variety of reasons, the atmosphere in the chamber has been at times difficult. This is perhaps not surprising since the House is made up of members who are committed and whose strongly held views are freely expressed on a daily basis.
The House is also an inherently adversarial forum that tends to foster conflict. As a result, sometimes emotions get the better of us and we quickly find ourselves in situations marked by disorderly conduct. Tone and gestures can cause as much of a reaction as the words used in debate. Lately, it appears that at different times the mood of the House has strayed quite far from the flexibility, accommodation and balance that ideally ought to exist in this place.
My task as Speaker is to ensure that the intensity of feeling expressed around some issues is contained within the bounds of civility without infringing on the freedom of speech that members enjoy. The Chair tries to ensure that our rules are adhered to in a way that encourages mutual respect.
However, all members will recognize that ultimately the Speaker must depend on their collective self-discipline to maintain order and to foster decorum. My authority to enforce the rules depends on the co-operation of the House.
Our electors expect all members to make greater efforts to curb disorder and unruly behaviour. So I urge all members to reflect on how best to return the House to the convivial, co-operative atmosphere I know all of us would prefer.
After QP, NDP House leader Nathan Cullen was asked about the role of the Speaker and Mr. Cullen suggested he might have something to propose in the new year.
I’m going to look to do something in the new year that will empower the Speaker with the support again of the House, because I think this is supported by Canadians, to be able to command the House even more and for all the heckling and the jostling and the sneering that goes on which is not representative of Canadian values, as far as I’m—Canadians don’t talk to each other this way, in any other circumstance, other than here in the House of Commons. Maybe in the cheap seats of a hockey game, but that’s about it and the House of Commons should be better than the drunken seats at a sporting event. So we’ll be offering some things to the Speaker and to the House to allow him more discretion and more power to control some of the members, but it’s like any class in a school. There’s only 5 or 10% that cause all of the trouble and I can name them for you. We know who they all are and the Conservatives know who they are too and just—this is their only lot in life I guess now, is that they’re not going to get into cabinet, they’re not getting any special appointments and they’re not very good at their job. So what do they do? They sit there and bark all day and it says a lot more about them than it does us.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM - 0 Comments
As per the Speaker’s ruling this morning, there will be a maximum of 47 votes on C-45 at report stage. For the sake of comparison, there were 157 votes required to get through C-38 in the spring.
The independent member’s motions are an interesting question. They require some attention, because the independent member does not sit on committee. However, they should not be dealt with in such a manner that they represent, effectively, a harassment of the balance of the House. Compared to the several hundred amendments proposed by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands in June, on Bill C-38, her proposals as of today’s date are slightly less unreasonable. However, the fact remains that the rights of individual members of Parliament must be balanced with the ability of the majority of the House to dispatch its business with some reasonable, practical speed. Allowing a single member of Parliament to hold the House hostage in a voting marathon is simply not reasonable.
I propose the following arrangement, which could, in future, extend to other government bills. Report stage motions submitted by a member of Parliament who is not part of a recognized party shall be selected in the manner provided for by our rules. The selected motions may be grouped for debate in the usual fashion. Subject to the next point, the voting patterns for the motions would be set in the usual manner, as required by the ordinary practices of considering legislative amendments. However, one amendment per independent member of Parliament would be chosen to be a test vote. The voting pattern for the rest of that independent member’s motions would only be implemented if the test motion were adopted. A rejection of the test motion would be inferred as a rejection of all that member’s proposals. Therefore, the balance of the independent member’s motions would not be put to the House.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:11 PM - 0 Comments
Mexico’s Ambassador Francisco Barrio Terrazas presented the Decoration of the Mexican Order of the…
Mexico’s Ambassador Francisco Barrio Terrazas presented the Decoration of the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle to former Speaker Peter Milliken. It is the highest award a non-Mexican can receive. Milliken was lauded for helping to build relations between Canada and Mexico during his time as Speaker.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30 AM - 0 Comments
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted his second annual Hilloween party for MPs, staffers and all…
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted his second annual Hilloween party for MPs, staffers and all their children.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 1:15 PM - 0 Comments
Speaker Scheer seems to have adopted a very wide definition of what constitutes “the administrative responsibility of government” as it pertains to what questions can be asked during QP. A similar attack on the NDP was allowed yesterday.
In June, the Speaker ruled a Conservative question about the Liberal party’s approach to supply management to be out of order. (Last December, he ruled a Liberal question about robocalls to be out of order.) I’m not sure I see a profound distinction between that question in June that was out of bounds and the two questions that the Speaker has allowed this week.
See previously: In and out of order
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 1:13 PM - 0 Comments
Nathan Cullen wrestles with the existential crisis that is the state of members’ statements.
Partisan shots have always been part of the mix but for the past few years the Conservatives have been systematic in using member’s statements to orchestrate repeated, scripted verbal broadsides against the leader of the Opposition. They did it to Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, despite repeated rebukes by former Speaker Peter Milliken, and now they’re doing it to NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
But the NDP is now starting to respond in kind and Nathan Cullen, the party’s House leader, is worried the partisan sniping will only escalate if Scheer doesn’t put a stop to it. ”The problem is that when you see it day after day after day, there’s a tendency to want to retaliate and bring the tone of debate even lower than it is now,” Cullen said in an interview. Cullen has told Scheer the NDP would fully support him were he to cut off MPs who abuse members’ statements and he intends to speak to him again this week to say, “I think this is getting worse, not better.” ”If the Speaker doesn’t clamp down then it’s hard for me to hold off my attack dogs because they say, ‘They’re punching our party or leader in the nose every day, we need to respond.’”
As CP notes, Speaker Milliken attempted to draw a line and impose a ban on personal attacks. The easy way around that is to attack your rival’s policies. Would the parties ever unanimously agree to a ban on saying anything critical about another party or MP during statements by members? Probably not. Nor, one could argue, should they.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
Fans of both supply management and proper parliamentary practice take note: the government side sent up Joe Preston this afternoon to attempt to ask the following.
Mr. Speaker, our government has always been a consistent defender of supply management. By contrast, the Liberal Party offers no concrete proof of its position. The Liberals left supply management out of its election platform and constantly votes against measures that benefit our supply managed farmers and all rural Canadians. Could the Minister of Agriculture please inform the House of the most recent example of how the Liberal Party is turning its back on our egg, dairy and poultry farmers?
The Speaker duly ruled this out of order and moved on to the next question.
I have had to rule before that questions to the government have to touch on government areas of responsibility. Asking about the position of another party is not a government area of responsibility.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 8:54 AM - 0 Comments
Paul McLeod finds anonymous complaints about the Speaker’s first year.
Outwardly, opposition MPs say they are disappointed but not surprised by Tuesday’s ruling, but behind the scenes, some members of Parliament are angry. They believe Scheer, Parliament’s judge and referee, is favouring the Conservatives … criticizing the Speaker is deeply taboo. But some opposition MPs say there is a widespread belief he is under the influence of Conservative House Leader Peter van Loan. “He’s got the robes and the ranch, but van Loan makes the rules,” one MP said.
The Speaker has been publicly praised by all sides. If his rulings have been somehow flawed, they should probably be challenged outside Parliament by academics and observers. If MPs feel the Speaker isn’t intervening sufficiently, then MPs should probably look at amending the standing orders to officially provide the Speaker with greater latitude to intervene: that seemed, to me, to be the lesson of Speaker Scheer’s ruling on Elizabeth May’s point of order and it probably applies to Mr. Cotler’s point of order as well. I tend to prefer the idea of a more interventionist Speaker, but that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, absolve the other 307 MPs from the responsibility they have to protecting and honouring the House of Commons.
So far as the refereeing of Question Period is concerned, he has only, so far as I recall, punished one party: the Conservatives, when he took away a question for excessive interruptions. He has also cut off at least a couple of Conservatives when their members’ statement’s strayed into personal attacks. There are a few things that have come up during this sitting that might be addressed when the House returns in the falls—the content of members’ statements, the relevance of questions and the use of responses—but I’ll lay out those suggestions in another post.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
… and what about Tony Clement gig with Elvis?
The Sheepdogs break Hill protocol
Saskatoon band the Sheepdogs were in the capital to play a special concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa along with the Quebec rock band Karkwa. The event was part of an ongoing music series put together by Heritage Minister James Moore to help expose MPs to Canadian music. This was the second such night he organized. The first was in December and featured Jim Cuddy and Marie-Eve Janvier. The idea stemmed from the success of the special Canadian movie nights Moore has been hosting for some time. The concert series has no official name but the folks at Music Canada, who helped organize the evening, refer to it simply as the minister’s “Music Night.” Moore was unable to host the event at the last minute and asked Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose to step in to emcee. This infuriated Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who pointed out he actually bought the Sheepdogs’ music way back. Clement joked from his seat at the NAC concert: “I have a bone to pick with James Moore.”
In 2011, the Sheepdogs were the first unsigned band to grace the cover of Rolling Stone. All members sport signature long hair with serious facial scruff or full beards. At the concert’s pre-party, Ambrose joked: “They make my hair look small.” At the party, they met Tim Hockey, Canadian banking group head for Toronto-Dominion Bank, one of the evening’s sponsors. Hockey said he wanted to hug the band after bassist Ryan Gullen told him that TD was the only financial institution that would give them a line of credit. For years, said Gullen, the Sheepdogs lived off that credit, which helped fund the band’s creative endeavours like producing their CDs. Gullen said there was never a lineup in their bank and all the tellers knew them by name.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
Eleven hours and 53 minutes after the last vote was counted, Megan Leslie stood and attempted a summation.
“Mr. Speaker, within 24 hours, the Conservatives voted to revoke the Environmental Assessment Act, to end the protection of fish habitats and sabotage the National Energy Board,” she reported this morning.
“Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” protested various Conservatives.
“The NDP proudly opposed these measures,” Ms. Leslie declared. “Do the Conservatives realize that our laws and our economy will be weakened by Bill C-38?”
“Quite the contrary,” responded Jason Kenney. “The facts are clear. This government has the best record in terms of job creation in the G7. We have the best fiscal position in the G7. We have the best economic growth rates in the G7.”
The Conservatives present applauded the Immigration Minister’s boasts.
“The NDP policies are to increase taxes, the deficit spending and sending billions of taxpayer dollars to European banks,” Mr. Kenney continued, wagging his finger.
“This party is against the development of our natural resources,” the minister continued, jabbing the air in front of him. “This is why Canadians have confidence in the economic record of this government.”
Ms. Leslie was apparently read for this. “Mr. Speaker,” she shot back, “if the minister is so proud of these changes why did he not run on them?” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM - 0 Comments
As noted in our live coverage, Speaker Scheer ruled last night on Nathan Cullen’s question of privilege. Below, the text of that ruling. In short, I’d say it might have been a different matter if a parliamentary committee had issued an order for documents related to the information sought by Mr. Cullen. In that case, the Speaker might have been able to rule as Speaker Milliken did last year in regards to a demand for documents (the ruling that ultimately led to a finding of contempt against the Harper government). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen rose after QP this afternoon on a point of privilege to argue that the Conservatives were in breach of the House for failing to disclose information about spending cuts to be carried out as a result of C-38.
Here is a copy of the letter Mr. Cullen sent to Speaker Scheer earlier today to explain his concerns.
And here is the transcript of Mr. Cullen’s comments in the House (and Peter Van Loan’s response). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Speaker Scheer’s ruling on Elizabeth May’s point of order.
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 5, 2012 by the hon. Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands (Ms. May) regarding the form of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.
I would like to thank the hon. Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for having raised the matter, as well the hon. Leader of the Government in the House (Mr. Van Loan), the hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition (Mr. Cullen), the hon. House Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Garneau), and the hon. Members for Winnipeg Centre (Mr. Martin), Winnipeg North (Mr. Lamoureux) and Thunder Bay—Superior North (Mr. Hyer) for their comments.
The foundation of the arguments brought forward by the Member for Saanich – Gulf Islands is that Bill C-38 has not been brought forward in a proper form and is, therefore, imperfect and must be set aside. Specifically, the Member relies on Standing Order 68(3) which states that (quote) “no bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape” (unquote).
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
As he prepares for the most important week of his speakership to date, here is a piece from last week’s magazine on Speaker Andrew Scheer.
Herein lies the riddle of civility. Rote partisanship is not against the rules. And even if the House may be somewhat more quiet of late, it is still a place of debate, competition and conflict. Asserting oneself as Speaker is thus a complicated task. “One of the toughest things about being Speaker is it’s never the same. You’re not calling balls and strikes on a definite strike zone. Every day is different. The mood can be different,” Scheer says. “Sometimes the House needs the Speaker to come right in and nip something in the bud. And other days you need to let a little bit of steam out of the valve and it might go away on its own. So I think it’s difficult for any Speaker to say on day one, ‘here’s where all of the lines are,’ because those lines shift. The House is dynamic, it’s constantly changing, the mood is constantly changing. So I’ve kind of got to use my own judgment and my own instinct to get a sense of where that’s going and try to react.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberals have called a news conference for 10am this morning to explain their strategy. We should find out around noon, with a ruling of the Speaker, how many votes C-38 will face.
I’ve seen it suggested that all of those votes, however many there are, will be considered confidence votes. As I tried to explain in the comment thread under this post, that’s not necessarily true. It is essentially up to the government to decide whether the loss of a vote means defeat. Were the opposition to successfully delete a clause or amend the budget, it would be for Stephen Harper to decide whether he wanted to ask the Governor General for an election as a result.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The youngest speaker ever is putting the House in order
The government side had persisted in interrupting the leader of the opposition with sarcastic applause and the Speaker had apparently seen and heard enough. “We will have to make up the time somewhere else,” Andrew Scheer explained. That was the extent of the admonishment, but a short while later, when the day’s lineup indicated a Conservative MP was scheduled to ask a question, Speaker Scheer proceeded instead to the next opposition MP on his list. As the New Democrats—who had called for such a sanction to be applied to parties in the House of Commons—were happy to note afterwards, the Conservatives, for wasting the House’s time with unnecessary noise, had been docked one of their three opportunities to lob a friendly query during that day’s question period.
It has been a year now since Scheer became the 35th Speaker of the House of Commons—since the boy who used to skip afternoon classes in high school to watch question period became, at 32 years old, the youngest person to ever occupy the chair. And if the last 12 months—a little over 130 sitting days—have seen any change from the unseemly brawl that Parliament is widely seen to be, that change has come in small moments like that subtracted question.
“If I were to compare this Parliament with any I have seen since I came here in 2004,” says Peter Van Loan, the Government House leader, “I would say it’s the most orderly.”